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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Free City Tour Around Melbourne..


I was transiting in Melbourne waiting to fly home the next morning. Since I haven't been to Melbourne, I was quite eager to at least go for a city tour. By the time I checked into the airport hotel, it was past noon and a little too late to make any tour arrangement. Without any fixed plan in mind, I decided to make my way to the city before deciding what to do.  

Getting To The City
It is easy and convenient to get to the city from the airport as there are shuttle buses that make return trips to the city every 10 minutes. The company called 'Sky Bus' charges AUD18 per way or AUD36 for a return fare from Melbourne Tullamarine Airport to Southern Cross Station at Spencer Street in Melboune's CBD. Tickets can be purchased at booths set up outside the arrival hall of the airport.

Feeling Lost
After a 20 minutes ride, I finally arrived at Southern Cross Station, Spencer Street.
Took my lunch at the station and walked out into Spencer Street feeling a little lost. 
Noticed a building called Whitehouse just across the street. Only thing is it isn't white in colour. While asking around I learnt there is a free tram service that makes a city loop. It's free, so why not?

Free Tram Zone
Made my way to the nearest free tram zone, about 7-8 minutes' walk away. Was told to look out for a maroon tram. Such a relief when it finally stopped in front of me.
There are Free Tram Zones and signboards like this around the city where the tram would make stops for passengers to board or alight. The Free Tram operates within the city's CBD making a circular loop every 12 minutes.(See map below).
Got hold of a map available on the tram and it didn't take me long to understand how the system works. 
Sometimes the tram got this crowded and you can't really see much from inside. I decided to sit through the whole loop to get an overview of the city. While doing this I made my picks by spotting the more interesting places which  I would stop to explore during the second and consecutive loops.

My First Stop
My first stop was at Spring Street as there are many spectacular and marvellous buildings in the vicinity. Passed through Parliament Garden and Coles Fountain. Wanted to make my way to see the gothic looking building.
Statues at Parliament Garden
Spotted a few heritage buildings here. 
Ended up in St Peter's Church.
I like the serene ambiance here and more so, the old-fashioned benches, pulpit and setting of the church.
St Peter's Church
Walked a little further to see the gothic looking St Patrick's Cathedral (year consecrated 1897). Decided not to go in as I needed the time to cover more places.
Melbourne is a very beautiful city. Many buildings are worthy of admiration.
Just opposite Parliament Garden is the majestic looking Princess Theatre.
Al Fresco Dining near Bourke Street.
Visited Melbourne's Chinatown centred around Little Bourke's Street.
Some of the older buildings are really beautiful.
Many mouth watering menus displayed outside the restaurants.
Walked to see the grand Parliament House. 
Really admire the architecture.
Beautiful door and doorway.
Wanted to be a part of this grandeur and to say "Hey, I have been here".
Photo taken from Parliament House.

My Second Stop
Board the tram and made my second stop at Federation Square.
Palais Theatre is another very beautiful building.
It has lovely domes and very intricate designs.
Federation Square is a very robust place.
Visited The Atrium, to see some exhibits and retail shops.
There is a big crowd at Federation Square as Melbourne Visitor Centre and Flinders Street Station are also in the vicinity.
The Yarra River flows parallel to Flinders Street.

Flinders Street Railway Station is a real eye-catcher. Its vibrant yellow coat of paint and colonial charm makes it one of my favorite buildings visited for the day.
A very lively place
A mix of contemporary and old buildings.
Hosier Lane is an interesting lane to see. It is filled with murals.
Not very refined pieces of art but a good outlet for budding artists. 
 St Paul's Cathedral at Swanston Street is another building worth taking a look.
Horse carts at Swanston Street

My Third Stop
My third stop was at the waterfront city. This place looks very contemporary with a totally different ambiance.
The luminescent, psychedelic colours of high rise here is an obvious change from the buildings seen in the CBD area.
An Ice Cream Kiosk
Took a walk around this nice dining, shopping and residential area.


My Third Loop, Final Stop
It is not easy to take snapshots from the tram. This is one of them taken on my third loop before making another stop.
My fourth stop was around Russell Street and La Trobe Street area coz' I was really attracted to this fairytale-like building.
The State Library of Victoria is nearby and it looks like a favorite hangout for students.
Walking along La Trobe St, the Royal Melbourne Institute Of Technology (RMIT) building really stood out. Wow, I really like the doorway.
RMIT built in 1887 was formerly Working Men's College of Melbourne.
I was waiting to board the tram to go to another stop but the tram actually "stopped" on me. I was not aware the tram stops operating by 6pm on  public holidays. (It was Labour Day that day).  Aiyo so sad there are still so many places I wanted to see.

Dinner At Spencer Street And Back To Airport.
From La Trobe, I walked all the way back to Southern Cross Station at Spencer Street, something close to 2km.  Had dinner before taking the Sky Bus back to the airport.

So that was how I saw Melbourne for the first time and for free too. I really love Melbourne. I didn't know it is such a beautiful city with so many places and things to explore. I will surely come back again.





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