Melbourne – Somewhere over the rainbow

7 09 2010

While studying in Sydney, I took the opportunity to fly over to Melbourne for a short holiday. Jetstar was having some promotions so the air tickets were really cheap (think around A$50).

Out of the whole trip, I love the Great Ocean Road. I almost couldn’t make it as a tornado strike Victoria state the day I landed in Melbourne and apparently flooded the Great Ocean Road! Thank God that the flood subsided by the time I made the trip (but due to the flood, there are high tides and quite a few magnificant waterfall which under normal days you will not be able to see them as there is not much water – so a blessing in disguise?). The Great Ocean Road is indeed a beautiful and spectacular coastal drive (I would say it is is one of the world’s greatest coastal drive), with dramatic, powerful, dangerous and majestic coastline, also known as the Shipwreck Coast. We drove pass Geelong to Bells Beach through Torquay, Lorne and stopped at Apollo Bay for lunch. After lunch, we continued the drive to the Otway National Park, the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge and Port Campbell before turning back to Melbourne. The whole drive to and fro took around 14 hours.

Ok Melbourne. I know Melbourners will say that Melbourne is so much nicer, but I prefer Sydney thought. I just feel that it is slightly too slow for me. The trams, which many say is the nice part of Melbourne, somewhat do not appeal much to me. Maybe it was the bad weather as a tornado striked Victoria state the day that I landed in Melbourne causing me to be slightly moody. The constant rain and gloomy sky caused by the tornado may have dampened my mood. But seriously, coming from Sydney, I find Melbourne way too slow. Maybe I am just too used to the loud city life. But one good thing that come out of this gloomy weather is that I get to see rainbows, thanks to the nice “cooperation” of Mr Rain and Mr Sun 🙂

Anyway, attractions in Melbourne include Federation Square, Richmond, St Kilda (with the beach and the surrounding neighbourhood), Queen Victoria Market, St Patricks Cathedral, Flinders Street Station, the casino and so on. Of which, I enjoyed Queen Victoria Market with the food and the nice cafes around it. Really love the market (somehow I seem to enjoy shopping there). Another famous attraction is St Kilda which is supposedly to be a nice place but the rain ruined it all. Hiaz…

Tips:-

– Do take the helicopter ride at the 12 apostles. It is well worth the money as the ride will give you a spectacular bird-eye view of the 12 apostles. No regrets and I will say the ride is the HIGHLIGHT of my whole trip!

– Queen Victoria Market is only opened on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Weekends are usually crowded and are nice to visit if you want to have that vibe feel.

– Highly recommend Brunetti café at Carlton (near Queen Victoria Market)

– There’s the free city circle tram so if you want to save $, you can take it (but that means you will need to walk quite a fair bit in the city). An alternative is to buy the tram pass which allows you unlimited rides for the day on the tram. I will suggest this unless you want to walk and anyway, you need the tram to go to St Kilda, Richmond or Queen Victoria Market.

– There’s the airport bus (and shuttle) to hotels in Melbourne which is much cheaper than the taxi.

– For Great Ocean Road, I suggest that you join a tour (unless you stay overnight at the Great Ocean Road – ie either stay at Apollo Bay and make a trip to 12 apostles the next day OR go all the way to Port Cambell and stay overnight and return the next day). Reason being by the time you decide to head back, it’ll be dark and it’s kind of difficult to drive in the dark if you are not familar with the roads there. If you decide to join the tour, buy the tickets at Halftix (at the townhall) the day before. You will get better tour rates (almost like 50% discount) than when you book online from Gray Line or other agencies.

– Philip Island is around 4 hours drive from Melbourne. If you like to see the little penguins (the smallest in the world), here’s the place that you can see them. However, a warning is that they only appear at sunset (when they returned from sea to their nesk) so it’ll be cold while waiting for the penguins so make sure you wear something warm. You only see them for a short while but wasted like so many hours travelling to and fro. So it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth the visit. Same thing if you want to join the tour, buy from Halftix the day before.

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