Each year during childhood I’d board the train with my family to Melbourne, home of my father’s clan. After an all day trip we’d arrive at Spencer St station in the heart of Melbourne. So it was a pleasant surprise to revisit the bustling station last week and find the joint extensively remodelled under a sexy wave roof of corrugated iron and perspex.
Another revelation was the enormous Testra Dome Stadium right next door to the Spencer St station, a stones throw from the CBD. Apparently a highlight of the footy season is witnessing Collingwood fans’ ‘welcoming’ visiting fans alighting from trains out of Geelong and Port Adelaide. Such gracious warmth from those Pies fans.
After a thirty year absence Melbourne was full of surprises during my few days there. Whilst Docklands was disappointing, a work in progress, the adjoining Southbank was superbly laid out along the Yarra river, reflecting in part a European ambience well suited to the City.
Generally across the inner city Melbourne appears to have successfully differentiated itself. There’s an understated sophistication with a big emphasis on public space, fostering a lively outdoor life, especially at night. From numerous public sculptures and parks to a plethora of street eateries, cafés, bakeries, bars, art galleries the place presents as a very mature culture and a desirable place to live.
Whilst the traffic is nothing to write home about their tram system is excellent. It’s efficiency, comfort and reliability easily outweighed the cluttered maze of overhead wiring and tram tracks, which probably adds to the charm of the bustling street life. From all appearances the shopping is another bonus though my only experience involved a visit to the AFL marketing shop in the City. I’m easily pleased.
That’s a brief impression from my short visit to inner Melbourne, home of historic bluestone architecture, an attractive feature river, vibrant neighbourhoods and lots of beautiful women. I didn’t visit enough localities to form an opinion on the population mix, other than to note a younger demographic and a very friendly, relaxed people. In short, a very impressive city and well worth another visit.