|Melbourne Pic Courtesy|
My love for Australia started with Discovery Channel’s show on reptiles hosted by the beloved Steve Irwin. Remember ‘The Crocodile Hunter’ ?. As much as my mother would try to hide the remote, disconnect the cable, and even resorted to tie up the TV, I and my brother would find ingenious ways to put the TV on watch the Disney hour and the epic reptile wrestler Steve. He was the first animal lover hero to me and my brother. He and his wife (I am forgetting her name) were what I thought were the ideal fun loving, wild couple, who went extravagant adventures and did things I cannot dream of doing ever... a real life hero. My love for wildlife documentaries starts from there. So does my love for Australia.
|Heath Ledger Pic Courtesy|
Then of course came the movies with Nicole Kidman (who I have a girl crush on), the legendary Heath Ledger of the Batman fame, Russel Crowe amongst the countless others who I got acquainted to. The Don himself is from Australia – Sir Don Bradman for the uninitiated, I am a sports enthusiast after all. With the learning about various cultures of the world, I came to learn about the aborigines of the Australian Continent and I was fascinated by them for their art and their resourcefulness.
But the city that has fascinated me the most has been "Marvellous Melbourne" (a term coined by the English journalist George Augustus Henry Sala). It is the Cultural hub of Australia and has a wide variety of cultural attractions spread all over the city. It boasts of hosting a large number of theatre, music and art festivals across the year. The juxtaposition of the growing modern architecture with the 19th and early 20th century buildings is something that can only be seen to be believed.
It’s the cultural mix of the new city, which has evolved in the last century to be one of the most beautiful and developed cities of the world really intrigues me. It has a heady mix of absolutely stunning street art (a claim that can probably be matched only by Berlin or New York), and a 150 year old National Gallery of Victoria, the oldest and biggest public art museum in Australia. If you are sports buff then you would know about the famous MCG – Melbourne cricket ground, or the Melbourne park, where one of the 4 grand slams are held every year. It has a great nightlife with restaurants, bars and pubs and the Crown Casino as well as the bohemian Brunswick Street and the lazy water facing Nelson Place, an ideal place for the tourist to experience street food on an idle holiday afternoon. And most of all the Federation Square, the centre of it all, where one could catch all the major cultural and sports events around Australia on a large screen in the public area.
The Melbourne experience doesn’t stop there... It extends to the beautiful destinations close to the city and within a day trip.
Geelong: The Surf Coast near Geelong with magnificent views on the Great Ocean Road, provides quite an experience for surfers around the world. The 12 Apostles and the Bells Beach look like heaven has been drawn somewhere on earth and you have magically walked in.
|The 12 Apostles Picture Courtesy|
Bendigo: rich in its gold mining history, and the Victorian architecture speckled around the city, Bendigo is very popular with history and art buffs
The Dandenongs: these low lying hills are popular for the winding roads and the narrow-gauge heritage steam railway, Puffing Billy Railway, from Belgrave to Gembrook, with beautiful views. It is also a popular destination for quite picnics in the Sherbrooke Forrest and antique shops and gardens.
Phillip Island: Little Penguins which come ashore in groups attracts nature lovers from across countries to watch this beautiful spectacle at the Phillip Island Nature Park. This is also a surfer’s paradise and holds quite a few surfing festivals.
A holiday in Melbourne is a dream come true, and it is a dream for anyone. Whether you are a adventure lover, a history buff, a sucker of culture and people, a food lover; whether you want to backpack and take a hike in the mountains, or sit quietly on a beach, or whether you want to just go and hang out and meet new people, and party all night …it's your time to visit Melbourne NOW!