The cities in Aus just keep getting bigger. Melbourne is a much larger, more busy city than Adelaide. However (and like Adelaide) everything outside the central area (City Business District – CBD) is fairly low rise. From our flat at the edge of the CBD you could see all the way to the mountains on the horizon, with the city sprawling out towards them for as far as the eye could see.
Mostly the weather was overcast and quite cool, so it did feel quite different after the scorching temperatures in Adelaide, but the weather here has a tendancy to change quickly and suddenly, so take sunscreen and an umbrella.
Melbourne wasn’t as pretty as Adelaide, but it is a handsome city none the less. It has many historic buildings alongside modern high rise towers that seem to be going up in high volumes all around the CBD.
Right next to our block was Victoria Market, a huge market (the largest covered market in the southern hemisphere, apparently). It sold a wide range of australian clothing (with aussie flags, kangaroos, maps, etc.), new age goods, home made soaps, souveniers and an excellent artisan food market, where we joined the crowds and grabbed some street food (whih we hoped was somewhat safer than some of the street food we’d encountered earlier in the trip!).
After the market we got the Heritage circular tram (free in the CBD) for the hour long tour with a very good commentary. Anyone going to Melbourne should take a ride to get their bearings and find out a bit about the city.
We wandered round the CBD and the shopping district, then grabbed an early dinner and a bottle of wine. As it was New Year’s Eve we headed out to the park behind our flat to watch the fireworks which had been organised both in the park, and also from many of the buildings in the CBD. They also had a DJ playing music in the park, which seemed to play a reasonable amount of 90s dance music, which was a nice end to the year on the other side of the world!
Next day was New Year’s Day, so it was a bit of a quieter one. However, we wandered around the city checking out some of the historic buildings. We popped into the National Gallery of Victoria. It had an interesting mirrored installation in the foyer and many other gallery rooms you could visit. It was advertising an exhibition of David Hockney work, one of our favourite artists, but we didn’t have time for that as we had more of Melbourne to see. We wandered down to the river, had a bite to eat and soaked up the vibe. It was busy with people wanting to have a chilled out NYD, and was a lovely place for lunch.
It was then on to Flinders Street station, a lovely looking place on the outside, but a little underwhelming on the inside, followed by a wander around Federation Square, just outside the station.
On our last day we did a long walk down to the Treasury, which is where they would store the gold from the gold rush in the 1800s, although by the time they built it, the gold rush had mostly finished. Then we walked up to Carlton Gardens and the Royal Exhibition building where they held the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880.
Then on to the Fitzroy area to see the bohemian district (most of which was shut until the 6th of January), and the on to the buzzing Italian quarter, with its many Italian (and also Greek and Middle Eastern) restaurants.
And that was it, an all too brief visit, and probably at the wrong time of year as a lot of the city was closed for the holidays, but I will say that Melbourne is a city with a great vibe. Very cosmopolitan, friendly people, restaurants from all over the world, and plenty of culture.
But it was time for us to move on, and we had a train to catch to Sydney (13 hours worth…. – not as bad as it sounds and if nothing else, some of the odd town names on the way were entertaining……)