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Monday, December 29, 2014

Amazing Melbourne


I hail from a small town Amritsar, famous for Golden Temple and adjacent to Indo Pak border at Wagah. I completed my examination when the news of a sponsored trip to Melbourne created a flutter in my house! I cannot stop dreaming about the most wonderful city and what I plan to see and do there!  I am building castles in the air and plan see them unfold as per itinerary envisioned !
DAY 1- Arrive in Melbourne in early morning

After arriving in Melbourne on the first day morning, I checked into the hotel and after a quick shower and breakfast headed for Flinders Street which has a huge railway station, in the heart of the city.



Flinder's Street Station , and a Brown Tram
This station has an identical design with the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminal (CST) in Mumbai. According to a story both Flinder’s Street station and CST , Mumbai were designed by an architect in England. Due to some mix up the designs got exchanged! Melbourne wanted the station facing Elizabeth Street rather than the Swanston Street as it is now! Both these structures have a great resemblance. This place is a bubbling with activity and the sparkling Yarra River flows nearby. The whole area is known as the CBD( Central Business District) where many banks, hotels and other business centers are located. From here I walked along the Flinder’s Street to see the iconic Young &  Jackson hotel where the famous nude painting ‘Chole’ adorns the walls for more than a century.



Chloe's painting
This hotel has been beautifully restored and has boutique bars and classical pubs.  St Paul’s Cathedral is located next to the hotel. This church with tall spires is the seat of Anglicans in Melbourne and Victoria.


New Year Celebration at Federation Square
At a stone’s throw is the famous Federation Square which has one of the biggest areas for exhibitions, cultural events and has been show casing the history of the city since 1901! In the evening the place becomes even livelier with giant screens exhibiting movies and also cultural programs in the huge arena! The place is provided with complimentary Wi Fi so the visitors can browse or send pictures back home! Next, I walked along to see the Royal Botanical Garden in the vicinity. It has the freshest air, stunning vistas, tranquil Ornamental Lake and the finest flora ! The garden is  also a natural habitat of kookaburras, cockatoos, swans and eels adding color to the place. Melbourne is a very tourist friendly city that offers  free ride on Chocolate Brown Tram and  shuttle bus service is available for sight- seeing the CBD area by ‘hopping on and hopping off’ as often. I then boarded the tram to see the City Museum, Treasury Gardens, and Parliament House building which are treasure troves. The City museum or the Old Treasury Building showcases the gold vaults where the gold was stowed during the era of Gold Rush! The Parliament House is a regal structure constructed in the 19th century and if lucky, one can witness the house in session. I continued the tram ride and stopped over  at  State Library, Flagstaff gardens, Digital harbor appreciating their architecture and reached Eureka Skydeck 88.


Eureka Skydeck 88
It is the tallest building in the southern hemisphere, and offers a fairyland view of the city as the sun goes down and the lights come on, from the 88th floor viewing gallery. It is the only observatory in the world that gives ‘The EDGE’ experience of watching the city from a glass cubical projecting 3m out of the building at a height of 300m! I have butterflies fluttering in my stomach at the very thought of it!


Hosier Street- Artwork

Melbourne has one of the finest dining restaurants like ‘Attica’ where one has to do booking months in advance to relish the creations of Ben Shwery’s creative dishes at an astronomical price of $125 per head! After a sumptuous dinner there, a short walk around the lanes and arcades of Hosier and Flinder street would be in order to have a peep into the street art. This place competes with the Berlin Wall in showcasing art and wins!

As I was about to retire the telephone rang and I heard the voice of Nisha, my cousin who lives in Melbourne with her husband.  She conveyed her unhappiness for not telling her that I would be in her city. Nisha told me that she would come and meet me in the morning and show me the places around!

