As a professional pilot for a famous American airline, my husband Karl gets to enjoy a yearly vacation in a country or city of his choice. I always look forward on his vacations because it’s also a perfect time for us to relax and spend our romantic time together. I took time off from my work as a stencil artist to join my husband for this perfect ten day getaway in the beautiful city of Melbourne. Exploring a bit of the land down under was the pinnacle of our travelling life.
The excitement began the minute we walked out of the Melbourne/Tullamarine International Airport. My husband spent a great deal of time on Google to make our own travel itinerary. He made it all easy and pre booked everything online even before we landed. A stretch limousine fetched us at the airport and brought us to The Langham, Melbourne Hotel. Once we got settled he rented a 4WD vehicle and a driver to make our mobility much easier and convenient. We started the tour with a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne; it has a very relaxing ambiance surrounded by well maintained green lawns and ornamental plants. We saw rare cacti’s at The Volcano Garden and it was so impressive! The huge red flame trees provide enough shade as we enjoyed strolling around this veritable oasis in the city.
I took photos of scarecrows and colorful jacaranda trees in The Children’s Garden. The Governor’s Mansion and the Melbourne skyline can be seen from the bench where we enjoyed a quiet time to read a book. We strolled further along the shaded paths of the Yarra River with a magnificent view of the Melbourne cityscape. After admiring the flora and fauna inside we enjoyed an espresso and freshly baked Lamingtons at the café near the entrance gate. This garden boasts of a tranquility that quietly lies within the heart of the city. I felt blessed to be in a garden that features various species of plants, trees and birds.
The next day we had a grand time watching a cricket match at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds. It was such a huge stadium with a wide seating capacity. It is also the venue for other sports events, musical concerts and important national events. It is an iconic stadium with a rich history behind it. Once inside we checked out the great cricket memorabilia at the National Sports Museum. We also got well informed about Australia’s sports history when we viewed the exhibits. After here, we had fun tasting a variety of wines at the Winebus Winery Tour. We had the chance to view the vast vineyards of the Chandon Winery and the Yering Farm Winery. We sampled freshly distilled champagne from these lovely farms as we view the scenic Yarra Valley. Later that night we watched Mamma Mia! at the Sun Theatre Yarraville. I was glad to see they had a couple seating and a free glass of champagne to enjoy our movie time. It was mighty cold inside and the theater still smells of fresh paint when we were there. We explored all the other lounges inside this old theater before going back to our hotel.
The next day, we left early morning to explore the military museum called the Shrine of Remembrance. It is an excellent building with great architecture. It is a fitting memorial to the soldiers who perished during the Victorian War. The crypt under the shrine was worth a visit to appreciate their outrageous courage, patriotism and sacrifice. The war medals for each contingent still hangs intact on the walls, everything about the war was clearly presented on each exhibit. After we had our lunch we head out to buy good souvenirs at the Block Arcade. It is an old shopping mall with beautiful architecture. From here I bought their famous chocolates and alpaca wool. I love the glass canopy and the old art Deco design of its wrought iron windows.
After shopping we had coffee and pizza at a local Italian café. After a brief snack on the arcade, we visited the National Gallery of Victoria. It was so well laid out and I was amazed at their great placing of sculpture and art on the same subject. I marveled at the great artistic artworks on display most of them are from Monet and his rare masterpieces. We also admired great art works from Australian painters. Entrance to this gallery is free which is just across the Flinders St. Station, a famous landmark transport station in Melbourne. I photographed its wonderful façade and its interiors. We also tried out riding one of its City Circle Trams. I had a great time once the engines started roaring.
On our fifth day we travelled for one hour to get to the Dandenong Ranges National Park, when we got there we took a hiking trail to get to the mountain range. We were rewarded with a beautiful garden, a landscape maze and great views of Melbourne from the top. The aboriginal sculptures inside the forest were amazing. After conquering the mountains we watched The Man from La Mancha at the Regent Theater. It was absolutely wonderful! The acoustics were great as well as the outstanding performers during the show. There were free drinks given during the intermission. I admire the designs at the lobby and the pretty sweet chandeliers inside the theatre. Before going back to our hotel we took time to read books and visit the State Library of Victoria. I was in awe of the impressive architecture and overwhelming designs of its interior. The library is so clean and the staffs were kind enough to explain the valuable history of the library to us. Outside lies a beautiful garden and a good photo op place.
The next day we visited the St. Paul’s Cathedral, where we stayed for a while and took a quiet time to meditate. The parish priest was kind enough to grant us a private confession and communion service at its iconic main altar. This church is a definite must see for every visitor in Melbourne. It is a beautiful and well preserved church. After here we toured inside the Melbourne Museum, this attraction houses a wide array of historical exhibits and fascinating antique collections. I saw colorful aboriginal headdress, dinosaur collections, and stuffed animals inside it. It was taxidermy at its best!
Afterwards we head out to visit the wildlife animals at the Melbourne Zoo. It is a huge animal habitat that houses more than a hundred species of wildlife animals. Inside The zoo I saw kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, emus and the famous Tasmanian Devil who was housed in a caged enclosure. I photographed a sleepy wombat and an exhausted meerkat. The Tiger was stunning as well as the peacock who shows off her patterned feathers at the feeding area. After exploring the wildlife we checked out the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, we had an interactive exhibit that features the interesting Australian culture. It shows animations, videos and TV shows popular to its locals.
The highlight of our adventure was spent exploring the open wilderness at the Werribee Open Range Zoo. We rode a bus to get to the open range where we saw giraffes freely running around the vast area of their natural habitat. The animals here were more active than the ones enclosed in cages at the Melbourne Zoo. A herd of Lions welcomed us and walked up to the roof of the bus, it was a thrilling experience! We were just few meters away at the huge rhinoceros that keeps bumping the side of our bus with his tusk. The baby elephants were cute as they keep trying to climb the steep rocky hill in the vast savannah. We stayed overnight for its Amazing Slumber Safari and rented their huts, it was a truly marvelous experience!
Melbourne was both a cosmopolitan and rustic getaway for us, one which we truly enjoyed amongst all our other vacations. Certainly we will go back in Melbourne, our favorite vacation spot.