Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road

Ask any backpacker what the best city in Australia is and I guarantee that most of them will say Melbourne without any hesitation. Before I’d even step foot in Australia, I had people saying it’s such a ‘me’ place and that I would absolutely fall in love with it and everyone was right! I’m so glad that this is the city I’m settling in for a good five/six months before doing the East Coast and going home.

Melbourne is cosmopolitan, it’s social, it’s city life without that mad rat race rush. It’s pretty much a giant, colourful canvas painted with quirky bars and vegan restaurants and eclectic people. There’s a tram system, which makes getting around a million times easier (and cheaper because who actually tops up their Myki?). There’s free festivals and day seshes and club nights every weekend, and what’s even better is that they actually cater to my music taste, which I haven’t found anywhere else on my travels so far.

It’s all of these things that gives Melbourne a personality like no other city in Australia. Unlike Sydney, where every day merges into one because you’re in that hectic, repetitive Monday to Friday routine and one minute you’re waking up and going to work then in a couple of breaths your back in bed trying to sleep to the sound of someone snoring before getting back up the next day to do it all over again, everything here is slower and people are less pretentious.

My favourite place in Melbourne is St. Kilda, where the city turns into a little beach town and the skyscrapers turn into little Bohemian shops selling crystals and incense and homemade jewellery. Where a very expensive Luna Park makes me feel like I’m back in Southsea and a strip of bars and restaurants make me feel like I’m back in East London or Brighton. Luckily for me, I’ve spent a lot of time staying at Georgie’s flat in the heart of St. Kilda, so I’ve had a bit of a break from hostels.

Otherwise, I’ve been staying at The Ritz Backpackers, which I can’t complain too much about. I’d definitely recommend it to any long termers; locations good and the rooms are comfy and they’ve been renovating so it’s all pretty new and smells like fresh paint. In the last weeks I’ve stayed in five different rooms here, so I think if there was anything too wrong with the hostel I’d know about it by now haha.

At the moment me and Jen are staying in a five bed dorm with these really, really,really, really irritating British guys (SHOCK- ASIA FLASHBACKS) and oh my god I can’t bloody wait to get out of here on Thursday! One of them literally woke me up with a stale alcohol breath attack to the face, trying to get in my bed to ‘cuddle’ (which I politely declined), and the same guy keeps banging on about taking me to go see the penguins with him. Yesterday he came and sat on my bed to tell me that we were supposed to have a date night and I’d missed it but I’d never even agreed to go in the first place??

The other guy pulled Jenny’s hair when she was sleeping and told her she was sleeping in a weird position on one of the nights… like why are you watching her sleep you absolute creep? I keep waking up in the night feeling uncomfortable and fidgeting and changing my sleeping position in case they’re peeking out with binoculars under their duvet or something eugh gemme outta here… And I keep waking up at five AM and not being able to get back to sleep which is even more annoying, but luckily we’re back at Georgie’s in a few days’ time.

This would probably turn into a bloody novel if I wrote about every night out and every day festival and street party we’ve been to since we got here, and I don’t really how appropriate it is to share all my drunken antics on here, but all I can say is Melbourne’s social life is better than anywhere else in Australia.

On my first day here I went to Moonlight cinema, which only costs fifteen dollars for a ticket!! They set up a big screen outside on the bottom of this hill and everyone shows up with blankets and popcorn and sleeping bags to make cotch little dens on the grass. We watched Disaster artist, which meant being able to cream over James Franco in giant, blown up form. Spending a January night like that, snuggled up outside in the warm with a box of goon and heaps of bats and fireflies flying above, was the perfect start to my time here.

Every Thursday on St. Kilda beach there’s a drum circle held. A load of people from all over the world get together to drink and dance and meet each other. There are people performing with fire on the sand and other people getting waaaay too into the dancing which only makes it more amusing for us. It’s just a nice, free thing to do after work on a Thursday to get ready for the weekend.

Every Friday night there’s DnB night at Rubix in Brunswick, so I can finally actually go out and enjoy the music that’s being played, instead of spending 25 dollars on entry to a shitty club where they play nothing but Taylor bloody swift and One Direction. To be honest most of my weekends now consist of going out on the Friday, then crumbling round Georgie’s until Sunday night, watching films and getting fat on a free Uber Eats (we’re now on our fifth free one in a row).

