As we had spent the last month (and 6 weeks before that in Asia) moving from place to place, with no more than three nights in one place, we decided we needed a place to settle where we could actually unpack our bags for the first time, find a job and earn a bit of money before moving on to the next part of our trip, the massive east coast! So Melbourne it was. We were so excited to move into our little Airbnb flat!
The first couple of weeks were spent handing out CVs to anywhere that would take them, applying for jobs online, setting up our bank accounts etc and the rest of the time exploring the city that would be our home for the near future! It was exciting to not have any plans at all and know that we could stay here for as long or little a time as we wanted! After the first week or so, we realised we had spent all our time in the city and hadn’t really explored the area we were living in – a suburb called Richmond, one of the closest suburbs to the city. I think what’s so good about Melbourne is that it’s not just the city centre – there are so many different areas and suburbs and each has its own character and feel. Richmond is a great little area and location, only a half an hour tram ride into the city which is really close for Melbourne as it’s literally so massive!
Richmond is known as ‘the Island State’ because of its Yarra river boundaries and it’s quite edgy with lots of nice little bars and restaurants, and a massive Vietnamese culture, several streets of Chinese supermarkets and fruit markets where you actually feel like you’re in Asia! We went to Binh Minh, one of the restaurants the other night and it was so great! A tiny, cramped little place and so busy we had to sit outside with our drinks (bring your own) and wait for our table, but the food was gorgeous! Another weekend, we spent a sunny Saturday afternoon sampling all of Richmond’s pubs and breweries, which was so much fun! But the most famous one, Mountain Goat, we found out is open only on Wednesdays and Fridays…so that is still on our list!
As we’d arrived in Melbourne literally just in time for the Australian Open (we got there the day it started), I was desperate to get hold of some tickets! I thought we couldn’t be in Melbourne and not go – and I have always wanted to go to Wimbledon at home but the tickets are just so impossible to get hold of. So I did some research online and an hour later we had 2 tickets to the Rod Laver Main arena in two days time! I was so excited! It was one of the best days we’ve had in Oz so far. We got to see Serena Williams and Djokovic (plus another 2 matches).
The matches didn’t last very long as they played too well – it was amazing to watch. The atmosphere was so good but the weather was ridiculously hot – it was a heat-wave that day (typical) so we sat in about 36 degrees in plastic seats in the full sun all day, with not enough time between breaks to even get out of the stadium! But it was so worth it!
M o r n i n g t o n P e n i n s u l a
On this same weekend of the Australia day bank holiday, our host Simon and his friend Tim took us for a day-trip to the lovely Mornington Peninsula! It’s known for its wineries and local food produce, as well as some beautiful beaches along the way.
After a gorgeous lunch at Foxeys overlooking the vineyards, where we also did some wine tasting, we spent the afternoon cruising along the peninsula and stopping off at various different places, including a Cider farm, a chocolate shop, cheese tasting shop, the famous Arthurs Seat viewing platform with gorgeous cityscape views back to Melbourne, and a couple of beaches.
Our last stop was Mount Martha’s beach which was lined with cute little iconic beach huts, all brightly painted in different colours and where a newly married couple and their wedding party were having their photoshoot! The sun had come out by this point and I even paddled in the sea, although it was freezing!
As with most Australian cities, you get the city lifestyle hand in hand with the beach lifestyle – I really think this is what makes the Australian lifestyle so great. So Melbourne has a couple of great beaches : St Kilda, south of the city and which is an edgy little area with cute cafés and vintage shops and its beach – but it is a very busy beach!
We’ve only been a few times but I think if you go in the morning it tends to be slightly quieter, but by the afternoon it is packed and hardly any space between your towel and the next person’s! It’s a really good atmosphere (we spent Australia day here drinking on the grass behind the beach)! But we also liked South Melbourne beach, which is a bit more chilled.
One of the main tourist attractions here is the Queen Victoria market – the largest open-air market in the whole of the Southern Hemisphere – and open everyday except Monday and on a Wednesday it’s a night market (from Nov-Feb)! The night market’s on our list of things to do, but we’ve been a couple of times in the daytime and I love it! I do enjoy a good market wherever it is, but this one has such a great atmosphere and you can tell it’s been around a while!
Walk through the meat and fish section and you’ll hear stall holders shouting and screaming about their bargain prices…same goes for the fruit and veg section, and then you have the deli where you can pick up samples of almost anything, the food court and the general retail section which has everything you could ever need from clothes to toys to hardware to souvenirs and vintage household items!
And if you go around mid afternoon 3pm-4pm, when they start closing down, you’ll pick up a bargain – as we found out when we managed to get a whole tray of sausages for $5 instead of what would have been about $15 or $20! That’s dinner sorted for the next week…
Back in the city, the other main sights are Federation Square, where you’ll find the massive 2 storey Visitor Centre where you can book trips, pick up a few leaflets and enquire about pretty much anything – and they’re really helpful! In the square they sometimes do mini productions (when the Aus Open was on, they played it on the big screens) and it’s the general hub of the city, right opposite to Flinder’s Street Station – which reminds me of Picadilly Circus – and just a 2 minute walk down to the main shopping streets.
The shopping scene here is amazing – from high street stores to designer ones to vintage boutiques and old fashioned grand shopping malls, it has everything here! And even if you don’t buy anything, it’s just fun to wander around and have a browse, especially on and around Bourke street, the main hub of it where there are always buskers, street artists and magicians performing throughout the day.
One day we spotted a hop-on-hop-off City bus tour. We were so glad we did it as it was only $5 for an all day ticket, and the bus literally goes everywhere in the city! Sitting listening to the commentary the whole way around, we saw parts of the city which we hadn’t before, and it definitely gave me a different perspective of it. We headed first to the Melbourne Museum, which had everything from nature to science to history to culture.
At the moment, I’m fascinated by the whole Aboriginal culture and trying to learn more about it, so I spent most of the time in this section! Back on the bus tour, we drove through Chinatown with its bars, restaurants and sushi shops and passed the Melbourne Star, a big white wheel which reminded me of the Millennium eye in London, which I really want to go back to ride and see the views from the top.
But my favourite spots were Southbank, a gorgeous walkway along the river with the high-rise cityscape in the background, street art, and lined with cafes, bars and restaurants all with tables and chairs out in the sun where you could sit and watch the world go by!
And the beautiful Melbourne marina, where we wandered down the Newquay Promenade and past the posh white yachts in the Harbour Esplanade and past a few modern art sculptures…it was getting late in the afternoon by this point so the cafés were closing up and there weren’t many people around and it was really peaceful!
Recently in the last week or so, my time has been spent doing less touristy things and more ‘real life’ things like applying for jobs and finding a new flat to move into, as we have less than a week before our month here comes to an end! It’s a lot of effort and very time consuming, but it’s also very exciting and feels like we’re starting a new little life here! So hopefully the next blog I post, I’ll be writing from our new place…