Written by Edna Truong.
Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria, Australia is a wonderful place for food, shopping, entertainment, arts, culture and learning. Walk the streets as buskers blare their music and mix with the other background noises characteristic to cities. Ride on the horse wagons through the streets or catch a tram, bus or taxi. Discover odd shops in nooks and crannies, or on the side of a footpath, dingy yet spunky alleyways and countless pubs, cafés and restaurants to suit any taste. Don’t forget the many fashionable stores, markets, arcades, as well as landmarks such as street art and historical buildings; the mix of old and new infrastructures adds to the city’s quirkiness and appeal.
There is such a wide cross section of represented cultures, cuisines, communities and lifestyles, you could probably find almost anything here. Believe me, I’m a local. To be more accurate, I live about 20km out from the city centre, in the south eastern suburbs. It takes about half an hour by car, or an hour of train travel from my town. Despite this rather lengthy travel time, I regularly pop into the city for work and to help boost the economy–by blowing holes in my pocket! Not that it needs my help. I just love being in the city!
It’s probably taken me years to build up my knowledge base, but by no means am I completely street savvy. There are so many things that I still don’t know about Melbourne, and it’s really exciting to learn something new yet again. Sometimes a person from outside of town (or the country for that matter) will teach me things or tell me about parts of the city I never knew existed. Fancy that! I guess the way to go is to walk yourself around the city and break out of your comfort zone once in a while, in a safe manner, of course.
For some strange reason, I always get asked by people on the streets if I know how to get to one place or another. Sometimes I can answer, but when they ask for specific stores or particular restaurants I really start to sweat (I’m notoriously bad with directions, you see). However, as the street layout of the Central Business District or CBD for short, is set up in a grid like pattern, it is relatively easy to navigate, but if you do happen to get stuck, everyone will be happy to point you in the right direction. That’s how friendly people are here. Not sure if this is characteristic of the city or the whole of Australia or the world in general though. I’ve not got enough travel experience to be able to tell the difference, unfortunately. Hopefully I’ll be able to remedy that one day.
Melbourne is constantly on the move, and almost every day, there is always something to see or do. With an endless stream of seasonal, regular and yearly events held all year round, there is never a dull moment to be had for all the family. Scattered about the city are venues and galleries that are open to the public, some free and others not. The best way to stay informed is to regularly check on the internet regarding places such as Federation Square, the City Square, Melbourne Exhibition Centre and even the State Library. Trust me, there is always going to be something on.
For visitors or people who are unfamiliar with the city, I recommend you ride on the free City Circle Tram at least once, from start to finish. On the loud speaker, a voice over will explain, at each landmark or major stop, the history or importance of a particular building or place of interest. Remember, if in doubt, pull out the GPS, ask someone, or go to the information booths dotted through the city. I’ve done that myself, so it’s not limited to visitors only.
One of my other loves about the city is its night life, and the best place to view it is by the Yarra River that cuts and wends its way through the city. Walking leisurely by the riverside, watching the lights reflect off the water, crossing the bridges from one bank to the other and seeing the glowing sky scrapers in the distance, I can slowly unwind and let the stress of the day slip away.
Want to know more about Melbourne and what goes on here? Check out the sites below: