The market, souvlaki, and a bloody long walk

Today our plan was to look at the Vic Market, to eat souvlaki, and to roam wherever we felt like roaming.

But first we set out for the city, the first stop being a cruise around the shops in search of a rugby top for Dan. Dan likes rugby tops, and apparently they’re about as rare in the States as hens’ teeth, so he was pretty keen to pick up one or two while he was here.

We went through Melbourne Central, stopping at the Canterbury shop, taking a look through their rugby tops, and making appropriately shocked expressions when we saw the prices. Alas, a good rugby top is not the kind of thing you can pick up for a mere few dollars. We went on to Myer’s massive sports department and had a look around there too. But nothing really leapt out, so the cash remained safely ensconced in its wallet. We knew we’d be passing Canterbury’s factory outlet in Richmond later in the day.

Next we headed north to the Queen Victoria Market, better known as the Vic Market for short. I have a wild theory that the market is not named after Queen Victoria as such, but is named for the fact that it occupies the area where there would be an intersection between Queen and Victoria streets. Of course, both of these streets probably are named after Queen Victoria, so one could argue that the net result is the same. In fact, one could argue that my theory is a pretty dumb and trivial one, which is probably true.

We walked around the food sections of the market, letting the delightful aromas waft above us and around us and right up our noses. Then we moved through the fruit and vegetable section. I can only presume that they use unnatural means to get fruit looking that big and bright. And juicy, where appropriate.

We made sure to get some hot jam doughnuts to keep us going until lunch, and of course to fulfil Dan’s tourist visa requirements, which state that a tourist cannot leave the country until they’ve eaten at least two jam doughnuts.

Then we browsed through a few aisles of the main, merchandisey bit of the market. We didn’t want to stay too long because despite the doughnuts, we were all getting hungry. But that’s okay, because the Vic Market is such that the stalls begin to repeat after a couple of aisles. For the most part there seems to be a couple of dozen of each type of stall, with very little variation between them.

We caught a tram to Bridge Road in Richmond, home of a million and one factory outlet stores – including Canterbury’s. Dan finally got his rugby top here, a very nice Geelong top in, of course, navy and white.

Richmond is also the home of the Zorba’s Souvlaki restaurant. Okay, so they also have one in Toorak Road, South Yarra, but it’s just not the same: it doesn’t capture the true spirit of souvlaki. The Real Zorba’s is definitely the one in Richmond. We feasted well on lamb souvlaki and chips, and with renewed energy, sprung out to explore the rest of Bridge Road.

Eventually we got to the bridge after which Bridge Road is named, and decided to head down to the Yarra river and follow the path along it for a bit. Once you’re a little way from the road, beyond the range of the noise from cars and trams passing over the bridge, it’s very serene and peaceful walking along the river.

We weren’t really sure how far we were going to walk, but we ended up following the path for quite a way. It wended its way vaguely towards the city, twisting and turning all the while, to such an extent that you could easily lose your bearings if you weren’t familiar with the area. We passed under numerous bridges, and past countless signs proclaiming that we were on the "Capital Cities Trail". Presumably it didn’t actually pass through more than one capital city, because it would be a helluva long trail if it did.

Finding ourselves almost in Burnley, we decided that rather than sensibly head back for a station or tram stop to get us back to civilisation, we would follow a branch of the path that goes off and follows what remains of Gardiner’s Creek, and more noticeably, the South Eastern freeway that soars and roars above it.

Of course the freeway obliterates any ambience whatsoever that the creek might once have had, but we strolled along the pathway anyway, joking amongst ourselves and having a merry old time. I bet not a lot of people walk along there for pleasure.

After a while the path went under the freeway, and it continued under it until reaching Glenferrie Road, next to the Kooyong Tennis centre. Apart from tennis, I usually think of the Rolling Stones when I pass by there, because apparently they played a concert there once. It’s the kind of thing you’ll see occasionally on late-night music shows, shot in black and white on one camera, with various stills edited in to relieve the boredom.

By this time it was almost 4pm, and we considered catching a tram down to Malvern (route 69, ooh err), but reconsidered when we saw how many noisy kids from the nearby schools we were going to have to share the tram with. Instead we headed for the station, and caught a train down to Holmesglen, with our goal being to have a cruise around Chadstone before we headed home.

As it happens, there were a bunch of schoolkids on the train too, but not so many that it was crowded. We got out at Holmesglen as planned, and walked down to the street, wondering if Chadstone was within a decent walking distance. I mean, everything’s in walking distance if you don’t mind walking, but we’d already done plenty of walking by that point that we didn’t want to walk too far.

We hadn’t been able to see Chadstone from the train (which is elevated, at that point), and we saw a bus coming, so we jumped on that. It got us to Chadstone in just a few minutes, and as it turns out, it had been a longer walk than we’d really have wanted to do.

Chadstone is the oldest indoor shopping mall in Australia, and the biggest too. It must be said, however, that none of these things make it a must-see for visiting tourists. Because when it all comes down to it, it’s just like every other suburban shopping centre in the world – a mass of ugly buildings surrounded by huge carparks that are almost always full.

So we weren’t intending to do a full tour or anything, but we did stop off for drinks and a short walk around it. Thankfully it was quieter than when we showed my father-in-law and his wife around. That time it was just before Christmas, and the place was packed wall to wall with humanity.

After a bit of a cruise around Chadstone’s many shops, we were all a bit weary, so we headed homewards on the next bus, to prepare for our weekend farming adventures.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.