My Love Affair with Melbourne

Dear Diary,

I know it’s been a few days since I last wrote, but like I mentioned earlier, I’m in a land where my 24 hours remain oblivious – only because of the array of thrilling activities that keep me occupied. I’m in the city of Melbourne, a city known for its vibrant energy and an unparalleled history.

I have tried to distill all the things that I love about Melbourne into a little list– not to remind myself about the things I did, but mainly to convince you that these are the reasons why I can never look at the world through the same lens again.

1. Browse the City, its Alleyways and Cafes

flinders Street Station Melbourne

Flinders Street Station

To know a city in and out, do what the locals do. With this thought, I slipped into my sneakers and set off on a morning promenade along the little streets. While I was not particularly in search of the spots where all the tourists headed, my interests lie in the lovely hidden alleyways that are yet to be discovered. From the Flinders Street Railway Station to the Central Business District to Degraves Street–café tables are spilling out while the alleys are towered by buildings, especially the Majorca building and 19th century Block Arcade are the ones with prominence. While I’m attracted to cozy little cafes tucked away in the corner, I usually end my day on the Collins Street or Centre Place.

2. Farmers Market

Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne

Queen Victoria Market

The Queen Victoria Market, operating since 1878, is brimming with locals as the market is a great place to find fresh fruits and vegetables. Half the fun is talking to the stall holders–I question them while each had different perspectives to share. They had questions too, about my city back home.

The buzz you get from spending time on the street is warm and inviting. You’ll realise that Melburnians have a natural acquaintance with the world. Unlike other cities, it pays to leisurely stroll along the streets even after 9 p.m. to experience a dazzling nightlife– after all you’re safe in this friendly city.

3. Discover the Art Scene

I spent an afternoon feasting my eyes on the artworks manifested on the walls along the laneways. Although, I have been to cities that exhibit graffiti on the walls, little did I expect such an overwhelming art culture in Melbourne– difference is that– here it’s a source of cultural pride. Most of the street art is commissioned work, while some are thoroughly inspirational. A unique piece is the Empty Nursery Blue, in the Rutledge Lane, just off the Hosier lane, which is completely painted in blue adorned with humorous and contrasting graffiti.

4. Meet the Aboriginal Natives

Once known as the land of the Kulin Nation– Melbourne preserves the culture and heritage of its indigenous people. You’ll be amazed to see the artifacts, photographs and artworks about the Koorie people dating back to almost 60,000 years, at the Koorie Heritage Trust. But the more I saw, the more I grew curious. A morning walk around the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens is now a part of my routine, but my main reason for promenading there is to take the Aboriginal Heritage walk featuring the smoking ceremony and discussion on the traditional uses of food, tools and medicine.

‘Wominjeka! Wominjeka!’ a Koorie visitor said to me with a broad smile and then points towards the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum. The Bunjilaka Centre is a great meet up place for Koorie people as well as visitors interested in the Aboriginal culture.

5. Weekend Escapes

With plenty of trails for quick escapes, Melbourne understands my love for nature. One morning I took the most exhilarating decision to drive the spectacular Great Ocean Road. While I stopped along the way to soak up the atmosphere; I spotted a few koalas and Kangaroos. Good times.

Philip Island, particularly impressed me. It’s a pastoral paradise with animal sanctuaries, historic farms and beautiful ocean views. Each night as the sun fades in the sky, Penguins waddle up the Summerland beach. Being able to witness the Penguin Parade is such a magical experience, you’ll want to return again and again.

Melbourne’s most famous beach St. Kilda is only 6 km from the City Center and a walking distance to the Brighton Beach from the Brighton station – although cycling would be more fun had I known how to ride. In Brighton, the 82 colorful bathing boxes featuring classic Victorian architecture make a picturesque scene for the eyes, especially on a bright and sunny day.

6. Tour in the City Circle Tram

City Central Tram

City Circle Tram

The City Circle Tram offers an excellent commute to all the major landmarks for FREE. The city pampers me even on a day my feet need a rest. Hopping onto the burgundy tram is an experience in itself. The train takes a complete loop of the city for about 45 minutes. The first stop is the Old Melbourne Gaol, an old prison where you’ll find information about inmates and the prison life. Just a few blocks from here, is the State Library of Victoria, an active library famous for its 19th century art and architecture. Within a few minutes Melbourne takes me to another country – China. Chinatown, on the little Bourke Street, is a strong and vibrant community that arose during the gold-rush days in the 1850s. Melbourne’s well-connected transport system makes it extremely convenient to get around the city, even for visitors without a car.

