Trip Start Jan 13, 2010
26Trip End Mar 10, 2010
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We made good time to Melbourne from Eden, helped by a divided highway (dual carriageway) for nearly the last 100 miles into downtown. The road previously had been relatively unremarkable, passing through farmland and forest and skirting the big resort area of Gippsland on the coast. The weather was sunny and hot. We stopped for lunch in Bairnsdale and yet again the Lonely Planet restaurant recommendation had closed. We chose a large pub (The Grand Terminus Hotel) near the railway station, fearing the worst, and we were agreeably surprised (not for the first time) by the quality of the food,
Our accommodation in Melbourne was perhaps our worst experience to date. Recommended by both the Lonely Planet and the Eyewitness Guide, it was a B&B in name only. The rooms were very small, and, although breakfast was included in the rate, it was more like a small rundown hotel than a B&B. It did at least have the benefit of being well located
Walking out in the early evening into Melbourne’s warm and muggy weather, we passed numerous stylish homes and buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We were in a an affluent neighborhood and within an easy stroll of Fitzroy Gardens, a leafy park laid out in Victorian times which includes the home of Captain Cook’s parents, rebuilt in Melbourne after being shipped from Yorkshire in 1934.
We woke up the next morning to clouds, drizzle and much cooler temperatures. Thankfully the clouds cleared through the morning, to be replaced by hot sun. We took the tram to downtown and walked down the main drag, Swanston Street, to Federation Square, admiring the Flinders Street Station as we passed. Melbourne’s main river, the Yarra, runs alongside the square and it was a pleasure to see so many people rowing on the river.
Free buses circulate around the downtown. We took one to Queen Victoria Market, a large open air market just north of downtown. Much browsing took place, both of the food on offer (including kangaroo and emu), and the clothes. After lunch we reboarded the bus to see the Victoria Legislature, but could not, it being Sunday?
A couple of days is not enough to really experience a city of Melbourne’s size, but our impressions were favorable. We loved the mix of old and new and the walkable size of downtown. Melbourne is clearly on a growth spurt, with old areas of downtown being redeveloped, and real estate prices continuing to rise.