Melbourne. 

Tripoto

Flinder's Street, Melbourne

Photo of Melbourne. by Dhawal Pagay

Right through my childhood, I have been fascinated by the Australian lifestyle and their culture since being an avid sports fan, I used to diligently follow the cricket matches and the rugby that they were involved in. They are called the ‘Wallabies’ in rugby and I used to wonder why that name fell upon them and not that of the ‘Kangaroo’, which is their national animal.

Photo of Melbourne.  1/1 by Dhawal Pagay

Amidst the chaos of schooling, tuition and other teenage activities, these thoughts soon receded into the background and their mental imprints were eventually lost until somehow, my family decided that we were going to visit Australia that summer! At first, I was numb with delight and my brain could not process the information that my senses were delivering to it- I was in a state of complete disarray.

As the day of my travels crept closer, I slowly was settling into my element and the nervous energy that was within me was now metamorphosing into excitement and anticipation as to what may unfold on the journey. With my backpack and the essential set of paraphernalia, I was ready to embark on this journey which, little did I know, would change my outlook on life.

After an exhausting 10 hour plane ride, we finally landed at the ‘Tullamarine Airport’,(the colloquial name for the Melbourne International Airport) and the entire setting of the place was beyond what my imagination could conjure up even when at its creative best. The delay in the arrival of my baggage at the carousel bags meant that I could spend my time exploring the airport and how it buzzed with an energy, inexplicable to me at the time.

The Journey Begins.

Our accomodation for the upcoming set of days was at a hotel located in the heart of the city, its location serving to my need of constant inquisition and urges to explore. Amidst the various high rise buildings in the city’s skyline, there is none more prominent than that of the ‘Eureka Skydeck’, which sports a rooftop restaurant which unfortunately I could not visit. The local Aussies identify their directions via their positions relative to the building and hence it has assumed a very critical role in shaping the city’s culture.

By no means did the city lack of engineering marvels, with the ‘Westgate Bridge’, the third longest bridge in Australia, spanning across the banks of the River Yarra, who’s name itself has a story which has Aboriginal roots. ‘Yarra-Yarra’ in the Aboriginal dialect roughly translates to ‘flowing water or waterfall’, which was what the tribe uttered when they discovered the river. Ever since, the name has been River Yarra, honouring the rich history that the city possessed.

Photo of Marriott Hotel, Melbourne VIC, Australia by Dhawal Pagay

The city is divided into a grid, with various streets bisecting it- the ‘Flinders Street’ being the spine of the city, hosting a wide spectrum of coffee shops, pubs and merchandise shops making it one of the most happening parts of town.The large number of shops contribute directly to raising the economy of this sector of town, however it possesses an aesthetic appeal like no other. Vehicles are banned and the only way to traverse this area is via a tram or by foot, a unique concept which adds a unique charm to the entire street. On several nights, I found myself hanging out here, enjoying a hot chocolate and soaking in the culture that the Aussies had to offer.

Before I proceed any further, it is critical for me to outline the historical context under which the city flourished, so that one can appreciate the stature of the rapid development of the city.

Roots Of The City.

In the year 1851, abundant gold was found in lakes and streams around a town called ‘Ballarat’, thus marking the onset of the ‘Gold Rush’ in Australia. In the 1860’s. Melbourne became the second most important city in the world owing to the economic spurt and the rapid development. Most of the people who settled in this city during the early years migrated from a town called ‘Geelong’, which at that time hosted a population of 200,000, contributing to the development of Melbourne.The Tasman Sea and parts of the East Coast were discovered by an Italian named as Abel Tasman and about 80% of Australia’s population resides on the East Coast, its major cities being located here.

Melbourne!

Photo of Geelong VIC, Australia by Dhawal Pagay

I do not want to go ahead and outline my experiences of the ‘famous’ places that I visited, I say that because these places are well known and are mentioned in most travel journals and websites. Thus, destinations which can be recommended only by the natives of the area, is what I will try to put across as it usually are these places that I try to visit, during my vacations. To kick things off, one must visit the ‘Torquay Beach’ in Victoria. This low key beach is famous among the locals, the shore breaking off into a coastal area in the form of a right handed curve, providing absolutely textbook conditions for surfing. Its strategic location allows the Southwesterly Winds to blow across the waves, enabling them to sit up and stay that ways for longer durations of time, thereby providing conducive conditions for novice and intermediate level surfers.

Although my musings in surfing did not pan out exactly as I had thought it to, the overall experience and the chilly waters that rushed up north from Antarctica, knowing that you were in the same waters as that of the exotic humpback whale, was a feeling that cannot be comprehended by mere words, it takes the numerous variables in Nature to balance out, forming the perfect equation.

Photo of Torquay QLD, Australia by Dhawal Pagay

We then proceeded further south, driving along the Great Ocean Road. Here’s what most tourists do wrong- they know that they have to visit the Great Ocean Road but they end up booking a taxi or something of that sorts. The real experience of the coastal drive is to physically drive along the road, in your own car. Constructed by hand by the soldiers and refugees who returned to Australia after the First World War, this place is a must visit. These soldiers were employed by a private contractor who was inspired by the Highway Pacific 101 and wanted to emulate the same in Australia. Several settlements alongside the road with Lorne being the largest ( a population of about 10,000 people ), form an integral part of the overall experience of the drive. The ‘Sheoak Falls’ is a picturesque location one can stop at, to contemplate about the entire journey you have traversed and what lays ahead.

Photo of Great Ocean Road, Peterborough VIC, Australia by Dhawal Pagay

As the old parable goes, ‘All good things must end’ and so did my time at Melbourne. After spending a considerable time in the city, I can safely say that this metropolitan surely ranks right up there amongst the New York’s, Los Angeles and so forth. And for my question which I was posed with right during my childhood, I now have things figured out. If you wish to find out the answer, I suggest you visit Australia sometime and the your answer awaits you under the glistening rays of the summer sun.

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