Australia: An Epic Road-trip, Part 6

Part 6: Melbourne  

We stopped in Colac on the way to Melbourne to checkout some tourist sites. First, we drove to the Botanical Garden over-looking the Colac Lake to have lunch. There was a cafe in the Botanical Garden, but we had some takeout food from the Bakery in Apollo Bay: bread, cheeses, scallop pies and other meat pies (Australians love their meat pies). After lunch, we headed to the Red Rock. It's described as a Quaternary volcano complex - an inactive volcano in the most recent period in the Cenozoic era. We climbed the steps to the lookout to see some volcanic rocks and a 360-degree view of grassy craters, hills, expansive valleys and lakes. 

It was overcast and the traffic was moderately heavy as we approached Melbourne. We arrived in Melbourne at around five-thirty in the afternoon.  Our Airbnb was a high-rise apartment in an upscale neighborhood with parking. We picked up the key to our accommodation from a convenience store where we also picked up something to eat. We took our time and did not rush to do anything since we had a few days in Melbourne. Our first night was quite relaxed. We had a quick takeout dinner, and we tried to finish the canned foods/soup and all the drinks, beer, wine left in the cooler. Our apartment was at the very top floor, and I had a wonderful view from my room. So, I left the window shade open and enjoyed the colorful skyline with the sunset hiding behind the clouds with its reddish hue.

The next morning, we were greeted by a gloomy weather but no rain. We headed out and took the tram to the city center to explore the food scene. There was more going on in the city than tourism. There was a big rally and police presence as we got off the tram on Flinders Street Railway Station. The famous tourist area was blocked. So, we were not able to get through and find the restaurant that we wanted. Instead, we spent the afternoon at the free museum and took pictures and posed in front of the street and alleys full of graffiti arts. Later that day, we found ourselves in a food court at the mall. We ordered fried chicken and different flavored chips from a fast-food stall, and Pho from the Asian food stall. The Pho tasted different; it had tripe in it. It tasted different in a good way though. 


On our second day, the weather was mild with clear sky. So, we headed out to the city center early.  We met a lady on the tram who probably noticed "shouting tourist" in me from my accent and the smart phone hanging around my neck. She started talking to us about places to see and pointed to the War Memorial as our tram passed it. She told us that it would be a nice walk from there to the Botanical Gardens. However, we had no plans on doing any outdoor activities in Melbourne but to explore the art and food scene. Besides, I had been to the Botanical Gardens in my previous visit to Melbourne.

As soon as we got off the tram, I heard music; saw food service tents; and smelled the aroma of food. It was lively. Since it was early for lunch, we decided to take a boat ride down the Yarra River. We listened to the narration about what we were seeing on the right and left side of the river while our boat glided under a few historical bridges. About an hour later, we disembarked at the Southbank, an area full of eating places. I was surprised to see how busy it was. Most of the restaurants' outdoor seating were occupied and there was a long wait time to get seated, so we decided to go somewhere else.  Armed with a navigation device, we walked along the riverbank trying to find our way to food. The walk became an easy stroll as it got warmer. The blue sky complemented the different architecture-style buildings in the Melbourne skyline. 


We ended our walk at the Crown Towers where we found a casino and fancy restaurants including Nobu. I made a reservation at Nobu. It had a long wait time, but the wait was well worth it. Somehow, the food that I ordered from Nobu Melbourne tasted better than the food in Nobu in the US. Perhaps I had too high of an expectation from the gourmet capital of Australia that it affected my psyche.


We returned to our apartment to do some laundry. As soon as we got off the tram, the rain started to pour. The weather worsened overnight. 

It continued to rain in the morning. I didn't mind staying in. I thought it would be a good time to catch up on my social media and to sort my photos from our outdoor activities and the places we visited earlier. However, Ron could not stop raving about the place that they had dinner at during their last visit to Melbourne. So, we had to do the food scene rain or shine. We headed out at noon and took the tram to the city center. The city looked as if it was ready for Christmas. Again, there was a big crowd. Understandably, because it was the weekend and people were trying to start shopping for the holidays. Sadly, Ron could not remember the name of the restaurant that he was raving about. We got tired of walking along the crowded streets trying to find it. Ron suggested another place - a bagel place near the library that he said was another good place to eat. So, we took the tram and headed to the library since its one of the places that we're going to visit anyway. The State Library of Victoria is one of the oldest libraries in Australia. Visitors in Melbourne go to the library to see the "Dom and La Troube Reading Room". 

The Dome and La Troube Reading Room

Lenny made a reservation to the 'Lume' prior to our arrival in Melbourne. So, we had to brave the weather to go to the Melbourne Convention Center where the exhibit was being held. The weather had improved as we walked along the riverbank, but we saw the impact of the heavy rains from the previous night on the Yarra River. It was at a flood level.  

The Lume is an art show where the works of Monet are projected into the walls and floors of a massive indoor area, backgrounded by beautiful music. There was a time schedule to enter the venue printed on our tickets, but there was no time limit to see the exhibit once we're inside. So, we spent the whole afternoon inside the 'Lume" and immersed ourselves into Monet's art. It was a fascinating sensory experience.  An epic adventure in art indeed. 

We spent our last day in Melbourne visiting some of Melbourne's tourist attractions. We took the City Circle Tram, a free tram reminiscent of the old era, to go to Princess Theater, the Parliament and Docklands. We stopped at St. Patrick Cathedral to attend mass. We took the regular free tram on our return and missed our stop. We were caught in heavy downpour while looking for the right tram to take us back to our apartment. As they say, "All is well that ends well."

A side note: Lenny and Ron are very organized tourists. They always used their navigation device to go from point A to point B. They first look for the Visitor Information Center to make sure that all the highlights of the place are covered. I, on the other hand, don't mind getting lost in the city. I would normally try to find a landmark and use that landmark as my go to place or the place I would try to find whenever I'm lost. I don't know exactly the area in Melbourne that is considered as the "city center."  So, what I'm referring to as the 'city center' in this blog was my landmark - the area around Flinders Street Station, Federation Square, St. Paul Cathedral and the start of the main shopping thoroughfare.

Lenny proved to be a great travel planner and guide, but we had no control over the weather. She planned this road-trip for the summer. And its technically summer in Australia, but the weather had been dreary. The bad weather and flooding in some parts of Australia dominated the news.  Whenever I checked my iPhone for the weather, the warning "Sheep Grazier Warning", which means severe weather, would pop up. But we've been very lucky to be able to do what we set out do, especially all the outdoor activities before our stay in Melbourne. And the dreary weather did not deter us from exploring the food and art scenes in Melbourne. Ron said that "the Australian Tourism God" had been very kind to us. 

We said goodbye to Melbourne at 5:00 in the morning and headed to Geelong to catch the ferry to Davenport for there is no road to Tasmania. 

TO BE CONTINUED


PHOTO GALLERY

Red Rock


Free Museum

Off the hiway


Southbank

Princess Theatre

St. Patrick Cathedral


St Paul Cathedral


Random Dinner

The Lume

NOTES:

  • All photos by the author. All shot on iPhone
  • I have no material connection to the products, brand names, tourist sites mentioned in this blog
  • Ron and Leny (not their real names) live in Australia

Comments

  1. As always I enjoy reading your travel blog. Great story telling. Looking forward to the next one 😀

    ReplyDelete

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