Now that I have more time on my hands (and no roses in my garden to smell! – thanks to the drought and the possums) I have embarked on a journey of discovering so many new things.
One of them is the city in which I have lived for most of my adult life – Melbourne, the capital city of the state of Victoria (located in the south-eastern part of Australia). Settled around 1837, Melbourne is an exciting mix of a CBD with dark, smoky basements, fascinating laneways housing grafitti and bistro dining, sophisticated rooftops and leafy suburbs all with gourmet eating and drinking covering all ethnic styles and shopping, shopping, shopping!
Named No. l in the World’s Most Liveable Cities 2011 it is also commonly referred to as Australia’s “cultural capital”.
Following is a small selection of Melbourne through my eyes, things I have experienced recently and love to do.
Getting around Melbourne by public transport is by train, bus and our famous trams which began operation in 1885. Our trams are used every day by tens of thousands of workers and not as a tourist attraction like San Francisco.
The heritage W class trams are used on the City Circle route as a free and convenient way to get around. City Circle trams can be used as a “hop on, hop off” way to explore the sights of central Melbourne city and are a great favourite with tourists.
There is also a Restaurant Tram which serves gourmet meals and is booked out for functions maybe up to a year ahead.
Melbourne, architecturally has a mix of early Georgian/Colonial buildings, many incredible specimens of Victorian, Edwardian and Federation houses through to New Millenium buildings of today.
Some examples of architecture around the early 1900′s include Melbourne’s Luna Park (1912) and the Bathing Boxes of which most were developed between 1908 and 1911. These bathing boxes are 2.4 metres long x 2 metres high and retain classic Victorian architectural features with timber framing, weatherboards and corrugated iron roofs. There are 1,860 bathing boxes around Melbourne but only 3 are listed on the Heritage Register. They remain as they did over one hundred years ago, with no service amenities such as electricity or water.
Luna Park is still operating as a fun park and you can still hear the screams of children (and adults) on the rides of the Big Dipper and as they experience lots of the old family favourites like The Ghost Train, The Giggle Palace and The Hall of Mirrors. Sure it’s a bit dated and tacky, but it sends you back to the era of drive-ins and roller skates – not such a bad thing these days for kids who live in “virtual” worlds.
Inner Melbourne has a large number of Victorian terraces built in the 1880s fueled by the prosperity of the Gold Rush with ornate ironwork and lace in the French Second Empire style.
Commercial buildings also benefited from the Gold Rush money boom and wonderful examples of Victorian architecture remain untouched in inner Melbourne suburbs today, still functioning as commercial properties.
My favourite form of architecture is Victorian (I guess you might have noticed by now) and I love the rows of terraced cottages that Melbourne still retains.
That’s enough about architecture of this lovely city, but before I finish on the subject I have to mention the wonderful Markets – Queen Victoria Market, South Melbourne Market and Prahran Market in particular.
My favourite market is Prahran Market because it’s just down the road from my house and I visit my favourite stalls at least twice a week to get fresh fish, meat, chicken, fruit and vegetables.
Theo & Sons Seafood is the best! The fish is so fresh and at Christmas the queues are so long with people getting their crayfish, king prawns, oysters and seafood platters for their Christmas Lunch. (That’s what Aussies call Traditional Christmas Lunch now). Terry (above) always looks after Mr. E.N.L. and educates us on how to cook fish well, so Mr. E.N.L. not to be outdone in the cooking stakes, made some tzatziki for him. Terry thinks Mr. E.N.L. has Greek blood in him now!
A highlight of visiting the market is a coffee at Ablas Patisserie where the lovely Roxy and her wonderfully entertaining boss Michael serve the most delicious baklava free with your choice of coffee or tea. The store is about to be renovated but I have included a shot of the lovely pair because I love to spend a 10 minutes or so nattering with them.
and, which one will I choose….
After visiting Prahran Market, a stroll along Chapel Street to window shop all the fabulous boutiques is a must! Did somebody mention shopping! Chapel Street is great for shopping, as is High Street, Armadale and the Chadstone Shopping Centre (a retail shopping heaven).
Melbourne is a deep sea port named Port Phillip Bay (about 2 1/2 times the size of Sydney Harbour) and when visiting the city, many visitors do not see the many beautiful beaches that wind along the coast.
I love to follow the rugged coastline down to the Mornington Peninsula where you can spot wild dolphins playing in the water and enjoy the beauty of wineries, beaches and other tourist attractions.
Visit a winery and walk through the rows of vines or have a wine tasting and nibble some of the local produce the area is famous for.
… and I couldn’t mention My Melbourne without mentioning the wonderful suburb of Carlton (and also my football team)
and China Town in the CBD…
having a barbie on the Yarra River (aka the “upside down river” – because of its brown appearance)
or watching my team play an AFL game of football – GO BLUES!!
Melbourne is a great place to live and I hope it remains the quietly understated capital city in Australia that it is still today – a secret that I hope too many people don’t discover!