Monday, January 5, 2009

January in Melbourne

Each year our lives get more and more hectic in the lead up to Christmas. I've written here before about the busy social calendar most Aussies keep in the months preceding the big day in December. Not only is everyone busy trying to catch up with one another and attending end of year/holiday parties, but they are also running around preparing for their family Christmas celebrations. The shopping centres are packed to the rafters. People are arguing over car parking. The local fruit and veg shops have long queues and people are frantically placing Christmas orders with their local butchers. The city itself is abuzz with activity as citizens rush to and fro meeting, greeting, shopping and collecting all that is necessary to celebrate Christmas and ring in the New Year. It's a busy, busy time.

Then as if by magic on the stroke of midnight New Year's Eve, the city goes silent--well, maybe not right at midnight there would be a lot of revelers still out then, but sometime in the wee small hours of the morning of New Year's Day, everything quietens down. If you are out on the roads during any time of day--peak hour included--there is very little traffic. You'd expect such solitude on a public holiday like New Year's Day, but this tranquility lasts for several weeks as the vast majority of the population heads for the coastal towns of regional Victoria.

People leave the city in droves in the post Christmas/New Year period and spend several weeks away playing in the seaside towns that line the Victorian coast. This is my favourite time in Melbourne. The weather is beautiful, the roads are empty, the shops are quiet and I've got the place mostly to myself! It's fantastic. It's a great time for barbecues in your back garden or long afternoons sipping lattes at your favourite cafe. Ahh, the serenity. It's like the whole city is experiencing one long exhale after the insanity that was the Christmas period. I love sitting back, relaxing and enjoying it all.

This is a great time to take advantage of all that is on offer in this beautiful city. Botanical gardens, parks, picnic spots--take your pick there is no one else around so you can go anywhere you like. The Melbourne City council runs lots of free events through January and February including many wonderful things for children to attend in and around the city. We normally fill our days with many of these events--no fighting for parking, no crowds, no battling the traffic on the roads. It really couldn't be more pleasant.

In a few weeks time the Australian Tennis Open will begin and our nights will be filled with captivating tennis matches and plenty of ice cream. Melbournians will slowly return from their coastal holidays looking tanned, and relaxed. People will return to work and the kids will start another year of school...but between now and then, I've got the run of the place and while the cats are away, the mice will play!!


Nathalie said...

You're right. It is so peaceful. I really should take advantage of it, especially since it hasn't been 40plus degrees. I love going to the Aus Open. I remember when I was 16 (more than half my life ago!) I paid only $7 for an all day pass to all courts. I used to go the whole first week. Now, I don't think you could get a hot dog for $7. Aah, the good ol' days :-)

suzinoz said...

No, you probably can't get a hot dog for $7, but conversely the food choices have probably improved. I think we saw foccacias and sushi there last year. Yum. Just love the Tennis!!