What’s it all about?

This week is my final entry about Melbourne. Even if Melbourne is known as the city that has 4 seasons in one day, I loved it here….. but that might be something to do with it seeming so similar to the place I call home.

In this blog I’ll be writing about the CBD and my favourite street art location. I’ll also be writing about my experience of the Great Coast Tour. This tour really was something else and you see amazing scenery and wildlife. I’m not surprised that it is so popular. If it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, if you’d like to find out more about it or perhaps if you want to escape the real world for a bit and join me on my tour….then read on!

Melbourne: CBD

One important point I learnt about getting the train journey into the CBD is that to get in and out of the train you have to open the doors yourself. Also, you don’t have to remember to scan your card at the station. On those hot days I was so pleased that the trains had air conditioning (and at times I was even a little too cold on there – who said women are never happy?). The train journey was nice and there was lots of creative graffiti to see on route. We often ended up getting off at a stop right near China Town. For the few months I had been travelling, I had found that the majority of places have a China Town! We walked out of the station into a street full of Chinese restaurants and the tempting smell of Chinese cuisine.

***TOP TIP***

Whilst in the CBD we looked around for a competitive data plan. The Vodafone and Telstra options seemed very similar but we ended up going for Telstra as they have a better coverage. However, it took 24 hours for them register my service before I could access the data.

It was in the city that although it felt ever so much like home, I noticed the different crossings. You have a big button to press when crossing the road and the alarm sounds like something off of a computer game. It seems like you don’t have long to cross here, as before you’ve got to the other side the red man starts flashing to show you that your crossing time is nearly up.

Whilst here it was the Tennis Open, so we found the prices for accommodation rocketed, as you would expect. This also meant we spent a few days not going too far, so we could save some money. Though we would have loved to have gone to watch, our funds did not quite stretch to accommodate this. So, we watched from the comfort of our accommodation, with snacks, home-made lemonade and air conditioning. It was also ridiculously hot. They were experiencing quite the heatwave, with temperatures going up so high it felt like a real strain just to get to the shop, which was only a 5-minute walk away. I have no idea how they were able to play hours of tennis!

***TOP TIP***

The plug adaptors in Australia are tiny. I’d invested in a decent adaptor which had most of the plugs and adaptors we needed. This adaptor also had USB connectors – which are a god send!

Melbourne: Hosier Lane 

I really enjoyed the train journeys into the city. There was always something to see and the graffiti on route was amazing. Whilst looking online I’d found that there were many places in Melbourne famous for their graffiti. Now, I’m not a fan of all graffiti as some of it is just vandalism but then in my opinion, some of it is amazing art.

One highly recommended location that we visited was the ever-changing Hosier Lane. The street art here was something else! The detail of some pieces is like something you’d see in an art gallery. Some of it was so creative and powerful and, in some cases, even realistic! I love that this place is always evolving and new pieces are being added all the time. Imagine having your own ever-changing and different canvas, it’d never grow old! What’s handy about this place is it right in the centre of the city and only a stone’s throw away from Flinders Street, which means it made it easy for us to get the tram home.

The Great Ocean Road Tour

Melbourne is known for its temperamental weather conditions and it’s even said that they can have 4 seasons in one day (which I witnessed on more than one occasion here – it was so hard to predict!). So, we waited until the last minute to book our Great Coast Tour as we wanted an almost guaranteed nice day. By last minute, I mean last minute. I booked the trip the night before and we had to be up at 6am to catch the bus, so literally it was hours after booking it that we were on our way.

The perk of being up so early to head to the Coast Tour pick-up point did mean that we had the most amazing view of the sunrise. This was worth waking up early for! The sky was a warm, burnt orange colour, like a tequila sunrise. We decided we’d save money and walk to the pick-up point. This took us around 35 minutes. The streets are pretty easy to navigate on foot and Google Maps gave an added extra reassurance too.

On the bus it was tempting to have a little snooze but as we drove around the curling roads it was pleasant being able to sit back and take in the scenery. Our first stop on the journey was a toilet break. We stopped off at an open area for a cup of tea and toilet break time. The weather was not looking great at this point and though we’d tried our best to plan for a day where the weather looked promising…we’d started to feel drops of rain! However, as we carried on along the Great Ocean Road, the sun began to put its hat on (Hip-hip-hip Hooray)! Typical Melbourne weather.

On route, the next stop was the Great Ocean Road sign. We weren’t here long, but long enough to get some good snaps of the amazing view of the coast as well as the famous sign! The Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch is possibly one of the most photographed spots on the Great Ocean Road and this memorial represents the challenges faced by the workers in the construction of the road. It pays tribute to the World War 1 Serviceman who built the road. The current arch is the third that was built to replace the one burnt in the Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983. There is also a plaque here that commemorates those who served in WW1.

