The perfect Melbourne trip

Melbourne is on my mind these days. A lot.

You see, ever since Indiblogger announced its latest travel writing contest, I’ve been thrown into a bit of a tizzy because of the contest guidelines which say: “Tell us about the experiences you would love to bring back from Melbourne . . . . ” Normally, writing about my travels has never been a problem. But this time I’m stumped — how do I write about a place that I have never visited?

When I whined about told this to Neena, a friend, colleague and someone who’s been to Melbourne, she said, “So what if you have not been to Melbourne. Just use your imagination and let the anticipation of visiting a new travel destination shape your words; the rest will follow.” And that is just what I did. With some help from Google, Melbourne-specific websites, a couple of books, and chats with friends who have been to Melbourne.

This post is all about that perfect trip to Melbourne born out of my imagination and based on the activities I would love to do there keeping in mind my interests. Read on about what my trip to Melbourne will be like, the sights I will see, and the activities I will undertake to experience the history, heritage, art, architecture and contemporary culture that Melbourne has to offer, as well as its unique and famed natural history. So without further ado, presenting to you a no-holds barred account of how I want to experience Melbourne unhampered and unhindered by budgetary or tour itinerary constraints, but fuelled by my imagination 😉

The Melbourne skyline as viewed from the Rialto Observatory on Collins St.
Source: Diliff, wikimedia.org

The perfect way to kick off my Melbourne experience will be with a balloon flight over the city at sunrise. I can’t think of a better way to begin my first visit to this city than combining it with an activity I am doing for the first time as well. Yes, I have never been up in a hot air balloon !

Walking, in my opinion, is the best way to explore a place. And Melbourne offers a range of exciting guided and self-guided walking tours from Melbourne’s famous alleys and lanes; its unique street art; and Aboriginal history and art. Since I love walking, this is one more activity that I will undertake and experience the city coming to life for me.

I am a great fan of public transport and friends who have visited Melbourne have said that the city’s tram services are really good. In fact, the best. And since I have never taken a tram ride, this is another first that I will be very happy to experience in Melbourne.

A city’s architecture not only indicates its character, but is also a historical record of its growth and development over the years. Though recent photographs of Melbourne only tend to promote its stunning modern and contemporary face, its older buildings showcasing evolving architectural styles are no less stunning. I look forward to visiting the architectural landmarks, thereby exploring the different architectural styles in the city, and getting to know the city in this manner as well.

One building that I am rather keen on seeing is the Flinders Street Station building. It is rumoured that the design of this station building and that of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) building in my city of Mumbai were switched accidentally (or deliberately?). I don’t know if this is true, but it surely makes for a fascinating story, and a reason to check out and compare the two buildings. 🙂

I want to experience Melbourne’s literary, creative and artistic side through its art galleries, museums, bookshops and libraries. I am particularly keen on visiting the National Gallery of Victoria, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, the Melbourne Museum, the Johnston Collection and the State Library of Victoria—the websites of all these organisations promise hours of delight in browsing through their collections for an art and culture junkie like me.

As for bookshops, I’m going to be spoiled for choice. Melbourne, declared as a city of literature by UNESCO, is reported to have at least 70 bookshops in its central business district area. Phew ! While it will not be possible to see all of them, I would definitely like to visit a few.

Recently, I finished reading a book by Victoria Finlay on Colour, which has the entire chapter on “Ochre” devoted to the aboriginal art of Australia. I must admit that till I read this book, I did not know about much about aboriginal art. Finlay’s book has kindled in me a fierce desire to see aboriginal rock sites and their sacred ochre art. The Grampians region would be a perfect place to see them, as would a visit to some Melbourne art galleries that showcase the contemporary interpretations of aboriginal art.

I was introduced to Australia’s rich and unique natural history through Gerald Durrell’s book, Two in the Bush. So I was quite thrilled to know about the Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park, which has reportedly been inspired by the work of Durrell. Now, how can I miss the opportunity to “cuddle up to koalas, feed kangaroos and wallabies, meet other endangered species?” And how can I also miss seeing the Penguin Parade at the Philip Island Nature Park ? This will be another of those first and special experiences in Melbourne as I have never seen any of these animals before—not even in a zoo!

And, finally, I want to go on an exploration of the Great Ocean Road and see the 12 Apostles, the Gibsons Steps, London Bridge, etc., and feast my eyes on the various shades of blue and green of the ocean. The geologist in me can’t wait to see the various rock formations exposed along the road. To make this even more memorable, I will treat myself to a helicopter tour of the area for the ultimate experience.

