Melbourne’s Stage 4 lockdown may be one of the strictest rules with a curfew from 8pm to 5am, residents are only allowed to leave your homes for essentials to the grocery or pharmacy, bank, post office, or medical needs. And of course, there is the mandatory face coverings. All are strictly enforced with fines $200 for failure to wear a face mask and $1652 for failure to follow stage 4 restrictions. The CBD where I live is now a virtual ghost town. The city once humming is now silent. But for people like me who live right in the city, I have the gift of enjoying what it has to offer when I go for my 1-hour allowed walks for exercise. I have been spending the past few months walking by the Yarra River day in and day out. It has become my walking meditation. The days by the river in the company of the trees, other walkers, a few dogs, birds, ducks, and the pair of black swans have been comforting. But I must admit, some days you wish to see something different. Thanks to a leaking sprinkler in our building, all the tenants were forced to evacuate our building some two weeks ago. Our Monday morning began with three fire trucks and an hour long wait outside the building until we could return back to our apartments again. But in the process, I met my first friend in my building, Greg. Another person, enduring lockdown solo. He asked for my number and asked if I’d be interested to go for social distancing walks. We have walked around the Yarra several times. He then showed me his old ‘hood at the edge of Southbank and South Melbourne two days ago. I have never walked that way and delighted in seeing a part of Melbourne I have not seen before. For him, he is now revisiting places he had not visited for a long time, seeing them now through the fresh eyes of his neighbor.
Yesterday, we ventured to Fitzroy Gardens for our hour long adventure . One thing I love about Melbourne is how it rich in beautiful parks to walk, explore, and play. Heading east, we passed by Hosier Lane. Not my first visit here. But each visit feels like the first, as the art is never the same. Filled with murals and installation by local and international artists, this laneway has been a must visit for any tourist coming to Melbourne. Of course, you need to get your photo taken here. Thanks to Greg, who kindly assured me that he cleaned his hands with santizer before touching my phone.
Fitzroy Gardens is 26-hectare oasis located in the southeastern edge of the Melbourne CBD. The vision of the avenue of tall trees in standing in attention. It was made even more glorious with a young skateboarding riding between the towering trees. He looked tiny amid trees easily over 100 years old I would guess.
The conservatory brimming with flowers is currently closed. But it was still a beautiful sight for tired eyes to see all the blooms outside.
Cooks’ Cottage was once the home of Captain James Cook, built in 1755. The famed navigator and explorer did not grow up in this cottage, but it lovingly purchased in 1934 and shipped from England to Australia.
I delighted in the beautiful golden hour colors, as the sunshine perfectly hit the trees.
It fed my spirit to be surrounded by nature, happy pups going for a walk, and seeing other masked people from a distance. It was a welcome respite from days spent alone in my flat. And a reminder that a beautiful world still exists, there is hope.
On the way back home, we spot AC/DC Lane, less impressive than Hosier Lane in my opinion. The usually packed restaurants like Chinn Chinn and Supernormal along Flinders Lane, now sadly empty. The Chanel store still brightly lit, and still looking classy. The hum usually buzzing Degraves was deserted with not a single café open.
I used to think Melbourne CBD empty, devoid of people, with stores and restaurants shut closed felt eerie. But now, I realize it is my unique opportunity to explore this city on foot during my 1-hour exercise time. During this hour, my mind and body is fueled with inspiration from nature. It gets a break from cooped up covid life. It gives me hope and spark. Oh, Melbourne. You are beautiful. We will get through this.