10.05.2017 - 16.05.2017
So we arrived in Melbourne and quickly noticed the significant drop in temperature from Sydney. We flew in to Avalon airport, which is kind of far from Melbourne centre, we got the Sky Bus to South Cross Station, which cost us 22$ each. It took us just over an hour but was a decent little journey as the buses have wifi, so we were able to quickly catch up with our families.
Once we got to South Cross, we didn’t really have a clue where to go to catch the tram, so we asked around and were told to purchase a Myki card to be able to get on the tram or be potentially fined $250 (about 144GBP). After buying a Myki card from a 7/11 store, we some how found our stop and caught the '96' tram to St Kilda to meet Melissa's cousin, Jacob.
That evening, Jacob took us to a place which served tapas. It was really nice. Our first thoughts of Melbourne were that it was (Similar to Sydney obviously) very full of English people. In fact, on our walk back to the car, Melissa and Jacob even bumped in to a friend which they both recognised from Birmingham, pretty random. Anyway, after enjoying a good catch up with Jacob, we were all tired and hit the hay back at his place where he had kindy offered to let us stay during our time in Melbourne.
The next morning we woke up feeling fresh and ready to explore Melbourne 'The worlds most liveable city according to some vote some place'. We had both done a little research and noticed the Melbourne Botanical Gardens were a 50 minute walk from where we were staying, we knew that a City Tour Bus stopped at this destination too (A hop on and off bus). So we headed that way and took in the beautiful architecture of the buildings on our way to the gardens. This is one of the first things we noticed about Melbourne (the architecture).
When we got to the botanical gardens it was beautiful and seemed to be a totally different place to what surrounded. The gardens were huge, silent, full of joggers and just generally therapeutic. After looking at the Shrine of Remembrance and reading through the history of WW1 & WW2 we then decided to get on the tour bus.
The bus cost only $10 each, for two days, which was super cheap! We even noticed that some people would catch this bus to get from one part of the city to another because it was cheaper than other public transport options. Anyway, we plotted which sites we were going to visit on the free map.
We listened to the commentary on the bus which pointed out St Pauls Cathedral. It looked impressive, as well as Hosier Lane (a pedestrian laneway full of street art) which is the most photographed street in Melbourne. The lane has been noted for the quality and the often political nature of its street art. Melissa and I both decided we would get off the bus the following day to look at the Cathedral and the art work as we had passed the stop by the time we spotted both of these places.
The first stop which we got off at was China Town. We stopped off for some lunch and then decided to go to the Chinese Museum, home to the largest Dragon in the world, which was actually pretty impressive.
We spent about an hour there and then walked from there to the Melbourne National Museum, however we were told at the museum that it took around 3 hours to walk through and as we had some other stops in mind, as well as plans with Jacob & Laura (Melissa's cousins), we decided that we would look around the museum the next day instead.
From there, we got back on the bus and had already decided that we would be stopping off at Victoria Harbour to walk around its newly built shopping complex and along the harbour front. We were slightly disappointed as it was a ghost town but non the less, the harbour and architecture was beautiful to look at. It was very futuristic
In the evening we went for a lovely Indian meal with Laura and Jacob and it really was great catching up with Melissa's family.
The following day we woke up bright and early, made ourselves poached eggs on toast and headed to the City Tour bus stop again. We got on the bus and headed to St Pauls Cathedral & Hosier Lane to view the street art. St Pauls was pretty cool. The stained glass windows were what stood out the most. The brickwork inside was also really nice. We were not allowed to take pictures from the inside, but I guess you could take a look on google if you are really that interested. Next we headed to Hosier Lane. We spent quite a while looking up and down at the walls. Mel was searching for some of the famous Banksy pieces, but wasn’t able to spot anything. You could spend ages on this street and keep finding new things. it was pretty mesmerizing.
After that, we hopped back on to the bus and headed towards (Stop 5) The Melbourne National Museum. We spent ages here. It was extremely informative and an interesting place to visit. They had great exhibits and variety. It was split into many different sections focusing on a mix of different things, such as geology, Melbourne History, Mind and Body Science, World History, a dinosaur walk and so on. The cognitive science section was probably our favourite. It had lots of interesting facts and exhibits which you could really get involved in. It really got our brains engaged. We also enjoyed Melbourne history and learnt a few facts about how over the years Melbourne has grown.
