After a late night flight from
Delhi to Hong
Kong, I looked around at the terminal and shopping arcade of HKIA bewildered by the
mammoth size! I patiently sat down for the announcement of the departure of the
next flight to
which was to leave in next half an hour. After a flurry of activity I boarded
the aircraft for the next leg of journey. I had a window seat and soon a young
girl about twenty years old came and occupied the seat next to mine. Dressed in
a flaming red skirt and a white top, she wore a permanent smile. Her name was
Susan Wong and she resided in Melbourne .
She worked for a travel agency. I was in good company and soon found that the
girl was fond of talking and had endless things to talk about. This was fabulous
as I told her that I would be in Melbourne
for four days and would like to go around seeing the place. She passed me her
business card and said she could help readily. Wow! This was a dream come true! After about nine hours of eating, drinking and
endless chat, the ‘Fasten Seat Belts’ sign came on and we were advised to turn
off all the electronic devices. The dark sky line soon gave way to twinkling of
millions of lights as the beautiful city of Melbourne came into view. It was 'time to visit Melbourne , now'. Melbourne
|Melbourne International Airport|
In a few minutes, the flight landed at the
I gave my hotel address to Susan, which was located opposite the Flinder’s
Street Railway Station in CBD (Central Business District). We agreed to meet at
the hotel reception next day at 9 AM. We
shook hands and parted and I took a taxi which reached the hotel in about forty
minutes. The city was decked like a fairyland and traffic moved smoothly. We
crossed a small bridge on the Yarra river which flows through the city to reach
the hotel. I soon checked into the lovely room and looked out of the window to
admire the lovely Flinder’s Street Railway station across the road where scores
of people were moving in and out. Melbourne
|Flinders Street Railway Station|
I had read an interesting story of how the design plan of Victoria Terminus( now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal, in Mumbai) and Flinders Street Railway station in
had got interchanged. In late 1800s Fredrick W Stevens who was responsible for
the designs got mixed up with Melbourne
station which was in state of Victoria
in Australia, and Victoria Terminus in Mumbai as they had similar names.
Strange, though this fact is still contested.and both have almost identical
design. I soon fell asleep. Melbourne
I got up with a start the next day and saw that it was cloudy and likely to rain. I finished my breakfast and reached the reception. Precisely at 9 AM Susan walked. We sat in the lounge for about half an hour as she shared the plan for the day. I told Susan that it may be difficult to spend the day outside due the overcast sky. She grinned and told me ‘Where in the world would you ever find all the four seasons in one day itself?’ I looked at her with surprise and she then explained me that one could see a brilliant sunrise with warmth in air and soon the sky turns cloudy. It rains! By late evening it gets even darker and a sleet followed with flakes of snow greet you. Late in the evening the street is covered with a blanket of snow! Amazing is it not?
|The City Circle Tram- Melbourne|
After a while the weather cleared and she took me towards the maroon brown ‘
City Circle tram’ station around the bend.
The tram would take us for a free ride! The
Melbourne City Circle Tram travels a rectangular route along Flinders, Spring,
and La Trobe Streets, then Harbor Esplanade in Docklands — right around the city centre.
One can hop on or hop off at any station and then continue the journey by the
next one. Within ten minutes the tram arrived. The seats were comfortable and a
conductor greeted us on board. He kept explaining about the places we passed en
route. We passed by the Aquarium and the Princess theatre, Melbourne Federation Square and a host of other
|My host Susan on Yarra water front|
After , this beautiful trip we got down and walked along the River Yarra . It is associated with the Gold Rush in mid 1800 when ‘Gold was discovered in Warrandyte near Yarra . The city of
grew with the rush of migrants to
settle here. Melbourne
A number of people were jogging along the tracks on the River front and the place was vibrant’I could sense the love for sports in the air in this city!. The sky had cleared and the dazzling blue water and the manicured green lawns looked very inviting. I spotted the Melbourne Rowing Club just along the banks and asked Susan. if I could try a hand at rowing! She smiled and then took me to the office where I was told that I need to join a Beginners course lasting 1.5 hours and I should be able to swim at least 100m. So my desire to row was unfulfilled but it was thrilling to watch the young well built men ‘Rowing ‘steadily and saw a number of rowing boats as we walked along the river.
After lunch, we walked to the Aquarium which is in the heart of the city to see an array of the stingrays, turtles and other marine creatures. A continent where the ten most dangerous animals live in the world, like the Taipan snake, Box Jelly fish, Blue Ringed Octopus, and Red Back Spider. It was a great opportunity to see the Sharks in glass domed tunnels and go on a tour in the glass bottom boat to watch the marine life. A truly thrilling experience!