No trip is complete without shopping, and I will prefer to pick up my souvenirs and gifts from local farmers and arts & crafts markets. The Queen Victoria Market, Rose Street Artists Market, Williamstown Craft Market and Maribyrnong Makers Market seem to be the interesting markets to visit. This will also give me a chance to interact with the artists and craftspersons and enable me to get an insight into local culture and customs.

I could just go on and on… There is so much more that I would love to experience in Melbourne—see the constellations in the southern hemisphere sky, listen to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra perform, watch a match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, catch up on an Australian Open Tennis match at the Rod Laver Arena, explore the vegetarian and vegan food scene in the city, shake hands with Gary, George and Matt of Masterchef Australia … the list is endless.

Every travel experience, every journey to a new place is special. Flying to Melbourne will be the first time I will cross the equator and visit a country in the southern hemisphere. It will also be the beginning of many extra special “firsts” that await me — a balloon flight, a tram ride, viewing rock art, seeing kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, penguins and many other animals, a helicopter ride…

I showed this post to Neena and asked her what she thought about my imagination of a perfect Melbourne trip. She said with a broad smile:

Sudha, …it’s your time to visit Melbourne NOW! 

Imagination is a lovely thing and so are hopes and dreams. For you see, in dreams lie reality and that perfect trip to Melbourne holds the promise of being THE real trip of a lifetime. 🙂

92 thoughts on “The perfect Melbourne trip

  1. once again a lovely post, Sudha! I remember getting a mail about the contest, but totally forgot about it! Shankar studied in Australia, and lived in Melbourne for a while, and I would love to visit the city someday…for now, I love the post, and hope you win!!

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    1. Thank you, Anu. And I think you should participate. There is loads of time before the contest ends, and besides you can write about the Melbourne you want to see through Shankar’s eyes. 🙂

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  2. Lovely post Sudha!!! You should win the trip. You know so much more about Melbourne than I did. The walks would be lovely. I enjoyed walking in Melbourne…and the tram/bus services excellent. The trains are also very good. What you will also enjoy besides street art, are the street performers…who one suddenly comes across on the streets.

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    1. Thank you, Neena. I remember seeing all those pictures from your Australia trip and thinking that maybe one day, I will go there. This contest just seems to have brought Melbourne a little bit closer to Mumbai. 🙂

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  3. hey, your virtual trip to Melbourne is fascinating! It not only makes interesting reading but is equally contagious in spreading that “wanting to visit it too” bug! Inshallah, we could team up for it! Best wishes for the contest and hope that your post will be a trend setter of dream about the places you want to visit! Good luck!

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  4. That is such a great (imaginative) tour, Sudha! I am looking forward to the museum and other treasure pieces that you will regale your loyal readers with when you return. If anyone can really showcase a city, it is you. After London, on to Melbourne! And don’t forget a couple of souvenirs for me.
    Psst…is this a trip for one or two? 😀

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    1. Thank you so much, Zephyr. The museums are an attraction, yes, but can you imagine 70 bookshops in just the Central Business District of Melbourne? If I do get to visit this city, I’m going to torn between doing so many things and a limited number of time.

      And the trip is for one only. 😦 Though there will be 2 prize-winning bloggers.

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    1. Aapke muh mein ghee shakkar, Puru. 🙂 But it is early days yet, and many a slip between the cup and the lip or in this case the post and the prize.

      Your comment and support however is heartening and encouraging. Thank you so much.

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  5. I loved this tour of mine to Melbourne through your imagination. Not only Melbourne, you have taken me to many many places and I have seen them through your lens. Thank you and keep writing about places. and Yes, you must write about Melbourne-post trip.

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  6. What would be the period of stay at Melbourne I suggest minimum two weeks otherwise you will not cover all you have mentioned , it is a beautiful city & i loved it but unfortunately I was there for 5 days did not do justice all the best

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    1. This is a post written for a contest, Arnavaz. And the winner gets to spend 4 days in Melbourne. I know that it is too little a time, but I am not really thinking about that at the moment.

      Thanks for your wishes. 🙂

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  7. Great post. I’ve been to Melbourne and there is age part of me that wants to take part in the contest but I’m just too lazy right now to write a post. I think you’ve captured most of Melbourne. The two things I would add is that the city is amazingly multi cultural so that brings about various cultural aspects packed in a small area. China town has some of the best food. Culturally Melbourne has a lot of events that go on over there especially the Comedy Festival that I attended by chance. Good luck

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  8. This is a winning piece undoubtedly, Sudha. g:))
    Highly interesting. Striking…. The narration is crisp. Made me hang there till the very end…Would love to …” listen to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra perform, watch a match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, catch up on an Australian Open Tennis match at the Rod Laver Arena, ” one day 😀
    All the best…

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    1. Thanks Rathina. Just read your and commented on it before replying to your comment here. Ochre is considered sacred by the aboriginals and the rock art is supposed to display that. I love art in all its forms and this part of Australia is really fascinating.

