Melbourne: Back to the Beginning

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The sunrise on the plane on the way to Melbourne, Victoria!

The Story Begins

It only seems logical to start from the very beginning, am I right?  I remember the day I travelled to Australia very clearly, because I was so nervous I was practically shitting myself.  I said goodbye to my family at the airport, and embarked on my flight.  This was my first time going overseas and my first time travelling alone.

On October 11th, 2017 I arrived in the Melbourne Tullamarine Airport, with a backpack strapped to my back, ready to take on the next year of adventure.  Honestly, it felt like I was dreaming.  I couldn’t even fathom that I had travelled halfway across the world to an entirely new place.  It became a little more real when I almost got run over by cars that were on the opposite side of the road than i’m used to.

I would continue on to live in the lovely city of Melbourne for the next 4 months, working and exploring around the city.  Melbourne is hands down my favorite city I’ve visited in Australia, due to it’s rich music & arts culture, delicious food, and incredible coffee (seriously, cannot say enough about the coffee).  Not to mention, Melbourne has incredible nightlife; the night is when Melbs really comes to life.

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One of my favourite bars in Melbourne, Dr Morse in Collingwood

I would often spend my free time just roaming around the streets with a latte, my camera, and some music while soaking in the scenery around me.  Finding endless little alleyways with restaurants, boutique shops, and crazy street art.  Watching buskers on the street, browsing through shops and getting a bite to eat.  Needless to say, you need to be careful with your wallet when roaming around the CBD.  I swear the money just flies out without you noticing.

What Should You Do In Melbourne?

Since I spent a few months in Melbourne, I feel like I got to know it pretty well.  There are definitely some hidden gems, along with some classic favourite activities to do.  Here’s what I would personally suggest:

CBD:  If you’re passing through Melbourne, I would definitely take a full day just to explore the CBD if possible, because I find it’s best appreciated when you take it slow.  Arriving at Flinders Street Station is always a good place to start the day.  Head across the street to Federation Square, where they often host many different festivals and events during the summer.  There are also many cafes and restaurants there, some overlooking the Yarra River, which flows all the way through Melbourne and surrounding areas.

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Melbourne City Scape and the Yarra River

Grab a nice coffee somewhere (there are so many cafes you will no trouble finding a decent cuppa Joe), and head out for a stroll behind Flinders Street Station along the river and cross the pedestrian bridge towards SouthBank.  Here, you can enjoy the various street art and sculptures scattered along the footpath, watch the helicopters take off from the HeliPad on the river, or go try your luck at the Crown Casino.  There is also a sizeable shopping centre if you want to browse the shops.

If you’re starting to get hungry, there are tons of nice restaurants in Southbank, or you could stroll back across the river to Flinders’ Lane, which is a beautiful alleyway in the heart of downtown full of beautiful little restaurants, bakeries, and cafes.  If you’re wallet doesn’t agree with your posh taste, you could grab some sushi, kebabs, or fast food on Elizabeth Street (no worries, I got you).

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The view of the Melbourne Skyline from Southbank, a great place to walk along the river and take in the views

To burn off those lunch calories, you could take a walk down to the Bourke Street Mall, which is massive and boasts all the shops you’ll ever need from high end to budget friendly.  If you’re not into the shopping thing, there are always tons of talented buskers performing, or there’s some street art nearby if you want to take that cool urban shot for your new Facebook profile picture.   Alternatively, you could take the city loop tram, which is free and takes you all around the CBD.  If you see something cool, just hop off and hop back on when you want to move on.  Other activities includes the Eureka Sky Deck, the Melbourne Observation Wheel, Royal Botanical Gardens, Immigration Museum, Museum of Modern Art, or SeaLife if that tickles your fancy.

Finally, it’s dinner time.  I would suggest heading down to China Town, where you can get your fill of Dim Sum, dumplings, Korean BBQ, or whatever your heart desires.  For those on a budget, I would suggest heading down to Abbotsford Convent to visit my all-time favourite restaurant, Lentil As Anything.  Not only is the food absolutely incredible (my mouth is watering just thinking about it), but it’s a pay-what-you-can format.  Essentially, you decide how much you pay for your meal.  It also gives you the option to pay it forward for someone in need.  This place is beyond cool, and you absolutely can’t miss it if you’re in Melbourne.  There are three locations, so there’s no excuse!

