Melbourne: the Place to Be in Australia
G’day mates, I was born in India, but decided to skip my way into Australia when I was 22 years old to study for 2 years. 10 years later, I write this article to share my fabulous Aussie experience. Not only have I picked up a bit of the good ol’ Aussie slang, but also a citizenship due to being a skilled migrant. Yes, this is worth mentioning because essentially, Australia belongs the indigenous (Aboriginal) people, who not only have native rights, but also a spiritual right over their land down under. Sadly, after the Dutch explorers discovered the continent in 1606, Australia was an easy target for European settlement, and Great Britain claimed the eastern half of the continent (in 1770), and started using Australia as a penal colony to transport undesirable convicts from 26th January 1788.
That was the history in a nutshell. I know! Doesn’t sound like there is a lot of culture left, but trust me, with a population of only around 24 million in population and about half the size of South America in land, Australia has more than you can imagine exploring in a lifetime. Travellers from around the world come to this far-away land down under for 1 year with a working-holiday visa, just so they can come back again and see more of this beautiful country by road. If you plan to come, I would recommend you to do it by road. Warning: you will drive through many remote parts where you may encounter colonies of Kangaroos, Wombats, Koalas and what not, so keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel!
Today, I will talk a little bit about Melbourne, St Kilda and Great Ocean Road. I will have to leave the rest for later.
Melbourne is the Arts capital of this Australia. Many say that Sydney is better than Melbourne, but don’t listen to them – they don’t know any better 😉
If you are planning to visit Australia, Melbourne is the place to start by hopping on the free, City Circle Tram. There are tons of things to do from having a truly amazing cup of coffee in a sidewalk cafe filled with beautiful street art to checking out a dynamic mix of modern art right next to Old Victoria buildings. The city of Melbourne boasts a large list of activities and city tours that you can take, so you will need more than a week to absorb it all if you want to enjoy a city with a beautiful vibe.
My favourite beachside suburb in Australia is St Kilda, as it offers a unique sense of headspace in close proximity to the city life. Only 15 minutes outside of Melbourne CBD, St Kilda boasts an eclectic mix of things to do; visiting St Kilda Botanic Gardens or Luna Park (Amusement Park); eating at amazing local restaurants, cafes and bars; shopping at Thursday Hippie Night Markets during summer (November – February) and Sunday Pop-Up Markets; stand up paddle (SUP) & kite surfing on the West Beach, sky diving; yacht clubs and a skate park near the watch tower; and of course a pier that has a cozy home for our little penguin friends. If you happen to be in Melbourne for summer, I highly recommend you to not miss one of the biggest events in Australia; the St. Kilda Festival – it is the largest, free, street festival of Australia hosting more than 400,000 people on the second Sunday of February, every year. Featuring more than 8 music stages, a large number of ethic groups showcasing their culture on the streets, food vendors, activities and a whole lot of entertainment, St. Kilda Festival is an event not to be missed if you happen to be in Australia. www.stkildafestival.com.au
A little confession; I run the only dance music stage that this festival features www.gojamaudio.com. Sorry for the shameless self promotion, but for those of you interested please stop by and say hi! 😉
No, I am not just going to talk about the city life. Victoria has some of best scenic views you can expect in Australia. The coastal trip along the Great Ocean Road (GOR) has some of the finest surfing beaches where pro surfers from around the world come to compete in the Rip Curl Surf Pro at Bells Beach, Torquay. Along the coast are also some other fine beaches like Jan Juc beach, Anglesea, Lorne, Apollo Bay and of course, the mighty 12 Apostles, where you can join hundreds of Asians and take selfies 😉
If you are feeling peckish, you can go a little inland and binge on the delicious produce at Gorge Chocolate Factory and move along to the Cheese Factory for a tasting. There are a number of hostels and private holiday homes to rent depending on what takes your liking. I am not a blonde surfer-boy, but some of my favourite activities are boogie-boarding, SUP, and of course some good ol’ beach cricket followed by a cold beer and shrimp on the barbie, mate! If you’ve eaten too much, you are welcome to take a walk along the long-flat beaches. The locals in the area wake up early, for the GOR offers a beautiful sunrise to warm up the bay for a dip and drink. Some other nice spots along the coast are Wye River and Port Fairy, however, I will let your inner traveller do some research on that, so you too can write an article about something interesting.