I have reached the about halfway point of my trip and arrived in Melbourne, Australia Tuesday evening! I am traveling up the east coast and have really been looking forward to Melbourne as I have met a few friends who live there and was excited to see them again.
One of my good friends Georgia lives in Melbourne and her family was kind enough to shuttle me around and let me stay with them the whole week I was there. What a treat to stay in a house and have my own room and do laundry! I have found that most Australians are quite friendly and amiable but I am exceptionally grateful for the hospitality shown to me over the past week. I felt like an adopted child for the week and can not think of a better start to my time here down under.
Georgia’s dad picked me up from the airport and we just kind of hung out and caught up that evening. Georgia and I met in Salzburg, Austria a few months ago and became fast friends. Although she is a student and works, she made so much time to show me around. Wednesday we took the train into the city and saw many of the main sights. The weather in Melbourne can change quite quickly so we ended up buying an umbrella and never using it (other than as a prop for pictures).
We arrived at Flinder’s station and visited St. Paul’s Cathedral and Fed Square before going over to Hoosier Lane to see some street art.
By this point, we needed food so we went to Degraves Street for some absolutely delicious pizza!
Next, we went off to continue exploring at the Block Arcade. This was the cutest little indoor laneway with posh shops and restaurants. We went to do a honey tasting (complete with a dropped glass jar).
From there we headed to the state library and walked around for a bit.
Then, we took the free city tram around the city to see any other sites we’d missed and just relax a bit. We met a lovely mother-son Irish duo and had a nice chat with them while on the tram. And, we passed the Marvel stadium!
Our last stop of the day was the Queen Victoria Night Market. It was a huge market with tons of boutique vendors and food stalls and fun music and games. We grabbed some sangria and then wandered around. On a whim, we decided to get henna tattoos!
Heading back home after the long day, we accidentally stayed up longer than planned (typical).
The next morning I was up early to go to brunch with my friend Matt. Matt and I met in Switzerland and funnily enough he lives just five minutes away from Georgia. He’s also been a big help in figuring out my trip, Aussie slang and just traveling in general. We went to a place called Mister and Miss, which was delicious. He was nice enough to take me to the mall too for a bit before going back to Georgia’s. Georgia and I headed to the Mornington Peninsula that afternoon, which is about an hour and a half from Croydon. We went to the Portsea Pub for lunch, which is attached to the hotel, and had absolutely lovely views. There was even a wedding there, which was cute to witness.
We stopped by Georgia’s house before heading to Gunnamatta Bay where we basically had the whole beach to ourselves. It was pretty breezy so just comfortable to sit out and chat, and someone (not me Mom) got a bit sunburnt. One thing to note about Melbourne is their highways have all these sculptures along the way which makes the drive much more interesting.
It was such a peaceful afternoon and then we drove back to Melbourne for dinner with the family and a somewhat early night as we had to get up around 6am the next day.
Friday was an early morning as Georgia drove into the city for uni and I went along to catch my Great Ocean Road (GOR) bus tour. My tour went from 8am-8pm and I dosed on and off most of the day. The GOR is a very popular road trip that begins in Melbourne and heads towards Adelaide. I did not go all the way but we made quite a few stops along the way. When I arrived at the bus stop I was in the vast minority as almost everyone there was of Asian ethnicity. I made friends with the few other Caucasians on the bus and had some lovely chats with them and had a cute little aussie snack pack from Cheryl.
The first stop we had was in Bells Beach where I had a hot cross bun! For the record: I did not know these actually existed, I thought they were just in that children’s song. It was pretty good but would have been better heated up.
We did a small loop and I saw my first kangaroos!! Unfortunately they were quite far off and asleep so not very exciting. Then, we stopped briefly at Lorne beach, where we saw heaps of cockatoos.
Next stop was Apollo Bay for lunch before heading to Cape Otway, which is a rainforest/National Park. It was so cool to do a short walk through, I felt transported to Fern Gully.
