First stop on this epic journey, after arriving at 11pm and catching less than 6 hours sleep, the first day began in Melbourne!
Admittedly, me and my cousin Vanessa quite clearly hadnt gotten our heads in the game yet. Stepping out onto the streets of Melbourne with a free mini guide with absolutely no clue what the hell we were going to see or do. A bit of research would of made much more sense, and the little we did made for grim reading. The most obvious things to do were expensive, or at least expensive in the long run.
We entrusted our day to a guidebook with a man who looked suspiciously like Steve Irwin on the cover, and followed the “Walking tour of Melbourne”, which took us through Chinatown, the Parliament House and the Old Treasury before walking through the Treasury Gardens toward Captain Cook’s cottage (we didn’t buy a ticket, but got the picture). All these sites formed a pretty neat square that started and finished at our hostel, and wasn’t a bad start considering it was our first day.
Our Steve Irwin Guide
However, all this took us up to 12pm in the afternoon, we had many more hours and so little knowledge about what there was to see and do in the area. Luckily enough, we have contacts.
One of my sisters oldest friends from back home, Zoe, had been travelling herself for the last couple of months, through the likes of Vietnam, Indonesia and Australia, providing me with endless jealousy and inspiration on her instagram! Luckily enough she happens to be working in Melbourne for the past couple of weeks and was very kind enough to offer to be our tour guide for the day, which was an absolute godsend. Suddenly we went from having no plans to shoving 2 weeks’ worth of sightseeing into 1 day! She came up with plans one after the other, each better than the last.
We began by grabbing a tram to an area of the city that I can only describe as a hipster-haven. Vintage clothing shops and beards surrounded us as we made our way to a daringly named restaurant called “Naked for Satan”. The placed look quite high-class (something a man like me isn’t used to) however the best was yet to come. We took the lift to the top floor where we were greeted with a spectacular view of the city across the entire horizon. Was it a budget restaurant? No, and I didn’t expect it to be. However neither me nor Vanessa needed to discuss the fact that regardless, we were eating here, we considered it our one treat after such a horrendous amount of travel. We sat in the sun overlooking the city with our cocktails, living the high life while we can.
Another thing stood out about the restaurant, and it was a man who was walking round with an enormous bottle of sun cream offering it to the customers. I found this amusing…until about 15 minutes later where I quickly started to hunt down the sun cream man as my pale ass skin had already started to turn a pinkish hue.
That is one thing that I will say about Melbourne, is that the weather is unbelievably unpredictable. We woke to rain, began the day in the freezing cold, damning ourselves for not bringing ANY warm clothing, and by mid-day I had my first dose of sunburn.
I couldn’t help but feel when walking through certain streets in Melbourne such as those in Fitzroy and St. Kilda, that I was walking through a Western movie. One long high street with everything lined on either side from one end to another. I suppose this is an echo back to the gold-rush that occurred in Melbourne in the 1800s, I loved it!
From there we made our way back into the centre of the city for Zoe to show us around the places where we’d missed along the way, which was essentially everywhere that was worth seeing.
We walked through one particular street, Hosier Lane, where Zoe informed us that graffiti in the city is completely LEGAL, and so streets such as this one are covered from top to bottom with spectacular pieces of art! What makes it even more special is that the graffiti is actually regularly cleaned off and replaced, meaning that each time you visit is a unique experience!
From there we crossed over to the South Bank and walked along the Yarra River. We walked across the river on one particular bridge, “Sandridge Bridge” which from one end to the other had a list of countries immigration information into Australia! So of course we had to walk all the way to the far end of the bridge to finally spot the glass panel labelled “Wales”.
We then grabbed another tram to the “Shrine of Remembrance”, which was absolutely breathtaking. The walk all the way up to the shrine itself was wonderful and such a fantastic memorial, before walking to the top and turning to see the city of Melbourne in all its glory. I happily could have sat in that same peaceful spot all day!
At this point, jetlag reared its ugly head. However we were tantalised by the prospect of seeing one particular animal that Zoe said only comes out at sunset on the end of the pier in St. Kilda, therefore, we just HAD to go. We travelled all the way to the beach and visited where Zoe worked in this spectacular bar/restaurant right on the beach front where we had ourselves a cheeky drink. Shortly after we walked along the pier all the way to the other side, and that’s where we saw them…
Penguins…in Australia. You can’t make this stuff up.
On the second day we paid the price of underestimating the power of jetlag, as we achieved nowhere near what we had the night before. We initially had planned on renting a car and travelling to Phillip Island with Zoe to see even more penguins, however that idea was scrapped, leaving us with no plans.
We visited the museum of Immigration, where I managed to save myself a few dollars with a bit of quick thinking. This goes back to my packing, when I was picking what exactly I needed to take with me in my wallet, and I looked long and hard at my old university student card. Of course by now it was expired, however I suspected there could be times where it could come in handy, which it did marvellously. $14 admission suddenly became absolutely free.
After that we travelled to the Royal Botanical Gardens where if I’m honest, interest was dwindling at this point as we were falling asleep on our feet, and spent the rest of the day laying in the hostels TV room with a good old friend, Netflix. Travelling half way around the world to do exactly what I do at home.
The third day was thankfully more productive as this was our last day in Melbourne, and we’d be catching a bus onto our next destination at 7pm. We took the train down to Brighton beach, our first beach on this coastal tour, and wasn’t a bad one to start with! The only down point would have been the weather which wasn’t the best, however the advantage of that was that the beach wasn’t too busy, and we could take our multiple pictures in peace. We kept walking along the beach and into the town of Brighton specifically to find one little café called “Too Many Chiefs”, for a very particular coffee. On our way back we decided to stop by St Kilda again to bid farewell and thank you to Zoe for all she had done.
From there we spent the last few hours packing our bags and we rushed to catch our bus onto Sydney, which we only just caught
A Welsh university drop-out on a mission to travel the world for as little money as possible.
My adventures have taken me through over 30 countries across Europe, Asia and Oceania, and the list keeps on growing! From classic backpacking to working and volunteering, I have found all sorts of ways to maintain a life on the road.