In total, we ended up spending around 3 weeks in Melbourne, so managed to visit quite a lot of places in that time. For that reason, I’m going to split our time in Melbourne into a couple of posts, starting with activities. Food, drink and nightlife will follow in a second post and Adam and I’s time there for Valentines a third.
After our busy week in Sydney, we spent around 11 hours driving to our next big city stop, Melbourne. First destination was Iona’s house for a few nights, located right outside the CBD. At this point in time I hadn’t seen Iona since her Australian leaving do in January that year so it was amazing to be able to catch up again! Having stayed in Melbourne for the best part of 2016 herself, it was Iona’s job to be our tour guide for the next few days. Getting a ‘locals’ tour is always the best way to see the city, getting to see and experience things outside of just what’s on the best of TripAdvisor lists.
To start off our time in Melbourne, Iona took us out in one of her favourite suburbs, Fitzroy. We ate breakfast at The Fitz, a pleasant little cafe, before heading out to Fitzroy Markets. The markets are on the third Saturday of every month and have lots of vintage clothes, shoes and accessories on offer. Following that, we headed for the CBD and checked out a couple of the famous graffiti lanes of Melbourne. This was really cool, and something worth checking out whenever you go past as the artwork is ever changing. Finally, we visited a local graffiti show in the West end of the city, with artist live painting and an activity session on to discuss typography. This was a quiet little event, but pretty cool to go see all the same. Iona also took us on a night out in the city, but i’ll discuss that further in the next post.
Left to our own adventures while Iona went to Sydney for Christmas, we came up with a long list of things to do over the next few weeks. To start with the worst, we went on the City Tram, a free tram that rounds around the city explaining the sights. It was an unbearably hot summers day and the tram was heaving, so this just turned out to be a very unpleasant experience for us.
It wouldn’t be a city break for us without seeing at least one of the local museums. We opted to visit Melbourne Museum which contained a whole range of exhibitions from nature to the human body and war history, one I’d highly recommend. We also visited the Australian Centre for Moving Image [ACMI], a museum dedicated to the history of film, tv and gaming. This was really cool, with lots of interactive and unusual exhibits to see. You could even just spend a few hours here chilling out playing video games if you liked! Old Melbourne Gaol was another we visited, and probably my favourite of the lot. This is the old gaol, courthouse and watch house cells, the latter of which having only closed down in 1994. Fascinating memorabilia and stories of historical prisoners lined the walls of all three buildings, making for a very interesting day out.
We were staying in a hostel in St Kilda, called simply ‘St Kilda Hostel’. I wouldn’t recommend it at all; it was dirty, hot, overcrowded and overpriced. The only real benefit (and why we ended up staying there) was that it was easy to get to the CBD and had good parking. St Kilda is a suburb around 20-30 minutes from the centre of town by tram. It’s very easy to commute, and a nice enough location in itself being right at the beach-front. Luna park was only a 5 minute walk down the round, and Adam and I spent Christmas Eve there, buying an unlimited rides pass for the day. It’s not the cheapest for a backpacker’s budget at $45 a ticket, and the rides are more amusement park, rather than theme park. But it was a fun day out and totally worth it in my opinion! St Kilda beach pier is home to a colony of little penguins, that come up to shore when the sun goes down. Every night crowds of people head down there to see the penguins, and this is a great wee activity to do if you’re around the area.
Down that end of Melbourne you can also find Brighton beach. This is where we spent part of our Christmas day – more info on Christmas can be found in my previous post – and also where the famous beach boxes are. We headed down one afternoon to take a look, only to find the place infested with flies. This was really unfortunate as they are all uniquely painted so are pretty cool to look at, but from the moment we got there we all just wanted to leave.
Back in the City, I have just a few more evening activities to tell you about. During the summer months, the city puts on an outdoor moonlight cinema in the Botanic Gardens, with the film starting when the sun goes down. This was pretty cool, as a unique experience to go see the latest cinema releases. We went to see Girl on the Train. Sadly, we were quite unprepared when we arrived as we went after a day out and about, but we found out upon arrival you could have brought alcohol and a full blown picnic! Would be a really nice idea for a date night. Also during summer, Queen Victoria Markets puts on huge a night market full of food from all around the globe. The options were overwhelming to be honest, definitely somewhere you need to go hungry to make the most of it!
European Bier Cafe puts on a comedy show every Thursday night, so we headed along to that one evening for a night of entertainment. We hadn’t heard of any of the acts, but that didn’t matter and it made for a very entertaining night. Red Triangle in Fitzroy is a pool hall, so we headed up there for a couple of games of pool one evening as well. A little disappointing it’s not a licensed venue, but gives you something a bit different to spend an evening doing!
To finish this post, I’ll touch on New Year’s Eve. We chose to make it a quieter one, and spent it in the hostel with our new friends before heading down to the beach at midnight to catch sight of the city fireworks. It turned out to be a great evening, and after only a few hours of forced sleep we were up again bright and early to head to Let Them Eat Cake music festival. This is held at Werribee Mansion every year and is an electronic dance music festival. We knew none of the acts before arriving, but that didn’t matter at all and we all ended up having a fantastic day despite the late night antics of the night before! I would thoroughly recommend this festival to anyone.
That brought us to the end of our time in Melbourne, and at that point it was time to rest, recover and go on the hunt for farm work to get our second year visa work out the way. More on that to come, but next post will be all about the food, drink and nightlife we experienced in our time there.