Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Home Turf

Melbourne, Victoria

I have to say that it’s taken me some time to get this post started. Being a long time resident of Melbourne, the need to do my city justice on The Sheep Was Here has certainly been present, but the concern that people might accuse me of being biased is also there. Some people don’t think favourably of other biased people I’m told. A lot’s been buzzing around in my head and to be honest it hasn’t been that enjoyable, but I eventually had to convince myself that I should write what I want.   

Melbourne, Victoria (taken 2014)

One of the first cities to stand in Australia, the capital of Victoria has meant a lot to many in one way or another. First founded in 1835, it’s been called the restaurant capital, the most liveable city in the world several years running (a fact we locals are proud of) and for the Browncoats who might be reading, it inspired the name of an oceanic planet in Joss Whedon’s Firefly (the man himself came here to speak in 2010 and brought out nerds in the thousands. I should know because I was one of them). I however just see it as home, and whenever I’m crossing the Yarra River on a bright day I look out at everything on offer and get a reminder of how special it is. Half of my parentage comes from the city so it’s definitely in my blood.     
Small and going at a relaxed pace (except during peak hour and I can’t be more serious about that) it’s a place anyone can get around easily by foot. If walking’s not your thing though and I am raising an eyebrow (special needs people are excused), the City Circle Tram is on offer which is free to ride. 
Melbourne, Victoria (taken 2014)

Melbourne is a display of how both traditional and contemporary cultures can merge together and become one. The two aspects are present within our architecture (Flinders Street Station stands just across the road from Federation Square), a food scene that we’re well known for (for all things food related I recommend the blog Melbourne Food Review – the Velma Kelly lookalike who writes it is honest as hell!) and certainly within our people. We’re the home of a diverse population. Just by walking down one of the streets or laneways you’re like to find a few hints of the many nationalities that make up the community. Go along Elizabeth Street and you’ll see a few Asian and Middle Eastern eateries paired together.                                                                                 
The directions we’ve taken have most definitely been inspired by the world around us; I met two Kurdish girls who told me that Melbourne reminded them a lot of London. We’ve surpassed many other Australian cities in popularity to the point that many foreign tourists will save visiting us until the end of their journey. One point I’d like to bring up though is that Melbourne DOES experience the most erratic of weather; we can go through all four seasons in a single day.   

                                                            Melbourne, Victoria (taken 2014)                        
Onto more touristy talk, a few locations of interest include the Eureka Skydeck (the tallest building in the southern hemisphere), Melbourne Aquarium, Crown Casino (go at night and you’ll see the fire light everything up along the Yarra) and Docklands. Being a sport loving city, we host the Australian Open and grand finals of AFL football in Olympic Park and we also enjoy our art; the National Gallery of Victoria is a must for anyone holding a brush and pallet. There’s a lot I want to share (and a part of me says I should share everything), but I’ve restricted myself to a few things I enjoy most.                                                                                                                                                                       
First I want to discuss the Shrine of Remembrance. Not far along St Kilda Road from Flinders Street Station, this is a place for those passionate about the past, the conflicts that happened and the brave men and women who took part in them. The Shrine was established in the wake of WWI where the community could gather to pay their respects to the fallen servicemen who were buried abroad. It has since paid tributes to every war and conflict that Australia and New Zealand have participated in. They place a strong emphasis on education which everyone is invited to take part in.  

            Melbourne, Victoria (taken 2014)              
Every ANZAC Day (April 25th), Victorians gather for the Dawn Service in the thousands. I’ve been there a handful of times and it’s always left a positive impression upon me. Following the Dawn Service, in which the people are invited to lay a red poppy within the Shrine’s walls, a parade of service men and women marches. The steps of the Shrine also provide an ideal view of the skyline; it’s the best place to see the fireworks at New Years.                                                                                              

Right next door to the Shrine is the Royal Botanic Gardens, an unceasing display of greenery in the urban sector. This is definitely a hotspot for anyone wanting to take a walk back to nature. The Royal Botanic Gardens are a haven for over 10,000 species of both domestic and international plant life that attracts visitors all year round. Birdlife is always present, with the black swans being a notable example. If these birds are social enough (or think you have food), they’ll follow you around for a bit.                                                                                                                                                                   

Melbourne, Victoria (taken 2014)  
The gardens are all about promoting conservation, as well as encouraging the next generation to get their hands dirty and grow their own fruits and vegetables. An example of this commitment is the children’s garden that has been set up by the entrance. Being so large, when you come into this place you might just forget you were in a city to begin with.

                                                    Melbourne, Victoria (taken 2014)                                                       
In addition to what’s been said, this one Melbournian feature and my all round favourite have been saved for the very end. My mother first showed me these when I was entering my teenage years and they’ve since remained a permanent fixture in my mind; I am of course speaking about the arcades and laneways. Walking through these little beauties can take people away from the bustle of the city and back to some simplicity. Having been around since the early days of the Victorian capital, they’ve become one of the sights we’re well known for. Friends of mine from Sydney said that this was one of the highlights of their first visit.                                                                                               
A few to look out for (city pride is definitely present as I’m writing this) includes the Block and Royal Arcades, the latter being the location of chocolatiers Koko Black which I can safely vouch for. These two have mostly maintained their original designs and have a Parisian feel about them, I’m told.      

                                                           Melbourne, Victoria (taken 2014)                                                                                                                                                                          
Centre Way off of Flinders Lane has always been my personal favourite and has the better atmosphere. Cafes and restaurants operate on each side and street performers come here to entertain. By looking up you can see the apartment buildings which I believe gives the place its warm yet rustic touch.                                               

                                                            Melbourne, Victoria (taken 2014)                                                                                                                       

And lastly I’d like to mention Hosier Lane which is opposite Federation Square. The cobblestones are still the same, but whilst it isn’t a shopping spot it’s since become an outside gallery of vibrant graffiti art which has appealed to many a local and tourist and their cameras. It also has its very own Spanish tapas bar, MoVida.           

                                                            Melbourne, Victoria (taken 2014)                                                                                                            
Whilst I could write away and tell you everything I know and have experienced in this wonderful city (and quite possibly bore myself at the same time), I’ve opted to put my pen down and allowed you, good blog junkie, to do some digging and make up your own mind. Melbourne is alive and has opened its doors for all.                                                             



  1. I didn't realise New Melbourne was named after the actual Melbourne we all know and love.
    Great piece though, I've even learnt a bit about Melbourne that I didn't know. I will have to visit the laneways you speak of, because I miss Paris....and France in general, so much.