Melbourne is regularly voted among the world’s most liveable cities and having spent two years based there I can confirm it certainly has a lot to offer. I didn’t include it in my Top 10 Things to do in Australia list – rather including Sydney as having more to offer tourists. But Melbourne is not less interesting for that! The grungy laneways; the people watching and galleries of Federation Square; the independent fashion; the ever-changing street art. Melbourne has heart and soul.
It is also one of the busiest trading ports in the southern hemisphere and the Melbourne kayak trip starts from the historical Victoria Docks. This area, like many docklands areas around the world had become derelict when the port moved due to the containerisation of shipping. A large-scale urban renewal programme has seen the Melbourne docklands reborn with offices, a large sports stadium, eateries and more.
It is still a quiet part of town but the waterside setting is attractive. From the kayak you see the ‘Melbourne Star’, a huge 120m (394ft) tall Ferris wheel with seven spokes, reflecting the seven-pointed star of the Australian flag. It is still non-operational after an ill-fated opening in 2008 – it closed 40 days later due to structural defects. It may be re-opened in the future but for now it cuts a rather forlorn figure in the Docklands precinct.
Kayak right under the Bolte Bridge, with its two huge free-standing pillars that were built just high enough (apparently) to be taller than the Harbour Bridge in Sydney. Then carry on past the Melbourne central business district, looking out for the landing places where early settlers arrived back in the 18th century.
In the end it’s not really so much about the sights you see but the experience of being out on the water and watching the city from a different perspective.
Here is a short video I have put together using footage taken by Mr Wandering Kiwi: