Melbourne itself was a very nice city that was definitely more urban than Adelaide. It was much larger and many of the shops stayed open late which overall was more in sync with our group often using the mornings and early afternoons for company visits and group tours.
One thing that I did not get to mention was the US consulate office visit which my section of the class was able to attend that visit. The other group was late from the later section of the Toyota plant tour and the consulate office was a big thing to miss. It was not a very long visit lasting about an hour but it was very fast paced with tons of relevant information regarding US and Australia relations in terms of social, economic, and even political relationships. We had a few presenters where the first and last ones were particularly energetic and straight talkers which made the conversation even more enjoyable. We learned how they interact with the Australian government and even a bit of the job hierarchy within foreign nations where the US ambassador has more power and say within the country and is respected more than any of the President’s cabinet members. We also learned a bit about how the consulate office can affect Australian government policies and how they act as a communication relay between the US and Australia.
The GE visit was sadly quick but was definitely one of the better visits despite being so “simple” in its visit. We were brought to a meeting room and then were given a very brief presentation by the GE representative. After this we had a long and informative Q&A as we picked his brain discussing why GE does business the way it does. For example, we learned why GE had decided to sell off its capital financing portion or why it got rid of its appliance division. It covered everything from logistics to finances to even branding in a way as GE through social corporate responsibility. GE also helps practice CSR through business as it moves to improve the lives of people around the world by building infrastructure for utilities and basic needs, but will acknowledge when it is unable to help and will step aside until the conditions allow it to do so.
The Melbourne Cricket Grounds was a really nice tour that allowed us to visit a historic site where the 1956 olympic games were once held. The MCG tour itself kind of felt like touring a baseball or football stadium in some respects as we learned various facts about the stadium. We got to visit sections of the members club and explored throughout the stadium even to the locker rooms and where players can warm up on the lower floors. It was an interesting tour because even though we don’t watch cricket or rugby, we can connect to Australians with our similar games of baseball and football. Australians like us have an extremely large pride in their sports heritage and hold a very serious respect and almost religious practice of watching the games. The tour guide was a 50-year member of the club of the stadium and had lead quite an enjoyable tour adding in his humor and various trivia about the stadium with the variety of games played there and what must be done to accommodate them all.
The last visit we did in Melbourne was the Carlton Brewery. This was everything I WANTED the DiBella visit to be. We got to go to a factory and see it in actual production, how Carlton makes its beer and sends it throughout Australia. To say our tour guide was great is an understatement as he was extremely knowledgeable about everything regarding the operations of the factory and also had quite the sense of humor to go along with it. He led us through the buildings where they turn the raw materials into wort (a product that has yet to be fermented by yeast and has no alcohol) and the bottling/packaging plant where we got to see in real time the filling and wrapping of the bottles. Throughout this tour he provided samples of the products in the various stages and had an answer to every question we had asked. At the end of this tour, we were brought into the main dining area where there was a taste testing of some of the brews they made there as well as given a pub style dinner. This was everything that DiBella failed to do as it showed us production, logistics, was more interactive and involved as well as being far more energetic which is all the more disappointing considering DiBella is a coffee roaster which revolves around the caffeinated beverage that runs the world. Despite not being an alcohol enthusiast, I enjoyed myself quite a lot and highly recommend that tour.
One thing I did on my own was between the MCG and the Carlton Brewery was I had gone to the Melbourne Sea Life Aquarium. While it was small compared to aquariums I have visited in the US, it more than made up for it in content. It had about 14 main exhibits where some had a few tanks and in others was one main tank. Most of the aquarium was nice but the 6th exhibit was more than enough for the price of admission. The mermaid cove as it was called was a gigantic tank filled with 2.2 million litres of saltwater filled with a vast variety of fish with its main guest being a few shark varieties, some of the largest stingray species, and the most terrifying thing in the tank, the grouper. The tank had some extremely rare species of sharks and rays one of which was the bowmouth guitarfish, aka, the shark ray. Looking more like a shark with a head that got merged with a ray this creature was quite a sight to behold and I had never seen one in person and it is near impossible to normally find one in the wild as well. They had an endangered grey nurse shark, some black tipped sharks, some whaler sharks, and even a leopard shark. As for Stingrays, they had quite a few eagle rays and the large smooth stingrays which are the largest stingray (stingray only as manta rays are regular rays).
However, the fiercest thing in there was the giant grouper which the largest one had the name “Mr G”. Mr G had apparently eaten one of their sharks they previously had in the first day he was put in the tank causing the staff to have to make sure he was well fed or lose more fish. The tank also had a couple tunnels that ran under part of the tank allowing photos and videos as the fish swim overhead and had a small presentation given by one of the staff members every now and again. In addition to this amazing exhibit, the aquarium had a large saltwater shark, some moon jellyfish that changed color with the tank water, and a large flock of king and gentoo penguins. The aquarium was small and could be done in a couple hours for the base visit not doing any extra events. It was a definite must see and on a side note, there is no place more satisfying than eating fish for lunch than at an aquarium.