The Melbourne Adventures

You're going to start noticing a bit of a recurring theme here when it comes to these overnight buses in that I'm never going to get a decent night's sleep and subsequently the morning after I'm going to be Little Miss Grump until I've had my double shot flat white. Okay, so arriving into Melbourne at about 6am we all settled immediately for a coffee - it was required! We walked the six or so blocks to hostel number one (Exford Hotel) which didn't give us the best first impressions but heck, it was a bed for a couple of nights and it was practically in Chinatown, that's not something to grumble about. What was something to grumble about was that we had to wait approximately 5 hours before we could think about checking in and we had nowhere comfortable to sit... More Breaking Bad and hard wooden stools? Go on then.

One thing you should know if you haven't been to Melbourne before is that it's basically one big grid. As long as you know which way you kind of need to go then it's all good. Another thing, nowhere will point north since the grid is on an angle. Thirdly, orientate yourself around something and you won't go wrong. Ours was obviously around Chinatown when we first arrived, then the markets when we arrived a second time. Generally La Trobe street where the library and university is seems to be a good bet, that or Flinders Street where the station is.

So, semi-rested we went out to catch up with some friends back from Pirates Backpackers. We ended up going to a place called the Workshop Bar, a grungy little venue above a shop with a sort of built-in semi-open smoking area complete with heaters and plants. I liked it! It had an awesome vibe and the drinks weren't too expensive since we were in the CBD. I think a beer was $8 and a rum and coke (Bundaberg I believe) was $8.50. It must've given a good impression because we ended up going back the next night.

One of the best things we did (and I guess we didn't really do a lot in Melbourne itself except for chill after what seemed like a month of non-stop activities) was probably the free walking tour organised by I'mFree. If you've never been on a free walking tour before then the lowdown is that you'll have a tour guide take you around the city, usually for 2-3 hours, showing you all of the sights and bits and bobs that you'd normally get on a tour that you might pay say $30 pp for. This guy (or girl!) is doing this on a tip based wage only so if you liked them then tip them accordingly. Simples!

It was pretty incredible really and so indepth. We started at the library (note: corner of La Trobe street!) and you're showed practically everything, the old and the new of Melbourne. You start with the history I guess, how Melbourne came about, the fight between Melbourne and Sydney on who'd be the capital (subsequently Canberra became the capital), and the riches from the gold. You learn about the state library, the outlaw Ned Kelly (who's original armour can be seen in the exhibition in the library - it's free and well worth going to), the Yarra River, the theatre, federation square and the history behind Flinders Station ("we'll meet under the clocks"), and of course Melbourne's extensive street art.

We ended over the bridge with a fantastic panoramic view of Melbourne's skyline and a little bit of history about the Eureka Tower.


The tower was named after the rebellion during the Victorian gold rush, the Eureka Stockade, and its physical features are to represent several things. Firstly, there are several gold plates on the front, this represents the gold rush, and the red vertical stripe signifies the blood spilled during the revolt.

It's a beautiful city, full of parks and life. I don't know why I fell in love with it because I'm honestly not a city person, but there was something a little bit special about it. I don't know whether it was the history or whether it just had that vibe I really liked, but it drew me in. There's an exceptionally large Asian influence in the city (and in Sydney as I'm told), the streets of Chinatown and the surrounding areas are lined with cheap eats spanning from Chinese dumplings (of which we completely OD'd on), Japanese gyozas (we found a place that had just opened and were offering them for small dollar - win win!), Vietnamese pho (a favourite since hitting i-Pho in Fremantle), and a few Thai places. It was delicious and compared to the typical Aussie eats (schnitzel anyone?!) it was just enough without totally over-facing you and the cost was exceptionally kind on the wallet. Thank you Melbourne!

Leaving the CBD we head over to Kyneton for two nights to catch up with one of the pals and his girlfriend who'd just arrived into Australia. It was a lovely little trip up north into a little cabin in the middle of nowhere where you could see kangaroos (much larger ones that our little friends at Lucky Bay) casually grazing in the evening, literally just on the doorstep. We had a few fun nights aided with copious amounts of alcohol (did you think any less?!) and even played a spot of mini golf.

When we headed back to the CBD we checked into another hostel, this time Discovery. Whilst a bit of a flashpackers hostel, all singing all dancing with key card entrance and the like, it felt like we were back in school. A lot of places don't allow you to drink in your rooms but this was the first place where we experienced them actually coming round and checking. Uh, okay then. Furthermore, who fits 6 bunkbeds into a small L-shaped room with one pokey window at the end and one working fan which was plugged into one of two available plug sockets. Did I mention that the other plug was actually to the side of someone's bed? No? Well there you go. Nicht gut! Never mind... A hostel is a hostel and at the end of the day it was just a bed for the night.

I almost forget (and that would be disastrous) but there's another bar I forgot to mention... The Duke, or Duke of Wellington. Situated on Flinders Street this was in easy walking distance to enjoy the 4-6pm Happy Hour of $6 drinks. Bargain. That was any drink. I think we went through copious amounts of rum and whiskey, but in the end I'd settled on my new favourite rum: Stolen Spiced Rum, flavoured with cigarettes and coffee apparently. I can definitely pick up the coffee - it almost reminds me of Tia Maria - and I guess the cigarettes give it a smoky edge, but it certainly doesn't taste like you're drinking an ashtray - I promise. The stuff was so good that we even forked out on a bottle...

We left Melbourne for another road trip, this time to the Great Ocean Road (next post, be patient) but upon our arrival back to the city we had to book into yet another hostel, this time Nomads which was just down the road from Discovery. We were paying the same per night and yet this hostel just gave so much more; the room slept 6, it had an en-suite, it was exceptionally clean and quiet despite the bar downstairs, it was pretty top notch.

We wanted to check out St Kilda before we left (well, before two of us left) so we stayed at the fourth hostel in the area (phew!) which was based on recommendation from two fellow Pirates. Lord's Lodge in Prahran was owned by Pat and he was by far the kindest hostel owner that I've come across. He even let me stay the last night for free since I had to change my bus and there was no room... Kudos to you pal. We checked out St Kilda a few times, I met up with my cousin who I hadn't seen in years (and met her little boy for the first time too - how cute), we drank the rum... and the goon... and the vodka... and the buckfast... and the Frosty Jacks... and felt very very bad the next morning...

We went to Lentil as Anything, a place ran on kindness and donations (you pay what you think you ought to - just please don't abuse the system) and then we waved goodbye to Colin as he head up north to find work and other adventures. Catch you on the flip side, pal. Then, after a few tears, indecisiveness, and copious amounts of goon to drown my sorrows... it was my turn to go... Back on my own...



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