Tag Archive: Melbourne

Don’t drag me to that debate on which is lovelier, more vibrant, more fun between Sydney and Melbourne. Our tour guide in Melbourne started that and don’t ask me why. What’s the fuzz? Both are in Australia, and they’re BOTH lovely. We had our own brand of adventure in both and this piece is a summary of the blogs I’ve posted on Melbourne. Feel free to click on the links (tap the coloured headings) for more details. Share, repost, if you like.





The Great Ocean Road






We booked online via Wildlife Tours. A GroupOn voucher discounted an Au$130-150 tour to only Au$88 for a daytrip starting at 7:30 am, back same day at 9:30pm. Now, before you start saying it’s butt-numbing, do browse through these first 3 blogs. Much adventures in a single day. Def worth every cent and minute of your time! Never mind that it took all of 14 hours. The itinerary is so well-planned with lovely reststops and breaks. Trust me, you’d wish it was longer!







Urban legend or not, I like the story. Or should I say gossip? Now, how many couples would go through an experience like that? Imagine being rescued and airlifted from one of those craggy stone formations because the connecting “bridge” collapsed? Go ahead, click on the link (tap the heading “London Bridge No More) for details.










Sandwiched among the many beach and oceanview pitstops is this rainforest walk and another site to “meet and greet” koalas and some kookaburra and other colorful birds. Perhaps even a kangaroo or two, if it’s your lucky day. Didn’t think much of this at the outset, but now I say it’s the finest way to stretch those atrophied muscles and breathe in some fresh air on a longgggg day.




Cheapest Hop O n, Hop Off Shuttle. Ever!

Cheapest Hop O n, Hop Off Shuttle. Ever!




Can you beat Au$5 for a 90 minute tour on a shuttle bus around Melbourne’s city sights? There’s a long list that will keep you forever hopping off. You can buy your tickets from machines in designated bus stops or you can drop by the Melbourne Visitor Center for a brochure and that Au$5 ticket!




5.  SHRINE OF REMEMBRANCE:  Lest  We Forget!

This is one of the hop-off sites of the red shuttle bus.  You can save it for last once you get on the bus in front of the Visitor Information Center and Saint Paul Cathedral.  A fitting memorial to the gallant men and women who sacrificed limbs and lives in the name of peace.  We visited just a day before ANZAC DAY so we witnessed a lot of preparations for next day’s dawn service.






Melbourne For Au$5?

We had a free morning in Melbourne. Done with the Great Ocean Road, we planned on visiting the Shrine of Remembrance a day before ANZAC Day. We weren’t in the mood for visiting vineyards today as we were simply exhausted after yesterday’s long drive. And the city tram is forever hanging with tourists and locals. So what’s best to do without tiring one’s self?



Flinders Train Station

Flinders Train Station



The iconic Flinders Station.

The iconic Flinders Station.



Found this hop on, hop off  shuttle bus going around major tourist sites within the city. Tempting to hop off the bus to do retail therapy at a major factory outlet or to browse around the many souvenir and food stalls in Queen Victoria Market. Cost: $5 all day, children under 10 are free. So why pay more? This is too good to be true.



Shrine of Remembrance. A Memorial to ANZAC heroes.

Shrine of Remembrance. A Memorial to ANZAC heroes.



Coffee and Doughnuts To Go!

Coffee and Doughnuts To Go!



The Au$5 tickets are available from Best of Souvenirs in the Melbourne Visitor Centre at Federation Square or from ticket machines located at each stop. The Visitor Center in Fed Square is just right across the St. Paul Cathedral where the red shuttle bus stops to pick up tourists.




Melbourne Visitor Center in Federation Square.



Culled from their website is this itinerary which lists 13 stops over a 90 minute journey complete with onboard commentary.


Stop 1 Arts precinct

Step off here for plays, pictures and performances.

Arts Centre Melbourne
NGV International
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)
Malthouse Theatre
Melbourne Recital Centre
Southbank Theatre


Stop 2 Federation Square

Step off here for visitor services, culture and art.

Melbourne Visitor Centre
Federation Square
Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)
Birrarung Marr and William Barrack Bridge
Federation Bells
Flinders Street Station
St Paul’s Cathedral
Hosier Lane


Stop 3 Sports precinct

Step off here for stadiums, legends and gardens.

Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
National Sports Museum (in the MCG)
Melbourne, Olympic and AAMI parks
Fitzroy Gardens, Cooks’ Cottage, Fairies Tree, Model Tudor Village and historic Conservatory.
* Note that this stop is not in service on MCG event days.


Stop 4 Chinatown precinct

Step off here for shopping, theatre and a Chinese dragon.

Her Majesty’s, Princess, Regent, Athenaeum and Comedy theatres
Collins Street, Greek precinct
State Library of Victoria, Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne’s GPO, Melbourne Central, QV Melbourne


Stop 5 Melbourne Museum and Carlton Gardens

Step off here for culture, cinema and city gaol.

