As I mentioned before, The Westin Melbourne is ideally situated across from the famous Flinders Street Station. So my mornings always started off by my walking right out of the hotel to the scene below. One morning there were even some lovely pink clouds overhead.
After walking across the street at this point and hopping on the bridge I was met with the sight of the Yarra River and the Melbourne skyline in the periphery.
I stood on the bridge for a good half an hour as the sun rose overhead and the city began to come to life. A walk along the Yarra River is still among my favorites anywhere in the world. If you are like I was on some of these mornings, you will likely see some stunning reflections of the Melbourne skyline along the way.
Walking west of the bridge or straight towards the reflection and buildings seen above are some restaurants and cafes along the river. The area is well shaded and tons of joggers went by getting there day started.
On a side note, none of the restaurants were open at this early hour, but they certainly were packed in the afternoons.
I walked a lot further west and found myself at yet another bridge. The bridge looked futuristic, but the Christmas ornamentation on it, did make it look a bit odd. Didn’t stop me from making a picture out of it 🙂
If you walk east of the bridge, you will find yourself facing the Rod Laver Arena and the Melbourne Tennis Center. Not far from that area is MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). These are in my mind the most memorable locations in the city because of just how much sporting history happens in this area.
You can’t really miss the sporting history just due to the sheer number of statues around the grounds. Having watched the Australian Open and Cricket at MCG for ages, this was like a dream come true. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get tickets for the big Australia vs England game on Boxing Day.
As I made my way back to the hotel, I stopped to admire the trams, which started to fly by with increasing frequency as the day started.
After having breakfast at the hotel, we headed out to pick up our car rental for the Great Ocean Drive. It was truly an awful day to try to get out of the city because the streets were absolutely packed with shoppers looking to score deals on Australia’s Black Friday (correct me if I’m wrong).
The Great Ocean Drive
I started off the Great Ocean Drive on a very upbeat note because I thought there would be ridiculous views at every point. While the drive to the 12 Apostles is only 3 hours from Melbourne, the entire Great Ocean Drive is a 6 hour journey including stops and all.
Having recently driven both California Route 1 and New Zealand’s West Coast, I was completely unimpressed by both the traffic and the scenery in the midday light. It’s a lovely drive if you pick out your spots and limit yourself to being there early in the morning, but by midday the route is full of traffic (especially because of Boxing Day). So about an hour into the drive, I veered off toward the faster route to the 12 Apostles, which really was the main attraction here.
My apologies for the lack of photos here, but my hard drive with all my pictures on the drive itself crashed and I was left it with only pictures of the 12 Apostles, which happened to be on a dife
The 12 Apostles area is crowded like anything, not just in terms of humans, but mosquitoes as well. People don’t really take great care when it comes to eating food in this area and they were selling ice cream near the visitor’s center. This combination is like a huge attraction for all the bugs in the area, which seem to congregate and pester visitors to the observation decks.
It was Boxing Day so finding a parking spot in itself was quite the challenge. Luckily we arrived when the last batch or throng of tourists had just left so we found a spot rather quickly and got a chance to get in our selfies and landscape photos.
The 12 (or rather 8) Apostles themselves are a fantastic sight to behold. It’s just a pity that they’ve become so ridiculously popular over the years. With all the crowds around the area, it feels like the pristine natural environment has been absolutely spoiled. You can no longer hear just the waves crashing against the shoreline or the seagulls flying by. If you are standing on the deck, most of what you hear will be tourists yelling and cameras clicking. IMO: try to get to the spot early in the morning, when day trippers (like myself) won’t be there.
More of Melbourne
After seeing the 12 Apostles, we drove straight back to Melbourne. It was slim pickings on what restaurants were open on Boxing Day at around 3 pm. We eventually came upon a Sarvaana Bhavan (Indian food chain), which was absolutely packed but open. I was quite hungry so I tried the Thali, which is basically a full meal. Wrong move because it was off the charts spicy so I couldn’t even eat half of it (I guess my true American qualities come out lol)
Anyway after the late lunch we rested a bit back at the hotel before we went out to check out some department stores in the area. I of course just walked around trying to capture more street scenes (left the shopping to the ladies and social media to my dad).
It was just after Christmas so the streets were still decorated well with lights and ornaments.
One of my biggest shortcomings on any walk in Melbourne I did was that that I never tried one of the many boutique coffee shops which line the streets. I kept walking by tons of them, but couldn’t get myself to stand in line for a coffee. I personally find coffee too bitter, but do go out of my way to try it in places like Italy. The coffee culture in this town is said to be legendary. So I was quite disappointed for not trying some places.
The sun was setting quite fast so I rushed off to my usual perch along the bridge adjacent to Flinders Street Station. The views were just as beautiful as ever. I just sat there soaking in the view and enjoying what was left of my time in Australia.
So for the last meal/dessert of the day, I took my sister to Max Brenner (she had never been before). It seemed like a good time as any because I wasn’t too hungry to indulge in too much chocolate. I know my choices are more like travesties being in a place like Melbourne, but again it was really late at night and most places were already closed. We did however walk by tons of places with enticing desserts as we walked back to the hotel.
Anyway, that pretty much concludes my trip to Melbourne. Though there isn’t much that is iconic about the city like Sydney, the atmosphere as whole is a notch above other cities in the region. You pretty much realize why this is the “Cultural Capital of Australia” as soon as you step on the streets. There are coffee shops, performances, architecture, trams, art exhibitions, concerts, and sporting events happening everywhere.
My judgement could very well be biased because of my fascination with sports, trams, and European cities, but as of this moment: Melbourne > Sydney.
TRIP REPORT INDEX:
United Club SFO Concourse F Rotunda
United Global First Lounge – SFO (Now Replaced with the Polaris Lounge)
United NEW Polaris SFO-AKL (777-300ER)
Air New Zealand Economy AKL-CHC
AirBnB Review: Lake Tekapo
Focal Point: Tekapo
World’s Greatest Drives: Tekapo to Franz Josef Glacier
Te Waonui Forest Retreat: Franz Josef Glacier
Focal Point: Lake Matheson
Focal Point: Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Crowne Plaza Christchurch
Manaia (Priority Pass) Lounge Christchurch
Qantas Economy Christchurch – Melbourne
Photowalk: A Day in Melbourne
Singapore Airlines First Class Lounge Melbourne
Singapore Airlines First Class Melbourne – Singapore
Singapore Airlines Private Room @ Changi
Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge @ Changi
Singapore Airlines Economy Class Singapore – Hyderabad
Westin Hyderabad Mindspace
Focal Point: Hyderabad – Old City
Plaza Premium Lounge Hyderabad
Etihad Business Class HYD-AUH-DFW
Etihad Business Class Lounge Abu Dhabi
Etihad Business Class Lounge Abu Dhabi (US Departures)