7. Coffee and Cuisine

Melbourne is a paradise for coffee lovers, like me. A great way to indulge in the city’s coffee culture and its secret is to start an intellectual conversation (about the beans, brewing process and machines) with the caffeine gurus. It really involves a careful step-by-step preparation to make a delicious cup of coffee. One of my local favorites is the Market Lane Café (Prahran), just opposite the Queen Victoria Market. As usual, I like the skinny latte with four sugars.

From Italian to Mexican to Indian, it’s hard to miss home when you’re in a city that offers exceptional cuisine. For an Indian, spicy food is all it takes to enjoy a satisfied meal, but MoVida Next Door’s prawns curry is to die for – semi spicy but the taste takes you all the way to Spain.

There are still so many other beautiful things I’m yet to experience in Melbourne; the roaring applause and the crowd cheering during a game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, watch a moonlight cinema under the stars in Royal Botanical Gardens, hot air ballooning over the Yarra Valley, ride on the city’s narrow gauge railway through the Dandenong Ranges, cityscape view from atop Eureka deck; everyday the list only gets longer.

Oh Diary! There was a time I carried you everywhere to document each experience of mine in every city, but I wouldn’t lie that the beauteous city of Melbourne has managed to take away my intimate focus from you.

Enough Said. Melbourne is the best thing that has happened to me and it’s no surprise that everyone who spends time with the city eventually finds a secret favorite, but to me Melbourne, as a whole, is my dream city and the most livable city in the world.

Note: I have never been to Australia; the article is purely based on my imagination with instances that make Melbourne; the most livable city in the world.

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The post is published for the Fly to Melbourne‘ contest on Indiblogger.

Come alive with Melbourne on the city’s official Link: http://www.visitmelbourne.com/

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Answer the question: “Which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why”?

Write your best answer on the comment box below and win an exciting prize courtesy Tourism Victoria. Hurry! Last Date is Jan, 4th, 2015. The winner for this contest is Abhishek Agrawal. Thanks to all who participated in my contest.

 

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Update for the contest held by Tourism Victoria:  I have been chosen as one of the runner’s up with some exciting goodies. Thanks for all your support folks:)

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44 Comments

  1. I’d love to visit The Members’ Reserve of the MCG so that I could see my husband completely bowled over!

  2. Great post! After reading your post & watching all the videos, I’d most like to visit the Dandenong Ranges for it’s scenic beauty, breathtaking view and cool breeze blowing through my hair. 😛 I’d give anything away for driving through the winding roads which are present throughout the ranges. I’d love to stay at one of the bed and breakfast cottages and go on frequent excursions in the forests with my camera which provides excellent views. And not to forget the famous ride in the Puffing Billy, a day reserved especially for that. To add to that, there are also several picnic spots for me and my friends to spend a fun-filled day and the ranges are a perfect spot for hiking and cycling.

    Wish you and your blog a happy new year! 😀

    • Dandenong Ranges seem great. From the pictures, seems like the feeling you get when you drive through the western ghats.:)

  3. Wonderful post and interesting videos that make me feel that
    Melbourne invites the eternal romantic in me to hold hands with my beloved and go see the Twelve Apostles .Go on long drives on the great ocean road. In the middle of nowhere in a vineyard spread a table and enjoy a meal and a glass of wine with my dear one. Enjoy the sunsets holding hands and do lots of shopping at the Queen Victoria Market and see all the graffiti being created at the hosier lane.
    Great Post and interesting videos watching them I am sure to visit Sovereign Hill for spending some time in the era gone by. The lure of gold and panning for some nuggets is a temptation that is too much to resist. After I have found the gold I am bound to celebrate it with some wine so I will visit the vineyards and enjoy some great wine from the Yarra region .Visit the Pannys Phillip Island Chocolate Factory and have my fill with this yummy delight.
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  4. Interesting Post
    After reading your post and watching all the videos
    I feel I have stepped into a kaleidoscope called Melbourne
    Where Vistas of experiences would unfold one after another
    The nature lover in me is enticed by the thought of watching the penguin parade.
    Traveling though the great ocean road, soaking up the freshness as the breeze ruffles my hair gets me in the mood to pack my bags for Melbourne.
    But before I can move ,Puffing Billy whistles and invites me for a ride. The kid in me jumps with joy at the thought of visiting Pannys Phillip Island Chocolate Factory
    Even before I can deside on the list of places that I would like to see in and around Melbourne.
    What’s that noise that I hear ?
    Oh its loud cheer from MCG as the cricket world cup 2015 is about to kick start.
    So many plces to see and so much to do.
    I am thetimetraveler ( http://goo.gl/wdXDzu ) and I have decided … Melbourne here I come ( http://goo.gl/RvUCQf ).