Day 2 in Melbourne

After waking up, Nisha came and joined me for breakfast. She promised me a picnic that I will not forget easily. At 8 AM sharp we hopped into their car and took off in the direction of St Kilda that is a beach expanse with pristine white sand. Many people were jogging along the beach and some children were building sand dunes, even though it was fairly early in the morning. We spent about an hour on this popular beach enjoying the whiff of fresh sea breeze and also saw the Luna Park which is one of the biggest amusement park. ‘Lentil as Anything ‘ is an interesting restaurant located here where one can pay as he deems fit for what he eats!

Puffing Billy on Trestle bridge

We turned   in the direction of Dandenong  and passed through Brighton . The road was narrow and we could see some cute Koalas on the trees in the thick growth. Suddenly I heard the sound of a train and turned to see ‘Puffing Billy’. This steam engine train is more than a century old and was nearing the Monbulk Creek Trestle bridge! It was an amazing view to see the vintage train going over the quaint old bridge! We then stopped over for lunch and then continued our journey to Philip Island that is almost 75 km away. It was a very pleasant ride through the lush green verdant woods! The views of the ocean and the Koala Animal park at the destination was memorable.



Koala


The grand finale was at the sunset when we saw scores of Little Penguins waddling up the beach to return home on the sand dunes. It is perhaps one of the best processions I had ever seen in my life.
Little Penguin parade
We then returned back to Melbourne as the streets were lit with neon lights casting a magic spell. Nisha asked if I would like to try a hand at ‘Black Jack’. I did not understand and then she took me to Crowne Level 1 Casino, which was located near the hotel! I had never seen  so many gambling enthusiasts, fun filled atmosphere and live music before!

It was getting late so Nisha bid goodbye she told me to be ready for yet another surprise the next day!

Day 3 in Melbourne

I jumped out of the bed at 6 AM as the alarm rang! I had slept like a log after the long day. At 7.30 AM Nisha was there yet again in a yellow top and a flowing skirt looking fresh as ever! She told me that we would visit the Great Ocean Road and it would be another long day. My eyes popped out in disbelief as I never imagined that I would get an opportunity to undertake the most magnificent road journey! Before we left the city we all had a quick bite at Queen Victoria Market which has more than 600 shops  but in morning only a few were open.



Queen Victoria Market
The hot brew of coffee and a donut at ‘Coffea’ was very refreshing before taking a long road trip. We took the route of Hopper’s Crossing- Avalon-Geelong-Bellbrae –Angelsea-Apollo Bay – Great Otway National Park- Princetown and finally the Twelve Apostles. The entire route was an experience which can just be summarized as ‘AMAZING’. The car kept going along the coastline with shimmering blue sea waves beating down the white sand beaches and boulders. We stopped over a couple of times as fingers itched to take photographs of the scenic beauty all around! Various kinds of fungi grow in the Otway National park that maintain the ecological balance of this region and at night ‘fire flies’ descend in hordes to light up the forest area like a ‘carnival of nature’. The final stop was the Twelve Apostles that jut out of the blue sea skywards providing a very spectacular view.
Twelve Apostles

The trip took the entire day and the return journey was equally fun filled, with stopover at a cheese factory and vineyard where I tasted the most awesome cheese and sparkling wine!  We returned back to Melbourne but not before seeing a kangaroo family crossing the road .The  city was getting ready for yet another glorious night!

Goodbye Melbourne
Next morning I was to return to India by an afternoon flight so for the last time Nisha came over  took me to Fitzroy Garden where hundreds of hot air balloons were getting ready for a morning flight! The Orange Color balloon was inflated when I ,Nisha and her husband climbed the Gondola attached to the balloon! The sky was turning red as the sun was breaking and the balloon ascended upwards giving a lovely view of the beautiful city as it was waking up. I could see the Melbourne Cricket Ground  and Olympic stadium from the height which were a treat to watch . Later, I boarded my flight back to Delhi with a heavy heart of leaving behind the sweet memories of ‘Amazing Melbourne’!


