A recent trip to Melbourne made me fall in love with it all over again. Lately I’ve been rediscovering some old places I’d been, and walking down memory lane has been nothing like I’d imagined. It’s like falling in love with a lover all over again. It’s reminiscent yet more passionate than before. I could never get sick of Melbourne – an ever-changing city.
Bringing back fond memories at Flinders’ Street Station
Melbourne brought back memories of my teenage backpacking days. The sights and sounds in this city reminded me of those juvenile days when I fell in love with travelling. This time, we stayed right next to my favourite landmark of Melbourne, Flinders Street Station.
Its golden Victorian style architecture shimmers right in the heart of the city. Our hostel, Flinders Station Backpackers was quite expensive for the tiny and stuffy rooms they offer (at AU$28 ppn for a dorm bed) – but at least we had an amazing view of the Station from our room.
Strolling along the Yarra River amidst the seagulls
I just love standing at the cross road of Flinders St and Swanston Rd, where the trams and cars collide. A little walk across the road is the Federation Square where many people sit, type on their laptops and soak in the Aussie sun.
It’s right by the Yarra River, where petite cafes line the river bank, and seagulls gush down to steal a bite or two. In contrast, the other side of the river, Southern Bank, is cluttered with skyscrapers and urbanites with a sandwich in hand, ready to lunch by the river.
Hopping onto a City Center Tram
The vintage historical Tram that circles the grid of Melbourne’s center was an excellent way to see the city, especially on a hot summer day. It was a scorching 42 degree Celsius when we were there! It brought us from the Fitzgerald Park, through the State Library and back to Elizabeth Street. So much to see, on just one tram ride.
A Perfect summer afternoon at St Kilda Esplanade
The air in Melbourne is one of a relaxed yet urbanized city. While the city center revolves around Bourke Street – a central grid of shops, cafes and restaurants; the Southern part of the city is vibrant with activities at the St. Kilda Esplanade – a bright sun-kissed boulevard littered with chillout cafes, running parallel to the beach.
It’s hard not to indulge in the lazy atmosphere at St. Kilda – a beer and a burger on a summer afternoon at Greasy Joe’s just made it perfect.
Aboriginal Art at the Queen Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market was a perfect place to find some authentic aboriginal art, and just to scoar through its huge flea market and colorful grocery stalls. I even bagged a huge Digeridoo beautifully painted with Aboriginal art for just AU$30! Fresh fruits (love the Australian nectars!) and milk shakes give the lively market a chirpy and refreshing atmosphere, especially on a Sunday morning.
Reacquainting with an old pal – food and girl’s talk!
My other reason for revisiting Melbourne was to see my Taiwanese friend of 15 years. We’d met as kids, and our classic joke (to this day) always revolved around her funny pair of glasses. It’s been almost 5 years since we last met, and this time, finally in Australia. Dinner at the famous Lygon Street, and drinks at the posh Sofitel Atrium Bar, was all it take to feel like those good old days again.
Outdoors fun at the Grampians
It was then time to hit the road again, out to the Mountains. Of course, nothing beats the great Outdoors in Australia. Hall’s Gap at the Grampians was a leisurely Mountain base to hang out, enjoying a barbie (Aussie BBQ) in the cool summer night and hiking up the mountains under the scorching sun! It wasn’t as rough as our Adventure tour in Darwin, what with the beautiful wooden lodge we stayed in and endless flow of wine. This trip was much more relaxed, with great company – these travel mates were great fun, evenings were just spent chatting about travelling, funny Aussie slang and ‘mooning infronta George Bush’…
Waking up to a Kangaroo at our doorstep
As I slept on the upper bunk bed of our attic, I could see the stars in the night sky all too clearly. And as dawn break, I could also see the big flaming yolk rise up slowly through my half-closed eyes.
In the morning, we woke up to the smell of coffee, and out in the verandah, there she was, a mother Kangaroo looking for some food. It was a profoundly amazing feeling, to see so much wildlife all around us. A short walk around the tiny town of Hall’s Gap and we were surrounded by hundreds of kangaroos all lazing amongst the grasslands.
Driving along the Great Ocean Road
The coastal view of the Pacific Ocean was stunning as we trotted along with a whole bus full of Italian ladies (and their hilarious songs), a couple of Brit studs and young Swedish travellers. Driving through the coastal towns of Warnambool and Apollo Bay and a picnic by the lake along the way, we arrived on the meandering Great Ocean Road with gorgeous cliff rock formations and huge waves splashing against them. A leisurely stroll and hop down onto the beach right amidst the cliffs, it was ravishingly refreshing to take in that Aussie sunshine.
Flying over the 12 Apostles on a helicopter
We’d never been that extravagant, but Alberto’s always wanted to fly in a small jet, not to mention a sci-fi helicopter, so off we splurged on a AU$70 ride (10-minutes) above the 12 Apostles. Our virgin flight, and it was well-worth it! Fantastic view over the treacherous coastline past the Loch Arch Gorge, London Bridge and of course, the 12 Apostles. Our captain even almost turned us upside down, my blood was rushing right through our heads!
Read my previous post on the Helicopter Ride – one of the most romantic ideas for Valentines’.