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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Melbourne 5D/4N dream itinerary

Australia has been on my radar since few years. Having visited North and South America and key countries in Asia (Srilanka, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand), my next target is Australia and Europe. But it is a bit expensive affair to visit Australia from India for a middle class family. Return ticket costs about 50k onwards in regular airlines (even the cheapest Air Asia which connects via Kuala Lumpur costs about 36k INR onwards). Other expenses included, minimum one lakh INR will be required per person for a short trip to Australia. Because of this reason I’ve been differing Australia visit sine die. Now that Indiblogger has come up with a contest “It’s time to visit Melbourne” I’m using it as an excuse to study about Australia in general and Melbourne in particular and submit my dream itinerary in this blog post. If I win, I get to go there for free, if not I hope to materialize this itinerary some day. Good thing about the contest is that I don't have to run around requesting votes for my entry and it will be judged for the merit of its content.

During childhood, Australia has been known for Kangaroos- the animal with a pouch to keep its babies. Then Australia was popular for cricket- for winning the world cup (Related: I’ve photographed Bret Lee at Colombo beach last year- see the pics here). The movie, Dil Chahta Hai was shot in Australia partly(Harbor Bridge area in Sydney). Melbourne Cricket club is popular at par with Manchester United, it operates Melbourne Cricket Grounds, one of the biggest. Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane are some of the most popular towns in Australia. Few of my friends have shifted their base to Australia as work took them there, others have been on short visit. Seeing the photos they’ve been sharing has been quite tempting.

Coming back to the contest, below is my dream itinerary  as to what I’d like to to if taken to Australia. My dream 4 night 5 day itinerary would go as below (it has been optimized and fine tuned factoring in flight timings and heavy trade off among various possible activities, to make the most of 5 days at Melbourne):

Day 1: Arrive in Melbourne, City tour on bike, MCG & Skydeck
There’s no direct nonstop flight between Chennai and Melbourne. Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are the two ideal transit points. My preferred itinerary will be Chennai- Singapore in Singapore Airlines (or Jet Airways) and Singapore-Melbourne in Quantas A380. Flying in A380 is an experience of its own-I enjoyed it between JFK and Dubai earlier this year and people would die for an upgrade to upper deck (business/first class cabins). Also I’d like to plan in such a way that I can spend adequate time at Changi Airport in Singapore, because Changi airport has lots of attractions inside and also offers a free city tour to transit passengers (Read my posts on Changi and Singapore here)

A budget option will be to take Air Asia to Kuala Lumpur and then Air Asia KUL-MEL

Note to self: Among other things, be sure to pack an India-Australia power adapter (Available at Mercy Electronics in Chennai and other shops)

Once in Melbourne, how much time you’re left with in the day will depend on what time you arrive. Air Asia arrives at 9AM, Quantas arrives at about 7.25 AM, so let me assume that we’ll have most of the day at our disposal to explore the town. I’d spend some time understanding Melbourne’s public transport system and understand how we can commute in the city in easy and affordable manner. Melbourne has world's largest tram network and has an integrated ticketing system for trams, buses and trains, called Myki. I'd pickup a tourist pack of Miki on my way to the hotel.

Rest of the day I'd visit Melbourne Cricket Ground, Eureka Skydeck and do some more exploring the city cycling around in rented bikes. Bike rides are superior ways of exploring a city compared to a taxi ride. Good thing is that even helmets are available for rent/sale with the bike rental, hence no worries on safety. If we arrive by an early morning flight, we'll have enough time to cover more destinations.

Return the bike, back to hotel, dinner and sleep early so as to get up early next day.

Day 2: Hot Air Balloon Ride over Melbourne, Wildlife park and Sovereign hill
Balloon rides are one of the key attractions in Melbourne. There're multiple operators and cost of an 1 hour ride will be around 350 Australian dollars (375 if you want breakfast and champagne added). That will be a cool 20k INR but will be worth every penny as it will be a life time experience. 
Above: File image taken from http://www.visitmelbourne.com/- Ballooning across Yarra Valley

After the balloon ride, we'll still have 2/3rd of the day left, which can be spent in exploring Ballarat Wildlife park and then Sovereign hill. The wild life park has wide range of animals not seen in Indian zoos (Kangaroos, Koalas and more). Feeding Kangaroos and other activities will also help us know these animals better

