Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
Neighbouring the Shrine of Rememberance are the Royal Botanical Gardens. Founded in 18th century, these green beds of sprawling lawns are pure delight for your mind and soul. Take a stroll in these amazingly curated peaceful gardens or just enjoy a leisurely picnic with friends/family along tranquil lake sides. These magnificent gardens offer a relaxing therapy. It is like a magical wonderland which doesn't disappoint you at all and has something to offer to everyone.
Right next door to the Hilton, where I was staying was one of Melbourne’s top sites and the temple for sports-mad Melbournians: the Melbourne Cricket Ground (also known as the MCG or just the “G”). Seating almost 100,000 fans, the G was the site of the first Australian Rules football game in 1858 and the first Test cricket match between Australia and England in 1877. It’s massive and I can only imagine what the atmosphere is like around here on a match day. From the G, I wound my way over to the Yarra River and walked along the water all the way to the Docklands area and Victoria Harbor. Along the way I passed several of Melbourne’s beautiful bridges. The most interesting of which was the Sandridge Bridge. From there, I cut over to the modern steel and glass wonderland that is Federation Square. This is Melbourne’s central meeting place and on a beautiful summer day like today it was overflowing with people. The square is home to the National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian Center for the Moving Image (ACMI) and is the site for regular cultural events and sports telecasts.
Philip island was a long drive from the bus we boarded from Federation square in the heart of the city. We also spotted wallabies hopping about along the way in the plains! Philip island is the coastal home to many little penguins (the world's smallest penguins) where each night at sunset, they return ashore after a day of fishing. It was really amazing to have witnessed this magical procession at Summerland beach, even though photography was banned. But I couldn't resist not sneaking a few of shots of the rainbow gradient sky, which isn't very apparent in the picture because I hesitated and the sun was setting. Photography is banned because the light caused by flashes blinds the penguins for life, although some tourists still go ahead and take their selfish flash shots which is very unfortunate. Made our way down to one of the park ranges early morning to have breakfast, and where I had the best marmite crackers ever....and where mumsie fed canaries with some bird food provided at the side. They're really intuitive! Pitstop at a wine vineyard, and had an expensive Italian meal because there was no other restaurant in plain sight (and we were hungry), the pasta was good at least! Pelicans are such mesmerizing yet awkward looking creatures, which makes them really beautiful. They don't smell very nice though, and I was almost certain they were gonna bite me after my snaps so I scurried away.
Queen Victoria Market
Greeted by glorious fruit, handicraft and busking street opera singers (What a dream) belting out classics like Phantom of the Opera pieces was reinvigorating, especially since we were tired out from the flight there. With the large variety of delicacies and handicraft, Queen Victoria market reminded me of London's Borough market, except that the latter has more upmarket gourmet cuisine. If you want to know, the Market stalls are open everyday, other than Mondays and Wednesdays :) (During the summer months, a night market filled with live entertainment, bars and dining and such can be found on Wednesday evenings) We made a lunch pit stop for cheesy tortellini and smoked chicken sandwiches. Of all choices, my sister had to settle for prata...Asian cuisine is slightly more expensive there so I suggest you settle for local food if you ever visit.
Great Ocean Road
Great Ocean Road, AustraliaThis 243 kilometer stretch of road links the Australian cities of Torquay and Allansford. It was built in 1919 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I, which makes this the largest war memorial in the world. The road’s beauty and varied terrain brings in many tourists from Australia and around the world for a taste of its tarmac. The scenery will take your breath away!
