Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
August 12-15 and 18-19, 2023
August 12, 2023
Arriving in Melbourne
After a long, cold, and rather uncomfortable overnight bus ride we arrived in Melbourne. It was very early, around 5:00 a.m., the sun nor the city had yet awoken.
We made the chilly hike from the bus station to our hostel to store our bags and figure out next moves. It was too early for coffee shops or grocery stores to be open, so we bode some time waiting in the hostel until a nearby market opened.
A peculiar young man waited with us in the lobby. He had lost his way after a long evening of bar hopping in the city. His friends weren’t answering his calls, and he seemed unwilling to figure out the bus or metro system. He had asked for a room but was unable to create a reservation so late/early in the day. His efforts seemed futile as he had no money anyway. He even asked us to get him an Uber, but the cost was too high for our comfort level. Last we heard he had planned to walk the nearly 20 kilometers back to his hotel.
Once it was 7:00 a.m. we got some groceries for meals and had some breakfast. After a whole night with practically no sleep I was unable to stay awake any longer. I passed out in the lounge area while waiting for our room.
After finally checking in we were both so beat that we decided to use the day to do some planning for the next leg of the trip. We relaxed the rest of the evening with hopes to venture out into town tomorrow.
August 13, 2023
We allowed ourselves a much-needed sleep in and then got ready for the day and headed to our first site: the Victoria Market. This huge indoor-outdoor market sits in the middle of Melbourne’s art scene. It holds everything from jewelry to fruit to authentic Australian souvenirs.
I found a ring for my country collection and even got the 411 on true Ugg boots. The term “uggs” is the Australian term for sheepskin boots. The same way we’d call tennis shoes “sneakers,” uggs are a slang term and come in many brands and designs. The brand “Ugg” is actually an American trademarked brand. Because of their popularity Ugg-brand uggs are not sold in Australia. Australia instead offers more authentic uggs, since it is the land of their inception, but technically sells all knockoffs of the American Ugg brand. The official brand of Ugg shoes can only be purchased from the U.S., while they are crafted in China. I picked up a pair of Australian uggs from the market and haven’t had cold toes since!
After the market we walked around the city and checked out some of the architectural sites. First, we stopped by the old city bathhouse. The building is presented in grand style, looking like it came straight out 1860. It has since been renovated and now is home to a gym.
RMIT University: Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
Next, we walked by RMIT University. The campus has many buildings scattered throughout the city and all provide some really neat, modern architecture.
Melbourne Central Mall
This old train station has undergone a transformation into a fun shopping area. The main hub still has the original train station and Melbourne Central Clock (under Amazon-promoted construction at the time) sitting in the center of a large glass atrium. We walked through the shops before making our way back to the hostel.
August 14, 2023
American Doughnut Kitchen
Today we started again at the Victoria Market to try some American Doughnut Kitchen donuts (I’m surprised they call it “American” yet don’t spell it “Donuts”). They were sold out the day prior due to their extreme popularity. Australia isn’t exactly known for unique, incredible food, so these donuts were pretty good by their standards. They tasted like beignets and came in plain, jelly filled, and powdered.
Melbourne is home to the signature Magic Coffee. This coffee is made with a double shot of ristretto and steamed milk. It was previously an off-menu item that has grown immensely in popularity leading it to be a city namesake. My palette may not be as trained to taste the differences between espresso drinks, but I sure enjoyed it! A strong, sweet, beverage perfect for the Melbourne coffee scene.
Spleen Comedy Bar
For the evening we decided it would be fun to have a night out. After adjusting to the new time zone and sleeping on overnight busses we had been turning in early and not taking full advantage of our nights. We opted to try Spleen; a bar that hosts a stand-up comedy show every Monday night. The comedians range from first time performers, to regulars, to big-name acts and are always a surprise line up. We didn’t personally recognize any of the names from our selection, given it was a lot of Australian natives. However, the show had a variety of laughs and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. This bar is small, and the shows get packed so be sure to purchase tickets ahead of time, so you don’t miss out!
We visited the Chinatown near our hostel a few times throughout our time spent in Melbourne. Once to pick up some cheap clothing options at the local K-Mart (the Target of Australia), and again later after the Spleen Comedy show. While there wasn’t much going on after the sun went down it was nice to see the main archways and lanterns lit up.
August 15, 2023
Today we embarked on a little self-led walking tour to see the last bits of the city we had missed in the days prior.
Flinders Street Station
Our first stop was Under the Clocks at Flinders Street train station. Located in the center of the city, Flinders Street Station is the main stop of traveling by train to and from Melbourne. It has 9 clocks attached to the front of the classic European-domed train station. The clocks show the times for various departing trains and has become popular as a meeting point for locals. “Meet you under the clocks” would be an understood local shorthand for gathering at the entrance to the station.
Fed Square FIFA Fan Event
By the ACMI Museum there is an open square that hosts restaurants and shops. It was more festive than usual since it was also the site of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Fan Event in Melbourne. There would be another game later in the evening where Spain finally took out the big bad Sweden. This solidified their spot in the finals and appeased the angry American inside of me for the Sweden-fueled injustice of weeks past.
Hosier Lane Street Art
Melbourne has a huge established art scene, and street art is no exception. One of the best areas with the most street art is Hosier Lane. This cobblestone-covered road is dense with street art-style paintings. You can see pictures ranging from beginner’s graffiti to high quality masterpieces as they swallow up the sides of the buildings. The road is almost like an alleyway, hidden in the nooks and crannies of the city. You wouldn’t see it if just passing by, yet it’s only a few blocks from Flinders Street Station.
August 15-16, and 18-19: Departing Melbourne
That’s about it for what we experience in the chilly urban metropolis of Melbourne. We’d go on to spend the night of the 15th, leaving in the early morning on the 16th for our flight to Tasmania. On the way back from Tassie we spent an additional 8 hours in Melbourne for a sleeping layover the 18-19 of August, before continuing to Adelaide.