Earlier this year we were very fortunate to spend time in Melbourne and Torquay, staying with Joe’s family who very generously paid for us to come out as a wedding gift. We absolutely fell in love with the area! It was a good combination of elements – trendy city, nice suburbs, and gorgeous beaches. We got to spend a lot of time hanging out in their pool, which was fantastic because it was extremely hot. Australian summers are no joke.
When we first arrived, we went straight to their beach house in Torquay, about an hour away from Melbourne. It was one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen. We were staying really close to the beach, so we could easily walk there. Joe and I kept waking up early because of the jet lag, so we decided to make the most of it and go watch the sunrise at the beach. It was stunning!
We didn’t have wifi at the beach house, and at first I was bummed, but it was actually good to disconnect from my phone a bit. I can get a little too obsessed with it sometimes and it was a good reminder to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and live my own life.
We also got to go paddle boarding for the first time. I didn’t want to do it at first, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to balance standing up. Sure enough, I tried standing once and swiftly fell off the board into what I couldn’t help fearing was shark-infested waters. As I tried my best not to panic, Joe came and helped me get back on the board. So I spent most of the time sitting, and actually really enjoyed it. It was difficult to paddle, but once I got out and could just sit on the water it was so peaceful. There’s something about the ocean that’s very calming to my stressy soul.
The Great Ocean Road
We got to drive along the Great Ocean Road, which has some truly spectacular views. Next time we’re in Australia I’d love to spend more time driving along the coast and stopping for pictures. We stopped in Lorne and “hiked” a bit to see a waterfall. Once again I was nervous because of my terrible balance, but I managed not to fall this time. We ate at a cute little fish and chip shop for lunch.
Once we got to Melbourne we did some exploring of the city and a lot of shopping. There was a massive shopping mall, where we looked for good deals. We got McDonald’s and Starbucks there, because sometimes you just need those familiar things from home. I always enjoy trying McDonald’s in different countries to see how different it is!
We also walked around Queen Victoria Market looking at all the stalls. We got a bunch of souvenirs and I found the prettiest rose gold ring. It was really cool to see all the art, especially the aboriginal art. While wandering around I got my first ever Cafe Freddo and it was delicious.
One of our favorite things about the city was all of the street art. Apparently it’s always changing because people so regularly keep painting. There’s a street called Hozier Lane that’s covered in really interesting pieces, and we spent a long time taking pictures there. It’s especially nice when there are designs/pictures, rather than just tags.
While Joe was on the hunt for trainers (and I was sitting on a bench waiting for him – classic), he found a Star Wars pop up put on by Radio Velvet. They had a little art installation and were selling the coolest t-shirts. The art was really incredible; we’re both massive Star Wars fans but sometimes Star Wars themed things can seem a bit childish. These pieces felt super artistic and cool. (If you’re a Star Wars fan you should definitely check out their website.)
The next day we walked along the Yarra River into the city. I wish I could say it was lovely and I had a great time, but truthfully I was hot and tired, and my feet hurt. Sometimes I’m just not in the mood for a 45 minute walk. It was a good view of the city though, so it was nice to take some pictures. We came across an outdoor piano, so we each played a little bit before moving on. Then we went into Federation Square, which had some amazing architecture. We grabbed a coffee at a place called In a Rush, which ironically took longer than any coffee I’ve ever ordered. The golden latte did not disappoint though. You may be noticing that going out into the city usually involves grabbing a coffee for me. I have an obsession.
We stopped by St. Patrick’s cathedral for a bit, which was really beautiful inside. We’d planned to walk around a bit more and see another cathedral, but we (ok mostly just me) were tired and decided to call it a day.
The next day we walked around the Botanic Gardens a bit and stopped for tea and scones in the garden cafe. There were so many beautiful trees and flowers! We moved through somewhat quickly though, headed for the National Gallery of Victoria.
There were some really interesting pieces; one of my favorites was a bunch of massive skulls placed in the middle of old art. The gallery was out of maps in English, so we made the mistake of starting on the European side, not realizing how much European art there was. Sure, there’s some great European art, but I didn’t go all the way to Australia to see more of it. I’m not sure if there was any Aboriginal art in there, but we didn’t make it to any and ran out of time.
After that we went to the Shrine of Remembrance, which was really beautiful. The monument itself was gorgeous, and there was a stunning view from the top of it. Inside there is a museum that tells about Australia’s involvement in the world wars. It was really interesting, because I feel like my history lessons didn’t mention too much about Australia’s involvement and I didn’t realize there had been much of it. Overall it was one of my favorite places we visited in Melbourne.
For dinner that night we ate at a place called LA Burgers, which was sort of like a rip-off of In-n-Out (maybe not a rip-off but definitely modeled after). The burger was alright but the sweet potato fries were AMAZING. Best I’ve ever had. I’m hungry just thinking about them.
While in Melbourne we took a day trip over to St. Kilda beach. The beach itself wasn’t as nice as Torquay, but it was nice to sit there for a bit. The best part was the pier, which had a little cafe on it. We stopped for a drink with a spectacular view of the city in the background.
We also took a trip to Ballarat Wildlife Park and it was cool to see the native animals. There were kangaroos, koalas, dingos, wombats, and reptiles. We found a little joey and it was so cute! Joe and his cousins really enjoyed feeding the kangaroos as well. They seemed to be pretty happy, having free range of the park, but it was a little sad to see massive (non-native) snakes in tiny cages with kids tapping on the glass. I don’t know anything about how much space reptiles need, but the cages seemed way too small and some looked uncomfortable or like they were trying to get out. All of this to say, I think it’s important to be ethically conscious while traveling and I’m not sure if I would recommend this park to others.
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