We travelled down to Federation square the very next morning. Even though the temperatures reported comfortable levels of about 12 degrees, it was awfully cold in the morning (think icy cold gush) so we marched out in our winter overalls. The mist that shrouded the town that morning was hauntingly beautiful, as if the scene came out from a film set. While it was slightly tormenting to sacrifice my gloves for these shots, they were worth it. Federation Square has been international recognized for its award-winning architectural design since 2002, serving as a cultural and entertainment precinct which lies in the heart of Melbourne, there are an array of eateries and shops along the parameters for both locals and tourist alike. We also managed to bag some souvenirs in the gift shops around the area (not exactly the cheapest, but uniquely Aussie for sure) It's a very tourist friendly area, and if you ever lose your way or require any assistance or map, the Melbourne Visitor center is located at the corner Swanston and Flinders streets, opposite Flinders Street Station. I left my pair of gloves there and had to walk all the way back, thank goodness it was kept safe! You can also checkout ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) as they have occasional film festivals and exhibitions that may be worth the buck. They recently featured Woody Allen and Jazz on Film! While we were sitting on the amphitheater-shaped steps, we were entertained by a stand-up comedian who was busking around the area with the help of his crew. A crowd naturally formed, and I really love the light-heartedness of busking in the vicinity - the zest for which cannot be compared to the busking scene in Singapore so it was indeed a refreshing change of culture! We had a complimentary APT (Australia Pacific Touring) day tour to catch (to familiarize ourselves with the outskirts of the city), so we headed down to the other end of Federation square - most of Melbourne's tours depart daily from R
Port Campbell National Park
Campbell Bay National Park is a national park in India, located on the island of Great Nicobar, the largest of the Nicobar Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean some 190 km to the north of Sumatra. It was gazetted as a national park of India in 1992, and forms part of the Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve. The park has an approximate area of some 426 km², and is separated from the smaller Galathea National Park by a 12-km wide forest buffer zone.
Eureka Skydeck 88
On the last day, we decided to head up the Eureka tower aka Skydeck88, a 297.3 metre skyscraper in the Southbank precinct of Melbourne. It's the 10th tallest residential building in the world, and the highest public vantage point in a building in the Southern hemipshere. The view wasn't fantastic, but it did give us a glimpse of the landmarks we have been visiting in the past week.....the outside portion of the viewing platform was freezing though.
Great Ocean Road
Continued from Part III here, we headed to the Great Ocean Road, home to the Twelve Apostles and the famous Bells beach which I finally got to soak in the natural beauty of ♥ We also passed by coastal townships of Torquay and Lorne where most of the surfers retreat to during summer (It was winter then so it was pretty dormant) Throughout the length of the road, there were many fern filled gullies and river inlets that added to the pleasure of the scenic coastal drives! It was a pretty long drive though, and the road really got terribly windy halfway so it can be rather nauseous-inducing after a while. Sweets and music on board certainly help. We also made stops at passing towering limestone cliffs, and white beaches basking in the morning sun. And of course, witnessing the Twelve apostles from the boardwalk while the remaining 7 are still standing strong in the Southern ocean. Lunched at a small town @ Apollo bay hotel to escape from the cold!
After stepping out of the church, I roamed around the streets and gathered some information from the visitor's centre about the tourist attractions around the city. I walked down a little further and came across the Southbank bridge over Yarra river which is a picturesque sight. A lot of cafes surround the river and one can also spend some quality time on a cruise ride. Melbourne Arts centre is also located across the river which can be a soulful delight for art patrons. The best feel for me was to take a walk over the bridge sipping some hot latte. There I witnessed hundreds of locks with written messages hanging on the railings of the bridge. I was stunned and asked a few people around the story behind it. And when I got to know the answer, I just could not stop smiling. Those were love padlocks with scribbled initials and messages which signified the everlasting love of many Romeos and Juliets.
