After crossing Princes Bridge I headed for the Royal Botanic Gardens.
I passed by the yachting clubs on the river banks and entered the gardens. It was a serene atmosphere. Entering the garden made a big impression to me. The noise-trained ear was not used to such a noise-less environment.
I walked south through Alexandra Avenue, from time-to-time making small intrusions into the park and then again coming close to the river banks. It was a nice and a quiet walk. The garden was very well preserved. Small uphill pathways were leading to small hills which presented the walker with nice vistas of parts of the park. I reached Ornamental Lake and sat at some hilly side and enjoyed the view while drinking some water. The day was hot and I had to find a gentle shade. Then, after taking all sorts of routes in the garden I passed by Albert Park that was going to host the 2005 F1 GP and imagined I was there. I decided that in the future, just once, I should revisit Australia again and watch live the Australian F1 race.
Just when leaving Albert Park on my left, I saw a girl that got out of a house to go for jogging. It was the girl I had met (met being a euphemism) in the bus the previous day. We looked at each other with surprise, exchanged a I-will-definitely-never-see-you-again smile and then I headed to the Shrine of Remembrance.
I climbed on top of it and enjoyed the marvellous views of the city to the north. So far I was enjoying my time in Melbourne exceptionally and the Shrine – rising high from the ground was presenting me the city in an exquisite and warm way. I felt I was embracing the city with my arms!
I took a coffee and an ice cream in the café next to the Observatory Buildings and then headed north again. On my way back I felt I came out from a very well protected and unspoilt area to the jungle of the city, even if this city were Melbourne. Ι thought that maybe I should have spent more time in the beautifully green gardens.
Walking to the centre of the city I moved east and visited Treasury and Fitzroy Gardens. The roads took me, after making some round to see the Parliament of Victoria and St Patrick Cathedral, to Carlton Gardens and then to Melbourne museum. Then I headed to the impressive Old Gaol, which I visited and spent a good 40 minutes reading awesome stories and gazing in unique photos that were portrayed all over the place. The whole building and all the … memorabilia manage to travel the visitor to those harsh times and make one picture vividly in one’s mind how it was to be a jailed person –people with no hope and no families. I sincerely suggest you visit it!
After passing through an empty Victoria market I turned left to Elizabeth St, I visited the post office and sent a couple of postcards to my relatives back home – I thought an unexpected post card posted from Melbourne would bring back and revive old memories to them.
It was apparent I moved again to the city centre as lots of people were walking around me. I walked aimlessly in the streets of down town looking at window shops or just sitting in small benches before sitting on a small restaurant and having a proper bite. Then I visited the Immigration Museum by the Yarra banks which I have to say is a must see for the city. I managed to complete a quick crash-tour to see most of it in just over one hour. Make sure you don’t miss some great videos of replicated interviews with actors portraying potential immigrants showing what these people had to go through to be allowed to Australia. Harsh times!
On my way back to my humble hostel I spent some more time by the Yarra river banks and especially by the Waterfront.
“…I looked around me. I saw all the people around me and realised for a moment I was thousands of kilometres away from my home, from London from Europe.
A whole world lives and functions around here. Even though Melbourne and the whole of Australia does not have a history of more than 200 years – maybe around 300 years ago in that very location that I was standing lions or koalas maybe have been looking for some water in the river – those people around here – a collection and fusion of Europe (Italy-Greece- England-Ireland), Asia (Japan) and the locals, managed to create and fuse such a supreme new world – literary speaking Australia is the …Newest World. Of course we never must forget that this … progress was probably done on the back of the locals which … we always tend to forget.
Maybe some say that these places down under are cursed places. Places for convicts and prisoners. Some will even say that this fusion is just another AngloSaxon example of the future world that is coming and that wants the whole globe to become a uniform place of all ethnicities and religions where all will live in peace – under some common government.
Well, as far as I was concerned, and until this … conspiracy theory evolves and materialises, I knew that this very location and this very continent and travel destination was a unique place to be.
My 3-week trip there was coming to an end – in some hours I would be flying back to Sydney and then on the same day back to Europe – and I have to say this personal, secluded, lonely, inner/self testimony, was the best way to end such a trip.
Standing on that very location was another chance to recap my trip … to do a fast rewind on all my travel experiences.
None could be less than perfect. Each and every single experience and time instance was filling my memory banks with numerous pieces of information. I knew that by the time I would be stepping into the airplane I would be missing this place! I knew that in a party at a friend’s place the coming Saturday I would endlessly be speaking about my travel and diving and trekking experiences in Australia. I knew these chats would inspire other people to visit Australia years later and continue this inter-personal thread of memories and experience to continue forever.
Till today I remember many details of my trip to Australia.
The bubbly girls in Fraser,
the dodgy Kings Cross area in Sydney and the evening drinks in a local bar and a pub in Paddington,
my arrival in that wet yet ready-to-warm-up morning at 6.00 am on Sydney airport
my afternoons dozing under the Australian sun on a diving boat off the shore of Cairns after some tiring yet extremely fulfilling dives marvelling the Great Barrier Reef hidden world,
the great night out in a local bar at Harvey Bay,
the marvellous and exquisite vistas from the twin-engine propeller plane when approaching Cairnes,
Yet there were things I did not do.
I did not visit West Australia, never made it to Ayers Rock and never travelled the Great Ocean Road. I never checked in on a flight to Tasmania and never actually planned to visit North-West Australia.
And unfortunately I never actually planned to visit the beautiful Byron Bay and get some photos on the lovely lighthouse with the beach on my back…!”
I decided I should put an end on my thoughts. There were things I needed to do for my last hours in Melbourne, like some more sightseeing, a pizza somewhere in Brunswick area and some last drinks in the area south of Yarra.
Goodbye Melbourne. Maybe we never meet again!