Melbourne
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Melbourne is different to Sydney in many ways. It's not just the streets of coffee shops and the well-organised streets, nor is it the fun river cruises through the city centre or the fact that there's some great scenery only a minutes drive away. No, there's something different about the atmosphere in Melbourne that sets it apart from Sydney. People walk a bit slower, there's less road rage and more friendly smiles, less hassles and more patience. And there are trams everywhere!

Melbourne is still a busy city but it seems to have an air of wry amusement about itself that cold Sydney lacks. Sometimes you have the feeling of just wanting to smile when walking down the street.
Perhaps there are drugs in the air! Or maybe its that Melbourne is so clean, calm and friendly that you realise what you're missing in Sydney.

I took a plane to Melbourne a few years ago and went up the Melbourne tower - great introductory video, went out to feed some lorikeets (so cute!) and also visited Pinoak Crescent (where the Neighbours TV series' houses exterior scenes are recorded)

This is my travelogue of the event. I hope you like it. (I never got around to adding the pictures!)

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The captain says we've got good weather in Melbourne. That's a relief!

For the first time in my life I'm seats away from the wing. Just listened to the onboard radio entertainment - a send up of Harry Butler. "Socks mated for life until they're introduced to their natural enemy, the laundromat"

Taxi arrived at around 7:55 and I rushed out. The trip cost about $20.00. (Actually it only cost about $16 but the taxi driver was a good conversationalist and I didn't want even more change in my wallet)

After going through customs I walked around all the shops at the terminal. (They're not on the outside, you have to pass through the barrier first). Nothing much to buy though.

Don't want the first page of this diary to be too boring so here's some creative prose:

The sea glittered with a myriad of minute breakers, flashing their tempestuousness at the windows of the plane. In response the plane turned, silently, its wings readying for the great leap to the south.

The force of the plane pushed me back in my seat. And suddenly we were airborne. Sunlight flashed in streams through the window as we banked and turned, the houses below shrinking away. The power that lifted us was both exhilarating and frightening.

Far below was a great expanse of water but this soon vanished to be replaced by huge stretches of land crisscrossed with rivers and roads, and something that looked to be similar to the Blue Mountains or the Grand Canyon. Tracts of land, fields of green. The sunlight reflected it all in stark relief. Mountains and valleys swept into the distance punctuated only by the occasional points of life.

Morning tea is being served.

The rest of the flight was uneventful. The airport was quick and the trip to the hotel was quicker. Now it's time for a tour to the Blue Dandenongs.

Firstly the bus took us on a tour around Melbourne city and now we have a long trip ahead of us along Burwood Highway.
The bus driver rarely stopped talking. The amount of information he knows is very impressive. History, bits and pieces. 
Just passed Puffing Billy and Mountain Ashes trees. Tallest trees in Australia that live for at least 300 years.

Pinoak Court is where Neighbours is filmed (otherwise known as Ramsay Street) so get out your Melbourne Street directories and track it down!

The tour took us to Rozella feeding (Rozehill parrots). Got a pack of seeds for 80c and had them 'eating out of the palm of my hand' yes, literally. An interesting observation is that they only went for one or two particular seeds and left you when those seeds ran out. Obviously this is a deliberate ploy and conspiracy of the Natural Parks and Wildlife organisations and tourists organisations to make sure you don't overfeed the parrots (or that you have to buy more seeds) Okay, kidding. :)

The trip to the Dandenongs and the city was only $41. We got free coffee & lamingtons, and a great talk.

Couldn't get the Colonial restaurant happening. Too packed out. I'll try again next week.

We're on our way to the mountains so that we can see the dandenong ranges. The trees are great but it's a pity that people my age aren't actually on this tour!!!

Fairy Mountain Restaurant and a neat lookout. Freezing cold up here. Windy, no sunlight and slight specks of rain. Still, got to see a lot of eucalyptus trees and was told that there are at least 67 types out there.

The bain of an infrequent flyer. My left ear still hasn't popped after the flight and I'm having difficulty hearing. Hopefully I'll get over it soon. I suppose that at least its not deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Finished the tour and got to Victoria Vista Hotel. I was given room 811-7. Was told that the 8th floor had no lift access and that I'd need to take the stairs above level 7.

Got out at level 7 and went up the fire escape. Nope. (Bare in mind that I had a 16kg backpack, a 27kg bag and a 10kg bag to carry) Came back down and searched for other stairs. After long corridors and no direction I located them. The room was at the end of an antiseptic corridor, like the hotel used to be hospital or something, and was tiny and tacky. Radio that wouldn't work, an old 1970s TV. I think its because they don't get many single people in there that it was so small and unhotel like.

I had planned to go on the Colonial Tram Restaurant but that had been booked out weeks in advance so, maybe next time.

-Neil A Hogan 
Prices correct as of 1996!

Comment 2016 - Sorry, I never got around to adding the pictures. I also have yet to go on the Colonial Tram Restaurant. Hopefully this year! You can find more current Melbourne reviews at Travel Wine Food - Neil

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