Friday, 26 March 2010

Melbourne Historical App: A Day on the Rails

On Australia Day, Tuesday 26 January 2010, the rest of Australia had a day off. I worked, catching trains all over Melbourne's suburban rail network in order to take photos to accompany the text in my iPhone app, Melbourne Historical.

This iPhone guidebook to Melbourne's historical curios contained a lot of items in central and inner-suburban Melbourne, which I'd already dealt with on foot and by tram. Now I had the more far-flung items to take snaps of.

As it was a public holiday, it also seemed a good opportunity to test Melbourne's troubled new public transport smartcard, Myki. It wasn't yet authorised for use on trams and buses (and we're still waiting), but it was OK for use on trains.

And there was one big advantage over the current magnetic-strip Metcards - unlike Metcard, Myki recognises public holidays, allowing all-day use across the city for a mere $3.

So I hit the rails - here's what I ended up with, and how it ended up looking in the Melbourne Historical app.

Here's my first stop at the end of the Williamstown Line - the 1852 Timeball Tower in Williamstown, Melbourne's old port to the southwest of the city across Port Phillip Bay:


Next I backtracked to the pleasant and very gentrified suburb of Yarraville, in Melbourne's west, to take a few snaps of the beautiful 1938 Sun Theatre, an art deco cinema still in operation:


I then grabbed a coffee at the excellent Corner Shop cafe opposite the cinema, relieved that it was open on a public holiday. Jumped on a city-bound train with my coffee, changed platforms at Footscray to the Sydenham Line, then headed west to Sunshine.

This shot of the famous Sunshine Harvester that was once manufactured in the suburb was a difficult one to get. The public library where it was displayed was closed, so I took the pic on zoom through the locked glass doors:


Next, a train all the way back to North Melbourne, where I switched to the Upfield Line and was taken north to Batman Station (no, it's not named after the caped crusader). Walked to the most sinister of the day's photo opps, the former Pentridge Prison in Coburg, built in 1850:


I walked on, somewhat fried in the hot sun, to Coburg Station then caught a train back to the city centre's Flinders Street station, where I switched to the Belgrave Line for Burnley Station in the inner east. Here's a shot of my next target, the former Burnley Theatre (built 1928) on Swan Street, which is now a furniture retailer:


Then I saw a tram approaching, and couldn't be bothered walking back to Burnley Station when escape from the heat was close at hand. I jumped aboard for the short journey to Richmond Station, and managed to naughtily validate my Myki card in contravention of regulations (it worked just fine).

Finally, from Platform 1 at Richmond Station, I was able to gain an uninterrupted view southward to the Nylex Clock. This combined digital clock/temperature gauge was erected in 1961 atop former grain silos, and has become the most unlikely of Melbourne icons:


A good day's work I think, and a diverse selection of the city's remnants of the past! If you're interested in my Melbourne Historical iPhone app, you can see screenshots and find out more here: www.iwriter.com.au/apps