Next, we stopped off at a nature reserve. On entry to the park there were lots of birds flying around, some red and some white cockatoo birds. I’d seen so many cockatoos flying overhead, but this hadn’t grown old for me! We drove up a steep hill and soon we were surrounded by trees. Now it was time for the ultimate game of I-Spy, but not just any old I-Spy game…but ‘I-Spy the koala’. As we trekked up the hill we were lucky to spot some. Most of them were sleeping. These guys sleep around 20 hours a day – that sounds like the life to me! Just looking at one animal I had so many questions about them, such as ‘What are their babies called?’ (For those that would also like to know, they are called ‘Joey’ – just like with a kangaroo). I was also really surprised that these animals, that I had always thought of being grey with a white belly, in some areas had almost brown and red tinted patches.

For lunch we stopped at Apollo Bay. The sun was out now and it was heating up nicely. After stuffing our faces, we took a brief stroll along the green grass and admired the rolling green hills at the footway of the Otways, Australia’s Great National Park.

Then we were back on the bus ready for our next stop! We headed to Maits Rest Rainforest trail. This was a sample of the Otways. Again, seeing it brought so many questions to mind – what makes this a rainforest? Why is this one temperate? This place had so many incredible trees, some were HUGE and others were the most amazing shapes. You walk along a boardwalk that covers the tree-fern gullies and ancient rainforest ground, helping to protect the ecosystem. As you venture through the green canopies, this walk-way really does offer a unique view of the stunning rainforest. I loved it! There was also a mass of ferns! According to our guide, this place is over 130 million years old. We were then asked if we wanted to walk through the fertility tree. I decided that I was enjoying travelling too much and pushing my luck and walking through this tree could lead to things I am not ready for! 

At our penultimate stop we had time to take in the amazing view of the 12 apostles. Here we were able to see these amazing limestone stacks. There are only 8 apostles left now but the name remains significant. It’s amazing to think that this tourist attractions is a result of nature. They would have once been the cliff that has been eroded to form caves and then arches. It’s scary to think that the rate of erosion at the pillars is around 2cm a year. Does anyone else think this sounds like a lot?

With time flying by, it was off to Loch Ard Gorge where we took in the towering limestone cliffs and read the history about the Shipwreck Coast. This is the home to the famous ‘London Bridge’, which comes with its own stories. This rock formation was once a naturally formed archway and tunnel however in 1990 it collapsed. Rumour has it that it collapsed with a couple on it …..and that the couple were actually having an affair and were caught out (Oh the scandal, hey!). 

After witnessing the famous ‘London Bridge’ we had 3 options here, we could choose which path we wanted to go onto as we didn’t have time to explore them all. We decided to do path 3 and head for the beach. I’m so grateful we did as down on the beach there was a small cordoned off area with lots of stalactites on the exposed cliffs. Beneath this, in the over grown area, there was a porcupine foraging for food. Then as we were hunting for him in the grounds, we spotted a snake. The snake was so close to him! After watching them for a while we headed to the beach but the water was SOOO cold, so I just dipped my toes in.

On this beach there was also a cave area. This took some getting to as you had to strategically climb across rocks and through the cold water. We decided to go in and it was so cool. Lots of stalactites and in the very back of the dark, damp cave there was a sandy area. It was like a mini beach in the back! The colours on the sides of the cave were amazing, they ranged from greens, reds to other colours.

After a full day of exploring, we didn’t end up getting home until after 9pm and we found that for the price we paid and also not having to drive or pay for food, it was such a bargain! If you think that this sounds like something for you, it’s worth comparing companies as you can find some really competitive rates!

What’s it like to work here?

Overall, the WIFI experience in Melbourne was good. We were able to work in the different accommodations we stayed in though one had a capped allowance.

It was actually in one of our cheaper accommodations that we had the best connection speed and unlimited data usage – so don’t let the price of accommodation fool you; the more expensive the accommodation is, doesn’t necessarily mean that the WIFI will be great. 

Also, remember to factor in time for your connection to happen. As I mentioned, it took 24 hours, due to some technical issues, in completing my sim-card registration so I was not able to work for a day…. another great excuse for a day off though, right?

What’s up next?

Next, we move along the coast as we take a short flight over to Sydney. I’ll be checking out some famous beaches that I’m sure you’ll have heard of, like Bondi Beach. I fall in love with more wildlife and one particularly well-known Australian bird. So, join me next week to find out more!

If you have any questions or would like to contact me about travelling and teaching, email me at: travellingteacher@iqbar.net .