We went to the Twelve Apostles next, although there are not still twelve of them. The Apostles are the rock formations shown in the pictures below. The sky was spitting some rain but thankfully it held off while we walked around. It was such a beautiful view, even with the hundreds of tourists.
Just down the road from the Apostles was Loch Ard Gorge. This was incredible, makes you feel very tiny when you walk down the bottom. I would say one of the highlights of this stop was watching two very well dressed Asian men get hit by wave while taking a picture. This moment was made even better when they tried to run from the water and tripped in the sand. Never a dull moment!
Our very last stop was Lake Colac, which was quite unexciting but more of a stop so the van could refuel.
We had about two and half hours to drive back and when we cross the bridge back into the city I saw a pink pond. This photo below has been borrowed from a news article but it is pink due to high salinity, high heat and low rainfall. This cause the algae in the water to turn pink! How cool.
Because of the construction works on the train stations in Melbourne (they picked a holiday weekend, which makes no sense) I ended up taking a bus back towards Croydon where my personal chauffeur (Georgia’s dad) picked me up. After a cup of tea and a bath at my bed and breakfast, I chatted a bit with Georgia before heading to where we were staying the next few nights (a friends place where she was petsitting).
Saturday we had all these things planned to do and the morning turned out completely different than we anticipated. I chatted with my family and friends a bit in the morning and in the end we went out to brunch at this cool cafe called “the Hatter and the Hare”. It was an Alice in Wonderland themed cafe and the food was delicious. We ended up ordering two cakes to go, I ordered the Alice and she had the Cheshire Cat.
I took the train/bus/train to Brighton Beach that afternoon and although it took over two hours, it was so worth it. Bright beach is famous for its brightly colored and vibrant bathing boxes. These are very much a mark of wealth as they can cost around $200,000 each. I spent over an hour walking around, taking pictures and soaking up some sun.
Then I Ubered to St. Kilda where I grabbed some dinner and walked along the pier with a friend I had met in New Zealand. We saw a fairy penguin, the pier is a wildlife community for them, and I saw a few more when I went back later. After Ty left, I grabbed a drink to wait for sunset.
Already, it was my last full day in Melbourne! I had my first (and probably last) vegemite toast. This is a very common food here in Australia and you typically spread butter and then this on toast. It’s incredibly salty and bitter so feel free to enjoy these photos:
I spent some time doing a last load of laundry and packing before going to get coffee with my friend Casey who I had met in Cinque Terre. He picked me up and we went to a cafe down the road and as we were talking with the hostess I noticed the couple sitting directly next to the stand were Georgia’s parents! What were the odds. After a good laugh over the coincidence and introductions Casey and I caught up on life and travel. Georgia’s parents even shouted us for our drinks (they paid for us inside) which was such a thoughtful treat.
Later that afternoon Matt picked me up and we ran a few errands before stopping at Lilydale Lake where I saw my first bin chicken.
We went to one of the Hillsong churches next which was an interesting experience. Hillsong is a famous church that started in Sydney and now has campuses all over the world, and I had visited one when I was in London. A bit too contemporary for our tastes but still cool experience. After rocking out, we went to get a specific meal Matt had been talking up for weeks: an HSP (halal snack pack). It’s basically chips with different types of kebab meat and cheese and lids of different sauces. Delicious but rich and terribly unhealthy.
Matt and I ate this at his house, played a few rounds of cards and then went to a lookout spot in the Dandenong Ranges. The view of the city was beautiful even though we could not see any stars. We did also almost hit a kangaroo driving there, so that was a more typical kangaroo experience haha.
The next morning, Georgia took me to the airport and we had our last goodbye. I’m sure we’ll meet again traveling soon! My time in Melbourne was quite different than the rest of my trip so far as I’d been seeing all these familiar faces, staying with friends and having so many great conversations about life. Quite refreshing and such a treat.