Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sustainability in Melbourne

I was very impressed with Melbourne’s sustainability efforts. They had every mode of public transportation that you could think of including tram, bus, and light rail. You could purchase a Myki card at any 7-11 store and just swipe it when you go on. This is a picture is the tram infront of the Pensione hotel where many of the conference delegates stayed.  My hotel was in the Holiday Inn which was just around the corner to the left.
Melbourne has the Yarra River running straight through the center of the city and have installed a debris catchment device to help reduce pollution in the water. I thought this was a nice design.

 They have a public bicycle rental program that seemed to be just $2.50 an hour. I saw two of these stations just in my short walks.

Australia has a large timber industry and with the fast growing trees, they reach maturation fairly quickly. We saw a couple of logging trucks coming out of the forest during our mid-conference tour drive. I think that they mainly use Eucalyptus for pulp and they have planted Pinus radiate as a main timber species. I have encountered this introduced pine in plantations in Tasmania, mainland Australia, and New Zealand. It seems fairly well adapted to the climates around here and is used extensively as a timber species. It is a bit odd to see this pine planted across the landscape and local environmentalists take issues with its widespread use.

They had public artwork around every corner. They also have public pianos out on the streets for anyone to come and play. I saw at least five of these pianos during my walks on the waterfront and was wondering how they keep them all tuned.  Luckily, I got to see one of them being tuned in front of the National Gallery of Victoria (the state where Melbourne is located). 


We closed our last night at the conference at a “bar” called the Testing Grounds. This reminded me of brownfield redevelopment in cities, but it is actually an older historic site that the arts community maintains to develop a fund for new artists. It was a very interesting place with wood pallets for furniture and container crates for the bar and artist in residence space.


Moon Rise over the Yarra River


  1. Hey Jim, How neat about the public pianos! Did you try your hands at playing any of them?

  2. The ones that I saw were all busy, so I did not. It was nice to hear the impromptu music on the streets.