Professor Bear’s journal ‘Discovering Melbourne’ with Mary

My anticipation and expectation about the ferry ride to Port Arlington had finally arrived. We are going on a special trip this Sunday. Mary has been busy getting the tickets ready as well as our numbers and of course the U3A flag which were packed in the backpack. I overheard there are thirty-three U3A members going on the Port Phillip catamaran for a great experience; but they forget to get me a ticket so I will have to hide in Mary’s backpack!

Morning tea at Southern Cross station with my U3A friends was an essential start to the day, I didn’t have time to finish my honey and toast as I was woken up early to catch the 8.30 am train. My bacon and eggs were quite enough for my tummy, determined not to get seasick.

We’re off on our adventure, into the city then to the docklands where we were to catch the ferry from Victoria Harbour across to Port Arlington with hopefully 90 minutes of smooth sailing.

Lots of laughing and talking by our members. There I was, (the Professor) riding in Mary’s back pack with my head was sticking out.

I had the place of honour right beside the Whittlesea U3A tour guide’s flag.    I could see everything!!

The Port Phillip ferry was waiting for us and it looked huge!!! So big it could take four hundred people to and from Port Arlington. I had to explore this ferry.

Top deck was amazing then I went outside in the fresh air and tried all the comfy seats but decided to stay downstairs and watch the city fade away. I was a bit was scared when the video showed us where to find out life jackets and how to behave in an emergency but soon realised the Captain was keeping us safe and informed.

Going under the Bolte Bridge we saw the docks with their containers, cranes ready to load the cargo onto the ships coming up the Bay and realised how important this shipping area is to the City. Then the Westgate Bridge was above us and the Captain put his foot down and we sped along watching the vistas, pointing out the Yew Yang’s and were soon at Port Arlington, smooth sailing all the way.

 On arrival. we all, thirty-three, of us set out on our different ways.

I went hiking to the Mill, with Mary in her back pack great I didn’t have to walk.  

After listening to the talk on the history of the Old Portarlington Mill, Mary decided not to climb the stairs to the upper floors.  As I was eager to see the museum on the top floor, Wilma offered to help me as my short legs make climbing stairs hard work, to say the least.

On the first floor, the whole area had been left empty.  We then climbed another set of stairs to the top floor where the museum was situated.  If you looked up to the roof you could see the original shingles, now covered over on the outside of the building.  I looked at the old heavy wooden beams and wide floorboards, so different from today’s building materials.  Wanting to see the view from the top, I had a peek out of the windows. From one side, I could see the sea near where the ships would have moored. There were many items of interest, newspaper clippings, timbers from an early ship, farm implements, household pots, pans, kitchen ware and irons, so heavy I could not lift them, even a school desk with ink to remind those older than me of their schooldays

 Some people went to have a counter lunch at the pub whilst others looked at the trendy tourist shops whereas the beach was where we all loved to rest.

So much history in Port Arlington. The original pier was built in 1859, bringing steamers and holiday makers there and transporting farm produce back to be sold in Melbourne.

So soon the Whittlesea U3A flag was waved by our leader Mary, and we all walked the length of the long pier onto the Port Phillip Ferry. Tired, but still enjoying the ferry ride, we returned to Melbourne.

Can’t wait for my next outing.

The Professor