Melbourne – The kangaroo land

Tripoto
Photo of Melbourne – The kangaroo land 1/16 by Sneha Vashist
Beechworth brewery
Photo of Melbourne – The kangaroo land 2/16 by Sneha Vashist
Rose artist street market
Photo of Melbourne – The kangaroo land 3/16 by Sneha Vashist
Bottle feeding lambs at Bundoora Park
Photo of Melbourne – The kangaroo land 4/16 by Sneha Vashist
Crown Casino
Photo of Melbourne – The kangaroo land 5/16 by Sneha Vashist
Dandenong Ranges National Park
Photo of Melbourne – The kangaroo land 6/16 by Sneha Vashist
Hailesville Sanctuary
Photo of Melbourne – The kangaroo land 7/16 by Sneha Vashist
Mount Hotham
Photo of Melbourne – The kangaroo land 8/16 by Sneha Vashist
Flinder's street Station
Photo of Melbourne – The kangaroo land 9/16 by Sneha Vashist
Hoiser Lane
Photo of Melbourne – The kangaroo land 10/16 by Sneha Vashist
Parliament of Victoria
Photo of Melbourne – The kangaroo land 11/16 by Sneha Vashist
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Photo of Melbourne – The kangaroo land 12/16 by Sneha Vashist
Trams running around Melbourne CBD
Photo of Melbourne – The kangaroo land 13/16 by Sneha Vashist
Fitzroy Gardens
Photo of Melbourne – The kangaroo land 14/16 by Sneha Vashist
Olinda Creek falls
Photo of Melbourne – The kangaroo land 15/16 by Sneha Vashist
Olinda Creek Falls
Photo of Melbourne – The kangaroo land 16/16 by Sneha Vashist
Kangaroos of the Kangaroo Land

International trips ! Planning for a foreign trip requires a lot of effort. From number of small issues like the best time of the year to visit the place, the best flights, travel time to no. of gigantic problems like nailing the visa, the overall budget management, figuring out cheap accommodation to my another no. of crazy problems which pop out in my head like the inability to handle the cold, the always exceeding baggage issues, the boring long journey alone and my jinxed international travels.

But once all of the above is sorted, its done and you are ready to go.

I should say that I was holding an ace card in regards to my Melbourne trip despite of all the rough deals. My visa situation was a little problematic as I was on a big break in life at that point and time. So, no salary slips to show and imagine a pretty young single girl on her expedition to Australia all by herself. Visa authorities always have an issue with people like me. But I got an escape out of this situation as I had one of my uncles in Melbourne who was family and also an Australian citizen. I got my visa pretty easy with just a little running around with paper work. And my stay was also sorted because a real close friends resides in Melbourne.

The difficult part for me was travelling alone for long hours, changing flights and also being devoid of vegetarian meal on one of the connecting flights as I forgot to make a prior request. Things you really need to take care of. So, after hours of being up in the air, watching a complete set of movies, listening music, bearing the monotonous flight announcements, dealing with an irritating passenger next to me, I was finally in the beautiful city of Melbourne.

Clearing the regular security checks, it would have taken me an hour to step out of the airport. And it was a sigh of relief and bundles of excitement when I got to see my big fat red suitcase at the baggage claim belt with just the broken lock this time. If I would get into the depth here of what I mean, this would totally become another story. Let me save that for later. Just that with every travel experience/disaster, I learn a lot.

In my own zone, happily stepping out of the airport, one of the security guys said something which was completely ignored from my end. And in next few seconds when I understood what he mentioned, I did not know whether to laugh or to cry. He said, "It just started raining and the rainbow is already out". He was talking about my colourful pants which had all the rainbow colours. Australian accent is a difficult catch in the beginning! I suddenly felt a warm welcome on this isolated land with his playful comment along with such pleasant weather and a pleasing smile from my friend at the airport. Altogether,it just felt so good.

After getting to my friend's place, I hogged on to a scrumptious vegetarian meal over a chat session and was fast asleep.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The next morning and the mornings following that morning, I developed a routine to wake up in the afternoon, have a heavy brunch and step out on my Melbourne excursion. The next 30 days felt like pure bliss.And yes, it was afternoons and not mornings for me for almost a week because it was too cold by my standards. For a Mumbai girl who is accustomed to hot and humid weather, such wintery icy cold weather was pretty challenging. All decked up in my layers, I used to step out on my wandering trips.

