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Australia: Kaleidoscope of charms

Australia’s southern State of Victoria is a multi-cultural Rubik’s Cube of fascinating experiences.

Krishnaraj Iyengar |

There is an irresistible innocence about retro jazz. The in-flight entertainment channel resounded with Dizzy Gillespie pouring out his soul with every glide of his legendary trumpet.

Fortunately, it wasn’t yet time for the flight attendant to unceremoniously take away the headsets before landing! Later as I gazed at the gently swaying boats at Melbourne’s plush South Warf marina, the soothing strains of a distant Chinese fiddle relived me from jetlag and refreshed me for a kaleidoscope of colorful charms that lay ahead!

Listening to Rubab in an Afghanidriven cab en route to the best Lebanese restaurant with an Aboriginal friend wearing a French fragrance and Italian shoes is quintessentially Melbourne! A dynamic multicultural city of a hardworking international population, Melbourne, known as one of Australia’s most vibrant cities, never sleeps.

For those with nerves of steel, Melbourne’s Eureka Sky Deck is an exciting treat. The highest vantage point in the southern hemisphere unveils the city’s360 degrees breathtaking panorama from the level 88 state of the art observation deck.

Another must do is a trip on the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. A sophisticated version of a kiddies giant wheel, one can enjoy mouth-melting hors d’ouvres in the wheel’s plush cabin as it descends at a break-neck… one kilometer per hour!

Melbourne’s recreation of the Colonial Tram Car celebrates ‘Christmas in July’ owing to the country’s June to August winter season. The cozy tram car takes you around Melbourne while you savor exotic delicacies on board. Piped-in retro jazz and a gregarious Santa showers chocolates and blessings on the guests…voila!

While the National Gallery of Victoria is an art lover’s paradise, shopaholics can frolic at the sprawling Queen Victoria Market. Spices from the Maghreb, local olive oil, farm fresh vegetables, sumptuous cheeses, infusions and dry fruits, every shopper is Alice in Wonderland here, especially considering the rock bottom prices!

For a tryst with tranquillity, a relaxing evening at Melbourne’s lush Flagstaff Garden rejuvenates you.

A short drive from Melbourne brings you to the tranquil solace of the Yarra Valley wine region. At Yarra Yering, Australia’s leading winery, one can revel in the exquisite selections of sought-after reds and whites while staring out at the verdant vineyards. Top of the list vintage reds effervesces with notes of bergamot, fruit, wood and earth at the first nosing.

A visit to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie brings out the child in you. In the open kitchen, young French and Belgian chocolate chefs work tirelessly to create masterpieces!

High-quality ingredients from the chocolaterie’s personal orchard and herbs from the kitchen garden make magic with Valley Bush Tucker, Hazelnuts, Praline Coconut and Macadamia to name a few.

The Yarra Valley cheeserie completes an afternoon of indulgence with irresistible platters of mouth-melting manna-an instant ‘aha’!

In Victoria’s scenic Mornington Peninsula, veteran truffle hunter Jenny Mcauley and her truffle dog Thomas, a cuddly English Springer Spaniel take visitors on a truffle hunting tour at her ancestral Red Hill Truffle Estate.

After a briefing at her cozy reception, McAuley leads the crowd into the farm and waits for Thomas to sniff for truffles. The moment the cute canine lies on his tummy pointing towards a tree, McAuley is on her knees digging out an irregularly shaped black stony fungus from under it. The earthy, animalistic, pheromone infused aphrodisiacal fragrance of the truffle is nosed by all the guests after it is freshly dug out.

The formidable Mt. Buller is Victoria’s snowy wonder. An evening of ‘tobogganing’, an exciting sport that involves sliding down a snow slope in a plastic sled is a pure thrill!

Mt. Buller’s most exciting adventure is Dog Sledding. A pack of howling huskies welcome you as they wait for their trainer to sling them to a sled, a snow vehicle that can seat two to three people. As he signals them, the huskies pull the sled for a ten-minute tour.

If you’re an animal lover and still not had enough, drive down to the Moonlit Sanctuary, cuddle with the koalas and feed the kangaroos!

Fact File

  • Malaysia Airlines offers extremely convenient connections to Melbourne via Kaula Lampur from various Indian cities. The airline offers excellent service to senior citizens, comfortable seating, friendly and helpful staff and excellent meals even in the Economy Class.
  • One can get around Melbourne by tram, bus or cab.
  • Melbourne to Yarra Valley is a short drive of about an hour.
  • The Mornington Peninsula can be easily reached by car from Melbourne. Here, one can enjoy several seaside charms.
  • Vegan and gluten-free food is highly popular all over Victoria.
  • The Australian Dollar is around 51 INR to a Dollar.