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...not just Right, it's My time to visit Melbourne NOW!

Sir, wake up, it’s Victoria’ some sort of voice-management, of course with due courtesy, and it banged on my ears again ‘Sir? It’s Victoria, didn’t you want to get down here…


Fighting the universal conspiracy, I tried opening my eyes and listening to the conductor simultaneously, yeaah multi-tasking!


Oh, yeah, thank you! Thanks!’ a formal smile, rubbed shoulders (it wasn’t crowded, I was yet sleepy) rubbing my eyes I stepped down of the tram.


Wooo….Man! Where I am? This is not Kolakata, forget it, this is not even India!” I stepped down apparently from Kolkata Tramway at Maidan near Victoria Memorial, but it wasn’t the same. There was no maidan, no typical Kolkata traffic, no Victoria Memorial and it was something else. Fishy! No it wasn’t fishy. I looked back at Tram, it wasn’t like Tram either.


Highway 31 Bikers' Restaurant
Have I had grass? No, neva! So, how did I disembark a metro when I picked up a tram an hour ago?’ I was asking myself, feeling ridiculed. I picked up my cell phone, and checked the network. It was something, Telstra!


Telstra?’ bewildered, I raised my head and saw a billboard at the far end with big ‘Telstra advertisement’, “F*ck, where the hell I am?’


Hey Po-nitt! What are you looking at man?” someone shouted at me. Already confused, I gave an instant reaction to him, ‘What?



Some 6ft 2inches tall, bald man with muscles bludgeoning out of his normal sized tee gave me the world’s weirdest smile. Though it certainly was a warm wish, but my situation was so awkward that it was the normal reaction on my part.


Mate, think you don’t remember wha…


…what city it is’, I interrupted him.


Ha ha ha! It’s Melbourne! Don’t you really remember we had ‘Pure Blonde’ at Highway 31?” now it was his turn to get confused, “Rounds of beer and that Veggie Burger?


I was lost with myself only. A thorough search of pockets returned with a single Visa sign that my Credit Card had.


By the time the guy came closer to me and patted, “You fine, buddy! Last night we planned for a Melbourne ride. And, hey you left your passport etc at the counter only; so drunk you were…”


Wow! So, I am in Melbourne with my passport and I had drinks with you last night and I took a tram for Victoria of Kolkata and left it at Victoria of Melbourne! Sorry, but I don’t even know you…


Come on buddy! Am Smith, we met at Highway 31 bikers’ restaurant. Leave it, tell me ain’t you a Biker from India?


Yeah, but….

Now with smile back on his face, he interrupted me, “No ifs and butts man. Let’s get back to the place. Have some coffee and get on to the ride as planned. Don’t think much, winds on ride will get you back to the normal, I swear!


I wasn’t able to sort the things and the situation out. But, he knew about me, and apparently we met last night also; so, probably I reached the city and got so drunk that have even forget everything that happened and now meeting Smith who had been waiting for me to embark on bike-trip of Melbourne. Wow, how continuously I can think…would be killed if write this much long sentence.


Smith led me to another tramcar, The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant at Victoria. As we entered, someone shouted, “Hey Smith! Here…


The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant
That guy was Andrew. Smith’s friend who brought for me the riding gears I would be using on ride. While the duo involved in planning stuff, I got busy again in contemplating the surrounding, walls of the wagon restaurant, view through the window and, and my own reflection on that old style mirror. Yes it was me, the same me I knew. So finally, it wasn’t a dream; don’t they say you don’t see mirrors in dream?


If you’re done with praising yourself on mirror, you may join us on plan


While whole restaurant turned to me and burst in laughter; a shy, blushed heavily pink, poor soul – me, ducked my head and went closer to the table.


Andrew had already chalked down the plan. We would be riding some 100 km through the city referred to as Marvellous Melbourne. Southbank, Westgate Bridge over Yarra river, Port Melbourne, St Kilda, Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit and Melbourne Cricket Ground would be our destinations.


Geared in RJays accessories, we kicked started our HD-Roadsters at around 11 o’clock. I really would have liked to ride a Bullet on Australia, but HDs were nevertheless the best bargain ;) Andrew was to lead the team, while Smith to tail as he jokingly said, “will guard my ass ;)” Andrew kick-started the ride, took a look back at me and shouted, "Buddy...it's your time to visit Melbourne NOW!"


Southbank promenade during summer
Our first destination was The Southgate Arts & Leisure Precinct at Southbank, a major entertainment area of the city, extending up to Crown Casino. Southbank is home to headquarters of many a big empires including The Herald and Weekly Times, Foster's, Crown Limited, Treasury Wine Estates etc and is the primary business hub of Greater Melbourne, something like Nariman Point of Greater Mumbai. Smith showed me the famous Ophelia sculpture by Deborah Halpern that has been showcased on Melbourne tourism campaigns. I also could see the Eureka Tower – the tallest Australian tower, among a cluster of high rises.


Queen Victoria's Gardens
Leaving City Road, we took Southbank Boulevard-Linthingow Avenue towards East. On our left was National Gallery of Victoria and past the St Kilda Road, it was Queen Victoria’s Gardens. National Gallery of Victoria is an art museum founded back in 1861. It’s popularly known as NGV and as Andrew told me on our next pit stop, the museum is home to Australian Art of 19th and early 20th Century and surrounds the famous Picasso theft of 1986. The Queen Victoria’s Gardens was founded as monument to death of Queen Victoria in 1837. The Gardens are part of a larger group of parklands between St Kilda Road and Yarra River, known as Domain Parklands, and include Royal Botanic Gardens, King Domain, Alexandra Gardens as well the Queen Victoria’s Gardens.