After the museum we decided to go up tallest building in Melbourne (the eureka tower), however, found the cost (at $100 including a photo) to be a bit extreme, so decided to visit the second tallest building in Melbourne instead (Rialto tower) to get a picture of the tallest building from the skyline. At the top, we had a coffee and cake and took in the beautiful view which surrounded us. It had a great atmosphere.
We then headed back to Jacobs and were both shattered from another busy day. Jacob was working for the majority of the time we were visiting, due to an upcoming visit back to the England. So he woke up at 4am each morning, which meant that we didn’t really go to bed any later than 9pm our entire stay. It was good for us really because it meant that we were fresh headed and got to make the most of our visit. Seize the day and all that.
Anyway, the following day Laura had planned to take us out on her day off. She planned the day for us and decided to show us some of the area surrounding Melbourne, so that we could get to experience some of the different types of places and not just the city centre. Laura picked us both up at 10am and we headed North to St Andrews market, which had an authentic hippie feel about it. (The type of place that both the girls and their mum's all love to look around). We spoke with a women with a parrot on her shoulder and I was fascinated by the unique market stalls which sold some really cool (random) things.
We then stopped for some lunch (which was lovely) and headed to Fern Tree Gulley to complete the 1000 steps. It was a great walk and we were surrounded by millions of trees. It didn’t seem to be 1000 steps and we got to the top pretty quick. Some people were jogging up and down. We weren’t quite that eager.
After leaving Fern Tree Gulley, we popped in to a Coles supermarket and picked up some ingredients for Melissa to make dinner that evening. Then, we went back to Laura’s (beautiful) house, where Jacob joined us. We met Laura's house mates and Melissa cooked a spaghetti bolognese. After, we all sat down and watched a film 'Get Out' on the projector. It was the second time we have watched this film, as Laura and Jacob had not seen it. Laura mentioned it, so we were like, 'yep, lets watch that, it's good!' It really was great to spend some time with Laura, especially because she has lived out of England for a very long time, so it isn’t often that Melissa gets to see her cousin. After a great day we headed back to Jacob's feeling full and tired.
The following day, Jacob had planned to take us both out on his day off, so we were all up early and headed to Healesville Sanctuary, which was a sanctuary specializing in native animals. It is in a Australian bush setting about an hours drive from Melbourne's City Centre. The animals had been saved from abuse or are there to be preserved to help stop extinction.
We had a really good time at the sanctuary and spent about 3 hours walking around and interacting with the animals. Melissa's favourite part of the day was watching a koala in action as it woke up and started jumping from one branch to another.
After we left the sanctuary, Jacob drove deep into the bush, where he had recently been doing some plumbing work. There was nothing, but tree's for as far as we could see. We saw lots of parrots and heard the native Australian bird (the kookaburra) making its signature laughing sound. It was quite funny, walking up to a hidden house built by a friend of Jacobs, as we were trying to be as quite as possible at the hope of spotting some of the random wildlife which live out there. We literally tip toed up this big hill, stopping every once in a while when we would hear a rustle in the bushes. Jacob also showed us some of the stuff which he was working on out in 'the bush'. It was pretty cool to be able to see it in person and not just to chat about it.
We then headed back to St Kilda (me and Mel fell asleep for a little on the journey, lol). When we got back, we went to a gorgeous Mexican restaurant and stuffed ourselves. It was gooooood.
The next day, we decided to have some down time, so that we could relax and get back up to speed for our next little adventure to New Zealand. We visited the library across the road from Jacobs, checked in to our flights for the next morning and booked a few other things for the onward trip. Melissa booked her bungee jump, which she then realised she was pretty scared about. Too late I guess. lol. We also packed for a millionth time and decided to go out for some lunch. We had fish and chips, because we can. lol.
Jacob worked until pretty late that night, so we didn’t really get to spend too much time with him as we had a super early night due to our early flight the next morning. At 4am, he very kindly offered to drop us off at the airport. It was sad to say goodbye because it isn't often that we can all just meet up, but it isn’t goodbye, its until next time.
On to New Zealand...