Now that I’ve been in Melbourne for about a month, I’m fairly comfortable relying on public transportation to get me where I need to be. Since I’m staying outside of the Central Business District and I refuse to drive a car on the wrong side of the road, I’ve needed to take transit to my classes every week. At first, navigating the different systems seemed overwhelming as Melbourne is unlike many other cities I’ve been to.
The city’s primary transportation infrastructure is based on above-ground trams, similar to the trolleys we have in Philadelphia, but with more routes, capacity, and frequency. There are no subway trains and “metro” trains run on mostly above-ground tracks into and out of the city. In addition to the trains and trams there are also buses to fill in the gaps.
I only live about 6 miles away from campus, but that translates to a 30 minute drive or a 50 minute transit ride, minimum. When I first realized the extent of my commute, I was not happy about it. I’m used to living right on Drexel’s campus and having a 15 minute walk to class at most, so the distance seemed like a huge inconvenience. However, I reminded myself about my goal to make the most of my time in Australia, and decided to look on the bright side. I came here for an experience different than what I’m used to, and in the grand scheme of things I’m only here for a short period of time.
“It’s just like being a commuter to Drexel for a month – students do that for all four years so it can’t be that bad,” I told myself.
And it’s not bad at all, actually. The Victorian government has set up a reliable transit system and even caters to students and others who might rely on public transport while not necessarily having the funds for it. After proving to be a university student I was given a “concession fare card” which means I only pay half of the fare price when I travel – I wish we had something like that in Philly! I highly recommend getting this card to all students studying abroad here in Melbourne.
So yes, I did just ramble on about the public transport system, and if I haven’t lost you already, I’ll fill you in on all the places I’ve been able to go thanks to the system! Less boring, I promise!
Prahran Market: Just four rail stops north of where I’m staying, the Prahran Market is reminiscent of Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market. It’s a great place to buy local produce and meats for a much better price than at large supermarkets, plus you’ll be helping support local businesses!
A quiet space by the pond in the Royal Botanical Gardens
Shrine of Remembrance & the Royal Botanical Gardens: Located right next to each other, the Shrine of Remembrance and the Royal Botanical Gardens provide a massive amount of green space just south of the Yarra river. The Shrine is Victoria’s national memorial to the men and women of Australia who have dedicated themselves to the armed services, and the grounds include a massive mausoleum. Spanning even further throughout Southbank are the botanical gardens, which boast countless species of plants and in turn support a diverse ecosystem of animals. The grounds are open to the public and provide beautiful scenery for those who want to relax in a natural environment.
CBD as seen from Southbank
Flinders St. Station & The CBD: When I want to go into the city, I usually take the Metro to Flinders St. Station, one of Melbourne’s largest and oldest train stations. The station is located in Melbourne’s “central business district,” CBD for short, and is nestled among shops, restaurants, and pubs of all sorts.
St. Kilda: Though within walking distance, I can hop on a bus or tram to St. Kilda with ease. The suburb is known for its beautiful beaches and the famous Luna Park, an amusement park that has been running since 1912. While St. Kilda was seen as rowdy and maybe a little dangerous back in the day, the town has seen quite a turn around and its quirky shops and retro feel attract tourists from all over.