When I landed in Melbourne it was a chilly 14C – definitely a shock to the system! Plus terminal 4 is literally a shed with a vending machine and a porta-loo so everyone was shivering as we waited for our luggage to come through.
I was staying with Zoe, my old next door neighbour from Cambodia, and she picked me up and we drove home to her house in Fairfield, a northeast suburb about 20 minutes from the centre.
After a lovely lunch at a local cafe we took a stroll down the Yarra, along a path next to the river and back to the house. It was a lovely autumn day, sun shining and bright but still a bit cold. Luckily, all the crap I have been carrying around for the past 7 months suddenly became useful – trainers, plasters for the blisters my trainers gave me, my hoodie and raincoat.
On Friday night we took a train into the city and got some tickets to a show, part of the Melbourne Comedy Festival, then before it started took a stroll from Flinders Street station, across the bridge and down by the river for a drink in a bar that was on a little landing under the bridge.
We watched Tom Ballard at the Council Chambers, who was really good, then got the train home.
Melbournians are slightly obsessed with coffee, so on Saturday morning we had a bratwurst and a flat white at Queen Victoria Market. The so-trendy-it-costs-a-fortune cup of coffee took about 20 minutes to make, but it was delicious! We took a walk into the city and did a bit of shopping then took a tram back.
I had asked Zoe if we could go to a ‘footy’ game (AFL – Australian Football that’s kind of a cross between rugby and football with weird goalposts). Luckily her Dad and brother were away for Easter weekend so we used their season tickets to go and watch Essendon v. St. Kilda. It was brilliant! The seats were amazing and the regulars got quite animated when Essendon (who we were supporting) started losing. We had a pot of Carlton (slightly more than a half pint of local beer) and the obligatory meat pie, and cheered them on. With about 20 minutes to go, people started leaving which I thought was a bit rude but apparently that’s normal. Essendon lost but they didn’t really play that well so I guess St. Kilda deserved it, by the end I kind of understood what was going on!
On Sunday we were up early and hit the road for a massive 500km round trip to the Great Ocean Road. It was a long way but we took our time and it was so worth it. It’s definitely up there with Uluru in terms of the must-see Aussie attractions.
We drove down through Geelong then on to Torquay, where they have the Rip Curl Pro surfing competition every Easter. We were going to drive by Bells Beach and see what was happening but the traffic queuing for the car park was blocking the road so we carried on.
We made a quick stop at a very trendy surfy cafe for a coffee and drove on, heading for our lunch stop at Apollo Bay, about halfway down the coast, with a few photo stops.
We had fish and chips on the beach in Apollo Bay and the sun had come out so it was nice to lie there for a bit. The clouds were coming in though and after a spectacular drive to Port Campbell, it was fairly gale-force when we reached the 12 Apostles.
You would never know they were even there from the road but after we parked the car and walked under the highway on the track to the lookouts, it all becomes clear. The views were amazing, even with all the wind it was fantastic and the light was very special.
Before the sun went down we made it to Loch Ard Gorge, another lookout a bit further down the road. When we left it was already starting to get dark and we went inland onto the A1 back to Melbourne. We were home about 9pm, so it was a very long day but I am so happy we did it.
On Monday we chilled out at home in the morning, still pretty exhausted from our Sunday road trip – and I didn’t even drive! – had breakfast and then left for the airport for my flight to Sydney. I knew I would love Melbourne, and I did. It’s very European in some ways so you can see why there are so many ‘poms’ living there.