After previously visiting Sydney, I was dying to go back to Australia and see more of the country. So, when I saw a good deal to Melbourne, I couldn’t resist letting this opportunity pass by and booked the ticket. After visiting, I can say that going was such a great choice! Melbourne has lots to do, great food, and it’s an incredibly multicultural city. It struck me as distinctly European. I would come back in a heartbeat, and I encourage all of you to visit if given the chance.
Navigating Tullamarine Airport was easier than I expected. Immigration and customs was automated via smart gates with my US passport, and everything was pretty modernized. Also, security didn’t take too long because the process was pretty efficient.
You can take the Skybus to the city center, which has booths pretty much littered all over the arrivals hall. However, I chose to take the 901 bus to Broadmeadows Station, and then I took a train from Broadmeadows to Flinders Street Station. This option is significantly cheaper than taking the Skybus. However, to use this option, you’ll have to get a myki card. There are machines that sell myki cards, but they’re quite hidden – you’ll have to really look for them. I ended up finding one in Terminal 4 (Jetstar arrivals terminal). The public buses also leave from Terminal 4, so keep that in mind.
Getting around Melbourne is pretty easy. I solely relied on public transportation via the trams, which cover a lot of ground. The city has a free tram zone, where if you take a ride in a certain area, it’s free! But, if you’re going outside the free tram zone, you have to tap on to pay. It’s quite obvious which stations are and aren’t in the zone, because there are signs all over and announcements on the tram itself. So, theoretically you can get away with not paying but it’s risky.
Once my flight landed at Tullamarine Airport and I took the train to the city center, I went to check into Flinders Backpackers, which was the hostel I was staying at. To me, the hostel was very average but it was literally next to Flinders Street Station and near a few tram stops. I was in a 6 bed hostel, which everyone else being from Europe on the working holiday visa. The only thing I didn’t like was that my sheets smelled a tiny bit funny, but I was pretty sure that it was just the hostel.
After I dropped off my bags, I started to walk towards Queen Victoria Market via Degraves Street, which had a lot of cute food places and some cool street art. The market itself was filled with food. This ranged from fresh produce to seafood to a food court. I was craving something greasy so I got fries and wings from a stall, with the fries covered in gravy. It was surprisingly tasty.
Once I finished my meal at the market, I started walking towards the State Library of Victoria. It seemed like it was a library and a small museum rolled into one, which I thought was cool. There was a lot of open study spaces, which definitely vibes with me. There was also an open room with a cool design with more study spaces and even some chess tables. The exhibits on the upper floors briefly discussed the history of books and the library itself, which I thought was very interesting.
Then, I made my way towards Carlton Gardens and the Royal Botanical Gardens, which was beautiful. When I went to the royal gardens, there weren’t a lot of people there and walking around felt very peaceful. I made my way around the gardens to the Shrine of Remembrance, which was an impressive structure. If you climbed up the stairs, you could get somewhat of a nice view of the city.
After seeing the gardens, I went back to the hostel to drop a few things off and then I met up with my friend from study abroad for dinner. We went to Vapiano, which was an Italian place. You get a little card and a menu, and the place is divided into several sections which each section serving a different type of food. You simply just go to the section you want, tell the person your order, and tap your card. Then, you pick up your food and enjoy!
After dinner, my friend and I walked around the CBD (Central Business District aka the downtown area) for a bit before we decided to call it a night as I was quite tired!
I woke up and went to the hostel lobby for their free breakfast. I thought it was cool that they let you “make your own pancakes”, but I just stuck with toast. After finishing breakfast, I started to head towards the Brighton Bathing Boxes.
The “boxes” itself were very cute, which a few of them having some pretty cool designs. You’ve probably seen a pic of these somewhere. The boxes also make for a good photo op. My only regret was not coming earlier, as there were quite a few people there and it was hard to get a nice picture.
After going to the bathing boxes, I met up with another friend for lunch. We went to the Rose St. Artists’ Market a little bit, which I really liked. It was a small market with various artists selling their goods. Some of the stalls were very cute. After walking around the market for a little bit, we went to A1 Bakery for lunch. The place was filled with people and seemed to be very popular with the locals. I got a Half and Half platter, which had a lot of food and it tasted fantastic.
After lunch, my friend and I parted ways so then I went to Fitzroy Gardens to just walk around and relax. The gardens itself was a little small to me, but I ended up sitting on a bench to take it all in. It was a great way to decompress from walking around all day.
