Voted the most liveable city in the world, Melbourne is the destination for British travellers and expats. It’s a our last stop in Australia, and I had high expectations.
I don’t want to say Melbourne let me down, because that would not be the truth. I have some really awesome (and varied) memories from our week here, we met some cool people and saw some cool things. I just don’t think Melbourne has felt like a place to go on holiday. I get it must be amazing to live in, but I don’t think it offered as much as a tourist destination. For me anyway.
That said, we have had a great time. On the surface, and under many, the hostel we stayed in was a bit of a dive. They people there were really great, we shared our room with a German/British couple, a German guy, and 3 Canadians, and it was nice to get a taste of the other side of travelling for a while, get to know new people in the hostel. The room may have been a bit cold, and lacking properly closing doors and windows, but it had an atmosphere that was welcoming and we felt comfortable there.
So comfortable that we wasted 2 whole days doing almost nothing. Part of this was planned, we both needed time away from seeing the CBD and going on tours to relax and catch up on journals/blogging/packing/laundry. These days ended up spent in bed watching TV shows (mainly Hart of Dixie) whilst our washing just didn’t dry and our hands cramped up from excessive/typing.
The days were needed though. We both needed to sort our stuff out after living in the van for 6 weeks; to decide what we did and didn’t need and to recharge our physical and metaphorical batteries.
The hostel we were in was located in Collingwood, just 5 stops on the train from the CBD. Melbourne CBD does have a fair amount to wander around and see, it just doesn’t have the stand out location or place to visit like the other cities we have been to. We passed the MCG on the way in and out on the train into the main station Flinders Street.
We saw a lot of what the CBD had to offer. St Peter’s Cathedral opposite the station was quite impressive amongst the modern office buildings, as was the old fashioned train station. The main street was more reminiscent of shopping streets at home, and the free tram zone made it easy and cheap to get around the city centre.
The docklands featured a smaller version of the London eye. It overlooked the docks itself and sat not far from one of the city’s large number of stadia. The Etihad wasn’t as impressive from the outside as the MCG, but it was still a large stadium to find sitting in a city docklands. The city as a whole definitely feels more British than anywhere else we have been.
We didn’t just stay in Melbourne CBD. Jade and I embarked on the Neighbours set tour that took us to the suburbs that form the basis of the fictional town of Erinsborough from the soap. The tour was pretty good, we got to see some of the sets from years gone by, and ones still used today. They let us in on some of the trade secrets regarding filming special, or hard to shoot scenes, and we got to go to Ramsay Street.
Ramsay Street, or Pin Oak Court as it is in real life, is the most well known aspect of the soap, so was the highlight of the tour. We weren’t allowed right up onto the street as they were filming. I’d say spoiler alert, but I am sure no-one who reads this will be a Neighbours fan. The scene featured some of the soaps best loved characters racing remote control cars. It was a fun scene to watch, and to have in the background of our Ramsay St sign pictures. After the tour was finished and we returned to the city, we got to meet Ramsay Street legacy Kim Valentine (who plays Libby, the daughter of Susan and Karl.) She was lovely, signed our postcards, got pictures with us, and stayed round to speak to us after the day was over.
Jade and I both wanted to do some pretty cool things in Melbourne if we could afford to; I wanted to go to the MCG and see inside, and Jade wanted to go and see the Lion King. I say this like we didn’t both want to do both, it was hardly a hardship to go along with either plan.
The theatre tickets were fairly decent and had a great view considering how little they cost. The Lion King show was brilliant, as good as I remember it being. The dancing and singing were great, but the costumes, props, and staging were unbelieveable; it really was a spectacular, and unique show. It was also nice to dress up for a night and do something in smart clothes.
As for the MCG, the tour prices were a lot more than I wanted to pay to see inside the ground. After speaking to our Neighbours tour guide and enquiring about tickets to an AFL game, we discovered that it was cheaper to go and watch a live match than it was to do the tour. It didn’t feature the Fremantle Dockers, but it was a tense local derby between Collingwood and North Melbourne that featured some dramatic twists and turns, and one of the best comebacks I have seen in a long time. Definitely worth the money. The MCG itself was fairly impressive but didn’t feel as big as Wembley,the only similarly sized venue I have been to.
While we were in the city, we also checked out Yarra Park and Melbourne Park. The former is a park ont he river that has walkways and is a peaceful place to alk round in the craziness of the city. The latter is a set of venues next to the MCG, that amongst other events, is home to the Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam. We ddin’t go inside the Rod Lever arena, but it was still pretty cool to see all the courts outside that are used during the championship.
It’s been great to be in the city while it was the indigineous round in the AFL. While we have been in Australia we have signed up to the Recognise movement, bought aborigini souvenirs, and seen some fascinating exhibitions on Aborgini culture. It seemed more prominent in a less touristy way in Melbourne, which was nice to see.
See, I can’t say I haven’t had a fun, varied, cultured, not so cultured, eventful week in Melbourne. It’s just the city didn’t sell itself in the same way that Brisbane, Perth, and Sydney did. Maybe I need to come back and live here one day and try it out properly? Probably not.