PS: 1. This is the story of a fantsy trip to Melbourne of a 21 year old lad from a small town in India
       for 'What's your reason for falling in love with Melbourne, the most livable city in the world? '
      (http://www.visitmelbourne.com/India.aspx) and Indiblogger sponsored contest

     2. Which of these places would you like to visit and why in Melbourne ( See the link https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2r0ptqQ1wBCimcqdfsBCks1YVaFDczLh.)  Please Respond by 04 Jan 15. The best answer will win an exciting gift voucher!!

51 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Rama, for enjoying the flight of fantasy:)

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  2. Great read, Sir. Pictures complement the fantasy. Good luck :)

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    1. Welcome, Alok with your maiden comment on my post! Happy you liked it!

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  3. You have mentioned some hidden gems of Melbourne. May you win again, Sir. Good luck!

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    1. So you discovered them, Saru:) Thanks a lot for your kind wishes!

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  4. A well thought off itinerary to see all that Melbourne has to offer :)

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    1. Good to see you back from the long hiatus with the good news, Pallavi! Thanks for the nice comment!

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  5. wow..it indeed seems to be amazing Melbourne.

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  6. What an amazing trip! 😊 city added to the wish list! 😀

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  7. A very interesting trip no doubt.
    Wish you all the best for the contest and the year 2015 too!

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    1. Thanks a lot Rama! Wishing you and your family a funfilled year!

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  8. Having been there myself and after reading your experiences,,,,...I can go back again for another trip

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    1. Thanks a lot ,Mr Chowa that the post makes you relive your experiences once again :)

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  9. I went to Oz but not to meblourne , I spent my holidays in sydney and gold coast, next time I will visit all these places for sure

    Wishing you and everyone around you a very very happy new yearrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

    Bikram's

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    1. Totally agree Bikram! These places are endowed with tremendous beauty. Wishing you a very happy new year!

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  10. Great post! After reading your post & watching all the videos, I’d most like to visit the Dandenong Ranges for it’s scenic beauty, breathtaking view and cool breeze blowing through my hair. :P I’d give anything away for driving through the winding roads which are present throughout the ranges. I’d love to stay at one of the bed and breakfast cottages and go on frequent excursions in the forests with my camera which provides excellent views. And not to forget the famous ride in the Puffing Billy, a day reserved especially for that. To add to that, there are also several picnic spots for me and my friends to spend a fun-filled day and the ranges are a perfect spot for hiking and cycling.

    Pingback: https://cruxrebels.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/melbourne-the-place-to-be-see/

    Wish you and your blog a happy new year! :D

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    1. Delighted with your nice comment! so much to see and so much to do! Will visit your site:)

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  11. I last visited Melbourne in 2003 - I remember loving the Great Ocean Drive and watching the penguins...Reading this makes me want to hop on the next plane to Australia and visit the places!!

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    1. Lucky you are Divya to have seen the Beaty unmatched! Wish you another trip soon! Happy new year!

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  12. Wonderful post and interesting videos that make me feel that
    Melbourne invites the eternal romantic in me to hold hands with my beloved and go see the Twelve Apostles .Go on long drives on the great ocean road. In the middle of nowhere in a vineyard spread a table and enjoy a meal and a glass of wine with my dear one. Enjoy the sunsets holding hands and do lots of shopping at the Queen Victoria Market and see all the graffiti being created at the hosier lane.
    Great Post and interesting videos watching them I am sure to visit Sovereign Hill for spending some time in the era gone by. The lure of gold and panning for some nuggets is a temptation that is too much to resist. After I have found the gold I am bound to celebrate it with some wine so I will visit the vineyards and enjoy some great wine from the Yarra region .Visit the Pannys Phillip Island Chocolate Factory and have my fill with this yummy delight.
    therisingstarz.blogspot.in/2014/12/melbourne-selfie-capital-of-australia.html
    http://goo.gl/ByJqvP
    therisingstarz.blogspot.in
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    1. A huge thanks for so much value add Hemaa! Great comment!

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  13. Being a nature lover, Australian flora and fauna appeals to my inner senses. If I ever have a plan, I would like to explore the flora and fauna, quite unique to Australia. Maybe, cuddle a koala bear as well, in one of their national parks.

