Melbourne has to be one of my favourite cities on the planet. Upon arrival I wasn’t overly impressed which was probably just due to the weather (it’s winter here) and the fact that I’d had around 3 hours sleep on the flight over from Singapore, as luxurious as it was, but Melbourne has captured my heart. It is officially Australia’s most artsy city – full of students (check out the impressive University) and fun loving people, you’ll find everything but a sun tan here.

It’s pretty easy to get from Melbourne airport into the city center, we took the Sky bus directly to the central bus station which was around $14 and then wandered out into the city in hopes of finding our hostel, Nomads. After around 5 minutes we realised we were decidedly lost, so took a seat outside a building and leafed through the Lonely Planet Australia guide looking very confused in the hopes that a stranger might take pity on us and point us in the right direction. Fortunately for us, this is exactly what happened, and a few minutes later we came across Nomads on A’Beckett Street. It’s called a flash packers hostel, but it’s not overly fancy, it’s simply the perfect place to stay in Melbourne offering friendly staff and loads of lovely clean dorm rooms ranging from roughly 6 beds to 10 beds. You can also work 21 hours a week and get the accommodation free of charge, and getting things for free in Melbourne is something you’ll pick up if you ever travel through – Nomads gives you free pasta, rice, tea and coffee, free Goon (cheap boxed wine) after 8pm every evening, for the ladies free champagne on Friday nights, and it also has a free Cinema lounge if you fancy renting a few movies. If you meet friends who have jobs in high places (i.e. working behind the bar, or at the bowling alley) you can also get either a few drinks or a few games of bowling for free, and there’s a free city tram which takes you the whole way around Melbourne, so you can spend a few days in the city without actually spending a penny. We found that eating in a large group helps keep budgets down, and with the free pasta and rice at Nomads you can’t really go wrong – try making stir fry or Pad Thai for 10-12 people, should work out at under $2 per person! There’s also a great selection of cheap Asian eateries down Swanson Street (just down from The Central – see below, and the Library), you can pick up a pack of Sushi for around $5-$6 from any Sushi place, try the popular Sushi Sushi, or get a huge chinese takeaway for $6 from Don Don in a cute little bento box.

We spent the first couple of days making friends, working and planning our weekly activities. The first night we stayed we were immediately adopted by a group of travelers who took it upon themselves to very kindly take us for a night out – we had dinner, drank some Goon in the dorm and headed out to Turf bar where we spent the night dancing and drinking before heading back for a McDonald’s and bed. If you head to Turf bar on a Wednesday it’s a pretty fun night and the drinks are only around $5 – needless to say the day after was spent nursing hangovers and watching films whilst eating copious amounts of free pasta. Just down from Nomads you’ll find The Workshop, another bustling club and great place to drink, excellent on a Friday night after you’ve tanked yourself up on goon and champagne (fizzy goon) at the hostel.

For shopping and entertainment purposes, Melbourne has it all. Take a walk to The Central where you’ll find dozens of exciting stores, two Nandos restaurants, a Coles (cheap Australian supermarket) and a cinema – also check out Hi Fi club just down the road for amazing gigs. We went to see Strung Out and The Loved Ones at Hi Fi which absolutely blew my mind, not only were the bands outstanding, the venue its self is perfect, it’s tiered so where ever you stand you’ll be able to see the stage.
Another highlight in Melbourne is The Lanes – we took a stroll down here, it’s basically dozens of tiny streets hidden away in the CBD where you can find gorgeous little restaurants, quirky vintage shops and very impressive graffiti.

The Queen Victoria Market is one of Melbourne’s main tourist attractions – a huge open air market, open 5 days a week from Tuesday to Sunday generally between the hours of 6:00am and 2:00pm. Here you can find over 600 traders selling everything from cheese, meat, fruit and veg to clothing and didgeridoos, definately worth a stroll. Also – try and check out The Docklands, near the rear of Southern Cross Station (you can catch the free tram here, hop on behind Queen Vic Market) which has an icerink if you fancy a quick skate, some good shops and plenty of restaurants, it also boasts the Melbourne equivalent of the London Eye if you’re into that sort of thing.
Southbank is another popular area of Melbourne just across the Yarra River from the city center where you can find the ever popular Crown Casino which is just good fun on an average night, and even more fun when they’re showing the World Cup.

We didn’t do things like the Aquarium and the Cricket Grounds but I’ve heard they are pretty impressive. We simply spent our time working, drinking with friends, wandering around the city center and heading to the library for free internet and games. This is definite must for backpackers on a shoestring, the library provides free internet access and has an entire room packed with Playstations, Wii’s, and iMacs if you feel like feeding your inner geek. We also took a day trip to St Kilda, which I’m sure is delightfully bustling and pleasant in the summer, but in the winter it’s simply a cold run down beach resort – perhaps head here in the warmer weather and take a stroll down the beach and onto the pier. Luna Park can be found here, an old fashioned theme park with Australia’s oldest rollercoaster made entirely out of wood – you won’t miss the maniacal face of Mr Moon on the parks facade. Another popular pasttime in Melbourne is the Neighbours tour, if you’re a fan of the show check out the tour and the trivia night where you can visit Ramsay street and meet the cast – Dr Karl Kennedy is a bit of a pervert we heard.

The thing I love most about Melbourne is that instead of feeling like a tourist I genuinely felt at home, and fell into living there very easily. All I can say is visit this city, it’s officially one of my favourite places on the planet and we WILL be making a month long stop off before we jet back to the UK so watch this space for further updates!


1 Comment»

  Sophie Deacy wrote @

You had Nandos!!!!! I’m so happy, also so very jealous! Hope your keeping safe and you will be there in spirit when we go for Nandos for Sarah’s birthday meal on Wednesday

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