Melbourne is my beloved home.
I grew up in the country about five hours north of here. I went to boarding school at Melbourne Grammar School, an elite and expensive private school just south of the botanic Gardens. Despite roaming about a bit, I’ve usually ended up back in Melbourne. I have lived in many suburbs, mostly in the inner city except for a stint in the Dandenong mountains. Hawthorn, Prahran, Carlton and Fairfield come to mind. In about 2007 I sold my lovely rambling old house in Fairfield and bought an apartment in the middle of the CBD (central business district) on the 21st floor with great views. My partner and I joined two apartments together to make a great place. Melbourne is very good for access, at least the public infrastructure and spaces are. Many of the trams are wheelchair accessible, with all of them on all routes to be accessible by about 2025. Almost all buses are also accessible, as are all trains and all train stations. Quite a few shops along the CBD streets are not accessible, usually with just one step, and the council has been pretty poor in enforcing their own access guidelines. Still, plenty are. Melbourne is very beautiful, especially if you look up. Wonderful old buildings from the late 18th century abound. There are lots of little arcades and a vast amount of bars and coffee shops. There is also a wide variety of good quality restaurants, covering almost every cuisine. The trams within the city centre are all free. Victoria is also very good for a public transport access, although it falls down in a couple of areas. The city and most regional towns of any note have accessible cabs. Wheelies can get an “access card”. My version allows me and my companion to travel free on any public transport within Victoria, including trams, buses and trains, including country trains.
Another great concept is the “companion card”. Once you have one of these, you can get a second ticket free for your companion to almost any event in Victoria, from the opera to theatre to movies. Please don’t abuse this if you don’t need it.
There are quite a few rooftop bars accessible, as well as many theatres and art galleries. Probably my favourite café in the CBD is Cookie in Swanson Street. It has wonderful Thai food and a lovely relaxed atmosphere of an afternoon. There are many interesting precincts about, including Chinatown, Lygon Street, the Art Gallery precinct just north and south of the river, Docklands, North Melbourne, the Yarra River and so on. The Crown complex on the river is pretty extensive if you like like gambling, and it also has a lot of restaurants of various qualities and a movie multiplex.
Aside from the occasional inaccessible shop, shopping is great. There is a massive shopping precinct gathered about the Lonsdale/Swanston Street corner. To the north-east, there is QV, named after the historic Queen Victoria women’s Hospital. This has a huge supermarket and many other shops. On the west side of Swanson Street behind a row of cafés is the new Emporium complex, which joins the David Jones and Myer department stores. These both also front onto the city mall. Across the road to the north of the Emporium is Melbourne Central. This is another huge shopping centre with a movie theatre complex, a food hall and the underground train station.
South of the river, opposite the Art Gallery, are extensive gardens, including the lovely Melbourne botanic Gardens. To the east of the city is another generous park called the Fitzroy Gardens. Check out “Cook’s cottage”, the miniature village, and the whimsical “fairy tree”.
Melbourne has two large cathedrals, St Patrick’s for the Catholics on the north-east corner, and St Pauls for the Anglicans to the south opposite Flinders Street station.
Okay, I could go on and on but that’s enough. Check out my photos if you’re interested. Cheers, Grant.
Oh, I forgot the fabulous Queen Victoria market on the northern edge.