|Melbourne Cricket Ground|
|Rod Laver Arena|
We returned to the Flinder’s Street tram station and took Tram No 75 to head to the Melbourne Cricket Ground , MCG, located in Eastern suburb, via the Wellington Parade. We passed by the interesting sights of the city to reach the place . The imposing structure of the stadia was very impressive. On the the other side was the Rod Laver Arena , the mecca of tennis. A statue of Rod Laver greets you on arrival. My thoughts drifted to the times when I would hear the commentaries of the games of cricket and tennis being played at these venues. Little did I know that one day, I would come to visit them, We were just in time to take a guided tour of the MCG complex which lasted more than an hour with the guide taking us through the history.It has a seating capacity of 100000 and was built in 1861. In 1992 it was fully reconstructed. There are huge TV screens installed for update of the sports summary.. The Rod Laver arena was closed but we could admire the structure where the tennis tournaments, swimming championships and even rock concerts are hosted. One requires a full day to see and appreciate these lovely sporting venues! . As it was getting late, we took a tram back to the Flinder’s Street and bid good bye to Susan for a very rewarding day. Before leaving she had told me to get ready early the next day for some more excitement!
|A stunning view at The Great Ocean Road|
Next morning I was ready by 6 AM and was waiting for Susan when she rushed in and informed me that she would take me for a long drive to the Great Ocean Road and we would return by late evening!. I jumped at the offer in excitement. After all, one does not get an opportunity to travel a distance of 700 km in a day and that too to see the ‘
Great Ocean Road’.
I was thrilled at the prospect to undertake the longest road journey of my life!
Susan had the valid driving license so rest of the logistics was fairly easy.
We rented a car and took off for the trip! The roads were relatively free from
traffic at Flinders Street as we headed towards .
We pored over the map and charted the course as follows: Melbourne- Geelong-
Torquay-Lorne -Appolo Bay-Otway National Park-Port Campbell and Twelve Apostles
and return We estimated that the drive would take almost 7 hours ! So we would
reach sometime in the evening as long as captivating sights
do not delay us further! Geelong
The road was built by the soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and is dedicated to the war casualties of World War I and is the largest war memorial. This road is now included in the list of Australian Heritage sites.
|A cute Koala in its habitat|
Great Ocean Road is a 2 hour drive from with a dual lane highway. From Melbourne
onwards the ride along the ocean offers some of the most breathtaking views of
the coastal scenery with enticing giant sea waves giving company. There is a
great variety of flora and fauna interlaced with local culture, history and a
wide variety of wild life ranging from Kangaroos to occasional sighting of
Koalas! There are certain stretches where one can see whales, if lucky! There
are lighthouses and some traditional fishermen villages, shipwreck sites and
maritime museums. It is literally a treasure trove to explore. There are scores
of gourmet seafood restaurants, regional cheese and wine making centers en
route. Wild berries, olives and citrus fruits grow in this region. At the Melba
Gully one can see the glow worms in the dense foliage of rain forest near
Otways, which look like a million twinkling stars descended from heaven. The
rollicking fur seals and dolphins can be sighted in Geelong . Port Philip Bay
There are rugged cliffs, virgin beaches, and dense forests doting the long stretch of the Ocean road. The Twelve Apostles is a famous scenic spot to savor the panoramic vistas and sandstone cliff views. The drive was a rewarding experience of unsurpassed visual beauty and a feast for eyes as we proceeded. After a late lunch we retraced our journey back to
The street lights had come on and the euphoria of having seen some of the most
captivating sights kept me enthralled! Melbourne
|Hot Air Balloon ride|
The next day, Susan had told me too be ready before sunrise! This was getting even more exciting than I had ever imagined. I woke up very early and at 5.30 AM Susan arrived in her car and took me to The Hilton on the Park, at
Clarendon Street. The roads were deserted
as we arrived through the ! .A hot air
balloon was getting ready for the flight! Never, had I experienced this before
and for a moment the adrenalin rush took better of me! In 15 minutes we were
airborne and soon heading skywards! The sight was breathtaking. For next one
hour we drifted like a bird with the wings spread out as we kept admiring the
view below! After a lovely breakfast we drove through the Botanical Gardens
with a brief stopover. It has amazing collection of flowers and exotic plants!
The serenity of the place is in sharp contrast to the lively city. Fitzroy
We then went to visit the
which as a wide array of
historical artifacts! Melbourne Museum
The next destination was the chaotic, multicultural, Queen
market which is a shopper’s paradise! The market has been in existence for over
125 years and has more than 600 shops selling almost everything! A hot cup of
coffee and some lovely cookies fresh from bakery were invigorating after a busy
day! It had started to get dark, so Susan enquired if I would like to visit a
Casino! This was perfect, as I had not seen one for very long now! We got into
a plush hotel where the crowds in the casino were unbelievable! There were some
very old people too! Obviously cash rich!! I tried a hand at Poker and Black
Jack but just managed to break even! Victoria
A lovely day came to a perfect end!!
|Luna Park- St Kilda|
The day of departure came sooner than what I had expected. I woke up next day to be greeted by my lovely host Susan after breakfast! She insisted that I must visit, St Kilda beach which is just about 6 km from the city centre and has several other attractions like
a huge amusement park, the sprawling beach and Palais Theatre with a gigantic
screen and .
It hosts a number of events ranging from St Kilda festival and even a Gay Pride
March annually! I returned back to my
hotel by the evening to take the return flight back home after this amazing holiday ! The courtesy and friendliness of Australians and their immense love for sports and fitness had left a lasting impression. Holy Trinity Church
PS- This is an imaginary vacation trip toImages Kind courtesy Google
which is a pure fantasy and hopes it come true one day. http://www.visitmelbourne.com/in. Melbourne