Published: February 5th 2010January 31st 2010
Arriving in Melbourne we picked up our rental car with GPS (which was HIGHLY recommended by our hosts, Mark & Leanne - and we soon found out why) and started to make the drive into the city and to Southbank where we’d be staying for the next four days. Starting off easy, we soon found out the craziness that is Melbourne navigation: intersections with multiple directions, roundabouts that aren’t quite round, tram tracks which crisscross everywhere, and not to mention the famous “hook turn” (to make a right-hand turn you have to be in the furthest left lane, inch into the intersection, and wait for the light to turn red). However, with Sheena providing her patented side-driver navigation help (“ERIC! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? USE YOUR SIGNAL!”) we finally arrived at our home for the next few days - Mark & Leanne’s apartment.
Mark and Leanne are a couple that we met in Fiji who have been relocated by their employer to work in Melbourne and have been here for the last 2+ years. Oddly enough, they are from Bolton & Newmarket, respectively, which gave us a touch of home during our stay. Leanne and Mark were fantastic hosts -
all that was missing was a mint on a pillow, and I could have sworn we were in the Hilton!
Our first night was fairly low-key - a quick rooftop BBQ followed by some drinks with colleagues of Mark and Leanne. They weren’t shy about “what people do in Melbourne:” - eat, drink, and eat some more! People of Melbourne sure do love their wine!
With the rental car secured until 5pm Friday night, we had an early start to our second day to try and make our destination: the 12 Apostles, via the Great Ocean Road. The 12 Apostles are 12 pillars of limestone that have been carved out of the cliffs by the Southern Ocean, and the Great Ocean Road is a famous stretch of highway in Victoria (starting about an hour outside of Melbourne) which has some stellar views and plenty of awe-inspiring scenes. We stumbled into some great little towns along the way (Apollo Bay and Lorne) and after 5 hours of driving the Great Bitumen Sea Snake we finally arrived at our destination. The 12 apostles were absolutely breathtaking - and seeing the Southern Ocean at its finest was a welcomed change of scenery. Unfortunately,
we had to hurry our visit and take some quick photos, because we had a 3 hour drive back into Melbourne! T'was a long day.
After a lazy start and a quick workout at Mark and Leanne’s condo, we checked out the Melbourne Aquarium (this close to Antarctica, we had to see some penguins!) and met up with Mark and Leanne to check out Melbourne’s CBD and the famous Queen Victoria Markets. Melbourne had a very distinct feel to it (many guide books refer to it as “European”) and from our quick tour of the CBD we could see why - narrow streets, interesting alleys and arcades, Victorian architecture and performing arts at every corner kept our eyes busy all afternoon. That evening, Mark & Leanne took us to one of their favourite arcades for a great dinner and we had a chance to soak up the atmosphere.
With temperatures reaching 37 Celsius on our final day in Melbourne, it was a difficult task getting everyone out of the comfortable condo in the morning - however, I was determined to get to the famous St. Kilda Pier and perhaps get a view of the colony of Fairy Penguins who
inhabit the breakwater there. While we didn’t get to see any penguins, we got a feel of the beach culture in St. Kilda and saw the famous “Luna Park” entrance. That, and we saw a TON of jelly-fish (the big kind!) which was enough for Sheena to make the decision that we wouldn’t be swimming that day. After returning to the apartment, we said our goodbyes to Mark & Leanne (as we’d be leaving early in the AM on Monday to catch our flight to Sydney) and had one restless sleep as we tried to contain our excitement for our final Australian destination - SYDNEY!
There are more photos below