I always have a 'must watch' list with me whenever I visit any new destination. No hard and fast rules but I try to go with the flow and explore as much as possible. In short, few tourist attractions are planned before hand and few you just stumble upon getting mesmerized with a new discovery and a newly developed ecstatic wisdom. I stumbled upon the Hosier lane across the Federation square while walking out of a store and this quirky gleeful lane grabbed my attention within few seconds. One can spot professional/amateur photographers, tourists, kids and several art lovers admiring, photographing and posing with the artwork. This graffiti lane shouts out loud about its existence through its colorful contemporary social artistic commentary. Its an imaginative magical galore. The art keeps changing every time you take a visit to this street. It was then I got to know that why street art of Melbourne is internationally recognized. Let me not say anymore, let my photographs do the talking.It almost became a daily routine for me to get to Flinder's street and hop on to the burgandy and gold coloured City circle tram.This is a free service tram and it is an excellent way to explore the CBD area. This historical rail carriage takes you around the scenic circles between Latrobe street and Docklands and there is continuous commentary that goes on in the tram which describes the highlight locations to the tourists. This free bee becomes one of your favorite companions in Melbourne. Hop on, hop off, explore a location, do some shopping, get in again, meet travelers from across the world, share your experiences with them, make new friends or simply enjoy a round trip.In a span of few days,I delved into the depth of many attractions while circling around the City Circle like Parliamet house of Victoria, another marvellous piece of architecture- St. Patrick's Cathedral, State Library of Victoria, the eerie old Melbourne Gaol, docklands for a shopping spree, the giant Ferris wheel called Melbourne Observation Star or Melbourne eye which provides a spectacular bird's eye perspective of the city and the lush green stress buster gardens of Fitzroy and the serene Treasury Park.
Flinders Street Railway Station
Flinder's street station is a marvelous piece of architecture located in the heart of the city. It has an old world charm about it. The trains from Flinder crisscrosses the entire Melbourne. Get to this station from wherever you are staying and then roam around the trams which are spaciously and beautifully lined across the City Centre. If you want to get arrested under the vibrant aura of this place, just take a ride on the horse carts lined across the lane for an enthralling experience.
To get away from the hustle bustle of the city, to relax a bit and to munch on my veg roll peacefully, I decided to walk through Treasury park and then walked into the Fitzroy gardens across the road. It felt like a perfectly pleasant place to laze around and get soaked in the splendid aura of these scenic quaint green beds. One must also visit the colourful conservatory for amazing clicks. I also managed to get few stunning selfies.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------During my daily excursions over the week, I got to know about the fireworks that were being organised every Friday night at Docklands in winters. Trust me, I was eagerly waiting for Friday evening to arrive.With oodles of thrill and energy, I was at the Docklands by 6 in the evening. I was zealously waiting for it to start and when it did, my eyes got glued to the sky and I felt hypnotised. Diwali has always been my favorite festival and I relished that 1 hour Diwali in Melbourne with all the happy people around. Let me give you a little glimpse of what am I talking about.
The Night Market
Loaded fully with shopping bags, I had baggage full of energy to do some more local shopping and I decided to visit Queen Victoria night market to get the essence of local culture. That place was an amalgamation of endless fun, varieties of local handicrafts and assortment of divine flavours for the tastebuds. I picked up a lot of local stuff like bracelets, hand woven knitwears, paintings, photographs, postcards etc. as souvenirs for friends and family back home. I always prefer taking back with me unique tokens of remembrance with a special feel tag attached to it which are always better found at places like these than souvenir shops.
My last day in Melbourne and I went to see early morning Twelve Apostles since its 300 km from Grand Hyatt Melbourne. Dramatic, powerful, dangerous and majestic... How can words describe some of the world's most impressive coastline ? Gain a unique perspective of the stunning Twelve Apostles from the water's edge. Returned from there by evening and looked outside by room the city view and wanted to stopwatch that moment.At the end I would like to say that take every chance in life, because some things only happen once.
Next we went to The Nobbies where we wandered along the boardwalk around the rugged coastline. This place gives you a great view of offshore islands.In the end we went to the world famous Penguin Parade. The little penguins fish in the sea all the day and return to the shore just when it starts to get dark. It’s fun watching them gather at the shore and walk towards their nests. Approximately 900-1000 penguins participated in the parade. One must carry jackets as gets freezing cold at the night. Photography is not allowed as it may disturb the penguins.
Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium
After you leave Melbourne Cricket ground, make your way in the state of Victoria to find yourself at The Melbourne Sea Aquarium. The bedazzling place has been featured in numerous movies and you need to feel the place yourself to understand why. During your time inside the tunnel that guides your way through the real aquatic habitat of Australia, you will actually realize the beauty and diversity of Australia.