For the last 25 years or so I have lived in Melbourne, Australia. I am originally from the UK , which I miss greatly, but I love my adopted homeland and feel so lucky and privileged to be able to call it home.
Melbourne is a beautiful huge sprawling city that is growing so fast its infrastructure is struggling to keep up. The CBD itself is a manageable size that can be easily navigated on foot, but the suburbs stretch on and on, reaching towards the bay in one direction and outwards bumping into smaller regional towns and the hills in others.
It is a complicated, multi-faceted and multi-cultural city, full of contrasts and opposites.
The CBD is famous for its narrow laneways lined with trendy boutiques and cosmopolitan cafes, abutting others that are covered from head to toe with graffiti-art and are snapped by budding photographers throughout the day and night.
You can walk through a beautiful mosaic lined Victorian arcade on the way to a gleaming mega international shopping mall. Sky scrapers sit happily next to stunning examples of architecture meticulously preserved from the 1800s, providing a glimpse back to a time when Melbourne was one of the wealthiest cities of the British Empire.
Peaceful parks and gardens are full of exercisers, dog walkers and workers having their lunch, and the enormous, rather old and battered looking sheds of the Queen Victoria Market are always bustling with interesting characters, every type of vegetable imaginable, tatty souvenirs and a van selling very famous donuts.
The tranquil Yarra river winds its way past the thriving arts precinct and garish casino, round the edge of the city and out towards the secret world of Melbourne’s huge working docks – a place that most locals never visit even once in their lifetime. Rowers intently paddle up and down, training all summer and winter.
Melbourne is a city of food lovers and critics. It feels like every other shop in the CBD sells food and every suburb is brimming with cafes and restaurants. The influence of Asian cuisine is particularly strong and parts of both the CBD and outer suburbs could easily be confused for Hong Kong, Tokyo or Singapore. And there are the wonderful suburbs seemingly dedicated to different parts of the world, abundant with foods from Greece, the Middle East, Italy and Vietnam to name just a few.
I love this big beautiful city by the Bay. The water is peaceful and the city is buzzing. The parks are lush and the bush is close. I am lucky that I live close enough to walk to one of our most stunning beaches and every day I am grateful that I am here.