Melbourne, Australia is the capital state of Victoria is famously known for its extremely-fluctuating weather due to the fact that it is situated in Port Phillips area. Melbourne is situated at the southernmost part of Australia and I can say it is a densely populated with multi-racial people! It is the city that has the hybrids of both historical classics elements and modern contemporary lifestyles – pretty much like Malaysia’s Malacca; I guess that’s why I can imagine myself staying longer or working in Melbourne; wouldn’t be an awkward thing in my mind, I say. Victoria is known as The Garden State; and musics, literature, arts & philosophy play major part of the city’s vibrant lifestyles! Out of nowhere, people would dress up fancily and do their “artsy” creativities on the street! And generally, the people are approachable & friendly if you are asking for directions – hospitality is what the Melburnians best etched in my memory (,”).
In front of the Melbourne’s iconic building – Flinders Street Station.
The Famous Yarra River & Princess Bridge.
Melbourne night scenery. From Princess Bridge.
Anyway, thanks to Air Asia X, we boarded the flight on 10.30 P.M. on the night of 15th September 2011 and reached Melbourne around 8.30 A.M. The almost 8 hours flight took a toll (I barely rest after invigilating the You-Know-What exam!) but I guess the excitement to experience new things injected strength in me! The just-ended winter wind was so cold that I was grateful for having my short trench-coat! My sister and I went to a nearest counter in the airport and decided to use Gray Line for our 2 tours in Melbourne – The Phillip Island tour & Great Ocean Road tour. We then boarded a pick-up van which graciously sent us right at the front of the motel we were about to stay throughout our Aussie trip, The City Square Motel.
Our Aussie motel! AUD80 per nights. Very comfortable and friendly staffs especially Mr. Cameron. Thanks for the hospitality Mr. Cameron – directions and all. (,”)
City Square Motel is situated in Swanston Street; which by the way IS at the heart of Melbourne; just a walking distance to the iconic Flinders Street Station! I guess Kakak had done tremendous job in selecting a strategic motel; with affordable price. The attendant, Mr Cameron was a helpful lad and we were very thankful for his help throughout the 5 days staying. The room was very comfortable and for us, having a room charged AUD80 dollars per night in the heart of Melbourne was a heaven-sent! Alhamdulillah! For those who might think of visiting Melbourne, do not hesitate to browse the website at http://www.citysquaremotel.com.au/ . Pretty awesome, aite? Anyway, we just roamed around Melbourne by walking on the streets (Flinders Street Station, Federation Square & Yarra Riverbanks) and savoured the halal Indonesian cuisines in “Nelayan” & “Es Teler” Restaurants as well as Halal Kebabs.
Vegemite, Aussie’s proud bread paste-spread! I am not a fan, sorry!
St. Paul Cathedral from Flinders Street Station.
Tram – one of the important public transportation. Melbourne houses the largest tram network in the world!
On 2nd day, we loafed around at Federation Square; had lunch and then got ready for the anticipating Phillip Island tour. The checkpoint was at Federation Square itself; in front of Australian Centre Of The Moving Image. Off we went! From Melbourne, we headed to the south-east passing the towns like Dandenong and then a small town called Kooweerup. The name derived from the Aboriginal phrase meaning “Black Fishes” (so said by the tourist guide). You could see clearly that it is a typical small town with little suburban houses and all! I remembered the name because it is kinda unique, don’t you think? We then passed Grantville, Bass and also a small town called San Remo. This small town is named such as that because there were so many Italian families migrated there; it also has the bridge called ‘The Narrows Bridge’ that links the mainland and Phillip Island.
Lush greeneries and grasses in Churchill Island.
Once we got into Phillip Island, we proceeded to a smaller island on the north-west called Churchill Island. Now, this was amazing! With its lush untainted greeneries and grasses and sea breeze blew your faces, it was ethereally tranquil! I just can’t believe that I’ve witnessed it with my own eyes; Alhamdulillah for the opportunity because before this, I merely watched that kind of sceneries IN THE MOVIES; but getting a chance to witness it with my own barenaked eyes- it’s just fulfilling, Alhamdulillah! We were given a tour on the life on the ranch – with sheep shaving/shearing, boomerang and lasso lessons and of course, tour around the English country-side lifestyle! It has always been our (my sister and I) dreams to be in that kind of ranch savouring the country-side life of the English. And to have the ranch on a hill facing the sea, it was magical! Words are not enough to describe how grateful I was. Alhamdulillah! I could have lived there forever!
Sheep shearing process.
Australian ranch lifestyle in Churchill Island Heritage Farm.
Then, we headed for The Koala Conservation Centre to see the Koala sanctuary and a few wild wallabies. It was fun seeing the koalas lazily resting on the branches. They are pretty much immobile & inactive like the sloth! On the way heading to The Penguin Parade at Summerland Bay, we passed through the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. The tour guide proudly told us that on the tomorrow, there would be a racing held at the circuit and the roads would be congested with audiences thronging the sides of the roads! We also took a few stops at the cliffs heading towards Summerland Bay. The sceneries were breathtaking! I felt as if like I was in Scotland or Scandinavian region! Alhamdulillah to ALLAH for the chance to witness them with my own eyes; so ethereal!
Koala Conservation Centre.
The panoramic view on the way to Summerland Bay. Subhanallah, right?
It was around dusk when we arrived at The Penguin Parade in Summerland Bay. Unfortunately, we were NOT ALLOWED to take photographs of the penguins once they come back from the sea heading towards the shore and the beach. It was magical seeing the penguins emerged from the sea and the scenery in Summerland Bay was quite enchanting. There was visibly a thunderstorm coming from the horizon and the clouds were murky. Suddenly in that moment, I felt as if like I was in Harry Potter movie – the Slytherin Cavern! Subhanallah! We called the day off around 7.45 P.M. and reached Melbourne nearing 9 P.M. Exhausting but very exciting, I would say!
The famous Penguin Parade entrance and the stands we sat to see the penguins paraded out from the sea in the dusk. Unfortunately, NO CAMERAS WERE ALLOWED. *Sigh* Breathtaking, anyway.
On the 3rd day, we decided to stroll and roam around the famous Queen Victoria Market in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne City itself. We boarded the tram and since it was on Sunday, we all get to travel free as every Sundays, Melbournians are given privilege to board trams, buses or any public transportation FREE OF CHARGE – provided one will have to buy the Sunday Saver Metcard (which you easily can purchase in various 7 Eleven outlets!). Melbourne people generally are very hospitable once you approach them for directions. The elder generations particularly are VERY GENEROUS in helping you out and it was amazing attitude, I would say – provided YOU have to approach them first. Kudos!
Queen Victoria Market – a must if you ever visit Melbourne! Accessible via tram from Swanston Street/Bourke Street.
Queen Victoria Market boasts various kind of laymen merchandises and paraphernalia at reasonable bargained prices! Fruits were fresh and came with flamboyant colours; gifts and souvenirs shops were abundant and you could see a lot of lively commotions in the market itself – so happened that when we went there, a Spanish/Mexican/Latin group who was to perform a flamenco/meringue dance & Latin music sang in the market with their guitars strumming and hoarse Latino Spaniard’s voice crooning a few Latin songs. The crowd was captivated by that and a few people danced merrily to the music! Amazing!
Scene at Queen Victoria Market on Sunday! Lovely and lively. I missed that…..
Since it was Sunday, Melbourne was so vibrant that when we strolled along the Bourke Street fancying a lovely statuesque-woman-who-painted-herself-in-silver-colours and a Chinese/Japanese Ninja magician, an entourage of people dressing up as PIRATES coming in and make a scene and hollering there “Pirate-ish” chants and yelling! Hahahhaa, they even jokingly wanting to ‘attack’ the statuesque silver woman and the ninja! It was hilarious and seemed like a festival! I did asked an Australian on why did these people are dressing up as pirates – Well, he had no idea as well. It was indeed a city full of spontaneities and lives!
The artsy people of Melbourne!
On the evening, we decided to go to St. Kilda, a town in a beach of Port Phillip; reachable from the Central Business District (CBD) via tram. The first impression I had on St. Kilda; it was a serene suburb-by-the-sea. Sea breeze blew the hair, majestic sun view across the horizon, seagulls flying, countless of boats parked in Port Phillip – basically, it’s the typical classic beach style. As a Penangite, sea has been a strong affinity; so St. Kilda is just a place I felt at ease instantaneously. The wind from the sea was so cold that I need to really hold on to my short-trench coat for comfort! But hey, I braved myself nearing the sea because it was simply a chance in a lifetime! I might never get back there again, so better savour the moment! We stayed there nearly till the sunset; and off back to Melbourne CBD.
Spectacular sunset view in St. Kilda’s beach.
On the 4th day, we got ready as early as from 6.00 A.M. as our next adventure which was The Great Ocean Road would be gearing up at 7.40 A.M.! We waited at Federation Square and there were a lot of people opting for the tour as well; we had double decker buses, so figure out! So, from Melbourne we went to South-West passing the city of Geelong, and then the beautiful-by-the-sea Torquay. I swear that my sister and I saw a “Sate Malaya” restaurant while passing the street in idyllic Torquay. The place reminds me of San Francisco (in TV of course! The hill-ish housing estate by the sea). The Great Ocean Road was indeed a FAR JOURNEY; almost taking the whole day!
Bells Beach (Surf Coast!) – The waves and the wind were SO strong!
