From The Great Ocean Road we headed to Melbourne to drop off the car. Whereas Adelaide was a breeze to navigate, we’d been warned that Melbourne wasn’t. It had some peculiar road rules so that the trams that run in the city get priority. With my driving and Jono’s skilful navigation we managed to get into the city centre without upsetting too many people and drop off the car. We’d lost a hubcap at some point on the journey and were honest enough to point it out, thinking it would be at the most 20-30 dollars to replace. It turned out to be a lot more and our start to Melbourne wasn’t great.
Our hotel location was perfect, right opposite the city square. All the sights and shops were on our doorstep and nothing was too far to get to. After leaving the car hire place in disgust we hiked across town with our backpacks to the hotel and were pleasantly surprised that it was a lovely room for a good price. Much cheaper than we had been paying on the road trip.
We spent three days in Melbourne and it was very different to Perth or any of the other cities we’d been to so far. It was the biggest for one and had a faster pace about it. For a start the driving was a little more aggressive and there were loads of people on the streets. Sometimes you even had to stop to let people pass because the pavements were so crowded!
On our first day I wasn’t feeling much like walking around the place so we hopped on the free tram that circles the city and stops at key points of interest. We just sat on it and let the sights go by but it was a great way of getting our bearings in the city.
I definitely knew that Christmas was around the corner here, it felt like everyone was shopping mad. The shops had Christmas displays and one had queues outside it of parents and their children. It was just like outside Selfridges in London, the only difference was that the sun was out and everyone was dressed for the summer.
Melbourne has a lot of character, starting with what felt like the heart of it, Federation Square. It’s where people mill around, take advantage of the free wifi and arrange to meet. We spent a fair bit of time there, partly to check emails and use the internet and found lots of activities going on in the open air. A drum class looked like real fun as they built up the rhythm and noise level in the square.
Another highlight was walking along the river. I love cities with rivers and the Yarra River was lovely. The locals had finished work for the week and were spilling out of the restaurants, giving it a real cosmopolitan feel.
We did a lot of wandering around in Melbourne and came across a whole street full of graffiti. It was pretty interesting and I got the feeling that it’s encouraged in that area, partly because we saw children there on a school outing or maybe they were just bunking off school to add a piece of art of their own.
The other thing I liked about Melbourne was the architecture. The web bridge, as it’s called was a pretty interesting design. They could have stuck a bog standard pedestrian bridge in its place but instead put some effort into it.
The further east we travelled in Oz the friendlier the people were becoming. I wonder if others find the same or is it that we were just getting used to the Aussie way? Melbourne was a good antidote to all the quiet coastal towns we’d visited before it and a good place to get used to city life before hitting Sydney - one of the places I’ve always wanted to go and where we were heading next.