    - Ranjith (http://www.alightheartedtalk.com)

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    1. Absolutely true Ranjith ! Thanks a lot for the nice comment!

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  14. Interesting Post
    After reading your post and watching all the videos
    I feel I have stepped into a kaleidoscope called Melbourne
    Where Vistas of experiences would unfold one after another
    The nature lover in me is enticed by the thought of watching the penguin parade.
    Traveling though the great ocean road, soaking up the freshness as the breeze ruffles my hair gets me in the mood to pack my bags for Melbourne.
    But before I can move ,Puffing Billy whistles and invites me for a ride. The kid in me jumps with joy at the thought of visiting Pannys Phillip Island Chocolate Factory
    Even before I can deside on the list of places that I would like to see in and around Melbourne.
    What’s that noise that I hear ?
    Oh its loud cheer from MCG as the cricket world cup 2015 is about to kick start.
    So many plces to see and so much to do.
    I am thetimetraveler ( http://goo.gl/wdXDzu ) and I have decided … Melbourne here I come ( http://goo.gl/RvUCQf ).

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  15. A city on my would - love - to visit list ...:)

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  16. Wonderful post Sir. Thanks for giving us a detailed virtual tour. I fell in love with Melbourne after reading a series of blogs about it, and it is definitely on my To-Visit list :-)

    Happy New Year Sir :-)

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    1. Thanks Ashwini! Am sure you must be charged after Singapore vacation! Have great year ahead:)

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  17. Sounds like an exciting expedition made even more interesting with facts like that of the Flinders and the CST. Here's to all your fantasies coming to life in 2015 - all the very best, sir!! :)

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  18. Great post.Just loved your blog post. I am in love with driving and road trips, The Great Ocean Road is the ideal place for the people like me. I will surely visit that place in Melbourne and enjoy the sea shore, sunrise and gorgeous mesmerizing view.

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    1. Welcome to my blog! Happy you liked the post!

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  19. Great post, Rahulji!
    Lovely narration! Fantasy looks like reality!
    I too wish to visit Melbourne!
    All the best for the contest!

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    1. Thans a lot Anita !hope you visit Melbourne soon!

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  20. I would love to visit St. Kilda beach in Melbourne and also enjoy watching the Penguin parade there..The serene beauty of the beach coupled with watching the cute penguins in their natural surroundings is sure to make my visit a memorable one! Ofcourse I am going to carry a camera and click lots of pictures to capture all the happy moments there :)
    -Nikita @Njkinny's World of Books & Stuff

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    1. Welcome to my blog Nikota' I am happy you enjoyed the read!

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  21. Being a person who loves to travel this place has struck my eye.
    And here, Eureka Skydeck 88 is going to be first on my list.. i can just imagine the view after reading about it and i feel its going to be awesome.
    Then the St. Kilda Beach,the long walk on the beach during the sunset will be just perfect.. And finding gold is also there.. :D
    why not get my pockets filled with some tresure hunt..Laneways and Arcades is going to be the place to explore my "Lara croft" skills.. :D :D
    Melbourne is going to be a great place to visit and enjoy a holiday..

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  22. Welcome to my blog Vidith! Thank you for the profound comment!

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  23. Beautiful post..does not feel its fantasy. I have lived in Melbourne for a good 2 years. .and still not covered all that you covered in 3 days :)

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    1. What better compliment can I ask for! Thank you Lavina, that after having lived in Melbourne for two years, you found the list do able:)

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  24. For a moment I thought you were describing your tour. Then I read the Post Script. Nevertheless, you have made me eager to see Melbourne and all the amazing sites you mentioned.
    Rahul, I am so used to seeing your comment right on top that I missed it. But was happy to ultimately see it :)
    Hope you had a lovely New Year!

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    1. Ha ha Rachna! So I did entice you to one more place to see on the never ending wish list, like mine:) Thanks a ot for te kind comment!

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  25. Hello Friend
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  26. Hi
    My email id is hemmma09@gmail.com
    in case you decide me as a winner

    ReplyDelete