Every year, sometime after Christmas, it seems as if a rip-tide sweeps through Melbourne and drags half the population away to vacation at the lakes, the country or the coast. Still, many are left behind, high and dry, like flotsam and jetsam, to holiday at home in the eerily quiet and often sizzling city. What do they do and how do they survive, stranded in their parched urban and suburban deserts?
As it happens, Melbourne is a great place to holiday at home. There are plenty of interesting places to go, many of them a short car ride away, easily reachable on public transport or even within walking distance. There are plenty of fun things to do too.
The city’s many beautiful parks and gardens, with their sunny lawns, shaded walks, ponds and playgrounds provide a tranquil retreat from the concrete jungle and are perfect places for a family day out in any season. But in the summer they really come alive with picknickers, sun-bathers, amateur cricketers and ramblers. Throughout January the City Council-run “Summer Fun in the City’ provides entertainment and activities which cater for all ages and interests, such as the Moonlight Cinema and the Myer Music Bowl concerts in the Botanical Gardens or the kids’ fairy parties in the Fitzroy Gardens.
Melbourne’s Western edge is bordered by the sea and while it must be admitted that the urban and suburban beach can by no means rival the rolling sand-dunes and wild surf of their further flung cousins, they are pleasant and safe. South Melbourne, Albert Park, St Kilda, Elwood are easily assessable even by public transport. They are all great places to cool off on in the summer heat, fabulous for people-watching and just as good as any other for sand-castle construction.
But what better refuge when the barometer hits forty degrees, than the air-conditioned comfort of one of the city’s hundreds of shopping malls. Furthermore, January is the time of the great Summer Sale and with a reduced competition of fashionistas and shopoholics, this is a wonderful time to seize the edge on some fantastic bargains.
Backyard or public, they are the epitome of summer fun. Full of swim rings and floaties, echoing with shrieks of glee and terror, seething with kids being kids and adults being big kids -. there’s no place in the summer, in the city, like the pool. And Melbourne has some great ones, like the Melbourne Aquatic Centre with its wonderful wave pool or the Harold Holt, with its outdoor and indoor pools.
So, if the great holiday exodus from Melbourne leaves you washed up in its wake, don’t despair, holiday at home. Get out there; hit the park, the nearest beach, the cinema, the mall or the local pool. And then, there’s always the cricket, the tennis, or even the cricket and the tennis on the telly.