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    1. Welcome here Gayatri and thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

      I have a rather active imagination and am a fantastic armchair traveller. And with the Internet at our disposal, this makes for a potent combination 🙂 That is probably what makes you feel that I have been to Melbourne before.

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  9. Hi sudhagee

    Even I was wondering ‘how on earth am I supposed to write about a city I have never visited ‘ well, stupid question in this information era I suppose . You have done absolute justice 🙂 good luck 🙂

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    1. This one called for the imagination to work overtime and thanks to the internet was able to put up a post. But whether it is creative enough remains to be seen. Thanks for your wishes, Jaish. 🙂

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    1. Thanks for your wishes, Rachna. Having written this post, the anticipation of actually writing about the real thing visit is something that I hope to do one day. 🙂

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    1. I don’t know if I have covered everything there is to see in Melbourne, but I think I have covered the aspects that I like to explore the most in a new place 🙂 Thanks for your wishes, Richa. Aren’t you participating?

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  10. Wow! that’s magnificent account of your (imaginative) trip to Melbourne. Great that I didn’t visit your post, as i too love exploring a strange city on foot – but didn’t take the way this time… I also loved the way you started your trip with a ballon ride…wonderful 🙂

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  11. i believe we already have a winner ma’m 🙂

    sad .. i downloaded the movie AUSTRALIA just to know something about the country so that i can write something in my post (lol) .. glad i read this post of yours .. now i know i am completely out of competition 😛

    Regards,
    Rahul

    * this is my first time here on your blog but definitely not the last 😀

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    1. Welcome here Rahul and thank you so much for stopping by and commenting and subscribing to the blog.

      Delighted that you liked the post and feel that it is winning material. But it is more important for the judges to feel so. Please go ahead and write your post on your imagination of Melbourne, and let me also read it. 🙂

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  12. Hiii…..I liked your post a lot – especially the free-flowing essay style. I’ve read some other posts too but yours is amongst the best…..The entry counts are increasing; the competition is intensifying; but honestly, let’s wish the best man/ woman wins….Wishing you all the luck, Himangshu.

    Psst…..pls read my post too and let me know if it holds any water…….

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  13. Hiii Sudha…Thanks for the comment. It means a lot…

    As for travellogues, I’ve read ‘The Great Railway Bazaar’ by Paul Theroux. It’s a great read. But (I don’t know) sometimes he sounds like a ‘rich old guy cringing at all the poverty around him’. I like Dalrymple’s indianness and Naipaul’s incisiveness too. But tell you what – I would love if Orhan Pamuk gets out of his Istanbul and travels, then writes about it. I loves his ‘melancolic-soul-of-the-city’ writing voice….

    Thanks again.

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    1. What a coincidence, Himangshu ! Will you believe it that I just ordered “The Great Railway Bazaar”, and “The Penguin Book of Indian Journeys”, and ” The Art of travel” today morning. 🙂

      In an ideal situation, I would love Orhan Pamuk to write about other places too. But I suspect that if you take him out of Istanbul, he won’t be Orhan Pamuk anymore.

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  14. Wonderful, Sudhagee! You paint such a beautiful picture even before traveling… how beautiful it will be once you have actually seen it all, I can very well imagine! I cant wait to see Melbourne through your eyes… NOW! All the best 🙂

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  15. Hii…..u know, paul theroux has written another one ‘Ghost Train to the Eastern Star’ where he retraces the same journey he takes 33 years ago. He wrote the ‘railway bazaar’ when he was 33, he wrote the ‘ghost train’ when he was 66. Read it if u like the first book……keep writing.

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  16. Wow, this is like a whole account! Hope it works for you at Indiblogger contest.
    Aboriginal track and art has been on my bucket list. Let’s see when I can do it

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    1. Welcome here Sneha, and thank you so much for stopping by and commenting and for your wishes too ! Yes, it’s a whole account as I have just let my imagination run free 🙂

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    1. Maybe it’ll be better, maybe it’ll be different. But it can never be bad, that much I’m sure of. 🙂

      Welcome here Rayyan, and thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

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    1. Welcome here, The Fool, and thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. I apologise for the delay in responding to your comments; don’t know how I overlooked it.

      Glad you found the post useful.

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    1. Welcome here, Arvind. Delighted that you liked the post. And my apologies for responding to your comment so late. Somehow it got overlooked.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

      Like

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