The spot where sea tragedy Of The W.B. Godfrey wreck.
We reached Bells Beach, Anglesea (famous for its Surf Coast), Lorne and finally around 12 P.M. in the afternoon, we arrived at Apollo Bay for a 1 hour break a.k.a. lunch. That was like merely half of the journey but we were grateful for the stop because most of us were feeling NAUSEOUS from the winding and bending Great Ocean Road!! Apollo Bay is a small location fill with serenity and idyllic! It has the Grecian feeling; with the small town facing the sea; the wind blew the hair ferociously! But I kinda liked it. Peaceful…… So happened that it was actually the time for Zohor prayer; obviously no room was provided for us to perform prayer; so we decided to go this little Italian motel/cafe called “Iluka” and decided to just use it for about half an hour for prayer. The Ma’am of the Motel was a bit flabbergasted by that but then agreed; they had to charge us AUD40 dollars though, for the room service and everything, but hey, it’s Allah’s calls that we prioritize more, aite? We were thankful to the Italian Ma’am!
The idyllic and peaceful Apollo Bay – the half journey stop of The Great Ocean Road towards 12 Apostles!
“Iluka” Cafe – the place where we rented for like 40 minutes just to perform our prayers. Not sure either it’s Italian or Russian.
Then around 3.30 P.M. we arrived at Gibson’s Steps – that’s the first spot to view one of the 12 Apostles! Subhanallah, mesmerizing! And of course, to the popular 12 Apostles!!!! OH MY GOD, SUBHANALLAH!!! I can’t describe how beautiful the masterpieces created by Allah SWT! It was as if in a Hollywood movie ala Avatar! With the tall cliffs and we were on the top of them and the sun shone piercing the glistening ocean, it was ethereal! Indescribable!
The picturesque view of 12 Apostles. Subhanallah!
We spent there around an hour and after that proceeded to the nearby scenic place called Loch Ard Gorge. Apparently, it was named that because a ship sunk at the area from a journey of a ship sailed from England to Melbourne. It was another majestically-ethereal landscape that Nature had to offer. Subhanallah! Seeing the waves splashing against the limestones, I would have to say, I pictured Harry Potter scene – The Slytherin Cavern! Lame, but yeah, I am being honest! The sea was so crystal-clearly blue and the sea breeze was so refreshing!
Lord Ard Gorge. The place that caused a shipwreck for a ship sailed from London to Melbourne.
Our last destination was the idyllic Port Campbell. It was a fishing village (but modern in comparison to ours) – but a typical small-and-secluded town. I can’t believe that in the middle of nowhere, there was this one small quite town near the sea. You know it’s very lay-back because the weather was sombre and murky and not many people there except tourists (our bus that is!). But there were few locals who passed by and waved to us bidding us farewell when we departed. This taught me something. We are not the only being in the world. There are lotsa people out there residing in nooks & crannies we never imagined! Subhanallah!
The secluded but peaceful Port Campbell. Who would have thought that in this secluded place, there are people residing in it? So far away from Malaysia! Amazing. I wish I could stay longer… so tranquil!
Around 6.00 P.M., we pushed off back to Melbourne. The journey took us around 3 hours as we used another route, passing the town of Colac. Along the way, I could see vast canvas of Australian greeneries and grasses. It was an “International Velvet” moment for me, I have to admit!
My “International Velvet” moment! Ahhh…. on the way back to Melbourne via Colac.
On the final day which was the 5th day, we planned to put our energy to the fullest throttle, savouring the last bits of our days in Down Under. All this while, we’ve been hearing about that Tutankhamun Golden Age Exhibition held in Melbourne Museum. So, as a historical freak, you know I was SO AGITATED TO GO and was trying so hard to persuade Kakak who initially wanting to go to Zoos or Melbourne Aquarium so that Rifqi, my nephew would have chance to enjoy animals. I felt it would be such a waste if I let this chance go – I mean, there would NOT BE THIS KIND OF EXHIBITION IN MALAYSIA, wouldn’t it???? So, I decided to give treat to Kakak who claimed that she was running out of Aussie Dollars.
In front of Melbourne Museum & Royal Exhibition Building/ Carlton Gardens – A Heritage Building.
Melbourne Museum is located in Carlton Gardens which so happen to house the Royal Exhibition Building as well. The entry charge for adults to the Tutankhamun Golden Age Exhibition is quite expensive- that is AUD32 Dollars. So, I paid for 3 adults and Rifqi was given free entrance. I know for some people they wouldn’t want to spend such amount on seeing dead people; but hey, I am historical nerd; so, whatever, mate!