Day 3: Joy ride in 1940 Tiger moth combat aircrafts & sea plane ride
We all fly in the comfortable (economy though) seats of commercial airplanes. If I ever had a chance to fly in a war plane, I'd never miss that. Tiger Moth Joy flights offers a ride in vintage war aircrafts (1940 Tiger Moths and Yak 52s)
Visit RAAF museum after the joy ride. Explore Point Cook Coastal park nearby. This would take morning half. After going up in air, time to do some adventure in ocean. Head to Williamstown and enjoy a sea plane ride. The 1 hour ride in sea plane helps us see scenic views of Melbourne coast line. 
 
Day 4: Full day tour of great ocean road
This is a standard package any tour operator would add to your itinerary, which will let us enjoy the Victoria country side outside Melbourne city. The tour will be a full day activity from 7AM to 9PM covering Bells beach, memorial arch, Kennett River, Rainforests, Loch Ard Gorge and an added possibility of helicopter ride.

Day 5: Melbourne Museum, Checkout and Back to India
How much time you'll have on this day depends on your flight timing. Quantas flight to Singapore leaves at 4.40 PM. So it will be safe to assume we'll have about half a day to make the most of Melbourne (Air Asia flight leaves at 9.35AM, so nothing can be explored on last day in this option)

While indulging in adventure, it is also important to learn the history and heritage of a country. Visiting a museum is the best way to do this. Post breakfast, head to St Patrick's Cathedral (because it can be explored early while Melbourne museum opens at 10 AM). Then head to explore Melbourne Museum.

Back to hotel by 12 noon, checkout, lunch and leave for airport.(Alternate option is to check out first and then head. Final plan would depend on hotel location and other factors)
 

Well, I've jotted down my dream itinerary (5D/4N). I had to trade off lot of destinations/attractions as we can't do/visit everything in 5 days.  Most of the adventure activities cost few hundred AUD and we'll need substantial savings to enjoy them. I don't think tourism victoria will cover them if I win, so I've started my savings. If you're still waiting to explore Melbourne, it's your time to visit Melbourne now! . 

Update: The contest has ended and I didn't make it. Got a consolation prize of a customized pen drive (given to all participants) I'll have to visit Melbourne at my own expense now.

Update 2: I might be headed to Melbourne in early 2016- Booked cheap Air Asia return tickets and planning.

12 comments :

Sudhagee said...

The joyride in the Tiger Moth sounds like a super idea.

Good luck for the contest, Srinidhi.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Sudhagee. Best wishes to you too

Nirvana said...

Wow!! The research that went into this post was awesome!! And I am still in awe of the fact that you have already visited so many countries!! All the best...

http://lafemmenirvana.blogspot.in/2012/08/vacation-fit-for-god.html

amit ganguly said...

Great research.Crisp and lucid way of explanation. Good luck.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Nirvana and Amit

Rahul Aggarwal said...

all the very best for the contest shrinidhi ..

very well written !

Rayyan Rizwan said...

Great write up and what a great plan to follow for the tour. I will be printing this out in case I get to visit Melbourne. Love the post! Good luck for the contest

vajra said...

Very vividly written. Its like a crystal clear plan draft you prepared like any other vacation. Though I like this post ..but in implicit version I like the Brett Lee posts...:) :)

ATB for u r contest..

http://www.maverickvajra.blogspot.com/2012/09/melting-melbourne.html

Nisha said...

You've worked hard for this one and the sincerity definitely comes across through your words.
All the best!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Nisha, Vajra, Rahul and Rayyan. We'll probably know the result in a week's time

Sanket rajawat said...

Stumbled upon this one a bit late.. have you already been to Melb ?? If no , I will be happy to help you .... you can always take my assistance sir.. :-) .. Having stayed in melb for almost Couple of years .. I have every corner of melb almost printed in my mind. in fact I too would liek to revisit the place again. ..Do lemme know whenver u are intrested , and let us see.. hope to plan this trip together !! ( aameen ) .. :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Hi Saket

THanks for writing. No, I didn't go to Melbourne. This post was written for a contest which I didn't win. Australia is a bit expensive, hence delaying.

Will buzz you