Melbourne reminds me of Vancouver in a hundred little ways – although there are no mountains, there’s an ocean, the weather changes every five minutes, the people are hip and trendy, the coffee is delicious, there’s a hundred things to do and a great restaurant culture, and a hundred little communities that are worth exploring. I was lucky enough to have a friend who lives in trendy St. Kilda, I went to film school with Torrance and she’s only been in Aus for three months, living the life in Melbourne. She and her flatmates welcomed me into their home (and on their couch) for almost a whole week, I’m super thankful to them for letting me crash with them!
My first evening in Melbourne was pretty laid back, it was super easy to get from the airport to downtown on the SKybus, and then onwards to St.Kilda on the tram, a rail network that links the whole city and makes it super easy to get around. I got into St Kilda with a few hours to spare, so I went down to the beach and put my toes in the water while getting acquainted with this lovely suburb. It comes complete with its own kitschy beachside amusement park, cool cafes and delicious bakeshops. I gorged myself on sushi and grabbed some maps from the local hostel, checking out what to see and do while I am in town. There was so much free stuff to check out!! A plus for me cause I am on a super budget at this point in my trip – three months of travel can really do a number on your bank account!
I met up with Torrance after she was done work and we had a great meal together, catching up on several years of news and stories, we both have had some major moves and good stuff happen to us, along with a couple dozen friends in common, so we needed mucho catch up time! The next day I was off to explore the city, first taking a walk with Torrance through Saint Kilda to an animal sanctuary she is considering volunteering at (complete with cute lil piggy in the yard!) and then boarding the tram for downtown. Now, Torrance had said I could take my chances on not paying for the tram with a little refillable card, since the transit cops hardly ever checked, so i got on the tram without paying. Luck would have it the MY tram on THAT day would get checked as we went downtown, I was almost fined an outrageous $200!! NOOOOOOO!!!!
Luckily I was able to play dumb and prove that I had just gotten there yesterday and played up my Canadian accent (i just got here, eh?) and I got away with it!! The transit cop was NOT happy about letting me go, but he knew and I knew I was NOT going to be paying any ticket, so I was able to get off. Yes!! I was a bit shaken after that, and walked around the CBD aimlessly for a while, gawping at the buildings and the architecture, modern mixed with Victorian. I loved it! I wandered through the pedestrian only Bourke St Mall at all the shopping I couldn’t do (probably for the best as I still have to carry all my stuff on my back) and stumbled upon the Parliament Buildngs and the Cathedral of Saint Paul. I ate lunch in Chinatown (can’t get away from those!) and went up to the Queen Victoria Markets to see the action there (there was none, market was closed. damn.) The downtown of Melbourne is actually pretty small, so I thought I would conquer the ultimate downtown walk and attempt to walk back to St. Kilda via the beach! It took me a while – about two hours – but I needed the exercise and love exploring new places so it was worth it – I only got lost once!
I also saw the Southbank – which is the entertainment area on the bank of the Yarra river across from the city, and the State Library, which impressed me with its bohemian historic feel. I wandered around in there for a while, there were some really good free museum-like floors where the history of Melbourne was laid out and the history of the library as well. I walked and walked and WALKED along the shore, there’s TONS of beachfront and the day was warm, so I didn’t even mind when my feet started hurting as the sun went down!! That night we had a chill dinner at home and hung out with Torrance`s roomie over a bottle of wine. I knew the weekend was going to be messy on account of the Auusie Football League Grand Final, so I wanted to save some energy for that!!
My second day in Melbourne was full of more free adventures. I visited the National Gallery of Victoria (free) and marveled at their Picasso, Matisse and large collection of Southeast Asian Art. I also loved the large-scale art project in the lobby of the gallery with a hundred bowls floating in a shallow pond, making music as they clinked together. I walked up to Federation square, which was packed with footy festivities and revelers, but it started to rain and I ducked into the Cinema museum (my fav!) for an hour while it rained outside. Fed Square is an interesting `main hub`of activity in the CBD, right by the central station and a very vibrant part of downtown. Even though the architecture doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the historic surroundings, it’s an interesting place to visit. I spent all afternoon typing and catching up on emails in a super cute hipstery cafe called Thousand Pound Bend, which is off a little alleyway in Melbourne’s downtown. There’s quite a few little laneways sprinkled throughout the downtown, that hold unmarked bars and cool shops and places to eat, I loved exploring this city!
That night I got a text from Torrance – she would be late cause she found a stray dog and was waiting for animal services to come and pick her up! The dog was extremely cute, large and malnourished so after I paid her a visit I bought us a bottle of wine and headed home to make us some dinner. Torrance and I also found time to redecorate her room and she made me some delicious vegan meals as well! Yum! After some active days, I was ready for a sleep and wanted to me rested up for my awesome weekend!!
- St. Kilda Beach (deigal.wordpress.com)
- Strewth this Sheila’s fair dinkum! (fromozwithlaav.com)
- Jill Meagher remembered as thousands march down Sydney Road in Melbourne (abc.net.au)