Melbourne Museum
IMAX Theatre
Royal Exhibition Building
Carlton Gardens
Old Melbourne Gaol and City Watch House


Stop 6 Lygon Street precinct

Step off here for La Dolce Vita and La Mama.

Lygon Street lifestyle
La Mama and Carlton Courthouse theatres
Piazza Italia
Museo Italiano Cultural Centre


Stop 7 University of Melbourne

Step off here for museums, music and modern art.

University of Melbourne
Ian Potter Museum of Art
Grainger Museum


Stop 8 Queen Victoria Market

Step off here for the market, museum and mint.

Queen Victoria Market
Melbourne Zoo
Flemington Racecourse
Arts House and Errol Street
Hellenic Museum


Stop 9 Harbour Town, Docklands

Step off here for shopping, skating and sailing.

Harbour Town
Medibank Icehouse
Tourism Lounge


Stop 10 Etihad Stadium and Victoria Harbour

Step off here for arts, parks and sporting events.

Victoria Harbour
Yarra’s Edge
Etihad Stadium
Docklands Park
Fox Classic Car Museum


Stop 11 William Street

Step off here for culture, courts and coastal wonders.

Immigration Museum
Koorie Heritage Trust Cultural Centre
Legal precinct
ANZ Banking Museum
Enterprise Wharf
Melbourne Aquarium

Stop 12 Southbank and Yarra River

Step off here for the skydeck, shops and ships.

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
South Wharf Promenade
Crown Entertainment Complex
Eureka Skydeck 88
Polly Woodside


Stop 13 The Shrine and Royal Botanic Gardens

Step off here for music, a memorial and meandering gardens.

Shrine of Remembrance
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden
Sidney Myer Music Bowl
Government House
La Trobe’s Cottage

Here’s an excellent pitstop just past Apollo Bay in the Great Otway National Park. By this time, you won’t mind Aussies putting GREAT before Ocean Road, Park, Forest Trail, and don’t forget the Barrier Reef further north. Why? There is absolutely no exaggeration. The Great Ocean Road is todate my best-ever scenic coastal drive. Even better than the Garden Route in Cape Town and the Great Pacific Highway in California. As for Mait’s Rest Rainforest, I say it’s not the best but a GREAT break if you’re doing the GOR drive. Besides, we all need this oxygen bar to recharge.

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The walk is short but not short on finds. Easy to navigate on wooden boardwalk meandering through tree-fern gullies. And don’t forget the 300-year old rainforest trees with moss-covered roots. So glad it didn’t rain the day we visited. Not sure if it would have been as pleasant with mud on your boots. Mushrooms sprouting on ancient tree barks remind me of a fav TV series of yesteryears, Twilight Zone 🙂 Though the walk is no more than a kilometer, I wouldn’t want to be left alone here. Inside, the silence soothes the nerves. Sure. But as our feet trod over dry autumn leaves, I can’t help thinking SNAKES. Maybe it’s just me. But I really hate to think how those reptiles slide over those moss-covered trunks, roots, barks and twigs.



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In another section of the national park, we spotted a couple of koalas snoozing between tree barks, and some colorful birds. No kangaroos. But really beautiful, gentle creatures. I love seeing them fly, chirp, cling to the trees, etc. Just no sliding, hizzing creatures for moí. Please, no such slimy reptiles while I’m around. 😦 



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No, this isn’t the London Bridge in England. This one’s Down Under southwest of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. Wish I visited long ago before the bridge collapsed but this pre-1990 photo sourced from the Net set side by side with my recent pic should give you an idea.




THEN AND NOW. PRE 1990-2014.



We joined a (long) daytrip to do the Great Ocean Road (GOR) and this — along with the Loch Ard and Twelve Apostles — were saved for last. The Twelve Apostles is the day’s highlight, of course, but this equally stunning view takes your breath away too! Plus it has a real good story to tell. Whether it’s an urban legend or a true story, it makes a truly fascinating tale.









The story goes that there was a couple stranded on the rock when the bridge collapsed in 1990. Married, these 2, but NOT to each other. So Steve, our GOR guide, animatedly narrated the story of how the couple had to be rescued via helicopter and airlifted to safety. We tried, and failed, to squeeze more from that juicy story. Like…. Oh, you know what I mean. What a gossip! 😉



With my competent niece-driver, Shelly.


A day well-spent. 7:30 am to 9:30 pm.

