When I first travelled to Australia in 2011, it was, at that stage the furthest I’d been from home, and on my own as well. I choose to do a 2 day stop over in Sydney (On the way to New Zealand), as to me, at that stage, Sydney summed up Australia. It was the capital (in my eyes … I know it isn’t!) it had all those iconic structures; namely the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. I was excited. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to see it again, so jet lagged and bewildered, I set off on an exploring venture of the city.
When the train pulled away at Circular Quay train station, from the airport, and I stood at the platform, thinking “how do I find my hostel from here” I looked up and saw the Harbour Bridge and thought “oh my gosh, I am actually in Australia.” I alluded to this moment, in another post, when I returned to Sydney in October 2012.
I had a great two day trip In Sydney. I loved everything about it. I loved the harbour area, the historic ‘rocks’ area, the markets, the Opera House, and even the day trip to the Blue Mountains.
After my time in Sydney, I was in love. It sold Australia to me. Since then, I travelled back to Sydney in October 2012 and again in July 2013.
Following my trip in October, which was just for 2 days, I headed down to Melbourne, for the first time. It was after this point, Sydney got bumped off the top place in Australia list (its a little silly giving Sydney the top spot, when it was the only place in Australia I had been at that time, I know). However, discovering Melbourne for 3 days at that stage was amazing. I love everything about it. I could easily live there.
Traveling to Melbourne around the Christmas and New Year period this time round, was equally as exciting. I had a friend with me, who had never been, so I was excited to show her some of my favourite places, as well as discovering some new ones.
Here is why I love Melbourne, Australia
1. Its a big city, but has a range of different transport methods. Everyone cycles, walks or takes the tram. It can be busy, at peak times, but not as busy as Sydney is. Although Melbourne is big, it feels more compact and is easy to navigate.
2. Proximity to the beach – growing up on the Coast of Northern Ireland, I love the beach. Melbourne is about 20 minutes away from the hip suburb of St Kilda (on the tram). It’s the closest beach. Brighton Beach and South Brighton beach is about 30 minutes away (by train). Last year I cycled there. Its beautiful and is home to the gorgeous colourful beach huts.
3. Café culture – Melbournians love their coffee, and in Melbourne, you won’t be short of an espresso machine, from the commercialized Starbucks, Pie Face or Hudsons Coffee chain stores, to the smaller, more independent cafés that make up many of Melbourne’s laneways.
4. Art culture – Melbourne is quite a hip wee place, and very arty. Its many Laneways are lines with art murals (Hoiser Kane is the most famous), there are many theatres, museums and galleries.
5. Community feel – one thing I noticed about New Zealand was that events had more of a community, and family appeal. It was as if the whole place was getting behind am event and making it successful. One of Melbourne’s main areas is Federation Square. A large area with an art gallery. Cafés and bars. Its a cool place to sit and watch the world go by. On my last day, I spent some time relaxing on a deck chair, in the middle of the Square watching a live stream of the Australian Open (shown in Perth at the time). I later watched a street theatre performance and then some busy commuters making their way back from work.
6. The Yarra River – I’ve mentioned this a lot before in my blogs, it I love rivers, lakes and harbour’s. There is something so peaceful about them. The Yarra River stretches for a good wee while. Along part of the bank, out f town, there are free BBQ areas you can use. Towards town, you can rest by the side of the banks, like I did, and have lunch, whilst watching the world go by. Southbank is a great area, filled with cafés, and other entertainment venues, as well as a small, more boutique shopping centre.
7. Activities – Melbourne has a number of things to do and I think it caters for any kind of traveller, visitor and even those who live there – from driving out a bit on The Great Ocean Road, to the Markets, gardens, historic buildings, and shopping, to viewing the city from the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere (currently) – Eureka Skydeck 88, and just immersing yourself in the city culture itself.
I really enjoyed my time in Melbourne. It’s somewhere I’d definitely love to return to, to explore even more.