Melbourne, Australia

The Land Down Under. The country of the Ayers Rock and the Great Barrier Reef.

This is Australia.

When my interesting case paper got accepted at the 15th Biennial Meeting of the International Gynecologic Cancer Society (IGCS), I got very excited because I was also given a travel grant worth 1,250 USD. Not only that, my registration for the conference was waived.

The list of IGCS travel grant awardees.
The list of IGCS travel grant awardees.
The recipients
The recipients

The conference was held at Melbourne, Australia. Being the world’s most livable city, my anticipation of reaching the place grew more thrilling as each day passed by.

November 6, 2014. Together with my Gynecologic Oncology consultants, we left Manila bound for Melbourne, Australia via Philippine Airlines Flight PR 209. PAL flies to and from NAIA Terminal 2.

At the boarding lounge for PAL flight PR 209. That's my plane over there!
At the boarding lounge for PAL flight PR 209.

November 7, 2014. We arrived at Melbourne at around 9:00am (local time). Melbourne Airport is tourist friendly. If it is your first time coming here, all processes will just be a breeze because several signs will lead to where you would want to go.

From Melbourne Airport, we headed directly to our hotel, which is Ibis Styles Melbourne – The Victoria Hotel. There are various transportation modes in going to the city center from the airport. There are numerous public buses and taxi cabs. However, we opted to ride the Skybus. A ride for one adult costs 18 AUD, and it operates 24 hours each day with each trip leaving 10 minutes apart. It is like two buses connected with each other, and the middle part is the baggage compartment. We took the Skybus and got off at the Southern Cross Station in the city center.

The Skybus
The Skybus
Southern Cross Station
Southern Cross Station

From what I have observed, public transport in the state of Victoria, specifically in Melbourne, is one of the world’s most convenient. Melbourne tram system is the most comprehensive in the world.

A Melbourne tram
A Melbourne tram

To be able to travel around Melbourne, we got the myki card. The myki card can be used for trains, trams and buses around the city. For us, we got the 7 days unlimited transportation. All you have to do is to tap the card upon boarding the tram and tap it again before alighting.

Reaching the hotel was also easy as streets are properly labeled with street names. Just make sure you know the exact address of your hotel.

The Victoria Hotel
The Victoria Hotel

We got to roam around Melbourne since we arrived a day before the conference started. All I can say is that Melbourne’s cityscape is sensational and is dotted with awesome architecture, art deco buildings, and a mixture of classical and contemporary styled landmarks.

The Melbourne Town Hall was completed in 1870, and it is located at the heart of the city’s cultural activities. It hosts multiple functions such as weddings, exhibitions, and theater plays.

Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne Town Hall
This is at Albert Coates Lane located inside QV Retail - a mall located at Little Lonsdale St.
This is at Albert Coates Lane located inside QV Retail – a mall located at Little Lonsdale St.

Our hotel which is located at Little Collins St. is just adjacent to Chinatown. Chinatown is an area within the CBD bordered by Bourke St., Swanston St., Lonsdale St. and Spring St. This is where we usually ate late lunch and dinner when strolling around the city center.

Melbourne Chinatown
Melbourne Chinatown
A walk further down Swanston St., I spotted this unique mailbox: SANTA'S MAIL BOX! So if you have a wish for Christmas, you better leave a message for Santa and leave them here.
A walk further down Swanston St., I spotted this unique mailbox: SANTA’S MAIL BOX! So if you have a wish for Christmas, you better leave a message for Santa and leave them here.

A few meters from where I spotted Santa’s Mail Box, is where the Flinders Street Station is situated at. This station is Australia’s oldest train station, and it’s distinct features are it’s yellow facade, green dome, and an old clock above its main entrance. Before Federation Square was the favorite meeting place of the locals, this station used to be their favorite. Hence, among the locals, “meet me under the clocks” is a common catchphrase.

Flinders Street Station
Flinders Street Station
Federation Square
Federation Square

Opposite Federation Square is another landmark of Melbourne – The St. Paul’s Cathedral. This is where the first Christian services were held in Melbourne.

St. Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral

The Yarra River is Melbourne’s main river. It is undisputedly the heart of Melbourne’s marvelous social center. Board one of the many river craft at Southgate or Princes Walk or travel along the Yarra in your own boat to visit attractions such as Melbourne Park for the Australian Tennis Open, the Royal Botanical Gardens and Herring Island Park. A Melbourne icon, the river is the focus for numerous events including the Moomba festival, rowing regattas, the Melbourne Festival and Dragon Boat Festivals. It also offers a multitude of picturesque settings: the banks of the river have a number of barbecue and picnic facilities, fishing platforms and jettys. In addition, there are trails and paths which cater for cyclists, walkers and joggers.

Yarra River
Yarra River
The Yarra River by night surrounded by Melbourne's most cosmopolitan buildings.
The Yarra River by night surrounded by Melbourne’s most cosmopolitan buildings.

We also visited the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Center (MCEC), where the conference will take place. The building has a 30,000 square meters of pillarless floor space, and today it is the largest pillarless floor space in the the southern hemisphere. It has a Plenary Hall that can seat 5,540 guests.

One side of the MCEC
One side of the MCEC

November 8, 2014. This was the first day of the conference. I had the opportunity to meet the other IGCS Travel Grant awardees. Three of us were from the Philippines.