For anything and everything you plan to do in Melbourne, you need to head to the City, CBD. From tourist attractions to varieties of restaurants and cafes to shopping malls to the museums and aquarium and the arts centre, everything is located in the City.It was just a matter of few days to figure out my way from the suburbs to the City. Transportation becomes pretty easy once you find out all the mediums and a myki card is a hand on tool which makes it very simple and hassle free travel across Melbourne.

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.

Right across the Flinder station is the graceful building of St. Paul's Cathedral. There is something about churches I have always adored. I don't know if its the peace that prevails in there or the lit candles or the extravagant architecture or the way people are immersed in their prayers,everything just fills up my soul with a positive vibe and a feel good factor.

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.

Walking down a little further, I saw sign boards directing towards Melbourne Aquarium. And in a matter of next few minutes, I was at the aquarium. Any form of wildlife brings the child inside me into action. It was a colourful vibrant world in there. I saw varieties of fishes from the tiny ones to the jellies to the sharks , held starfish in my hands and also attended the fun penguin show. I just wanted to get inside those cages and feed the entire cast of happy feet by myself. They were so cute and it was completely enthralling in itself to watch them flap their wings, slip over ice and eat their food.

Cups of coffee and oodles of excitement kept me going throughout the day and this was what I did for next 25 days-

Travelled, explored, wandered and repeat.

Travelled, explored, wandered and repeat.

Next day, my friends decided to take me over to this Turkish restaurant in the city called 'Achelya' for dinner. Everyone warned me about the cold and asked me to add on layers to my attire. Turning a deaf ear to everyone, I stepped out in my Indian avatar in that biting cold but it was such a warm feeling to experience what came to me as a complete surprise. This restaurant served some belly dancing along with its Turkish cuisine. I was very ecstatic to shake my belly with the belly dancers who were spreading their magic around our tables. And let me also mention, the starters, the hookah, the turkish drink (yeni raki), the food, everything was delicious.

Next morning I had plans to visit the Southern Hemisphere's highest viewing platform, Eureka Skydeck 88. Me and my friend decided to experience the thrill of being on top of the world together and it simply left me spell bound. The superfast lifts takes less than 40 seconds to arrive at the level 88 and you get bewildered with the breath taking views you get to see from the top.

The next on our list for the day was the Shrine of Remembrance. It is considered to be Melbourne's most iconic landmark where the service and sacrifice of Australian men and women in war has been honored over the years. The Shrine is an elevated structure overlooking hectares of beautiful parkland.The Eternal Flame on the Second World War Forecourt symbolizes eternal life for those who have served.

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.

After burning enough calories in the garden, my stomach was craving for some good food. Yummilicious fries and burgers from this amazing joint called 'Lord of the fries' served as an appetizing relief. By evening it was so cold that by body almost felt benumbed but I must admit that the duskier skyline and the glittering lights made this dazzling city appear more graceful and alluring like a jeweled bride.

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.

I am not a great admirer of any sort of museums but the Melbourne Museum and Immigration Museum were not only very educational but so much fun.I spent hours at every section of the Melbourne Museum and when I left the place, I felt more enlightened about several aspects of Australia

Few places take you down the history lane and give you a sneak peek into a different era. Old Melbourne gaol was one of those. Let me tell you first. Gaol is pronounced as jail. Difficult to believe? But yes that's how it's enunciated. Indeed, English is funny language. Coming to the point, I would like to mention that this place had a very uncanny and creepy feel about it. But this gaol also provides you insightful information on the lives of the prisoners who spent their life in these cells and in particular about Ned Kelly, the notorious bush ranger of the 18th century. The watch house tour is also pretty fascinating which gives you the real life crime and justice experience. Getting arrested and being thrown into the cells to give you a feel about how prison life would have been was so entertaining. Definitely, this place is worth a visit.

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.

