Melbourne has been on my mind ever since Tourism Victoria posed this question to us bloggers. The city has been ranked the world’s most livable city since 2011, and that I believe gives a lot away about how marvellous a place it is. Also, my first cousin lives in Melbourne and every time we talk he cannot rave enough about the good life he’s living there. And since he knows about my passion for travel and travel writing, time and again I keep getting an invitation to visit him there and experience first-hand not just the popular and much talked about places, but also the hidden treasures that only the locals know about – buildings with gripping stories behind them, the many architectural marvels, the tram sessions, the many alleyways laden with intriguing street art, the quaint cafes and yes, the delightfully engaging street performers in the relatively less populated streets of the city!
|The iconic Flinders Street Station|
I had fallen in love with Melbourne long, long ago, with my cousin shifting base there and regaling me with engrossing titbits about the city, and with the passing of time, this one sided romance has only grown deeper. Hopefully someday I will be there and write first-hand stories about my experiences there. For now I can only write about all the enthralling delights that have made me fall in love with this marvellous city!
There’s so much to explore and experience in Melbourne that a history, architecture, culture, et al junkie like me is spoilt for choices! And the stunning landscape and the bountiful of wildlife! One would want to come back here again and again!
(And given my penchant for travel trivia, I am sharing some about Melbourne too!!)
1. The Spectacularly Splendid Landscape!
Ah, the abundant parks and gardens of Melbourne! No wonder the city is considered Australia’s Garden City! The world wide web is full of beautiful photos of the stunning landscaped gardens and parks that the city boasts of. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Flagstaff Gardens, the Fitzroy Gardens, the Carlton Gardens – oh, one can go on and on singing paeans about the incredible variety of plants and trees they boast of, the intricate fountains they are dotted with and the lovely buildings that so beautifully blend with the abundant greenery all around. And this is one reason why the outdoors-loving me cannot help but fall in the love with this city! I can imagine myself strolling around the cobbled pathways in the garden, marvelling at the well maintained extensive lawns, the trees, the flower-beds, the greenery! And a relaxed picnic lunch at any of these gardens would definitely figure in my itinerary whenever I land in this city!
|The beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens|
while the Carlton Gardens is listed as World Heritage Site.
2. The Thriving Art Scene!
There’s another winner here! Guess what! Melbourne is known as one of the world’s great street art capitals! And indeed Melbourne’s street art is legendary. Stencils, sticker art, Wood-blocking, murals, paste-ups, poster art, graphs, street installations et al, you will find everything here! And street artists’ intriguing self expression has found place on many of city’s alleys and lane-ways! The art-lover me would be more than happy to gaze at all the wonderful depictions of the streets across the city, interpreting and re-interpreting them at length. And I’ve learnt that the best place in the city to do this is the famous Hosier Lane. This cobbled pedestrian lane-way is noted for complex street art and installations, and thanks to the internationally acclaimed art display here, it is one of the most photographed streets in Melbourne!
|The artwork at Hosier Lane|
And here’s a video of the famous street! When Tanmay and Rohan of Melbourne Escapade fame visited this landmark street, guess which Indian personality they found on the walls there! Guess, guess! Never mind if you fail, for the answer will cheer you up!
3. The Culture Conscious Crowd!
Garden City. Art City. Culture City. Yes, you read the last one right. Melbourne is ALSO referred to as Australia’s cultural capital. With so much greenery, art and cultural happening, one can understand why the city has been ranked the ‘most livable city’ year after year after year! The city is home to world-class arts and cultural heritage institutions. National Gallery of Victoria, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the Melbourne Museum, and the Royal Exhibition Building are just some of the contributors to it’s claim to cultural fame. Add to it the many theatrical performances, the art shows, the musicals, grand films, the themed performances…reason enough to make me fall deeper in love with the city! I will keep hopping from the museum to some gallery, and from gallery to some other exhibition, and from there to some theatre. Talk about idyllic life, ha!
|The very striking Regent Theatre interior in Melbourne|
4. The Cafes and Coffee Shops!
Since this post has now turned into the many ‘CAPITALS’ that Melbourne is about, how can I miss coffee! We all know Melbourne is the Coffee Capital of Australia and now vying for the world title, if I may add so! So it’s no surprise that the city has a plethora of cafes and coffee shops doting its lanes and by-lanes. The coffee-lover-me will have a gala time here, discovering quaint cafes, sampling coffee across the many independent coffee shops and spending some quality laid-back time here. And adding some glamour to the coffee ritual would be checking out those very popular coffee shops listed in the guidebooks – the funky Baba Brother Budan and the historic Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar!
|The famous Brother Baba Budan Coffee Shop!|
5. The Tram Rides & Tram Sessions!
Before I share the fun details about Melbourne tram sessions, let me not miss the chance to share the city’s another claim to fame – Melbourne has the world’s largest tram network! As of May 2014, this network consisted of 250 kms of track, 493 trams, 25 routes and 1763 tram stops. These are Wikipedia figures and am sure this figure has only increased in the year gone by!
Now about the tram sessions! Tram sessions is basically a not-for-profit project that helps make commuting pleasurable, promoting locals artists and free live music on trams and later uploading the videos on YouTube. Now I am already imagining what fun it would be to be sitting on one of the trams there, and there starts an impromptu gig, making my journey musical! Imagine, the romance behind the idea!
And here’s another fun video of Tanmay and Rohan from the Melbourne Escapade tripping around Melbourne in the City Circle Tram! And that too, FOR FREEEEEE! 😀
It’s these big and small things that make Melbourne beautiful for me. I have never been to this city, but the good word from my brother convinces me that the city indeed is one of the most coveted one to live in. And the many articulate pieces written about the city, both online and offline, only confirms it’s big claim to fame. While the reasons I have listed about are quintessential to Melbourne, the traveller in me cannot admire and appreciate enough the many travel delights around Melbourne.
|Panorama shot of Loch Ard Gorge Beach!|
And topping the ‘Around/Beyond’ Melbourne must-do list are –
- Exploring the Great Ocean Road – Take in the coastal scenery, walk the coastal route, marvel at the iconic 12 apostles, surf, scuba dive, explore the rugged beaches and the shipwrecks, spend some time at the Loch Ard Gorge Beach. basically do everything that is there to do!
- Exploring the Yarra Valley – Live a life of indulgence! Basically eat, drink and be merry. Learn more about the regions art history, wander around the lush valley, savour the fine wines, and of course, take a balloon ride above the Yarra valley! Live the good life basically!
- Exploring Phillip Island – Chocolate and Penguins, two things that can make any girl go mush! And this incredible island has both! The Chocolate Factory here is a must visit – for it celebrates chocolate! And then there are little penguins who parade, much to the visitors’ delight!
Here’s a video of Tanmay and Rohan building houses for the little ones and having a fun time watch them race to the shore!
And here’s another fun video where Rohan Joshi of the Rohan-Tanmay duo describes his Melbourne Escapade in one word. While his favourite word is ‘awesome’, for me, there’s only one word that sums up Melbourne – and that’s MARVELLOUS! 🙂
And now, time for a contest! Yes, you read that right! Answer the following question, and the best answer gets to win a gift voucher from Indiblogger and Tourism Victoria! Yay!! So here’s the question –
Which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why?