Walkabout Melbourne


Walkabout Melbourne  

Flinders Street Station

Melbourne has an incredible transit system of buses, trains, trams.  It even has a free ‘hop on, hop off’ tram that makes a loop around the city to central destinations.  Our second day, we took all three transit systems like locals and didn’t walk more than three blocks before jumping on the next one. Melbourne’s busiest intersection is at Flinder’s Street Stationacross from Federation Square at St. Kilda’s bridge where cars, busses, trams crossed.

Flinders Street Station 

Flinders Street Station: Intersection of Flinders Street, Swanston Street, and St Kilda Bridge

Flinders Street Station stretches a block down Flinders street.  It’s the color of burnt ocher that seems to draw your eyes to it.  Not a bland background color at all, but one that screams out,  ‘Look at me!  I’m special and very classy!’

Federation Square across Flinders Street from St. Paul’s Cathedral

And it’s true.  Every time we got near Flinders Street Station, I’d glance at the gothic station, wondering why more cities don’t chose designs and colors that attract attention instead of blend into the background. The station has become a cultural symbol for Melbourne and every day more than 100,000 commuters travel through.  Locals will agree to meet “under the clocks,” meaning in front of the station where the next departure times of each train is displayed in a row of clocks.

A local legend is that when designers in London were drawing up plans for the Melbourne’s and Bombay’s main train stations, they mixed up plans and Bombay got Melbourne’s plans and vice versa. Across St. Kilda bridge are three city parks along the waterfront that ran contiguous: Alexandra, Remembrance, and Royal Botanic.  They follow along the Yarra river front where river boats take tourists for short cruises.

Melbourne’s Yarra River waterfront

Federation Square (Fed Square)

Federation Square across from Flinders Street Station is a complex of theaters, museums, shops, kiosks, and open plaza where buskers and street entertainers perform.  It’s a very lively place with music, art, cultural events held year around.

Unicyclist / street actor about to perform at Federation Square

Gathering at Fed Square before Australian Open

Australian Open

During the Australian Open that began when we were in Melbourne, large screens showed matches.  Hundreds of tennis fans watched sitting on steps, enjoying a beer and lunch at outdoor restaurants, or inside with air conditioning.  The Open was being played a short distance away at Rod Laver Stadium.

Federation Square kiosk selling Australian Open tickets ($60 a day)

Central Place Corridor

Cafe’s along Central Place corridor, very European

On Saturday morning we took Tram # 8 from Toorak Road downtown for lunch.  We walked down the narrow central place corridor packed with cafes, coffee shops, kebab shops, bakeries, and wine bars.  Customers sat at tables and chairs in the middle of the corridor under umbrellas sipping tea or enjoying lunch with a glass of wine or beer.  The packed corridor seemed to make everyone social, enjoying the good weather and ambiance.

Buskers performing at Central Place corridor

At the end of Collins street we came across buskers playing a fusion of jazz and spanish tango.  They were very good, putting strollers in a festive mood.  The music was upbeat and percussive; a three-year old girl in a pink dress and wearing sun glasses was bouncing and spinning around to the catchy beat.  After a set, her mother gave her coins to drop in the guitar case.

Here is a You Tube video of the buskers.  They’re terrific!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zF8t2Beevg8

 Toorak Road

Last dinner at Italian restaurant on Torrak Road

We were fortunate to stay at the Claremont Hotel on the Toorak Road, about a ten minute tram ride from downtown. The Toorak neighborhood was much livelier than other urban neighborhoods where we’ve usually stayed.

Claremont Hotel on Toorak Road

Toorak crossed Chapel Street two blocks from our hotel.  Both streets are packed with retail shops, trendy clothing stores, cafes, restaurants, pubs and fun people.  The neighborhood has a flavor of Georgetown, Santa Monica, Fifth Avenue, and Piccadilly.

Shops along Toorak Road

I get a sense people from Sydney come to Mel-bun to have fun. We certainly did.

Mel-bun

Aussie’s call Melbourne ‘Mel-bun’, dropping the ‘r’ like they do when the letter is in the second or third syllable in all words.  Harbor is ‘ha-bah,’ car is ‘caah,’ Darwin is ‘Da-win.’  Sounds a little Bostonian, but Aussies add a cute, sing songy vibrato. We adopted their pronunciation, and soon were saying things like ‘fa-tha’ for farther and ‘cen-tah’ for center. Kinda cute, don’t you think?

* * * * * 

Next:  Cook’s Cottage

As many of you know, I also write mysteries and romantic suspense novels.

I recently published my first international thriller, Thirteen Days in Milan, which is available on Kindle as well as other ereaders, tablets, and smartphones.

I’m back in Europe for the summer to hire a translator and to research my next book which will also be a thriller based in Milan.  I’ll be posting along the way from Milan, Stresa, Zurich and other locations.

I have a few posts on another blog,  Anatomy of a Thriller, where I write about the process of researching and writing an international thriller.  I’ll add more posts there as well.

Please share these links with writers or readers who might be interested.

Find my books in Apple’s iBookstore
At Amazon including # 1 Kindle best seller “Perfect Crime” 

10 responses to “Walkabout Melbourne

  1. Looks like your both having a awesome time!! thanks for sharing!! And looking forward to seeing you at the reunion.

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  2. Woke up this morning wondering where you two were and there you were on my computer !!! Sounds like a great trip. Can’t wait to hear about New Zealand !!!!

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  3. Sounds like a nice way to spend a winter. We are wintering in Texas but one day would like to take a cruise to Australia New Zealand. We will follow your journey.

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  4. What an exciting trip! Thank you so much for sharing with ‘all of us’! The clarity and intensity of the resolution of your photos lend much to the eye. Am really looking forward to your images from the rainforest!
    See you at the reunion! —I have a feeling that we’ll all be having an ‘out of country’ experience when we visit Williston in September!
    Michele Vannote (nee: Gaffaney)

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  5. Looks like you are having s great time. We might have to do that some time we have been talking about taking a cruise some where. Jim

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  6. Funny, that – about the Melbourne & Bombay plans getting mixed up: definitely the stuff of “Urban Legends” : ) Safe travels!

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