If you want to go around the world to soak in different cultures and are short of time and money, you can give your round the world ticket a miss and visit Melbourne instead. The multicultural melting pot of Australia will leave no stone unturned to give you a complete “global” experience.
In case you are wondering what makes Melbourne so special or why I keep going back, don’t worry, reasons galore!
The art and sport loving Melburnians keep surprising me with their bonhomie every time I meet them. The multiethnic aspect in Melbourne’s society makes me feel at home always. No matter which corner of the world you belong to, Melburnians will take you in and make you a part of their beloved city in no time. I have found my best friends from Australia in this city and I am sure you will find a few pretty soon, only if you keep a few things in mind.
a) If Cricket makes you think about that noisy insect in your backyard, you better talk about food or fashion when you meet some one there.
b) If you think Vegemite is weird, you better keep your thoughts to yourself.90% of Melburnians had it with bread for breakfast since they were born.
c) Never say you liked Sydney more than Melbourne, you might end up in real trouble. The worst loss to a Melburnian is a loss to Sydney in anything under the sun.
Having said all that, most Melburnians have an amazing sense of humor and you might be pardoned for committing any of the above sins.
2. The History
Victoria is rich in aboriginal history; the indigenous people have lived here for almost 40,000 years. There are many clans among them who still exist and a sizable population of them stay in Melbourne as well. One of them is the Koorie community, which played an important part in reviving aboriginal culture and history in the state. With the overall acceptance of aboriginals as the traditional owners of the land, there is a chance for you to experience an “acknowledgement ceremony” or a “welcome to country” ceremony where you can feel the beat of a traditional dance and catch a smoke.
The cultural centers and rock-art sites at Grampians National Park, the Melbourne Museum and National Gallery of Victoria will provide you insights into the life of the aboriginals, if soaking in history is something you cherish, like I do.
3. The Outdoor Activities
Cycling, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hot Air Ballooning, Lawn Bowling, Wind Surfing, Stand up Paddle Boarding are a few of the host of outdoor activities that Melbourne has on offer. The days when one wants to relax without pumping the adrenaline, there is the free heritage tram ride, aboriginal heritage walk in Royal Botanic Gardens, art walk around the city, fishing in St Kilda or the Williamstown ferry ride.
4. The ‘G’
Known colloquially as the “G”, the Melbourne Cricket Ground has been a witness to the extreme drama and emotion that surrounds Australians when it comes to sports. Home of the Footy (Australian Rules Football) and birthplace of Test Cricket, the MCG is a 365 day sporting venue with a versatility unmatched across the world. It has hosted the 1956 Olympics, 2006 Commonwealth Games, numerous Cricket, Rugby, Footy and Soccer matches, not to forget the Wheel races and musical concerts. The “G” never stops amazing me with its grandeur and if you are a sports fan you cannot give this a miss.
5. The Sports Scene
Melbourne is well known as the country’s “cultural capital”, I wonder why it is not called the “Sports capital” as well.
The Australian Open (Australia’s premier Grand Slam tennis tournament), The Australian Formula One Grand Prix, The AFL Grand Final (Australian Rules Football league) and the Boxing Day Test (Test Cricket Match, played on 26th December every year) are the annual sport events that has eyeballs glued into televisions not only from Australia but also from all around the world. And Melbourne, hosts them all!
6. The Street Art
Before the new millennium, Melbourne’s alleys were dark and nondescript like anywhere else, but a sudden rush of urban art displays changed them into destinations overnight. The ever-changing stencils, murals and paste-ups shot Melbourne up into the list of global cities known to express themselves through their streets. You can spend days roaming around Hosier Lane, Caledonian Lane and Flinders Lane, without getting bored for a moment. If comprehending them isn’t your forte, just take out your camera and take some shots. You will end up having a set of wallpapers for your phone and computer before you leave.
7. The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is arguably Australia’s best driving route. Built in the early 1900’s by the returned soldiers from World War I, the 243 km route is the world’s largest war memorial. Hugging the infamous “Shipwreck Coast”, it takes travellers through rainforests, limestone cliffs, secluded beaches, erosive waves of the Southern Ocean and abundant habitats of koalas, kangaroos and wallabies. Drive on this road or walk it over a week, the Great Ocean Road will leave you mesmerised with a wish to go back again, like it did to me.
8. The Victorian Alps
The spectacular alpine section of the Great Dividing Range, popularly known as High Country is Victoria’s very own mountain playground. Being about four hours of drive away from Melbourne, the High Country receives visitors all year round. During winters, its skiing and snowboarding, which rules the roost of activities. Summers are more vibrant with horse riding, bushwalking, mountain biking, rock climbing, sailing and water skiing taking predominance.
Melbourne, to me is a big collage of everything. Being the Collage of Cultures, Collage of Cuisines and Collage of City Elements it can amaze anyone with its diversity. From heritage trams and horse carriages cohabiting with modern day racing cars on the streets to Mediterranean delicacies living together with Asian dishes, Melbourne never failed to inspire me to go and come back craving for more.
The experiences listed above should tell you why I want to go back there again and why it’s your time to visit Melbourne now.
To meet my friends, to join those argumentative discussions on Cricket over a beer, to know more about the traditional owners of the land, to learn stand up paddle boarding and snow boarding, to catch up the boxing day test and to walk the Great Ocean Road, I need to go to Melbourne again. And when I am back there again, I might come up with another list and a few more set of excuses to go back again. That’s Melbourne Mania you see!