Later that evening, I met up with another friend at Federation Square later as we were going to the Melbourne Cricket Ground to watch an Australian football game. Up until that point, I had never heard or seen Australian football. But I had such a great time watching the game because it was filled with a lot of action and the atmosphere was energizing.
Australians really go all out for the “footy”, with the fans very expressive in terms of which teams they support. It took some time to learn what was going on, but after the first half I got the general gist of it. To get the full Aussie experience, I also got a meat pie which was average. However, I loved the game itself and I wouldn’t mind going again. If you have the chance to go to a match, I would definitely take the chance!
After watching the game, I was very tired so I went back to the hostel to get some sleep.
Day 3 was my first full day by myself, so I decided to take advantage of that and catch up on some sleep. Once I felt like getting up, I went to the South Melbourne Market to start off the day. The market was way bigger than I expected! Inside, there were a lot of vendors selling all sorts of things, like clothes and luggage. Also, there were a lot of shops selling food, such as cheese and bread. I would say that there were a lot of food places, particularly seafood. I stopped by this one place that had very tasty looking oysters, so I ended up getting a few of those and a teriyaki salmon skewer. Then, I decided to get some falafel wraps from another stall. Everything I ate at the market was absolutely delicious!
After eating at the market, I took the tram to St. Kilda to walk around a little. It reminded me a little of Santa Monica, but it was nothing special. I walked on the beach and saw some of the shops and restaurants. Although there were a few places that had some very tasty-looking pastries!
Then, I went to the National Gallery of Victoria, which was one of the museums in Melbourne. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the exhibits and the museum itself. However, my most favorite part of the museum was that they had this wide screen in a dark room playing this video. In the room, they had bean bag chairs that you could just sit in and lie down, so that’s exactly what I did. I definitely fell asleep for a little!
After seeing the museum, I walked to the Crown Melbourne, which is a casino. The building and the inside were very nice. The whole place reminded me of any hotel you see in Las Vegas, but it was still cool to see.
Once I finished looking at the casino, I decided to go to this Malaysian place that my friend recommended called Laksa King. When I got there, I was shocked at how crowded the place was. I got seated relatively quickly though, and I ordered the fish fillet curry laksa and it was absolutely amazing. I really liked how the fish fillet was still crunchy after being in the soup itself, and the portion was really big which was a very good deal.
After eating, I went back to the hostel to get some sleep, as I had to get up early the next day.
*** also uploaded some random street art pics that I thought was cool!
DAY 4: Great ocean road
When I was planning this trip, one of the places that I really wanted to visit was the Great Ocean Road. This time around, I decided to go on a tour because it seemed very hard to plan by yourself. I’m glad I decided to go on the tour because there was no stress about which places to go and I didn’t have to do any driving at all. The Great Ocean Road was really beautiful and there are some things to see – I would definitely recommend doing a day trip or even an overnight one if you come to Melbourne!
The tour began at 6:30am as Mike, our tour guide, drove us off. We started driving toward the Great Ocean Road, but the plan was to do the road in reverse (starting at the end and making our way back towards Melbourne). We stopped at a very small town called Simpson for a bathroom break and to eat some snacks Mike provided. Then, we were off again going towards the Gibson Steps.
One of the common themes of the day was dealing with extreme wind and the weird weather – it would rain one moment, and then be sunny again. It was also very windy. But, the views were magnificent! Everything we saw was absolutely beautiful.
A mini-itinerary of the day we did:
The Twelve Apostles
Loch Ard Gorge
Apollo Bay for lunch (It’s a small surfer town with a few things to do. A friend I made on the trip and I went to Scorched for lunch, which was a burger place. I got the Aussie burger and it was really good!)
Kennett River to see koalas
Seeing kangaroos on the side of the road
On the tour, we actually got the chance to see koalas and kangaroos, which apparently is a rare sight! The koalas were kind of hard to spot and far away, so in my pictures they only appear as a blob. But, if you were there in person, you could definitely see that it’s a koala.
Seeing the kangaroos were a cool experience too – we saw them in a field off to the side of the road, so we made a U-turn to backtrack towards the fields. There were a bunch of them, and I even got to see them hop around!
After seeing Erskine Falls, it was time to head back to Melbourne. Overall, the tour was such a great experience! I booked the tour through Airbnb, and the company that I ended up booking from was called TripFit Adventures. If I were to go to Australia again, I would definitely consider going a tour with this group!
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