A trip to town 32



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Jacqui and I went to Melbourne yesterday, after a gap of about 18 months.

Boy, what a shock! I had no idea how much we had become accustomed to the quiet life in Yarram, with its small shops, parking right outside any one we wished to enter, reasonable numbers of people strolling about, and most of them well known to us, so that a quick shopping trip becomes an hour or more of chat. In fact, the easy going life most people in small towns enjoy.

The first hint I had that things were vastly different from home was when I looked out of the train window as we passed the suburbs of Melbourne. Where we live, we’re used to having a large garden around us, just like all the other houses in the town, but the estates we were passing had tiny gardens and the houses themselves were packed so closely together that it would be difficult to walk between them. I guess this is the result of higher land costs than in the country. In the city you have a small plot, or no house at all!

We got off the train at Flinders Street and were immediately assailed by a wall of sound – not the twittering of birds and the occasional car we are used to, but a bedlam of loudspeaker messages, masses of people, hundreds of cars and trucks passing by, and the clank and roar of the trams – lots of them! Now I’m not complaining about this – we used to live in Melbourne so we are quite accustomed to the noise and bustle, it’s just that it came as a bit of a shock after 18 months away. This noise went on for the whole time we were there, but after about an hour we took no more notice.


Another shock to our systems was the sheer number of people there were around us, all of them apparently in a gigantic rush to get somewhere and ninety percent of them either wearing earphones or gazing avidly at an iPhone. In Yarram, the main street is crowded if there are more than a hundred people, but in the city there must have been that many within twenty metres of us – and they were always there, like a fast flowing stream, totally unaware of our presence!

One of the main reasons for our trip was that Jacqui wanted to see the Jean Paul Gaultier fashion exhibition in the National Gallery of Victoria, about a kilometre from the railway station, a bit of a slog when the pavement is packed with people all the way. By the time we got there I was already beginning to feel a little bit tired, so I decided to find a chair somewhere while Jacqui went in. About an hour later she came out, ecstatic at what she had seen, and we started the walk back into town.

It was about then that our age began to catch up with us! We found that we were looking for seats to sit on every hundred metres or so and we both started complaining of pains in our hips and knees. To add to our increasing discomfort, yesterday was nothing like the forecast and it was hot and sunny, with us carting macs and umbrellas, for protection from the weather we were supposed to be having!


Another reason for our visit was H&M, a new and very exciting fashion shop, recently opened here from Europe, supposed to have terrific designs at reasonable prices. They are situated in Burke Street, which meant a two kilometre walk for us, (in our condition!), then of course, there was the wander around the store ogling everything – and buying some too! By the time we came out we were feeling really pooped, and we still had the long walk back to the station.

To cut the story short, or else it will be too long to publish, we did make it, and we slept for most of the trip back to Traralgon, where we’d parked our car. Thank goodness I was feeling much better by then, because I had the three quarters of an hour drive to Yarram to get through yet, before we could really relax. It was a great day out, which we enjoyed very much, but we have learnt our lesson – you need to do some careful planning before you attempt a trip like this at our age; we will be more cautious next time!


When was the last time you ventured into the city? What happened while you were there and which do you prefer: city or country? Tell us below.

Brian Lee

  1. have not been to city for a good look around in 15 years. I go in and catch a train to see my sister in Geelong.

  2. I haven’t been to the city for many years and I don’t really miss it!!…have heard there are many changes and quite a few new shops so one day I may make the trip..and then again,maybe not!!..(and I don’t live too far away in Pakenham,but we have plenty of shops here to suit my needs)

  3. I grew up in Adelaide, then lived a large part of my life in Canberra. I retired to Moonta in country SA. I love the quiet of country life and now when I visit Adelaide can’t wait to get home. It was in Canberra on my last visit however I noticed most change, new suburbs, extended shopping centres and multi stories popping up.

  4. We only go to ADELAIDE for specialists appointments At least when we were living in GEELONG we could travel to Melbourne by train Living where we are now that option is not available

  5. Last Thursday (as I do every other Thursday) I went with a friend and met up with my sister in Sydney. We call it ‘tight assed thursday’ as we use our seniors card for travel and try to eat cheaply and not spend too much (sometimes it doesn’t work). So we caught a Ferry to Watsons Bay and had a wonderful time. On the way back the ferry took a long time to dock, and when it did we were rushed through the turnstiles without having to show our tickets. Once out of there we couldn’t believe our eyes – the area was thick police, sniffer dogs, firies, ambulances, helicopters thickening the sky above. We were herded to an area across the road and told we couldn’t use Circular Quay station. After a day of walking around we then had to walk to the next station (I was OK but thought my friend was about to drop). So we got caught up in the bomb scare at circular quay. Made me appreciate living in Wollongong where the pace is slower and the chances of a terrorist attack is probably less than Sydney. And yes I will continue with tight assed Thursdays 🙂

  6. Yes Barbara Canberra has changed lots of Apartments in the City center,young people now buying into them.The suburbs are also spreading with new ones to suit young families.

  7. Yes, it’s exhausting. I’ve moved from London to Sydney to Perth. The crowds just keep following us lol. I often think I should go on the train to the City with my Seniors Card, but I can’t face being pushed around by crowds and risk a fall. Haven’t been to the City by foot for five years now.

    5 REPLY
    • Just do it even on fear Lindy, Perth is fantastic to travel in I didn’t find it stressful at all

    • Yes I agree with Iris.I am 77,never learnt to drive.My husband,who always took me shopping passed away last year.So I take a shopping trolley on public transport once a week into Perth.Coles and Woolworths are a better option for me than our local supermarket.As long as my body stays as trusty as my shopping trolley I shall keep doing it.

    • Have just come back from a visit to Perth. My brother and I took the bus to Murdoch and then the train….. Such a great service.only 6 or so on bus and plenty of room on the train. Stay away from the peak times.

  8. Pop down to melb every now and then, lived there when younger for work, bit too diverse, bit scary, far too busy. Love the food, especially Glicks bagels, great Chinese and some fabulous Italian.

  9. I loved going to Melbourne it was my sanity break after moving to the country, now, I still enjoy going down there but I’m hating the fast pace now.

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