Howdy all. A few months back now in late June I visited Melbourne the city again after another lockdown started to lift. What was the reason for my visit? Well, it was to visit the Jurassic World Brickman Exhibit at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. This post is going to talk a little about that, but I do have a Vlog up about the exhibition itself, so whilst talking about how I felt about the exhibition I also want to talk about the eerie day it was and the experience of once again returning to a city straight out of lockdown.
Last year in November I think it was I returned to the city after out months-long lockdown, and that was the first time I had been in since at least March that year (2020). I documented that experience also in by Vlog, and you can see it in the video I’ve included just above this paragraph.
This time it was a mercifully much shorter lockdown, all in all around three weeks of hard lockdown. We saw a total of a little over 100 cases I think in the space of a month or so, so it was pretty well contained but also caused a lot of anxiety and businesses naturally suffered.
When I went masks were still compulsory indoors and especially on public transport. People seemed to do a good job of socially distancing on the train which was good, and people were pretty compliant in wearing masks on public transport too, which has been compulsory all the time since mid-2020 for public transport, but there were times when we weren’t in lockdown when that was only really followed by about 50% of the commuters you would see on trains.
The train was half-full, it was around 11am so that’s probably pretty standard for that time of day so things actually felt pretty normal. But then when I got off the train at Southern Cross and stepped out into the city, it was quiet as.
The location of MCEC, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, is across the Yarra River at a place called South Wharf, where a few weeks earlier there had been some Covid. A short walk down Spencer street, over the Yarra and I was there. And it was quiet. A few people out and about, but really really quiet.
MCEC is also known as ‘Jeff’s Shed’, after the State Premier under which it was built in the mid-1990s, Jeff Kennett. On the other side of Spencer Street stands Crown Casino, also a legacy of the Kennett years, as gambling outside horse racing was pretty much banned statewide. I am planning at the moment a visit to Crown Casino, it’s not my favourite place in the world however it is a major drawcard of the city these days even if it has gone through more than its fair share of scandal of late.
At MCEC they were doing vaccinations. At the time in June I was desperate to get my jab, the under 60s were only allowed to get Pfizer though and there was a shortage, and I passed the entrance for vaccines (it’s a very big & long building) but the guy on the door said they were only by appointment. In fact I had to walk around 400 – 500 metres around the building to far entrance. It was actually a partly sunny day and for mid-winter, not too bad at all and the were some nice views to be had as well.
Views unspoilt by people. I went around to the ‘back entrance’, by the Pan Pacific Hotel, with the Novotel looking over, and I went in. I had honestly expected it to be packed, I had prebooked my ticket. $35 for an adult (about $28USD) plus $3.95 booking fee, and then they offered another fee on top if I wanted a flexible ticket of a couple of bucks, I can’t remember if I went with that or not, as it was I didn’t need a flexible ticket.
Even inside the centre it was eerie. Yes, the word of the day! Hardly anyone there save a handful of officials in high-vis vests checking your ticket and that you used the QR code which has become a part of life almost in Melbourne to aid with contact tracing.
The exhibition was up some stairs as I didn’t see there was an escalator next to them. It reminded me of the entrance to the Jurassic World ride at Singapore Universal Studios where I went years ago now. It had the whole gate image, synonymous with the movies. Yes, it wasn’t just Lego dinosaurs, it was an exhibition of the movie franchise.
Obviously this was something for kids. I was there a week before the school holidays just after it had reopened from lockdown, it only was going for a few more weeks so I thought I’d better go whilst I could as I thought it would make a good Vlog topic.
The exhibition itself was very well done, the dinosaurs recreated by Lego, they were big and it’s brilliant what they have been able to do with what was once a humble block that clicked onto another humble block. There was a large Brontosaurus that you could walk under, loads of smaller dinosaurs and the opportunity for kids to build there own with Lego blocks in boxes here there and everywhere. Plenty of interactive things for the kids which I didn’t participate in.
There was this very cool sort of control room, then a room for Velociraptors, made famous by the films. Then half a Lego jeep being chased by the front half of the dinosaur that needed no film to make it famous – the Tyrannosaurus Rex!
And suddenly… I was in the gift shop. Woah. It had taken 15-20 minutes if I am being generous. True I didn’t spend time building my own dinosaur but…. I paid $35 PLUS for that!
Yeah, it was cool, but, not so much worth the money. I headed out to a pedestrian bridge in South Wharf over the Yarra River and admired the views and filmed intros and outros, and wondered why it was so short. I guess, if people will pay the price, they can charge it. And these things cost money to mount. If I was a father though and had my kids in tow, well, the bank balance would have taken a hit.
Inside the exhibition there were only a handful of others too I should mention. So the weird emptiness of a city scarred by lockdowns continued. Was it better visiting with next to n o-one else there? Undoubtedly. But still it would be nice to think one day people will return to the city and places in it in great numbers.
Thanks for reading today. Take care, and May the Journey Never End!