We left Perth at lunchtime and landed in Melbourne at night due to the time zone change. It was absolutely pouring with rain. Prior warning for those travelling to Melbourne; you have to buy a AUD6 myki card to use any public transport outside the free tram area and you don’t get refunded if you give it back, make your peace with it now. The hostel we had booked was in the suburbs so it took us a little while to get there and we had a short walk from the station at the other end. We were equipped with a really shit offline mapping app however and took the long route meaning that we arrived on the doorstep absolutely soaked through and with little patience remaining. Unfortunately, as reception we closed, we had some difficulty getting in to the hostel. We knocked and rang for 10 minutes or so before we managed to get the attention of a rather stoned fellow traveller who kindly let us in. Finding our room was another mystery until we discovered that we had booked in to what seemed to be a shed in the garden, albeit a very well appointed one.Both wide awake and wet, James was dispatched to the nearest bottle shop for supplies. He returned, very soggy, 30 minutes later bearing two 6 packs and a large bag of crisps ready for an evening watching Mad Men and drinking beer in bed.
The rain had in fact been worse that we thought, we woke up to reports of events cancelled and localised flooding but it had all cleared out sufficiently in the morning and we headed in to Melbourne to explore the city. We had accidentally booked accommodation in the cool and trendy suburb of Prahran and took in the bars, cafes and boutique shops on our way to the station. We got off the train at Flinders Street, picked up some maps and walking tours from the visitor centre and set out to explore with Caro leading the way combining the many tours together. Our first stop was the Degraves Street which is famous for coffee and got our morning fix. Our route then took us through the shopping arcades, which had a very British feel, particularly with all the Christmas decorations.Melbourne has an excellent market and we spent a thoroughly enjoyable 30 minutes wandering around the fresh produce, meat and fish and delicatessen stalls of Queen Victoria Market, accompanied by the cheery bellowing of the stall holders. If you are shopping, this is the place to go, but we would strongly recommend stopping in just to take a look too.Melbourne has an array of superb street art and we would definitely recommend venturing beyond famous Hosier Lane, which we weren’t particularly impressed with when compared to the other examples that we saw around town.After our fairly extensive foot tour it was time for lunch so we popped in to a supermarket for some bits and pieces and, lacking anywhere more glamorous, perched out of the wind in the bus station waiting room to enjoy our meal. From here we jumped on a free tram to get to the Irish pub.The trams and trains in Melbourne were excellent, especially the free trams in the CBD, and we got around easily. After liquid refreshment, we headed back to our hostel and encountered the stereotypical Australian backpacker scene; a group of lads were critiquing the hash brownies they just made, one chap was playing with a diablo, while another group played keepie uppies while swigging red wine directly from the bottle. This was all topped off by the guy rolling a spliff whilst simultaneously cooking on the BBQ. We admired this charming scene from a distance and then retreated back to our shed to drink quietly on the bed whilst listening to the Kings College Carols. Not quite your typical backpackers.
It was damp and chilly when we woke up so we took the morning slowly and eventually headed out when some blue sky appeared. Our plan was to explore St Kilda and then head to watch some cricket. The weather had other plans. We managed to take in the main sites before the heavens opened.
Thinking further exploring and cricket were a no go, we sheltered in our garden shed catching up on blog posts and listening to England getting thoroughly beaten in the cricket.
On our last day, we had time between checking out of our hostel/garden shed and our flight to Tassie so we decided we would catch some cricket in the sunshine at the MCG. We stashed our bags in a locker at the station (AUD7 for 3 hours, bargain) and headed off across town. It was the 3rd day of Victoria versus Western Australia and a weekday so the crowd was accordingly tiny. The tickets were also a bargain $5 each and we spent a very pleasant couple of hours along with a handful of other people in the eerily quiet 90,000 seater stadium. This also allowed us to tick off another trip rule of watching local sport whenever possible, Aussie Rules doesn’t count, we were never going to watch Aussie Rules.At lunch we took our leave and headed back to the station and from there airport in great anticipation of exploring Tasmania.
FYI – Melbourne airport has amazing WiFi.