Exploring Melbourne, Australia Review - A Wish Come True

Looking through the window to the city

For many years, it was our wish to visit Melbourne.  When I accompanied my husband to a meeting in Adelaide, going to Melbourne became possible.  We have good friends from Melbourne who moved back there after living in the Chicago area for many years.  We wanted to see our friends and the city they had talked about for many years.  Although our time was short, visiting Melbourne was a must.

Arriving by air, we were thrilled to be picked up at the gate; this amazed and delighted us.  Settling into our friends’ condo, we were treated to a spectacular view of the city below and a lovely lunch and soon, we were off exploring.

The Royal Botanic Gardens

Knowing that we love, plants and gardens, we took a walk to the Royal Botanic Gardens of Melbourne.  I think this was the loveliest of the three I saw.  And my experience there was unforgettable.  A Bellbird was singing and singing.  It was a beautiful, ethereal sound and unlike any other I have heard.  Camellias, azaleas and other colorful flowers were blooming.  It was an old, established garden, lush with sections of ferns and huge trees and plants.  We crossed the road to visit one of Melbourne’s most recognizable landmarks, the “Shrine of Remembrance”, Victoria’s memorial to the service and sacrifice of its men and women in times of conflict.

We quickly discovered how easy it is to be a tourist in Melbourne when we hopped on to the free Tourist Shuttle.  The shuttle runs daily, every 15-20 minutes from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and makes 11 stops around the city.  We began at the last stop and went to the first stop, the Arts Precinct.

The Arts Centre has an iconic spire and a number of gallery and performance spaces that includes the Performing Arts Museum.  The museum tells the story of circus, dance, music, opera, and theatre in Australia. There was a wonderful costume display.  We observed current theaters and noted the plan for expansion.  

City Circle Tram

The day had gone by quickly and the bus was no longer running but fortunately, the City Circle Tram was and we boarded it.  These iconic trams that are about one hundred years old, give Melbourne character.  They are free and provide a convenient way to tour the city centre including Docklands – Melbourne’s waterfront precinct.  

Federation Square

On the tram we passed official buildings, a court house, a jail, shops, museums, other gardens, restaurants, the docks, and then headed back and stopped to explore the new and controversial, Federation Square, the home of the Melbourne Visitor Centre.  An annual and very important book event was taking place.  There were also performances of various kinds, shops, restaurants, bars and open public spaces.  It hosts up to 2,000 events annually and guided walking tours daily from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Exploring the William Ricketts Sanctuary

After an evening of catch-up and relaxation, we awoke ready for a full day of exotic adventure.  Our friends took us to “off the beaten track” destinations which relatively few tourists visit.  After a long drive during which we passed some of Victoria’s vineyards, we arrived at the William Ricketts Sanctuary. This was unlike any place we had ever seen. It is a park that blends the natural and spiritual realms.  It is beautiful, tranquil and renewing. The William Ricketts story is unusual and fascinating.

A Ricketts' figure

Watching over the sanctuary

The Sanctuary is a testament to the philosophy of William Ricketts and his belief that the natural environment is entrusted to us all, and by nurturing the earth we nurture life.  Ricketts was born in Richmond, Victoria (Australia) in 1898.  From 1912 to 1920 he developed artistic skills, playing the violin, crafting jewelry and modeling clay.  He moved permanently to Mt. Dandenong in 1934.  After watching a movie of his life, (including a scene of a lyrebird dancing) we marveled at the sculptured figures we saw that had been described in the film.

Ibis outside the Healsville Sanctuary


An emu

An alert koala

After a satisfying stop for tea and scones, which were wonderful, we drove to the Healesville Sanctuary where the wonder of the Australian bush comes to life.  We delighted in seeing the variety of exotic animals whose names we knew but that we had never actually seen.  We saw a Platypus, some Wombats, Kangaroos, Wallabys and Koalas.  And then there were Emus, Echidnas, Dingoes, and one wild Tasmanian Devil. running madly around.  There were so many demonstrations and shows that we had to make choices.  Our decision was to see the Koalas fed and were rewarded by seeing an alert Koala.

Exotic bird

Tazmanian Devil running

Our time in Melbourne was too short and we vowed to return in the future to see more of this great city.

Melbourne information: www.thatsmelbourne.com.au
William Ricketts Sanctuary: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
Healsville Sanctuary: www.zoo.org.au

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