Melbourne: Australia’s Culture Capital
After completing our Southwest Australia Road Trip we returned to Perth shortly before flying to Melbourne. After many kilometers, I needed to sell my beloved station wagon. It was a stressful three days, but it finally got sold. I showed the car to five different couples and I hadn’t heard back from any of them. By Sunday I was starting to get worried as we were booked to fly out of Perth in three days. That afternoon I had a group of French people who wanted to look at the car and since they didn’t speak English very well they asked Paul to come and translate for them. He got the car sold in fifteen minutes. I wasn’t sure whether I felt annoyed he was so much better at sales than me, or relieved. I was mostly relieved 🙂
Now that I didn’t have the lingering car issue anymore I could enjoy my final moments in lovely Perth. Tuesday January 26 was Australia Day. This is like their 4th of July. I decided to use the day to visit Rottnest Island because during my time living in Perth I still hadn’t made it there yet. I booked one ticket for the ferry to the island and spent the day bicycling and snorkeling. The aqua and turquoise hues of the water contrasted with the sandy and green hills of the island beautifully. It was a pleasant view while cycling from snorkel site to snorkel site.
The first couple of spots I snorkeled at I wasn’t too impressed with; However, the last spot was great! I saw a lot of colorful coral and there was a vast variety of fish. I spent too long at the last spot and I began to be late for the ferry back to the mainland. I quickly biked back to the port, got a quick photo of the quokkas (the unique animal the island is famous for), returned my bike and hopped on the boat back to Perth.
That evening there was a huge airshow and fireworks display for the celebration of Australia Day. The show was right on the esplanade by the river. I met Paul at the dock and we went searching for our friends along the bank. It wasn’t easy because it was so crowded, but finally we found them. The airshow was really good, but I was the most impressed with the fireworks. Out of all of the 4th of July fireworks I have seen, I have never seen I fireworks show as good as this one! It was very long and had SO many different and huge fireworks. They combined the fireworks with lasers and aligned the lights with music. It was the best fireworks show I had seen.
The next day we spent our time packing, preparing to leave and saying our goodbyes to everyone. I was sad to leave Perth and all of the friends I had there, but I was excited for the next chapter of the trip. We went to the airport and took our overnight flight to Melbourne.
Once we landed in Melbourne we had to take a bus, two trains and a tram to get to our AirBnb host’s home. It was such a cute place! I could see myself happy living somewhere like that. It was outside of the CBD (Central Business District) so it was quiet, but still not too far from the city by tram. The apartment was down a small cobblestone lane. The owner left the key tied to a string under the door so we could get inside as she and her boyfriend were at work when we arrived.
We took a long nap as soon as we arrived since we didn’t get a lot of sleep on our overnight flight and then went to explore that afternoon. We took the tram to downtown and then just started walking. We saw the main alley with all of the famous street art, the indoor boutique market, Queen Victoria Market (but it was already closed), the Royal Exhibition Center in the Carlton Gardens and then went to Brunswick District which is one of the “hipster” areas. We went to a fun pub called “Grumpy’s” to drink a few beers and enjoy the atmosphere of Melbourne’s hip district.
The next day we went on a free walking tour of the city. We started at the library, which was massive, and saw a lot of what we saw ourselves already the previous day. In addition, we saw an old penitentiary, Princess Theatre, parliament, China Town, and we went back to the alley with the street art. We took too long taking photos in the alley and ended up losing the group! We tried to look for them for a while, but gave up eventually. Oh well. We continued our own tour by continuing to see Flinders Station and the clocks, the cathedral, walked across the bridge to the other side of the river and looked at some of the pubs. They were cool places but they were mostly sports bars showing games with a lot of drunk dudes. We ended up going to one of the venues we saw along the tour that looked really cool instead!
Saturday we went to the famous Brighton Beach boxes. We had to take the tram from Toorak (the area where the apartment was we were staying at) all the way to the end of the line. Then, we had to take an Uber the rest of the way. Our driver told us a lot about the area, gave us some suggestions of things to see and do and told us how some of the beach boxes are worth over one million dollars. A tiny beach box worth over one million dollars just because it is iconic!
We took a lot of photos and walked up the path along the river all the way back to the city. We saw several people flying kites and wind surfing. On the way back to the city we stopped in St. Kilda to their “hipster” street to look around. There were a lot of fun cafes and pubs. We stopped for some beers, yet again. I really loved Melbourne for its artistic culture, eclectic vibe and quirky districts. I wish I could have spent more time here.
The following day was our last day in Melbourne before flying to Tasmania. We slept in pretty late as we decided to go out the night before and we wanted to rest up. In the afternoon we went to the beautiful botanical gardens for a walk and then across the street to the Shrine of Remembrance. It closed to 5pm so we couldn’t go up on top of it. Everything closed so early in Australia!
We took the tram to Brunswick again for our evening drinks. Even though it was Sunday, things were alive. Australians love their “Sunday Sessions” (Sunday afternoon spent drinking). First we went to the “Spotted Mallard”. It was a day club with free entry that had a live jazz band and a lot of people dancing. It was a really cool place, but it was more for the older crowd. Afterwards we checked out “The Penny Black” which had a much younger crowd, maybe a little too young.
We went back to the apartment for our last night and to start packing up as our flight to Tasmania was the next morning. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication and we weren’t able to stay with the same hosts when we returned, but they let us store our bags there until we got back. We only needed our small carry-on backpacks for the next week. We had to rush around the next morning and was almost late but we made it to the airport for our flight!
Melbourne is a vibrant city with a lot to offer. It doesn’t have a lot of the beautiful beaches like other cities in Australia such as Sydney; However, I preferred it to Sydney because of its chilled vibrations and artsiness.