Having arrived early in the morning, I had half a day to take in everything Melbourne had to offer before making my way to a suburb to see folks in Glen Waverley. My return to Sydney was in 24 hours. Challenging for an intrepid traveller who wants more for less. Let's see what was possible.
The first tasks on arriving at Melbourne's Southern Cross Station was to recharge the camera battery and find somewhere to store my rollaway for a few hours. Southern Cross is an impressive station, more akin to a modern airport. Within minutes of arriving, I had somewhere to freshen up, power batteries for laptop and camera and a locker for my bag within easy reach as well as all the other amenities like getting refreshments etc. I needed at least an hour to power up the camera battery - long enough to attend to the other things.
However, I got too cocky for my own good and ventured too far from the waiting room to chase after other errands. Only to return to the room to an absent camera charger and battery from the corner where I had left it. I asked others in the room doing similar errands to self if they had seen anyone leaving with the goods, but to no luck. Leaving things unattended in any public space is not smart and I realised my folly. My only hope was that it had been picked up by security and handed to lost property so I legged it to that counter, blurting out my predicament in what must have sounded like pure gibberish to the attendant. I was lucky - she had just been handed the goods and was about to enter them on to the system. She admonished me for my stupidity and returned the goods. Phew - that was close! I stayed very close to the unit after that till the battery was charged.
Once done, I was ready for Melbourne with Avis and Cheesedrummer having suggested 3 must-do's. Boarding the City Circle Tram was one. This loops round Downtown, is free, and the driver becomes an experienced guide. The second was to catch a River Cruise (as if I wouldn't anyway); a metro to St. Kilda for its beach scene was the third. When planning the itinerary, I had allowed a full morning, expecting to finish all to join my folks in Glen Waverley in the suburbs for late lunch. However, that was before the extended stop at Southern Cross; it seemed that St. Kilda may have to wait till some future date.
I purchased a daily pass for under A$10 to give me access to all trains, trams and buses to Glen Waverley before walking out to the street, almost 2 hours after initially arriving in Melbourne. Doesn't time fly when you're having fun? It took me a while to get my bearings outside. To the point where I boarded the first tram going...anywhere... just to work out where to board the Circle Tram. With hindsight, I must have resembled a zombie the way I was hopping on/off trams and backtracking my steps before finally working out what Circle trams looked like and where to board them. In hindsight, I had simply not worked things through before starting out. Planning really is essential when time is tight and haste really is waste. In this case, wasted time and opportunity.
Once aboard the tram, I was heading towards the Docklands area and Etihad Stadium. This is where the more recent development in Melbourne has taken place with swanky penthouse suites, malls and leisure pursuits. That is not to say that the rest of the city is not modern; the whole city is pretty, well designed and stylish; modernity lives side by side with a rich history and heritage. After Docklands, the tram turned east towards Flinders Street, following the course of River Yarra along its North Bank. I went as far as Flinders Station; river cruises depart from the jetties there. The You Tube clip on the first part of the tram ride is titled Melbourne by Tram Part 1.
After the cruise, I returned to the tram to carry on with the loop going further east before turning north, and then west again towards Southern Cross. I would have liked to hop off the tram for some of the sights en route like Parliament House, National Museum, Stock Exchange and Scots' Church. Alas, time was not on my side. The You Tube clip on the second part of the tram ride is titled Melbourne by Tram Part 2.
It was approaching 2pm by the time I arrived back at Southern Cross. It was time to gather my bag and find the platform for my train to Glen Waverley. Southern Cross encompasses a large area and many platforms. Almost the size of Kings Cross in London! The journey to Glen Waverley at the end of the line took about 50 minutes where the folks collected me home. It was time to spend some quality time with folks I had not seen for years. They could not understand how I could come all the way to Australia and not allow more time for beautiful Melbourne. Hearing of my missed opportunity for St. Kilda, they suggested a leisurely drive to St. Kilda after dinner. It had been a beautiful, warm day all day but the evening was dark so we returned without getting out of the car. Spirit of Tasmania, an overnight ferry service to the island, was departing from the Port as we approached St. Kilda. In plans when I first started working out places to be at for Australia, I had sought about 3 days in Melbourne with a possible overnight cruise to Hobart. The size of Australia and other places that I wanted to cover had dictated cutting the time I had for Melbourne. As I explained to the folks, my time in Melbourne was merely a taster for a longer stay in future to do Melbourne justice. The You Tube clip on the whole day in Melbourne apart from the tram ride and river cruise is titled Melbourne by foot and on Metro. It finishes off with some shots at Glen Waverley by night.
This article is part of a series of my travelogue in India and Australia at the beginning of this year. The series is tagged Intrepid Traveller; click the link if you want to go back to earlier accounts. This is Day 49 of the diary.