-Because Melbourne gives you the feel of Europe in Australia. You experience this vibe as soon as you land your feet on the streets of Melbourne, which can boast of a perfect mix of old and new architecture, numerous bar lanes, umpteen backpackers, even more travellers on a ‘Working Holiday Visa’, cheap accommodation facilities, good food and even better beer, excellent public transport, lively music scene, one of the most happening ‘Couchsurfing’ and ‘Meetup.com’ communities and endless spots to visit around.
-Because all this comes bundled with the laid back Australian attitude and famous “Aus-Trah-Liya-n” accent which I can only try to enquote a few times in this article.
-Because what you click on a typical Wednesday eve, from the first floor a lively “Ba-ah” while drinking “Bia”, in “Mel-buhn’s” Victoria “N-eye-gh” Market looks like a picture of a fest. With a gamut of mouth-watering food, juice & booze, musicians & performers and energising atmosphere and a fun loving crowd ready to indulge, all you need to do is to find the right person to start a conversation and end the evening with. This is how the Australians do it “m-aye-t” !!!!!
-Because a subway station is also one of the gorgeous buildings in the city. Clicked just “outs-oi-de” the heart of Melbourne – “The Flinder’s Street Station”, on the bridge over the mighty Yarra “Riv-ah”, at around midnight. Yes, this is how beautiful Melbourne is at that time.
-Because spending the night at the Flinders Street Station is a common practice of locals who work or party till late. It’s an absolute must if you are visiting Melbourne and wish to observe interesting characters, street musicians, tourists, hustling locals and the outgoing lifestyle of Australia.
-Because this mesmerising view of Melbourne and the Yarra was captured at about 4 AM in the morning and the city doesn’t seem to sleep. Time stops here and heartbeats take a break.
Ride the Free City Circle Tram or the Free Tourist Bus, Party in St Kilda, Fitzroy, CBD or the hippie neighborhood of Brunswick, Take a free walking city tour, visit the Rod Laver Arena, Eat and Drink at the Victoria Night Market, Relax at the Brighton Beach, take Wine Tasting Tours or explore Melbourne’s world famous Street Art … the city has got it all for you.
-Because to drive on the Great Ocean Road is a dream for most of us. Australia is one of the few nations where the Indian Driving License is valid and with the drive on the GOR being one of the most scenic in the world, this wasn’t an opportunity to miss out on. The Great Ocean Road is a 243 km stretch of road starting in the town of Torquay and lasting until the town of Allansford and was built by the soldiers who returned from WW I in the memory of Sailors and Soldiers who were killed during the War. This road is an Australian National Heritage and the largest War Memorial in the World.
-Because it is so easy to socialise in Melbourne, there are a few dozen meetup events throughout the week with locals and travellers from all over the world coming together for some fun. The next day I along with one Polish and one Swedish traveller decided to rent a Nissan Automatic and hit the road. We all were “travellin” solo and wanted to do this road trip, the Couchsurfing platform brought the three of us together.
-Because our hostel owner in Torquay was out for surfing when we reached. He left a notice at the counter which read “Welcome to Australia, we are mostly surfing during the “arvo”, see you later”. Arvo is an Australian slang for ‘afternoon’.
Torquay, a beautiful small town and also the surf capital of Australia, is named after Torquay, Devon on a suggestion from a migrant who hailed from this seaside town in England. I decided to take a course in surfing only to realise the sun is way too much for me to handle even for 5 minutes. The ozone layer is thin over Australia and for the first time in my life I experienced sun rays piercing my skin and hitting my bones. Whether you decide to surf on the world famous waves or not, don’t miss out on the wild ‘campers and backpackers’ party scene in the club situated right opposite to the Torquay Caravan Park.
-Because moving further along the GOR only leaves you “stoked” with limestone formations all along massive the coastline. There are information boards at every important stop on the GOR, and while everybody tends to rush to the Apollo Bay or the 12 Apostles, the optimal and a meaningful way to take this road trip is to drive slow, taking halts to read these boards and understand the legacy of this marvel while with enjoying the seascape.
Apollo Bay is the most common layover point for having lunch, with numerous restaurants and a big park right on the main street. It is also the stopover for the Caravans which are done for the day and decide to spend the night there.
-Because en route to the Lighthouse at Cape Otway, you drive through what is the most favoured region to spot these shy Koala Bears native to Australia. Their natural habitat is the Eucalypt Woodland and they are typically sighted sleeping on the higher branches in a funny hanging position. They eat mostly the Eucalyptus leaves which are very low on nutritious content, and therefore sleep up to 20 Hrs a day.
-Because the 12 Apostles, which is definitely the main attraction on the GOR, strike you with awe. Only 8 limestone stacks remain out of 12, but the vistas are still spectacular. Trying to chase the sunset we reached there in time but the weather had totally different plans. The super crowded view deck was left stranded when it started to downpour.
The horde of tourists ran for shelter and apparently I was the only one who decided to get wet. I took the battery off my camera and climbed the wooden platform to stretch my “h-ah-nds” wide open in that strong wind and heavy rainfall, with the ultimate sea view one can ever imagine, right in front of my eyes.
-Because as we got back to the car drenched, drove to Port Campbell some 10 Km west of the 12 Apostles and decided to pitch our tents, the weather changed the plan again. Just when we were finished with the arrangements, we got lucky, the weather cleared and the sun was out just before the sunset. The call of the golden hour light was impossible to resist and we drove to the vantage point at Port Campbell as quickly as we could. This is one of the best sunsets I ever witnessed. It seemed like a “f-oi-ght” for dominance with the clouds very low and dense, the sea waves striking the coast hard and the sun showing out the brilliant colours, everything was in full force.
We drove back to our tent when the fight ended, bought ourselves some food and beer on the way to conclude what was a splendid road trip.
-Because you not only bring home the memories but also penalties. One thing to stay careful about is the speed limit and the traffic rules while you drive in Australia. Automatic cameras are installed to capture the vehicle registration number for any infringement of traffic rules; I got this AUD 185 penalty for exceeding the speed limit by merely 6 Km/hr.
-Because then you are pardoned after being penalised. I had to write an apology letter stating I do not hail from Australia and might have missed the maximum speed mark unknowingly. The police accepted my request and waived off the penalty by giving a one-time official warning.
-Because whether it is the beauty of Melbourne or its Outgoing Culture, whether it is the typical Australian Attitude or the difficult Australian Accent, whether it is about surfing at Torquay or taking a road trip to the 12 Apostles, the Sun & Sand life or the party nights, sighting the kangaroos or eating them, absorbing the vistas or obliging the nature or getting penalized only to get pardoned.
Every experience on this trip was over the top and while this photo journey can only inspire you, any effort to describe it in words will only be an Understatement. I “reckon” you take this trip once in your life to “experience it as, “m-aye-t”.