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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Opposite Federation Square is another landmark of Melbourne – The St. Paul’s Cathedral. This is where the first Christian services were held in Melbourne.
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.
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.
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.
On our way to MCEC, we rode trams, interconnecting until we reached our destination.
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.
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!
So what did I get? It’s called the Brûlée French Toast with Crispy Pancetta, Poached Rhubarb and Glazed Strawberries. It was awesome!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
November 11, 2014. Since this was the last day of the conference, we were able to roam around the city by foot.
We went to Harbour Town Centre, where a factory outlet can also be found. This place is found at the Docklands area.
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.