    • I agree. Melbourne offers much to visitors of all ages and interests from all genres. From sports lovers to history buffs to art enthusiasts to kids who loves being in a chocolate world.

  5. The Great barrier reef, what else? There’s only one word to describe it completely, – Mesmerising. What more would one want if one gets to see the great barrier reef, the corals and the numerous creature our oceans have hidden away from us still preserving them for us. Ah, the sights make me yearn for a tour to Australia, atleast once in a lifetime.

    – Ranjith (http://www.alightheartedtalk.com)

  6. Wow! Each time I read something new about Melbourne, I want to go there even more! 🙂
    As for your questions, right now, I’m tending towards the Regent theater with so much history – watching blockbusters there would be an experience not to miss! Let me add it to my bucket list and keep my fingers crossed that we both get to visit Melbourne soon enough 🙂

  7. Hey ,Superb post ,so all set to pack bags to have a thrill at Melbourne,Now being high on my wish list .U’ve very well covered the best of Melbourne and for the entry in contest ,there cannot ever be a single place for me.It has to be a bouquet of places to calm down my zest to explore it.So naming ,first comes the Great Ocean road not just to linger or have a decent walk but to amaze myself with Jetskiing ,Scuba diving and to try swim with Dolphins,seal Yay,these beautiful creatures would be lucky to share a swim with me.ha ha.Then it would be Eureka Sky deck, to have an awe inspiring experience to be closest to sky and get the sky deck view of this liveable city, MCG to watch and cheer the players on one of the worlds best cricket ground!

    Wishing u Best of Luck & a great year ahead.

    Visit my blog

    http://jhilmilbhansali.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/a-date-for-life-timea-date-with-nature-wildlife-art-cuisine-ah-melbourne/

    • Thanks Jhilmil. Your right, watch the lights glitter and the city illuminate on the Eureka sky deck. You get to see Melbourne’s magic right here. Can’t wait to see it all:)

    • I understand what you mean Ruby. Being an adventurous buff myself, can’t resist all the adventurous things Melbourne has to offer. Like you said, drive through the Great Ocean Road and the hot balloon over the yarra region are some of the many must-dos in the beautiful city of Melbourne:)

  8. I would love to visit St. Kilda beach in Melbourne and also enjoy watching the Penguin parade there..The serene beauty of the beach coupled with watching the cute penguins in their natural surroundings is sure to make my visit a memorable one! Ofcourse I am going to carry a camera and click lots of pictures to capture all the happy moments there 🙂
    -Nikita @Njkinny’s World of Books & Stuff

    • HI Nikita, seems like a plan but unfortunately they are against photography to preserve the personal space of penguins:D. This is a good thing though. You keep your cameras and phones away to indulge in some blissful time with the fairy penguins:)

  9. Being a person who loves to travel this place has struck my eye.
    And here, Eureka Skydeck 88 is going to be first on my list.. i can just imagine the view after reading about it and i feel its going to be awesome.
    Then the St. Kilda Beach,the long walk on the beach during the sunset will be just perfect.. And finding gold is also there.. 😀
    why not get my pockets filled with some tresure hunt..Laneways and Arcades is going to be the place to explore my “Lara croft” skills.. 😀 😀
    Melbourne is going to be a great place to visit and enjoy a holiday..

    • HI Vidith, I agree, Apart from getting to know the city through laneways and arcades, its also a great way to make friends with the locals. I always vouch for taking advice from the locals, they know their city the best. I even learnt that they could suggest off-beat places (not mentioned in the any guide books) that truly mesmerize your senses.

  10. Wow, did you draw those pictures? They are amazing and your article truly gives an insider’s view to a place readers haven’t visited, including me!

  11. I love your drawings they bring such a creative aspect to blogging 🙂

  12. Hi, all is going nicely here and ofcourse every one is sharing
    data, that’s really excellent, keep up writing.

  13. jizelleleigh

    Thanks for your like on rocketandramble. I loved reading this post about Melbs and I think you covered many of Melbourne’s charms. Great illustrations too!

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