“Have a lovely time in Melbourne- but remember, not too lovely a time. Cheers!”
These words were spoken to me by my lit professor, Sharon, after she insisted that she did not want to hear about how lovely Melbourne was upon our trip’s return. Melbourne, the second largest city in Australia, faces a fierce rivalry (not quite unlike the Red Sox/ Yankee situation) with its larger competitor, Sydney.
It was hard to resist not falling in love. This city, not quite the oldest, but I daresay the most cultured city in Australia, is very unique in its identity. A city proud of its looks, Melbourne is known for its flashy modern architecture, its laneway culture of hidden coffee shops & bars, its good food, and world- famous graffiti.
My wanderlust for Australia led me here. Have a glance:
Meet the Croft Institute. This is a tiny bar deep down dark, winding alleyway – utterly impossible to find unless knowing exactly where to turn– that functioned as an experimental lab in the 1930s. It has an eerie vibe, with many of the original artifacts from the lab like eerie hospital beds, vials and tubes of strange liquids, and cocktail drinks served with syringes.
We just missed this one. Melbourne, known far and wide for its amazing graffiti culture, has its many alleyways lined with organic artwork. By the looks of this laneway, we may have missed the artist by a hair.
Melbourne adopted the bike share system even before Boston innovatively installed the Hubway. This is a city that has a large bike culture and large environmental focus, intending to be 100% carbon neutral by 2020.
On that note, I’ll introduce one of Melbourne’s beautiful rooftop cooperative gardens. Similar to Boston’s Victory Gardens, Melbournian citizens and restaurants rent out plots of this rooftop garden to grow veggies, herbs, and fruits over the city skyline.
Shabeen is a bar with, as stated, “a little bit different” business model. Each drink they serve has a theme or location attached to it which connects to a nonprofit foundation. 100% of the profits at Shabeen go towards that organization and ultimately developing the world. It was a small, intimate little hideaway in the heart of Melbourne.
Enter Luna Park. One of just three left of this once popular amusement park chain, Luna Park holds the world’s longest running roller-coaster, the Scenic Railway. The idea is that you enter this (somewhat creepy) moon face into a world of lunacy.
This is the sort of thing I meant when I mentioned that crazy modernist architecture this city identifies with. The RMIT is one campus that has many flashy buildings such as this.
Similar to the US’ past with Native Americans, Australians have a tense history with the treatment of their native Aborigines. Still dealing with these issues and emotions in current culture, artwork like that of this Aborigine boy is quite touching and not uncommon.
With my lovely adventure complete, and wanderlust temporarily stanched, I return happily back to the BU Australia campus. Oh, and Sharon was right– Sydney is better.