My recent big trip to Australia quite naturally took on a somewhat literary tone, and today I begin a whole series of posts about this epic trip.
… My parents even hid this book from me, but I still found it, climbed into the closet with a flashlight and read. And no erotica, believe me. Nothing. Even then I dreamed of travelling… Paganel, the absent-minded erudite, imperturbable Major McNabbs, the colorful villain Ayrton… Here they are, real travelers and fearless explorers of nature! I believe you have guessed, reader, that I am talking about The Children of Captain Grant, a Jules Verne novel, exciting adventures in South America, New Zealand and Australia. Inspirational and educational. I simply could not tear myself away, and did not sleep at night until I had read the novel to the end.
Comrade Paganel has the floor: “I tell you, I repeat to you, I swear to you that this is the most curious region on the entire globe. Its emergence, nature, plants, animals, climate, its impending disappearance – surprised, surprises and will surprise all scientists of the world. Imagine, my friends, a continent that, in its infancy, rose from the sea waves not with its central part, but with its edges, like a kind of giant ring; the mainland, which, perhaps, hides in its very core a half-evaporated sea; the mainland, where the rivers dry up more and more every day; where there is no dampness either in the air or in the soil; where trees annually lose not leaves, but bark; where the leaves are turned to the sun with an edge and do not give a shadow; where trees are often fireproof; where hewn stone melts in the rain; where the forests are stunted, and the grasses are gigantic; where animals are unusual; where tetrapods have beaks, like echidna and platypus, which forced scientists to come up with a special class of bird animals; where the kangaroo has paws of different lengths; where the rams have pig snouts; where foxes flutter from tree to tree; where the swans are black; where rats build their nests; where birds amaze with the variety of their singing and their voices: one serves as an alarm clock, another clicks like a coachman’s whip, a third imitates a grinder, a fourth ticks like a pendulum of a clock; where there is one who laughs in the morning when the sun rises, and one who cries in the evening when it sets. ABOUT! The most bizarre, most illogical country! The earth is paradoxical, refuting all the laws of nature! The botanist Grimar had every reason to say about her: “Here it is, this Australia, a kind of parody of world laws, or rather, a challenge thrown to the rest of the world!”
Whoo! A bit of a cumbersome quote, I agree, but it is precisely in these words of the insane secretary of the French Geographical Society that almost all the main advantages of the Australian continent are concentrated. I emphasize – almost! – because since then, wonderful hotels and restaurants have been added to the above miracles, in which the modern traveler, unlike the heroes of Jules Verne, can have a great rest.
The heroes of Jules Verne, rounding Kangaroo Island, landed on the cape opposite it, not far from the city of Adelaide, and then, in search of Captain Grant, moved to the state of Victoria, towards Melbourne. I decided to build my route in the opposite direction – for reasons of ease of movement, and for the reason that I talked about these places still largely under the influence of the book, and therefore I was sure that after the possible “hardships” of the Great Ocean Road you will need to properly relax, and the exotic beaches of Kangaroo Island are perfect for this purpose. I will say right away that I did not experience any special hardships, but on the contrary, I received a lot of impressions, which will be discussed later …
So. First there was Melbourne. And Melbourne was great! The cultural capital of the country, a bohemian city, the first free settlement of Australia (unlike, for example, Sydney, where, in fact, the country was founded when the British began to exile criminals there). Melbourne is a kind of alchemical retort in which everything is transformed beyond recognition. Provinciality turns into metropolitan splendor, conservatism suddenly reveals the features of avant-garde artistry, and the poor turn into rich people. The reason for everything is gold. The fact is that in 1853 the world’s largest deposit of this sun-like metal was discovered here, and this was followed, of course, by a gold rush. People from all over the world came here to try their luck. The population of the state grew rapidly, and by 1885 it exceeded one million people. The world’s largest gold nugget (87 kg) was found, which received the name “Hospitable Wanderer”.
Now the gold rush is already in the past, but its echoes are still heard. Melbourne has become the main commercial and industrial center of Australia, and has been recognized many times by various authoritative organizations as “the most livable city on earth.” Settling into a hotel Langham Hotel, I got the opportunity to verify the validity of this title! The hotel is located on the banks of the Yarra River, and its undoubted advantage (in addition to the Victorian splendor of the suites) can be considered the views from the windows: they stagger the imagination. Evening Melbourne looks especially beautiful from here with its twinkling skyscrapers, casinos, museums and the exhibition center.
Melbournes claim that the only way to understand this city is to ride a tram through it. So in the morning I got on a tram and went to the historic port of the city, to the elite Docklands district of Melbourne. Outside the windows flashed either a brown river, or neo-Gothic cathedrals against the backdrop of glass skyscrapers (quite a harmonious combination), or two-story private houses. Calm, relaxed, self-confident city. No fever…
I came to the port in order to look at the place where the Duncan yacht might have been under repair, waiting for the “children of Captain Grant”, while they made their way through the wilds of Victoria with numerous adventures … However, they never reached Melbourne got there, and I also decided not to linger here, although I managed to understand that next time this city should have been given more attention.
On that day, I only managed to have a proper lunch and dinner, about which a few words are now. The restaurants in Melbourne are very good. I dined at Flower Drum. This is Chinese cuisine. The chefs of this restaurant (there are three of them at once, the Chinese, of course) work real miracles. I took soup from royal crab dumplings, and for the second – Peking duck – well, so as not to miscalculate … And, as you understand, I did not miscalculate!
I ate at Nobu Melbourne, at the Crown Casino Complex. Zayteinik Nobu (aka Japanese chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa) added to his already well-known name in the circles of gastro-connoisseurs the very star name of Robert De Niro. And together they opened This restaurant in Melbourne. The cuisine here, of course, is Japanese.
In general, entertainment in Melbourne, in addition to gastronomic, is really a lot. For example, I would love to go scuba diving in the Melbourne Aquarium (I heard about such an interesting opportunity) and would fly hot air balloon over Melbourne. But we had to move on. So the next morning I picked up the pre-booked Porsche Cayenne and left Melbourne. My path lay in the direction of the Great Ocean Road, and an hour later a huge ocean appeared on the left.
But I will talk about this in the next post that will appear – you will find it by clicking here.