After driving across Southern Australia, we found ourselves crashing at a friend’s house in Melbourne. Belinda is an amazing lady we met at the Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand. When we decided to stop in Melbourne for a few days, we asked Belinda for a visit and she said yes! When we arrived, we had a nice homecooked dinner and caught up with Belinda about life in Australia. The next morning, we headed out for downtown Melbourne using the nearby metro. As a girl who loved the metro in NYC and who had navigated subways all across the world, I figured it would be easy-peasy…and I was wrong. For some reason, the Melbourne metro was one of the most confusing metros we’d ever ridden. After a few wrong trains, a couple arguments and lots of headaches, we finally make it downtown. Melbourne is a modern, artsy and student-friendly city. We walked through Federation Square, along the Yara River, and ate cheese at Victoria Market. We saw some amazing street art as we wove though tiny street alleys, and enjoyed having a little fun adding ourselves into the art. The RMIT University had some crazy architecture with one building looking like it have been on Nickelodeon’s slime show! We had a really great time exploring the shops, restaurants and parks that Melbourne had to offer.
On our second day, we left our friend Belinda and moved over to an Airbnb in the hip neighborhood of Fitzroy. While some of Fitzroy was a little too hipster for us, we enjoyed some gelato made with liquid nitrogen and found a trivia night at a pub nearby. I guess what we forgot to realize was that the trivia was Aussie-based pop culture…of which we really knew little about. Matt felt that the team name of “Yankee Doodle” would appropriately let our competitors know the advantage they had over us Americans. Turns out, with some random luck and a little help from the MC, we placed 5thoverall! We got no prizes, but were able to leave with our heads held high.
The next day started off with a long, lazy breakfast. Then we decided to go see Star Wars Rouge One at the theater, as we knew we would get to see it in English! Afterwards, we headed back to downtown Melbourne to explore some artsy parts of the city. We found a section of the city called the Laneways which was filled with great restaurants, hipster shops and some really cool street art. At night, we wound up at a bar called the Carlton for some great 90’s music and night full of dancing!
Continuing our explorations of Melbourne, the next day we headed to the Royal Botanical Gardens to do some writing. We enjoyed just meandering through the gardens, stopping when we found a cozy little spot. We saw some cool plants and a crazy cactus garden. Later that night, we went out in Fitzroy to see how the hipsters partied. We found a cute bar called Fitzroy Social for some cheap cocktails and really yummy wings!
We met back up with Belinda for brunch on our last day in Melbourne. She took us to one of her favorite places, and apparently, she was not alone! This restaurant served amazing croissants, which we knew by the line forming down the street just to get inside. It was totally worth the wait, and we inhaled both our amazing pastries, and even split another! That night, we drove 2 hours away from Melbourne to see the Penguin Parade on Phillips Island. Every night, tiny penguins come back from their long day of fishing and sleep in their burrows. We got to watch them waddle up from the beach (some walking 3 km to get to their homes), some cuddled up for the evening while others partook in a little fighting. We even saw some small, fuzzy baby penguins! The center appears to be more geared towards tourists, selling various “packages” for penguin viewing, it also does a good job of conserving and protecting the penguins on Phillips Island. They make sure that the humans don’t get too close or interfere with the penguins, and take care of the island to support their homes.
Melbourne was a great stopover on our long Aussie road trip! But onward and eastward we must go, and out next stop is one of my favorite cities in the world….SYDNEY!