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Tour of the Mission to Seafarers and the Victoria Police Museum
Many if not all of the members taking part in the visit to the Mission to Seafarers and the Police Museum on the 14th April took advantage of the free tram rides in the city centre to get there.We met at the Mission to Seafarers, 717 Flinders Street, an early 20th century building in the Arts and Crafts style, looking rather tired and forlorn amongst the nearby contemporary but anonymous structures.Bill, Manager of the Mission and our tour guide for the visit, gave us a brief history of the Mission. We learnt that around 3200 ships visit the Port of Melbourne each year and about 30,000 seafarers make use of the Mission’s facilities in Melbourne, Portland, Geelong and Hastings.Although it would benefit from some tender loving care, the fine building includes a Spanish Mission Style central courtyard surrounded by the entrance, Chapel, clubroom and Internet facilities for the use of seafarers and an administration area. The Chapel is used for celebrations and memorials and has many beautiful stained glass windows commemorating seafarers lost at sea.  Beyond the Chapel there was a charming ‘secret garden’ providing a serene area for quiet contemplation.An unusual feature of the building was found beyond the clubroom and administration area. This is the distinctive Norla Dome, a circular space with a dome-shaped ceiling. Originally intended as a gymnasium it is now the venue of exhibitions of maritime and seafaring art.Our tour concluded with a two-course lunch with very generous servings. The main course could be topped up with the offer of second helpings of vegetables.Leaving the Mission we left in search of the Police Museum. It would be rather unkind to suggest that we wandered like a herd of Brown’s Cows but let’s say that despite the Flinders Street address we eventually located the Museum some distance from the Flinders Street footpath.Viewing the Museum presentations at our leisure, we saw a variety of items concerning epic events in the history of the Victorian Police force. These included the largest collection of Kelly Gang armour in Victoria, the remains of the car used in the Russell Street bombing, and a bomb disposal robot. Other display cases gave frank appraisals of the actions of police in dealing with the social upheavals of earlier decades such as the drug use and Vietnam War protests in the ‘60s.Once again, we thoroughly enjoyed another tour, kindly organised by Ken and his assistants.

Michael White