The IGCS Travel Grant Awardees
The IGCS Travel Grant Awardees
15th Biennial Meeting of the International Gynecologic Cancer Society (IGCS)
15th Biennial Meeting of the International Gynecologic Cancer Society (IGCS)

On our way to MCEC, we rode trams, interconnecting until we reached our destination.

Waiting for the tram to arrive at the Collins St./Swanston St. station.
Waiting for the tram to arrive at the Collins St./Swanston St. station.

Melbourne has a lot of shopping lanes, shopping centers and malls. One of the most important shopping areas in Melbourne is the DFO or Direct Factory Outlets. It has three stores in Melbourne, namely the DFO Essendon, DFO Moorabbin, and DFO South Wharf. DFO South Wharf is the nearest DFO to MCEC. As a matter of fact, the two buildings are just adjacent to each other, hence the convenience on my part to go the shopping area.

A shot outside DFO South Wharf.
A shot outside DFO South Wharf.

November 9, 2014. My relatives-in-law who live in Melbourne went to my hotel and brought me with them so I can tour around the city and see more of distinct Australia. Our first stop was at Auction Rooms. It was awarded as Melbourne’s best cafe in 2013. Honestly, food was superb!

Entrance to the Auction Rooms located at North Melbourne
Entrance to the Auction Rooms located at North Melbourne

So what did I get? It’s called the Brûlée French Toast with Crispy Pancetta, Poached Rhubarb and Glazed Strawberries. It was awesome!

Here's that French toast
Here’s that French toast

After that sumptuous breakfast, we went to visit Melbourne Zoo. I spotted Australia’s distinct animals, and some animals that I don’t frequently see here in the Philippines.

Melbourne Zoo
Melbourne Zoo
Lemur
Lemur
Elephant
Elephant
Giraffe and Zebra
Giraffe
Koala
Koala
Cockatoo
Cockatoo
Emu
Emu
Kangaroo
Kangaroo
Penguin
Penguin

After the mudslide of fauna at the zoo, I was toured around the city center. I noticed that like in many cities in Europe, bicycle rental can be found in a lot of spots around Melbourne.

biking station
biking station

I also visited the different sports facilities in Melbourne. Being Australia’s sporting capital, it hosts a multitude of sports events.

The AAMI Park is a sports facility, home to rugby teams such as Melbourne Storm and Melbourne Rebels, as well as Melbourne’s soccer team, the Melbourne Football Club.

AAMI Park
AAMI Park

The Rod Laver Arena is part of the National Tennis Centre and is the main venue of the Australian Open in tennis, usually held every January of the year.

With Rod Laver. Hahaha.
With Rod Laver. Hahaha.
A month prior to the Australian Open, this place is getting busier each day.
A month prior to the Australian Open, this place is getting busier each day.

I also got to visit the Shrine of Remembrance. The Shrine of Remembrance was built originally for the men and women of Victoria state who served for Australia during World War I. Annually, the Remembrance Day is celebrated every 11th of November, here at this historic site.

Shrine of Remembrance
Shrine of Remembrance
The ceiling of the Shrine of Remembrance
The ceiling of the Shrine of Remembrance
Outside the museum of the shrine reads,
Outside the museum of the shrine reads, “lest we forget”
In front of the shrine is a good spot to have a fantastic shot taken.
In front of the shrine is a good spot to have a fantastic shot taken.
Photo-ops on top of the shrine with Ate Jean and Cath.
Photo-ops on top of the shrine with Ate Jean and Cath.

We then proceeded to the Crown Melbourne and ate buffet dinner at Kitchen Workshop. For 41 AUD, you’ll get to enjoy a wide array of food choices.

food choices at the Kitchen Workshop
food choices at the Kitchen Workshop

After a full day of fun and enjoyment, it was time for me to bid farewell to my relatives-in-law. I really had a great day.

With Jett and Jairo. Leigh as photobomber.
With Jett and Jairo.

November 10, 2014. We left the hotel early in the morning to catch the train to Belgrave. So using the myki card that we have, we just topped up a couple of dollars to cover for the fare since Belgrave is located outside the city of Melbourne. So what’s in Belgrave? It is where the Puffing Billy starts its journey. Puffing Billy is Australia’s favourite steam train (according to their company slogan). This century-old steam train runs from Belgrave to as far as Emerald, Gembrook, Menzie’s Creek, or Lakeside. We got return trip tickets from Belgrave to Lakeside and vice versa for 49 AUD.

The Puffing Billy
The Puffing Billy
Puffing Billy without the people (yet!)
Puffing Billy without the people (yet!)

Passengers of the train are so much welcomed to sit on the ledges of the Excursion Train carriages, with legs hanging. this makes the whole experience even more breathtaking.

Legs hanging
Legs hanging
Puffing Billy traveling over the trestle bridge
Puffing Billy traveling over the trestle bridge

November 11, 2014. Since this was the last day of the conference, we were able to roam around the city by foot.

Tram passing by Collins St.
Tram passing by Collins St.

We went to Harbour Town Centre, where a factory outlet can also be found. This place is found at the Docklands area.

At the Docklands
At the Docklands
The City Circle Tram is a free ride to everyone
The City Circle Tram is a free ride to everyone

November 12, 2014. Ended my Melbourne trip with lots of memory to bring with me. It was a fun experience and for sure, I will be going back to this city.

At the Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport, a Qantas jet is parked.
At the Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport, a Qantas jet is seen on the runway and our plane back to the Philippines is parked.
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