This morning started out as such a beautiful day. I cycled down the bike track and relaxed at home. Even in the afternoon when I was walking to my tram stop, the sun was intense on my back and I was regretting not reapplying my sunscreen.
When I got off my tram half an hour later, things were starting to look grey. I walked to Southern Cross Station, purchased a ticket and waited for my train that would take me to my mum’s place. Let me just say, I hate Southern Cross Station. First off, when the Commonwealth Games was in Melbourne some fools thought it would be a great idea to change the station name from Spencer Street to Southern Cross. Seriously, why? Spencer Street makes sense because it’s on Spencer Street. But Southern Cross…you can see it everywhere under the Southern Hemisphere. Why do aussies love to lay claim to it?
Then there is the redesign. Sure the roof is contemporary and interesting…but it’s ugly. And it traps all the train fumes so it is quite horrid to wait around on platforms.
As I was waiting for my train, we were suddenly hit by the deafening sound of hail. Hail is a rare occurrence in Victoria and is usually no greater than the size of a pea. But this hail was about three times the size. The hail lasted for quite a while before being replaced by heavy rain. Visibility outside was very poor.
Now, look at the photo. See those bright clear strips of roof that go down to meet the pillar. Yeah…design fail. You could see the hail collecting in those stupid dimples, along with massive waterfalls rushing down the pillar. The platforms were flooded with water and ice. I wish I had brought my camera with me.
It wasn’t long after before the evacuation alarms started to sound. Where were we to go? It was still pouring outside so we all huddled together in an open area of the station. Of course, the PA system wasn’t working so we had no clue what was going on. After part of the roof burst out onto some poor unsuspecting people, security rushed around telling us not to stand under the clear strips (the evacuation alarm was sounded again). About five minutes later they closed the station entirely, forcing us out into the storm.
I walked back to my tram stop with umbrella in hand. Of course, umbrellas are no help when the roads have turned to rivers. The storm was so intense that it had knocked the leaves out of the trees. The paths were covered in leaves and ice and I’m surprised that I only slipped once. At the tram stop the TV screen informed me that a tram would arrive in five minutes. Oh good, I was worried that they wouldn’t be working…and then when the five minutes had passed it was replaced by a “-“. I’m sorry but what is the point of installing those TV screens if they run on automatic and don’t provide useful information like “tram has broken down” or “you’re fucked”? It’s not like they’re lacking room on those stupid screens.
There were so many buildings screeching evacuation alarms. Including “Melbourne Assessment Prison”. I didn’t know what that building was but I certainly rushed to get as far away from it as possible. Pharmacy staff mopped water onto me as I walked past. Part of a path was so deep in water that I was detoured to the tram lanes. One 7-eleven was filled with blocks of ice that had clearly damaged the place.
By that stage I was really panicking. I’m sure I wasn’t alone – there were plenty of people dashing about and leaf-covered cars all over the place beeping each other. I walked another two blocks to my uni tram line, thinking I could hide out there until my line was operating again. No such luck, no trams down there either. I walked back to my tram stop and waited there for a little longer. And can I just say: why do all these tram stops lack shelter?
The rain had eased up so I decided to try my luck at Southern Cross Station again. If the train station was closed then surely buses would have been organized and if I couldn’t get home then I could at least get to my mum’s place. Nope, station still closed and bus shelter was flooding. Wonderful.
Once I had realised I was stranded in the city (note, all taxis were occupied by other stranded people), it was an hour after I had arrived at the station and about the time that my train was originally scheduled to arrive at my destination. There was only one option left and that was call my only friend close by who had a car. Thankfully she was at home and able to come get me but even then, it took a while. The traffic was insane and I had to walk several blocks to meet her.
I finally got home at 5:15pm – two hours after Southern Cross Station was closed. I’m really regretting not catching the earlier train…
EDIT: Photos already online
The first one is the failure that is Southern Cross Station, though not nearly as scary as being there. The other photos make me feel grateful that I only had to wade through ankle-deep water. It appears there was golf-ball sized hail but I must have missed it. Lucky me.