I finally made that trip Down Under! After years witnessing batches of friends flying to and fro Melbourne, I managed to see for my own what 'stole' all my friends from Malaysia. From the day they decided to receive the famous Australian education, only a few returned for good, creating the impression that Melbourne is most probably a mini-Malaysia already. Melbourne is ranked as the most livable city 6 times by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) before Vienna and Vancouver. That, itself, deserves a visit.
|Waiting for the gates to open|
|Ready for an adventure with mummy|
|Air Asia X to Melbourne!|
|Well, hello there Aussie!|
1. Walk Along Yarra River & Crown Hotel
The Yarra River had me at hello. Melbourners are so lucky to have this river in their city. The night scene of this river is just breathtaking. If you have no idea of how to make a date romantic, let this river do the job. Oh, the Yarra River. Just look at it! Pop-up stalls bedeck the river banks with fun and excitement. And, there is never a dull moment with street buskers along the way.
|Yarra River at night|
|Totally fell in love with the scene|
|Strolling at the bank of Yarra river|
|At the iconic Crown Hotel|
|Cabaret girls at the Crown Hotel|
|Be sure to visit the casino!|
|Visit those food trucks|
|Yarra River- beautiful day and night|
2. Colourful Huts at Brighton Beach
Brighton lives up to its name with 82 adorable and brightly coloured beach huts along its shore. For me, you have not been to Melbourne if you did not take a picture with these iconic huts. You won't be able to resist taking photographs anyway. The iconic beachscape yells Melbourne through and through. You won't believe that these huts have been built over a century ago!
|Mummy and I at Brighton beach.|
|Pick your favourite|
|Watch them sunbathe. What ozone layer are you talking about?|
3. Spot Penguins at St. Kilda Beach
Summer is the best time to spot penguins at St. Kilda beach. The fairy penguins (the same type that dwells on Philip Island). These little angles are the smallest of all penguin species. Go to the beautiful St. Kilda beach for a relaxing stroll and head to the jetty after sunset when the penguins return to their homes. Please take note that NO FLASH LIGHTS should be used. Use red lights to ease vision. Friendly rangers will be there to point out the penguins to you too.
|At the windy St Kilda beach|
|Follow the red lights by the rangers. Do not make noise or use flash|
|The happy face after spotting penguins|
4. Brunch and Coffee at AlleysExperiencing culture is one reason that makes me travel. Coffee is culture in Melbourne and alley cafes create the charm that Melbourne is famous for. When in Melbourne, take the opportunity to eat at their cafe's which can be seen replicated in Malaysia but they are still not quite the same. Some cafes are fully functional in the tiniest of spaces. Enjoy some avos (avocados) on toast or lasagna for brunch!
|At Central Place|
|Coffee tastes better here...inexplicable|
|Little charismatic eateries|
|The Australian breakfast|
There is nothing too quirky that Melbourne cannot handle. Turn to Flinders Lane for an artsy time. Appreciate talents splashing their creativity on walls at just the cost of spray paints! The drawings change from time to time as artists overlap their drawings when they run out of space. Soak up the passion of street art when you stroll down the lane. They tell you so much about emotions expressed on the wall, creating a colourful dimension amid the chaos.
|Street art at Flinders Lane Melbourne|
|Soak up the expression transferred to the walls|
|Mom is not missing out on taking photos|
6. Victoria State LibraryThe word 'library' might not sound exciting but this one can be an exeption. Other than being a big landmark and a cultural icon, it is home to one of the most beautiful reading rooms- the La Trobe Reading Room. The 19th century building is an epitome of grandeur. Walk into the La Trobe Reading Room for an immediate transfer back to the Victorian era.
|Outside the grand Victoria State Library|
|Classic interior that stood the test of time|
|Well preserved 19th Century building|
7. Queen Victoria MarketThe Queen Victoria Market must have been murmuring in your head from the moment you google Melbourne. Also affectionately known as 'Vic Market' or 'Queen Vic', it has been one of the most trustworthy place for food and knick-knacks for locals and tourists since 1878. Its perennial existence and historic background is already a good reason to get some breakfast there.
|The Queen Victoria Market|
|Serving tourists and locals alike|
|Remember to get the famous fresh oysters!|
8. Great Ocean RoadThe blue from the sea layered with white foam by the waves makes the coastal road hypnotizing. I couldn't take my eyes off the scenery. The road is actually a war memorial, built by soldiers between 1919 and 1932, dedicated to soldiers killed during World War 1. Along the way, enjoy forest walks, local food in towns and meadows that have no end.
The Great Ocean Road is a must-have in your itinerary as its popularity has made it synonymous with Aussieland. No tour business in Melbourne can thrive without a tour package to the Great Ocean Road (GOR). A standard tour should cost roughly AUD 90-130. As much as I vouch for planning, you don't have to stress on getting the tour before you reach Melbourne as the tour packages are offered aplenty in the city. Allocate at lelast one full day for this tour as a one-way drive takes approximately 4 hours.
|The famous 12 Apostles|
|The coastal scene along the Great Ocean Road|
|At Loch Arch Gorge|
|Lunch stop at Apollo Bay on the way to the 12 Apostles|
9. Heavesville Wildlife SanctuaryWhen I bought my tickets to Melbourne, I promised myself not to leave the country without seeing a real life kangaroo! I had to up my kangaroo-watching beyond Youtube and television. The Heavesville Wildlife Sanctuary is a zoo specializing in native Australian animals. Of all zoos and animal parks, Heavesville was my pick as they home animals that are exclusive to the country, including other marsupials and birds. Check out also their splendidly orchestrated bird show, featuring all the beautiful feathered-creatures in Australia.
|Finally saw the roos!|
|Do you know that koala bears sleep 18-22 hours a day?|
|The impressive bird show|
10. Yarra ValleyOf course who can ignore the famous product of Australia- wine! Drive down to Yarra Valley, a place where you will be flanked by grape vines. One of the famous wineries is Chandon and the most friendly would be Yerring (friendly as they offer complimentary wine tasting =)) Sip some bliss while imbibing cool fresh air in the vineyard.
|Flanked by grape vine|
|With mommy on a beautiful day|
|The Yerring Winery|
11. Admire Iconic BuildingsBack in Melbourne city, do go around their archaic buildings like the Flinders Train Station, Royal Arcade, the General Post Office (now H&M), St Paul's Cathedral and Town Hall. They are all at walking distance away from each other. Awe at their pillars, tiles, ceilings and window sills that are all well preserved since the 19th century. Not surprisingly, they make wedding-worthy backgrounds. So imagine those deep and sentimental photos you can create!
|The beautiful Flinders Street Railway Station that you cannot miss|
|The well preserved Royal Archade, the first archade in Melbourne.|
Beautifully gilded till today.
|St Paul's Cathedral|
|The pillars of General Post Office (now H&M)|
|Melbourne Town Hall|
12. Chill at Fed SquareIf you have more time to spare, chill at the Federation Square! They are never without activities and events. Join the locals to make the floor your seat while watching the huge screen. Be entertained by buskers who take turns to make you wonder why are they performing on the streets instead of in theaters. Just so you know, every busker in Melbourne is auditioned by the authorities.
|Watching the Australian Open Tennis Championship.|
Blessed with beguiling natural landscapes and flora and fauna existing uniquely on their land, Australia beckons for another visit. I'll be back on another Air Asia flight soon. Next time, to the Australian Outback!