Once we got over the initial shock of our AirBnB ordeal, we explored Melbourne in greater depth, which by the way was no small feat considering the notorious rainy days. Melbourne is known for its cultural diversity in the arts, food and entertainment. It’s the cool, hipster kind of place where creatives converge for cocktails and conversations in art galleries, cafes and pubs filled with poets. Melbourne, Australia reminded us of a larger Wellington, New Zealand whereas Sydney could be considered similar to Auckland. We created a travel itinerary that combined city sight-seeing and scenic spots beyond the metropolitan area through a few road trips. Here’s a recap of our adventures near, far and all around Melbourne that you should consider visiting if you’re in the area!
Queen Victoria Market
Often referred to as the heart and soul of Melbourne, The Queen Victoria Market can easily fill your day as a one stop shop for dining and shopping, especially if you’re a go with the flow type of person or travel group. For the carefree traveler with a set itinerary, the market is a full day of finding hidden gems in Fitzroy, hipster areas like Little Colin and vibrant graffiti murals down Hosier Lane and Union Lane that would make the perfect Instagram picture. Fresh fruits and veggie stalls along with pastry vendors (we admittedly have a sweet tooth) and designer boutiques are worth the walk. We even heard that the night markets in the summer are pretty cool for street food, live bands and vendors that offer vintage clothing.
Before you go, be mindful of the day and times you visit since the hours tend to vary.
Market Hours at time of writing:
Tuesday: 6am – 2pm
Thursday: 6am – 2pm
Friday: 6am – 5pm
Saturday: 6am – 3pm
While most people rave about Australia’s beautiful beaches and sunsets (believe the hype, they are gorgeous) many rarely take time to learn about the country’s history. Considering that we are life-long learners, we specifically wanted to learn more about the indigenous people of Australia. Melbourne has quite a few places to learn about the legacy of Aboriginals, the original inhabitants of the Australia.
We visited Koorie Heritage Trust, an Aboriginal owned and managed organization that takes great pride in delivering an authentic arts and cultural experience for all visitors. The space is a vibrant collection of modern and contemporary work in the form of paintings, wood carvings, poetry and political excerpts from the Prime Minister that unveils the narrative of indigenous communities. As with many communities comprised of people of color, Aboriginals were vulnerable to government population control for decades. This shared experience can be seen on a global scale from the narratives of indigenous groups world-wide and also resonated with us as African-Americans from the United States. The museum also chronicles a timeline from the Stolen Generations era, a period when generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were removed from their families by the government to Parliament’s attempt to amend its wrongs by reuniting families through the Bring them home initiative.
The educational components of the exhibit leaves quite a bit to unpack when visiting the Koorie Heritage Trust but it is well worth it. The organization also offers cultural walks and tours for those desiring a guided experience. While some may be hesitant to turn their vacation into a history lesson, the value of learning a country’s past serves as the key to understanding the current state of race relations.
Day Trip from Melbourne: Great Ocean Road
Melbourne to Great Ocean Road
Distance: 3 hour drive
We pumped a little life into our itinerary and set out to discover Mother Nature’s handiwork through a day trip from Melbourne. Great Ocean Road is considered one of the most scenic costal drives in the world. The drive was so serene that we listened to our audio books while enjoying the country-side views. Visitors usually choose from a variety of things to do across the region including surfing, mountain biking, nature walks and climbing waterfalls. Although there is plenty to do within the region, we traveled there for the sole purpose of seeing the Twelve Apostles. A collection of limestone cliffs off the shores of the Port Campbell National Park, the Twelve Apostles is a popular site for tourists. Technically speaking, there are eight apostles remaining since the ninth stack collapsed in July 2005. The massive stacks are the most beautiful displays of the country’s coastline. The limestone spectacles reminded us of the massive stone structures at New Zealand’s Cathedral Cove though their geological composition differs. Whatever you do, be mindful of the tide at the water’s edge. Lisa placed a few belongings on a seemly high rock and ended up losing a brand new blouse to the ocean due to an unexpected surge. Thankfully her phone was spared!
To witness the beauty of the Great Ocean Road region, consider visiting these locations for the picture perfect look out spots:
Loch Ard Gorge
Bay of Martyrs
A little under a two-hour drive from Melbourne lies a popular destination spot called Phillip Island. Spas, shopping, motor sports and wildlife viewing are popular activities to dive into on this island. We decided to choose the latter and visited the Koala Conservation Center. Unlike a zoo that creates confined barricades for animals, the conservation is a unique opportunity to learn and witness these creatures in their natural habitat, just as you would in the wild. You can even face-off with koalas that sit low enough in the trees near the koala boardwalk. The ecotourism attraction is a great way of discovering one of Australia’s most beloved mascots.
Once the daytime ventures were fully explored, we visited Grossard Point Beach for one of the most spectacular sunsets that we’ve ever seen. Just as the sun dipped beneath the coastal waves, the sky burst into fluorescent hues of blues and yellows and within seconds into pinks and purples. It was breathtaking!
The memories from Melbourne and beyond will always remain with us! Have you visited any of these places before? If so what was your experience? If you’ve got the travel bug, which place would you like to visit?!