I wasn’t having much luck on the job front when I first got here. Most of the jobs I was getting interviews today were sales related (solar panels and shit like that), meaning that they were paying commission only and there was no base rate, and I don’t think I know a single person who has lasted in a job like that. But now I’m really happy working as a charity fundraiser for various charities (at the moment we’re doing Four Paws, which everyone should 100% go check out).

Not only am I happy that I can finally do something which involves helping to save animals (something I’ve wanted to do since I lived in Bulgaria and used to spend my pocket money going round feeding the strays), but I get to do it with such a fun group of people. Everyone bounces off each other so well and just the general way the company is run is one of the best I’ve ever worked for. The main thing for me is that I’ve managed to find a job that, although it’s hard work, I don’t feel like I’m going to work each day, but rather like I’m going to do something I enjoy. Who could complain about knocking door to door in the sunshine and getting to snuggle other people’s pets all day?

By far the highlight of my Melbourne adventure so far, has been doing the Great Ocean Road. I did it within the first couple of weeks of being here, which was perfect because it meant that I got to do something touristy again before settling back into a work routine.

About four cars full of us headed out on a Saturday afternoon and made our way down to the start of the Great Ocean road, stopping at a beach on the way down. The drive didn’t take too long as it was exactly how I expected it to be- windy and snake-like and full of just amazing view after amazing view.

It’s weird how whenever you come out of the city and go along the coastlines, just how different it can be. It literally feels like you’re in a whole different place, like you’re seeing ‘real’ Australia (it’s easy to forget you’re in Oz when you’re confined to a city). The sea water turns more turquoise and pristine, and more wildlife appears (we saw a porcupine on the road and the next morning had kangaroos hopping across our campsite).

We stopped off in a place called Lorne for some food and to camp. Lorne is a tiny, isolated little village right on the seafront. It’s the kind of place you could come to on holiday for a few days, but I don’t know how people live there permanently as it’s so far out. The beach in Lorne is by far one of the most people beaches I’ve been on so far, not just in Oz, but in all of Asia too. The water is so clear and refreshing and we couldn’t have asked for a better hangover cure when we went swimming in it for a second time the next day.

Obviously we were those annoying people that showed up at the campsite when it had already gone dark and put up our tents. We were the really loud ones turning the music up so we could just shout over it even louder. To be fair it was quite tame at the beginning, then all of a sudden everyone seemed to go West at the same time and it was all a hilarious mess from there onwards. The highlight for me being out the city, was the ridiculous amount of stars we could see, now that we were away from any light pollution. I literally tilted my head back to look at the sky for so long that it began to ache. More and more stars just seemed to appear, to the point where there seemed to be more stars than sky. I reckon if we had been in an area which wasn’t hunched over by trees, we probably could have seen the Milky Way.

Feeling slightly rough the next day didn’t stop us from carrying the journey on up to the Twelve Apostles. The drive was long, but once again we stopped off at lots of pretty view points on the way there to get some photos. The twelve apostles looked amazing as they do online. It was so hard to take them in because the way they stood out against the pure blue sky made everything look so HD and photoshopped. It felt like we had jumped into a David Attenborough documentary.

Doing the Great Ocean Road was by far one of the best trips I’ve done since being in Australia, so anyone heading this way I would really recommend doing it. If you don’t know anyone that drives, then you can organise a one or two day trip through a travel agency.

Me and Jen have decided to try a new bar/ restaurant every weekend, so I’m going to compose a little list and will write a piece in a few weeks’ time to recommend places for anyone planning to come to Melbs in the near future.

Once again it’s got to the point where I’m taking things for granted because I’ve settled here so comfortably that it feels like home now and not a holiday. But life is pretty much perfect at the moment so I’m holding on to that! What’s even better is that Me and Georgie have now booked our flights home and are detouring to Hawaii and LA on the way back, so we get one more cheeky holiday on top of all the other holidays! And it’ll make going home a bit less daunting because we’ll have one more thing to look forward to before going back to reality. HAPPY HAPPY DAYS!

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