Ponyfish Island and Evan Walker Footbridge

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia         November 11, 2015

Copyright 2016 Douglas Landback

For starters, it’s pronounced “Mel-Bern.” Not “Mel-Born.”

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria (Oz has six states) and it’s the second largest in the country, next to Sydney.

The actual metro area is freakin’ huge. It encompasses almost 4,000 square miles and is home to four and a half million people. It has a massive natural harbor – Port Phillip. And this modern city features one of the largest, most sophisticated mass transportation infrastructures that I encountered anywhere else on the planet. Melbourne is also home to Australia’s most extensive freeway network and has the world’s largest urban tram network. Getting around this town is easy…and cheap.

I shot this photo during the late afternoon on the Southbank Promenade along the Yarra River, not far from the Langham Hotel where I stayed. I can’t really explain why, but it ended up looking like a painting or illustration of someone’s vision of a Futuristic City 40 or 50 years ago. Except that Melbourne is here. Now.

The image captures a lot of what makes this a very cool place. The hustle and bustle of people leaving work, walking over the beautifully designed Evan Walker bridge. The Yarra River. The crew team about to pass under the bridge. The happy hour revelers gathered at the Ponyfish Island Bar, a retro-chic venue offering fresh subs and microbrewed ales. And, of course, the Jetsons-esque high rise buildings (only a small slice of the city’s skyline), Flinders Street Station and the neo-gothic spires of St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral.

Melbourne has a youthful energy which is fueled by a surprisingly diverse population. There are a wide array of ethnic neighborhoods, the largest of which is the Chinatown district which features, according to some, the best cuisine this side of Beijing.

The city is a wonderful blend of old and new, contemporary and colonial. Its active core offers impressive green spaces, museums, theater, the landmark State Library and, of course, The MCG – aka Melbourne Cricket Grounds – the 10th largest stadium in the world with a capacity for well over 100,000 fans. It’s home for cricket, rugby, FIFA, rock concerts…PLUS it’s considered the spiritual home of Australian Rules Football. During a bus tour guided by my friend, Ben, it was clear that this facility was Mecca for fans not just from Oz, but from around the world, who came just to have their photos snapped in front of the building.

It’s exceptionally easy to love Melbourne, even easier to adore Australia. “Good on ya, mate!”