MCG from a city building
Crossing the Yarra River, we rode over the Olympic Boulevard through the Olympic Parks and other monuments from the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. We rode up to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Brunton Ave and then took a U-turn and got back on to the same road towards the South Melbourne. Well, Melbourne Cricket Ground or MCG is World’s tenth largest stadium and largest Cricket stadium as well the largest Australian stadium. This super famous stadium not only hosts cricket matches but also had hosted the 1956 Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Games. MCG is also famous to host the Boxinf Day Test Match every year and hosts Australian Football throughout the winter.

A section of the Fern Gully in the Royal Botanic Gardens
Next to visit were the Royal Botanic Gardens of Domain Parklands. Situated east to Queen Victoria’s Gardens, it’s an internationally renowned park and home to over 10,000 individual species. Not to wonder, these Gardens are regarded as the finest in Australia and among the Best in the World. Next to it, is situated The Shrine of Remembrance. Andrew suggested stopping at the place, and short of time, we decided to have just Cappuccino at Observatory Cafe and ride on. On coffee, Andrew shared the story behind the Shrine. It was built as a memorial to the people of Victoria who served in World War I and now is a memorial to all Australians who have ever served in a war. It’s one of the largest War Memorials of Australia. A marble stone of Remembrance has been kept inside the sanctuary, with the words “Greater love hath no man’ engraved on it. On 11th November at 11 AM, the Remembrance Day, a ray of sunlight lights up the word ‘Love’ in the inscription. What a wonderful way to remember those who died for the country, I could see the spark in Andrew and Smith’s eyes!
North perspective displaying the Eternal Flame
We were back on St. Kilda Road and Andrew led us to Australian Grand Prix Circuit through the Kings Way and Albert Road. Australian Grand Prix Circuit hosts the F1 Grand Prix every March. Interestingly, it first opened in 193 and had hosted a number of Australian Grand Prix races.
Bass Strait Ferry Spirit of Tasmania II at Station Pier
We continued riding on Alberta Road, the Kerferd Road and took right turn at the junction with Beaconsfield Parade. Riding pass Station Pier and Beach Road we took the Princes Highway. Station Pier is an historic pier in Port Melbourne. It was opened in 184 and is still the primary passenger terminal of the Megacity. True to its age, it is listed on Victorian Heritage Register.
The West Gate Bridge at sunset, withDocklands Stadium in the foreground.
Through cable stayed Westgate Bridge, we crossed the Yerra River and entered the western part of the city. Riding on Western Ring Road we reached our farthest destination, the Caroline Springs. It’s a suburb, located some 25 km west of Melbourne. We spent some time at the Lake Caroline and headed back towards Melbourne, though through a different route. Smith told me about nearby Kororoit Creek that has been home to native animals for years like Tiger snake, Eastern Blue-tongue Lizard, common snake-neck turtle and even Kangaroos, though these are rarely seen in the area now. We took State Route 8, and within half an hour reached the Flemington Racecourse situated next to the Maribyrnong River. This racecourse is famous for Australia’s richest horse race – the Melbourne Cup.

From here, Andrew took the lead. I chose to tail Smith, though he was eager to follow and guard me. It was around 6 PM when we left the racecourse and head towards Yarra Bend Park. This is a really humongous park spread across some 642 acres. Best thing about the park is the river Yarra that flows about 12km through the park. The park not only hosts 2 historic boathouses but also two golf courses – 18hole Yarra Bend Golf course and the 9hole Studley Park Golf course. We left our HDs in the parking and opted for cycling. Smith was too much into fishing, but Andrew kept an eye on watch and didn’t allow us. Little over an hour in the park, cycling, sitting idle on the banks, sharing ride-stories and the stories on the girls we loved and girls we left, we left the park on our po-ta-to HDs.

Royal Exhibition Building
We were now riding back to from where we started, Southbank. En route, Andrew stopped near Nicholson Station to show me the Royal Exhibition Building, this is the place where the shot MasterChef Australia Season4. Built in 1880-1881 to host the Melbourne International Exhibition, this building also hosted the first Parliament of Australia in 1901; and, it became the First Australian building to be awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.

Another 5km of ride and we stopped at Number 8 Restaurant, at the Crown Casino. Andrew had made the booking in that very noon. A premium restaurant under Crown’s, its bar is exclusively famous for extensive winelist of 888 wines. We chose to try Grilled Queensland prawns, fennel purée, crisp celery and water cress salad with a garlic and lemon sauce with Riesling white wine. Already tired, I could feel the numbness rising from my feet, on the second peg only, when someone patted on my right shoulder. A little later I can hear some known language, Moshay, uthun, Moy-daan ese gechhe. Ae baabu, utho moy-daan aa gaya

What, It’s Maidan? It’s Kolkata?’ I jumped at my seat in the restaurant and found all eyes staring at me, there was no Andrew, no Smith and no Melbourne. It was the old tram I took about half an hour ago, and disembarked at Victoria, Melbourne. I looked down at my tab, and found Wikipedia article on Melbourne. Shook my head, rubbed my eyes and again left the tram, this time in India, murmuring, ‘it’s not good to read too much on Wiki’, while someone chuckled on my back in the tram, “Pogla (mad!)




(P.S.: This post is a work of fiction done for Indiblogger's contest - ...it's your time to visit Melbourne NOW! All the pictures have been credited back to their original source, mostly Wikipedia articles. I would like to thank Melbourne Motorcycle Rides Club, Colonial Tramcar Restaurant, Highway 31 Bikers' Restaurant, Number 8 Restaurant & Bar, Wikipedia writers and GoogleMaps (Link to my ride route) - without whom I wouldn't have such vivid imaginations)


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