Or was it 9? Can’t say for sure but definitely missing a few to make 12. Nature must have claimed the 4 Apostles. Does it matter? Naaaaaahhhhh. Them rocks are awesome. Geeesssshhhh, there’s that word again. On this roadtrip, the rocks make a grand show towards the end of the coastal, cliff-hugging drive where each bend promises breathtaking views one after the other. Just as well. It can be butt-numbing, as one may even suspect “boring” having to start as early as 7:30am and back to Melbourne CBD by 9:30pm. But it was a glorious day trip with a well-planned itinerary which combined mid-morning tea and biscuits at the beach, lunch in Apollo Bay, a walk through the Rainforest and meet-greet with the resident koalas (no luck with the kangaroos) and colorful birds, till that final leg of the scenic drive. (The Rainforest Walk was a great addition to the itinerary. Great to stretch those leg muscles and breathe in the cool air under the shade of giant trees. The Koalas and birds are a bonus.)




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Even if there were only 8 apostles, you won’t find me complaining. Or whinging, as they call it here in OZ land. The view is only a tad “spoiled” because we had to take shots against the sunlight, but nevertheless awe-inspiring. Wind and water as architects of these natural rock formations dotting the southern coast of the Australian continent. So lovely. We didn’t do the helicopter ride but we certainly didn’t miss out nor feel cheated “settling” for this majestic vista from a promontory which can be reached through a short hike from the bus parking grounds. I’m telling you, by this time of day you’d certainly want to go for that walk. But I must say the heli-ride is great for beating the tourist crowd and getting those superb shots without those heads, shadows and glare. It will cost you though 😉 but hey, if you can afford it, GO!



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Now, don’t even think the panoramic views will leave you beach-fatigued throughout the 150-mile Great Ocean Road. While I’m one who doesn’t grow tired of ocean vistas, I swear there are marked variations. Initially, the rough-hewn rocky coastline reminded me of our scenic drive along the Great Pacific Highway (from LA to San Francisco, California). Then the winding cliff-hugging drive and surf transported me back to my memorable Garden Route drive in Capetown, South Africa. Combine these 2 and throw in those apostles (12 or 8, who cares?) and voila! Truly, GREAT precedes this OCEAN ROAD. This is the highlight of our trip to Melbourne and for those visiting, I would venture to suggest staying overnight to break this 14-hour roadtrip southwest of Melbourne. That, plus the likelihood of shooting the Apostles at dusk or break of dawn. Now, tell me about that!



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This Monument With An Eternal Flame Guards The Shrine




I have a friend in Melbourne who has not been to the Shrine of Remembrance. That is sad. Been there. But for the truly Great Ocean Roadtrip, a visit to this Shrine was the highlight of our Melbourne adventure. More so because we visited just before Anzac Day which was celebrated every April 25.




The Trenches of Gallipoli (Turkey 2009)



I have been to Gallipoli in Turkey back in 2009. I did not have much expectation of the site outside of it being sandwiched between my visits to Istanbul and Troy. Hardly read up on it (tales of Istanbul got me hooked!) and was thus completely clueless by the time we reached Gallipoli. . Our Turkish guide then was all passion and pride as he narrated to us the significance of that site. I pulled myself in and out of some trenches — preserved to this day — used by soldiers during the war to have a “feel” of the struggles, sacrifices and burdens of duty in a war that counted many casualties. That was my “introduction” to Anzac Day and Gallipoli. A very fitting one, indeed.




The Shrine of Remembrance (Melbourne)



Anzac Day honors the gallant men among the Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, whose soldiers were known as Anzacs. This national day of remembrance starts with a dawn service which was way “too early” for us. We went a day early and instead witnessed the preparations. We felt privileged to join a tour of the Shrine with a volunteer guide named Judy, who shared the same passion and pride as my 2009 Gallipoli guide from Turkey. Judy repeated the lines “In war, there is decency” as if we had to be reminded every so often. She mouthed those lines with so much fire & passion that anyone would feel guilty for enjoying the peace now resulting from the wars fought by men and women for love of country.




The Day Before Anzac Day (Melbourne)



The soldiers of both sides then were decent as they were gallant. The ANZAC force landed in Gallipoli on April 25 as part of the Allied Forces. They intended to knock the Ottomans out of war who were then allied with the Germans. Met with fierce resistance from the Ottoman Army commanded by Mustafa Kemal (later known as Atatürk, the Father of Modern Turkey), the confrontation resulted in a stalemate which dragged for 8 months. There were over 20,000 Allied casualties which included 8,709 from Australia and 2,721 from New Zealand. No real victors from this war. But as Judy repeated many times over, DECENCY AND RESPECT WON. Those soldiers from both sides observed the tenets of morality and good character. “In war, there is decency. There is respect.”




This is the view from the trenches of Gallipoli (Turkey)



In Gallipoli, I found this message inscribed in stone for all visitors to see, read and appreciate.

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives……….you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore, rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets where they lie side by side here in this country of ours………..You the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. Having lost their lives in this land , they have become our sons as well. ”



This Moving Monument in Gallipoli Speaks Volumes



Truly, a legacy so powerful it conditioned the minds of those who understand the pains and sacrifices of wars.