Wicked! I LOVE Egypt artefacts & histories! Felt so LUCKY since Malaysia don’t have this kind of exhibition. Quite expensive but I am a history freak! So… (,”)
The exhibition was phenomenal! We’ve got to see a lot of cool informations,replicas and artefacts on Tutankhamun and his ancestral lineage from his forefathers to his sudden death at the tender age of 18 years old as well as the discovery of his tomb by an Englishman called Mr. Carter. From the exhibition, we now know that Tutankhamun was actually the son of incestuous marriage between Akhnaten & Queen Tiya, who happened to be the secondary wife. And guess who was the Chief wife? The famous QUEEN NEFERTITI! Amazing fact, eh? Bought some mugs and souvenirs from that exhibition. I heart Egyptology!
Around 5 P.M., we headed to Melbourne Aquarium which is situated at the riverbank of Yarra River. It takes around 20 minutes to walk along the long-stretched Flinders Street. The first section was the Penguin Section; we could see lots of penguin swimming and diving in the tank and it was a marvellous thing ever! Trailing along the lane in Melbourne Aquarium, we saw a lot of exquisite and to certain extend, some exotic aquatic animals such as long-necked turtle, giant squids, sharks, coral reefs, and many more!
The final night in Melbourne certainly is something that I would always remember. I can’t believe I’ve set footstep there. I know, a lot of friends or acquaintances have been travelling all over the world; either because they are born-rich; or their studies or works bring them there; or they are working as air-cabin crews – but for me as neither all the three, getting myself there with MY OWN MONEY, is an accomplishment for myself. I am grateful to ALLAH SWT for this opportunity, to at least having the experience that I’ve been fantasized since I was a little kid (Yeah, I ain’t going to lie or sugar-coat; I guess everyone does have that; only they are ashamed to admit!).
The clocks at Flinders Street Station. Popular saying amongst Melburnians; “Let’s meet under the clock!”
As early as 6.20 A.M. on Wednesday 21st September 2011, we ready at the front of our motel; the morning sun as early as 6.15 A.M. so people were already busied hurrying to work or leisure. Waiting for the pick-up van and we actually did took picture with Mr. Cameron, the helpful staff & counter service of City Square Motel. Thanks for the hospitality, Mr. Cameron! On the way back, I’ve to say I had mixed feeling – missing Malaysia and my school but I will be missing Melbourne, too! I don’t know when can I ever returned there; probably in the next 10 years! Our flight scheduled for 9.20 A.M at Tullmarine (It was Eric Bana’s childhood place, you know!) Airport; but only around 10.30 A.M. that we departed, flying back to Malaysia.
I will miss Melbourne. Brief but deeply-etched.
This journey has opened to a lot of new experiences for me; and also built confidence for me to interact with outsiders. I’ve made moves to interact with new people and got to know new people as well throughout this journey : Angela from Sydney; Monica from Taiwan; Crystal from Hong Kong and also an Iranian man who now resides in Sydney (I sat beside him for 8 hours journey to Malaysia).
The last gazing of Melbourne. The Tullmarine Airport.
Ahhh, Australia – an island home rich with cultures and heritages. Oy!Oy!Oy! Aussie! G’day mate! Anyway, the song below entitled ” I Am, You Are, We Are Australian” was aired during the journey headed back to Melbourne from Phillip Island. I was fascinated by the honest lyrics depicting about the ancestral and historical lineage of Australian. The song records historical sequences and you can tell that Aussies are proud with it. Enjoy! (,”)
I came from the dream-time,
From the dusty red-soil plains.
I am the ancient heart,
The keeper of the flame.
I stood upon the rocky shores,
I watched the tall ships come,
For forty thousand years I’ve been
The first Australian.
I came upon the prison ship,
Bowed down by iron chains,
I fought the land, endured the lash,
And waited for the rains.
I’m a settler, I’m a farmer’s wife
On a dry and barren run,
A convict, then a free man,
I became Australian.
I’m the daughter of a digger
Who sought the mother lode.
The girl became a woman
On the long and dusty road.
I’m a child of the Depression,
I saw the good times come,
I’m a bushie, I’m a battler,
I am Australian.
We are one, but we are many,
And from all the lands on earth we come.
We’ll share a dream and sing with one voice,
“I am, you are, we are Australian”
I’m a teller of stories,
I’m a singer of songs,
I am Albert Namatjira
And I paint the ghostly gums.
I’m Clancy on his horse,
I’m Ned Kelly on the run,
I’m the one who waltzed Matilda,
I am Australian.
I’m the hot wind from the desert,
I’m the black soil of the plains,
I’m the mountains and the valleys,
I’m the drought and flooding rains.
I am the rock, I am the sky,
The rivers when they run,
The spirit of this great land,
I am Australian.
We are one, but we are many,
And from all the lands on earth we come.
We’ll share a dream and sing with one voice,
“I am, you are, we are Australian.”