Monday, June 10, 2013

Walking in Melbourne

A rough outline of city walk 10/06/13

Being stuck in Melbourne, unable to drive and worse still forbidden from riding a bike I have been desperate for some kind of physical activity. It's taken me nearly two weeks to feel OK about doing anything at all but rest will only get you so far! At some point the body must have movement in order to recover!

A long time friend of the family likes walking so I asked if he'd bring me next time he goes... I thought we'd be bush walking so when he called he told me to meet him at Jolimont station at 10:30am...  for a city walk I was a little surprised.

Well beggars can't be choosers! I rode the train to Jolimont Station, hopped off facing the gates of the MCG.
We walked Fitzroy Gardens and up to the Queen Victoria Markets, which are very much the same as they have always been... crowded and full of tourists. My favorite spot at the market is the Deli. Back in the good old days the Queen Vic Market was about the only place you could find European style food... (Very exotic back in the 1970s and even the 80s) a lot has changed in Australia since I was a kid, I remember when spagetti was considered foreign food.

My friend is German, he does this walk fairly regularly, the first part of the walk includes stopping at the Vic Market for a Weisswurst sausage with sauerkraut. We arrived at the vendor and 'D' walks through a throng of Chinese tourists straight to the serving area, as he orders I realize the throng was actually a queue and he had jumped it! Funny thing was that the 20 odd Chinese were all so preoccupied texting, tweeting and god knows what else they didn't even notice. I was in no mood to queue half an hour for a sausage so I kept quiet. (It was delicious by the way)

We wandered around the market for a little while but it was all so predictable and crowded! We wanted jam donuts but gave up on this idea when we saw the line of people waiting! Hot jam donuts are a real Melbourne treat but who the hell wants to stand an hour in the cold waiting for one! This is something I just don't get. There were enough customers to keep at least 3 maybe even four donut vans busy all day but there seemed to be only one donut vendor in the whole market! Someone's got this market thing all stitched up!

Leaving the market we walked down to South Bank where 100s of Yuppies enjoyed their Sunday Lunch, then crossing St Kilda Rd we walked up past the Shrine of Remembrance and through the Botanical Gardens. The gardens made news recently when a bunch of vandals got into the succulent garden and chopped up all the tall cactus trees with a machete or something. Some of the plants were 30 years old! We didn't bother gawking at the damaged plants but wandered around the various paths and checked out the ponds where I was glad to see eels had returned after the drought.

From the Gardens we crossed the Yarra and wandered back through the sporting grounds, Enormous new stadiums for soccer and tennis, then back down to the river walk where the rail-yards have been converted into parkland. I couldn't believe how Melbourne has changed since I was I kid. These were the seediest, grittiest corners of the city. Places I used to wander around, amongst the true drunken underbelly of Melbourne. The parks and gardens were once the domain of gutter drunks and hobos. I used to wag school and bring my stash down here to drink... now it's all cleaned up. Families ride bikes and have picnics, there's a children's art centre in one of the old red brick track switching houses where drunks used to sleep. Trees have been planted, grass, sculptures everything has changed... It was fascinating and very pleasant to see.

Strong Men performing at Federation Square opposite Flinders St Station

By now my back was aching... I'd slowed down a lot but was still enjoying the walk. We climbed the steps from the Yarra trail and entered federation square. An undulating cobbled surface spread out like a natural landscape on the site which was once a bland concrete rooftop! There were thousands of people in the city all eating drinking and having fun. The dark and dreary miserably empty city has gone, now the city is full of life on the weekends.

Finally we made it to a coffee shop in China town, enjoyed a reasonable brew and a Danish before heading back to Flinder's St station for the train home. Total distance walked would have been about 15 km. Finally a day out for me. Mum and Dad are completely over having me pacing the house like a caged animal.

Tomorrow I go back to the Hospital for surgery on my gimpy hand. I have two fractured bones in my wrist that are not knitting properly and have to be re-set! Damn! Still no idea about the status of my back but at least my bowel is starting to work again... nothing like a long walk to sort that out.


Kevin Murray said...

You seem to know the right Melbourne spots. I'd recommended a walk up Sydney Road to the Lebanese bakeries in Brunswick.

David J said...

Hey thanks Kevin,
Yeh maybe a walk along the Shopping strip of plenty rd would be interesting. Particularly if there's something tasty waiting at the end of the journey.