By Sharmini Jayawardena
On a six week trip to Australia in the winter of this year (2017) I visited Melbourne in Victoria and Sydney, New South Wales.
I found Melbourne to be an Awesome place if it were to be a quick visit and not if you were to live there. This is because the cost of living was high in comparison to the standard of living of the average Melbournian.
I actually took it up with sum of them and they had these blank faces on for me! I said, look you grow almost everything you need in your country and yet it is very costly. Of course you can’t not appreciate the fact that all Aussie products to which value is added and those to which value is not added both come in premium form! I know this even more because I used them to cook with. I was amazed at the end result of my efforts turning out superbly when compared to my efforts using other products before!
Anywayz, I needed to voice out on that premium gain as well as loss, though the gain I felt was the reason I realized Australia is the ‘Promised Land’ as it were and as I was told, by a certain Fairy.
I was living in North Melbourne visiting family and I embraced Aussie life to the max. Our digs were above Club Voltaire which had a theatre (fringe theatre) and a gallery below and so was a prime situation and location.
I was involved in all of it, what with free entrance to the wonderful theatre fare and free access to the gallery writing reviews on what was on offer at both.
The whole experience was made truly exhilarating with all of the gorgeous people I had the good fortune to meet there. Some totally cool people from the fringe about all of which I wrote this poem on.
I enjoyed my stay even more for it was not carefully planned out but happened in a very ad hoc manner. For instance on the day we drove up to Werribee Mansion in the outskirts of Melbourne the mansion itself had closed to the public. Inside of which apparently contains all paraphernalia in complete order as the Werribee family used them. It would’ve been a treat though we consoled ourselves saying we will return but never did.
I had never seen nor been to such a beautiful rose garden before.
I was taking in the full gamut of it all, being taken to the entirety of Melbourne’s café culture, or so. A cool lifestyle to begin with. Coffee and breakfast in the mornings and dinner possibly. The food was of exceptional quality and so were the beverages not forgetting the service and the ambience.
The pet dog culture was also not to be missed as it was beyond your wildest imagination. You couldn’t for the love of you ever identify a single breed! They were all cross bred with the most amazing breeds. My thoughts were validated by a friend in Sydney who happened to actually ridicule this nature of the Melbournians to which I pitched in: Afga-nooda-googa-doodle.
He said I got it rite.
The theatres and galleries and also the cafes and markets were all part of the arty culture of Melbourne.
The streets were even bigger on its creative presentation as it were. Whoa, I was taken to Degraves Street with its grungy underground feel to it! Awesome to say the least. Come take a drink over here:
Then I visited the numerous parks which of course the British excelled in and left behind these great stress busters for those in the colonies to enjoy.
The cathedrals not to be missed. I noticed none of these in both Melbourne and Sydney exhibited Christ on a Cross! I was actually taken up with all of the glory with which the cathedrals were decorated and presented. I took many pix of the beautiful stained glass windows in all of them for my later enjoyment.
I can’t talk enough of the Queen Victoria Market. An edifice or vivid landmark of Melbourne which fascinated me with all of its produce in all areas, how they were presented, and its many people.
And so I had to exit Melbourne in a hurry may have been for having sited the hot air balloon a few days into my stay there!
It was Sydney that showed me a more salubrious side to Australia.
I reached Sydney in a marvelous morning with an hour’s plane ride through a carpet of fluffy brilliant white clouds illuminated by the early morning sun! It was an amazing trip I must say!
Two weeks in Sydney was a breeze with its multiple train rides (double-decker trains). I was finally able to name the areas which I visited by memory as if I was a resident let’s say.
I had told a friend, while in Melbourne that, “I was off to see the wizard/The wonderful wizard of Oz”, meaning their Prime Minister to which he reacted with bulging eyes!
And just as I said here I was in Sydney with the PM gone to meet the Queen! So was he the Pussy Cat who went to visit the Queen to “frighten the little mouse”, then!
My friend’s partner certainly is one according to his name.
From where I was perched a top this gorgeously located condo I could see the Awesome Sydney Harbour and its boats sailing in and out with the sky changing this landscape with its many hues.
While in Melbourne I had visited the public library down the street and stumbled upon this wonderful book a coffee table book with its many pictures and a telling story of Sydney’s Secret Garden designed and created by Wendy Whiteley and to my disbelief it was situated a walk away from where I lived visiting family, once more.
I walked down the street one sunny day and found it as stated in the book, adjacent to Clark Park! It was a true adventure through a kind of Alice’s rabbit hole escapade! I was seated on a park bench and viola there it was: what Wendy refers to as bush branches! These are the balustrades that line the winding “zig-zagging” paths that lead you up or down the Secret Garden! So I followed the branch ways in and out of the entire Garden in three days culminating in a grand picnic with my Fairy.
(All virtually in the imagination of course😉 )
I visited all places of importance like the Opera House where I attended a recital by a piano and violin ensemble, Hyde Park and the iconic Queen Victoria building and took a ride on the Hop On Hop Off bus or The Big Bus as they call it which took us to Bondi Beach as well!
I had a walk with friends and family over the Harbour Bridge one morning which ended with a delicious waffle and chocolate brunch at Guylian.
The artists and their wares at the Killibiri (pop up) Market were enticing with its pixie ware and hand made soaps and other many hand made pieces of utility art! All very beautiful.
For once I experienced the delight of tasting a delicious vege burger at Charlie & Co in Westfield’s! It was certainly the best I had ever eaten. Nothing like I had ever savoured before.
And then I got addicted to Smooth FM 95.3 as far as addictions go.
I also expanded my vocab with a few Aussie terms as far as language goes “G’day mate”.
– Sharmini Jayawardena
16.39/16th October 2017