What more astounding things could one ask for in a day ? Don't you think so ? And this place also had a lovely cosy cafe to sip some hot coffee and to munch on some snacks amidst cute conversations of many kidos with their mommies and dadies. Who said it was just meant to be for children. Bundoora Park turned this 27 year old into a kid.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Roving around Melbourne CBD for shopping is a pleasurable experience one can have. Being a shopaholic by nature, Melbourne felt like a perfect fantasy world to me. From the very high end brands to many cheaper ones, you have many choices in hand. Though my shopping got a little restricted to winter dressing because of biting cold weather but I was and I am in love till date with every little piece I got from there. To name a few of my favourite brands,I would say- Cotton On, H&M, Temt, Valley girl and Factorie. How can I forget K Mart. One stop shop for anything for yourself to everything for your house. I ended up shopping lots of shoes, boots and high heels from there. One of the treasured things that I bought which brought me countless compliments was the pink H & M scarf. I wonder if there would be any girl who would not like this scarf. Afterall, pink is the new black these days.

In a complete shopping spree mode, I got to witness several colours of Melbourne life. Hustle bustle across the streets during peak morning and evening office hours,trams brimming with passengers over the weekdays & weekends and the maddening amount of footfall at the shopping malls due to sale season.

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.

Next morning, my friend wanted to shop some grocery and asked me to accompany him to a nearby grocery market called Preston. Grocery shopping till date had never been so much fun. Replica of Indian hatt bazars with english speaking hawkers and varieties of foreign vegetables, fruits, fish and bakery items to chose from. Though we had made plans to cook a scrumptious Indian meal after getting home but the sudden rainfall changed our cooking program to a feasting plan. I had craving to hog on to some Indian delicacies and this Punjabi restaurant called 'Shehnai' nearby to the market served appetizing Punjabi food from Samosas to chole tikki to rajma rice to aaloo and gobhi paranthas to kadhi chawal to lassi to jalebis to what not. All I could do after gobbling up so much food was to burpppppp.

The plan for the next few days was set in advance as I was nearing the time to head back.

The best about the location of Melbourne city is, few hours of drive from the city and the destinations you reach simply blows away your mind. Dandenong Ranges is one of the finest examples. An escape away from the bustling city life and you enter into the magical world of misty mountains and lush green towering forests. Its pure bliss and this heavenly place offers you 1000 things to do. You can choose from several available options in these ranges and do whatever pleases you as per your convenience. You can walk around and explore nature if that is your thing..or get acquainted to the wildlife around the national parks or experience a lavish train journey of the Puffing Billy or delve in wine tasting tour amidst spectacular scenery of Yarra valley or simply rejuvenate your taste buds by relaxing and sipping on few varieties of tea at the beautiful eateries around the place.

The unpredictable Melbourne weather always welcomes you with an all together unidentified thrill. The idea was to spend some time at the Dandenong Ranges National Park and feed few cockatoos but the uncertain rainfall pricked my bubbles of imagination and I had to return by clicking just few pictures of the exquisite place and some shopping from the souvenir shop.Moreover, sudden rainfall made it intolerable to stand the biting cold. We decided to take shelter at some cosy snack bar or tea shop.'Pie in the Sky' served as a delectably tempting rescue joint for us. It took us a while to get the table but it was definitely worth the wait. Had few delicious snacks and pies. And to suffice my sweet tooth, I tried on some scorns, kind of sugary buns with jam and cream. And the way it melted in my mouth. It was just so yummy.

My visit to Dandenong Ranges was not constrained to a single trip. I visited this little heaven a few times again. One trip was dedicated to the wildlife of Healesville and the other one given over to the walking adventures of Sneha and her friends to Olinda Creek falls.

Have you ever experienced that humbling impression of being surrounded by colossal trees from a different era that you feel an urge to ratify your existence. I am not kidding. Trees probably over 100 years old standing tall since eternity. You almost start finding yourself a minuscule creature. Olinda Creek falls was such an overwhelming experience. A touristy walk to the falls can also make you realize your fitness levels. I still clearly remember the silence that prevailed, the misty air that filled the woods with a sweet fragrance and the cascade of the waterfall that cheered up my soul. It was a wonderful magical excursion..!!!