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A random sculpture I found walking along the river near Flinders Street Station

Beaches:  If you’re craving the feeling of sand between your toes, there are several beaches that you could go to.  The most popular beach hands down is St Kilda Beach, which is definitely something you should check off your list during your stay in Melbourne.  Although it can get quite crowded, it has a very chill atmosphere, and the beach is pretty beautiful (especially at sunset).  You can also walk up the pier and see the penguins at dawn!  You also have your selection of beach front bars and restaurants, although personally I would skip that because they cost an arm and a leg.  You can also explore St Kilda a little bit; there’s Luna Park and Acland Street which is full of little shops, bakeries, cafes, bars and restaurants.

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St Kilda Beach at sunset
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Palm trees in a park near Acland Street at sunset

An underrated beach in Melbourne is definitely South Melbourne Beach.  Not only is it much cleaner, but it’s also a lot less crowded.  This was my beach of choice, and it was the same distance from Flinders Station to St Kilda.  If we were going to spend a day at the beach, it was going to be here hands down.

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My travel partner Berry casually walking along South Melbourne Beach

A couple of other beaches include Black Rock Beach and Brighton Beach.  Black Rock is a nice hidden gem, and if you continue down the coast a bit you can visit Half Moon Bay.  Admittedly I never made it there because i’m hopeless with directions, but definitely go if you have the chance.  Brighton beach honestly isn’t all that impressive, but it is famous for the little painted houses.  If you want something to do for the day, it could be cool to check those out.

Nightlife: Melbourne is hands down the party capitol of Australia.  If you want to have a good time, you’ve made it to the right place.  You could go out in the CBD, which definitely has a good selection of bars and clubs… however drinks are insanely expensive, so be prepared to lose some cash if you want a proper night out there.  Although, there is a really cool bar called Sister Bella, which is bizarre, unique art, a cool atmosphere and really cheap drinks (9$ jugs?!?  Unbeatable).

If you asked me where the best place to go out for the night it, I would say Fiztroy.  There’s a great selection of bars and clubs, live music, and of course greasy drunk food at your disposal.  This is also the backpacker’s favourite area of town to party in, so it’s a great way to meet other foreigners and generally just have a great time.  My picks would be the Parliament Hotel (live music and a rooftop bar!), Baxters, and Glamorama (techno music until 5am, what more could you want?).

Surrounding area and Day Trips:  Melbourne is in close proximity to a lot of other really cool spots to check out.  The closest being the Yarra Valley; famous for it’s many vineyards, rolling green hills and lush temperate rainforests.  Places I would suggest are Warburton, Rainforest Gallery (rainforest boardwalk, really beautiful), Big Peninsula Tunnel (a swimming hole that leads to some rapids in a tunnel), and the Dandenong Ranges.   There are also tons of vineyard tours on offer if your budget allows, even vineyard tours on horseback!

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One of many beaches on Phillip Island

Phillip Island should definitely be on your list.  There are amazing surf beaches, which huge waves, bright blue water and red rock faces.  It’s truly a feast for the eyes.  The landscapes are unimaginably stunning, and I promise you you’ll never want to leave.  There’s also a beach where you can go to see the penguins at dusk/dawn, and watch them waddle along single file.  Pretty. Damn. Cool.  Phillip Island is one of my favourite locations i’ve seen in Australia, and I do not say that lightly.

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A beautiful cliff face we found in Great Otway National Park, on the Great Ocean Road

Lastly, there is the Great Ocean Road.  It’s not exactly a day trip, more like a 3-5 day trip, however if you’re in the area it’s an absolute must.  It’s truly a special corner of the world.  The Ocean Road twists and turns along the sea, along cliff faces and beaches.  I could (and should) write a full blog post on this road.  Highlights for me were Lorne, Princetown, the Twelve Apostles, and the Bay of Martyrs.  I will do a more detailed breakdown of this amazing place soon.

I hope you enjoyed the brief summary of Melbourne.  From the coffee to the amazing street art to the insane nightlife and overall chill lifestyle, Melbourne is really a spectacular place to visit.  I’m sure i’ll revisit the subject in a future post!  Leave a comment, and have a great day.  Until next time…

Cat

 

 

 

 

 

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