We touched down in Melbourne almost exactly 10 years after I left a year long student placement in the city. I loved it then and really hoped it would live up to the expectations I’d built up for our 3 night stay. From the moment we stepped off the plane, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. We zoomed down the highway into town, passing signs for the comedy festival and various sporting events on the way and it was clear that Melbourne hadn’t lost any of the excitement I loved about it all those years ago. We met up with my student placement bestie and old friends from London as soon as we made it downtown, and without even stopping to drop off our suitcases we made a beeline for the food stalls at the Queen Victoria Night Market. Every summer the market is open late on Wednesdays and we’d made it just in time for their last night of the season – food stalls dishing up food from every corner of the earth line the market halls as far as the eye can see, serving overflowing plates to hungry recipients, entertained by open kitchens, street performers and live music.
Our final plate of way too many donut balls smothered in salted caramel pushed us over max capacity for food and we left the market in search of less filling, liquid refreshments. Melbourne’s bar scene is exploding and “secret bars”on very trendy – the kind that require a cryptic password or knowledge of a hidden door behind an innocent looking bookcase. We followed our hosts into a regular looking kebab shop looking rather confused at their choice of drinking hole when all of a sudden they pulled open the fridge door and we climbed through to a vibrant speakeasy! With so many options on one street we then embarked on a little bar crawl before calling it a night ready to play tourist in the morning.
First up, breakfast with a friendly face – my Auntie just so happens to live on the 29th floor of a glass fronted building in the city centre! With family connections like these playing tourist is easy!
We caught up over a lazy brunch before heading out into streets for a self-guided walking tour of the lanes (follow the link to download a guide), peeping into shops and arcades as we meandered through the narrow passages leading down to the Yarra River. We popped out right by the iconic Finders Street Station and Federation Square.
I wish we’d had time to check out the fashion exhibition that was on in Fed Square but instead we were treated to a Tai Chi class!
Deciding it was high time for a beer we ambled across the bridge to Southbank and then back over to meet our friends for lunch in the glorious sunshine.
Lunch turned into afternoon and swiftly into evening when we met more friends for rooftop drinks at Goldilocks. Rooftop bars seemed to be a thing on our trip but with great views and drinks I was definitely not complaining! Taking our lead from the locals we had dinner at Gingerboy which lined our stomachs nicely ahead of hitting a few clubs!
Our slightly foggy heads were cleared pretty quickly the next morning when I realized we had arranged to meet my 3 month old nephew for the first time! My Sister-in-law was actually my housemate when I lived in Melbourne and just so happened to be back in town was visiting family with the newborn while on maternity leave - given she and my brother now live in London it was a pretty amazing coincidence that we were both back in Australia at the same time! We met up at her Mum’s house and caught up over brunch in the garden of the house I first stayed in! 10 years on I don’t think we’ve changed a bit?!
And this little guy...I mean, being cute is a tough gig.
We said our goodbyes at nap time and headed for St Kilda where the beachfront was alive in all it’s glory with happy hour in full swing and crowds of people enjoying the Autumn sunshine.
We had to drag ourselves away from our people watching spot at Republica where there was talk of live music starting shortly, but we had a game to catch! We’d made last minute plans to go to an AFL game at the MCG – arguably the home of Aussie Rules Football and we just happened to be in town for a huge rivalry match up, Collingwood vs Richmond. We met up with an old skiing buddy who relocated to Melbourne with his Aussie wife a few years ago and enjoyed a quick run down of the rules over a beer before we headed to the stadium. The match was super close with the trailing team coming back to take the win in the final seconds of the game – the atmosphere was electric and it was clear that we’d been lucky enough to see one of the most exciting games of the season. If you're ever in Melbourne make sure a footy game at the MCG is on your list!
A pretty awesome end to an incredibly special trip down under! Thanks to EVERYONE that hosted, entertained and hung out with us along the way!
Time to head home and plan another adventure....where are you heading to next?