Healesville Sanctuary is the best place to get an encounter with Aussie animals. From varieties of kangaroos to koalas to wallabies to emus to pelicans to platypus to the bird show, an absolutely delightful way to spend a winter afternoon. The best feel is to be around the animals that were not completely caged. Its fun to watch them play and wander around in their free space. As a tourist and a hardcore animal lover, I was super thrilled.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The idea of gambling for me. I have never been a fan but I didn't even try my hands on it ever before I decided to visit Crown Casino. People say Vegas is the place. All comparisons being drawn, all said and done but for a beginner like me. Crown was phenomenal. Its a pretty remarkable and enticing place with gamblers jammed around. Backdrops of dazzling bars, delectable food courts and hooking music along with few high end shops add on to the overall feel of the place. Kind of massive with a little bit of everything around. About gaming, I tried Australian pokies, roulette and the big wheel kind of thing. And lost it all. After all its a win win situation only for few. But I thoroughly enjoyed myself. At least I have a casino experience till the time my Vegas trip happens.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Before reaching Melbourne, it was already decided by my friends to make a trip to snow. Mount Hotham was the place locked on. When I was nearing the time to leave the country and the plan was still pending, the last weekend was the perfect timing to step out of the city, enjoy some snow and preserve the frosty icy memories of Hotham as a 5 star rated experience of my Melbourne trip.

A quick dinner and we were fast asleep. Next morning we were on our way to Hotham. White became the state of my mind and it just felt we were en route to heaven. Beauty at its best.

What followed next was simply mind boggling. We decided to try on few adventure sports like skiing and snow boarding with no expertise in either. I was so jealous of all the kids and grown ups around, crossing by me like wind on their skis and snow boards. I felt no good but trying is always good. Isn't ?And the body was already numb with cold. So, a few falls here and there didn't even hurt then. But it did hurt during night.

We left around 5 in the evening all packed and geared up with our woollen armoury. We reached Harrietville by 11 pm after 5 hours of driving. Hotham is approximately an hour's drive from Harrietvlle. So,we decided to take halt for the night at the beautiful Shady Brook Cottages. The cottage was lovely and cosy with stunning gardens around and the owners John and Anne were very warm and welcoming.

Saturday was well spent at Hotham. Sunday morning post heavy breakfast and hot cappuccino, it was time to head back. We took a different route, traversed through Mount Beauty amidst heavy fog, tasted the world famous honey in Beechworth town, picked few bottles of honey variants and also relished a tour of this honey making process. Gobbled up delicious pizzas and tasted varieties of beer at Bridge Road Brewers, Beechworth. Beer is not my drink but if it is yours, this place is a must visit. Slowly and steadily, enjoying all the beauty around us, we were back to Melbourne by late evening cheerful and contented.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There exists a bohemian side to my personality. Bohemian things attract me and I get drawn to places with hippie vibes. My gypsy soul took me to the vibrant street of Brunswick. From designer high fashion boutiques to second hand stores to retro stuff to art galleries to live music to colourful cafes to cheap eateries, this place has it all. Enthusiastic, dynamic and stimulating artistic soul defines this street. I was wandering around Brunswick street on a Sunday afternoon when I came across a lad directing towards Rose artist Street Market. Local markets are one of my favorite things and I decided to make a visit. This market had lovely hand made things like jewellery, pottery, stationary, paintings, clothing etc. by local artisans. A little on the expensive side but few things are definitely worth buying due to its uniqueness.

With dusk, the street gets more lively. I decided to feast on some vegetarian food and sip some Sangria at a cosy restaurant specializing in vegetarian delicacies called 'Veggie Bar'. I was very excited to choose from varieties of vegetarian and vegan options. Must visit for all veg people out there ;) It was indeed a happy day full of new discoveries, eclectic vibes and scrumptious tastes.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Time flies and finally it was time to head back to India. Melbourne trip was not only full of new experiences and new learning but also plenty of fun and heaps of merriment. I explored a lot and relished it to the core. Probably, today I know the reason of Melbourne being named as the most livable city in the whole wide world. This trip would have not felt the same without few dear people who made sure to give me an experience of lifetime.

Be the first one to comment