I shall try not to make my summary of Melbourne too brief, however, oh the thesis and how I need to be working on it instead!
The main purpose of this trip was a conference (which was actually in Geelong – about 1 hour south of Melbourne), however D and I have a lot of friends in Melbourne that we wanted to catch up with, and D’s Dad is there is well (who he went and visited while I was conferencing).
D and I stayed with friends in Melbourne the majority of the time, and took in a number of touristy sites. We saw the Queen Victoria Market (and ate this amazing pastry thing that was filled with creme – so delish!). We saw the Melbourne Museum’s new exhibit – Treasures from Afghanistan (free tickets thanks to our friend Jeanette!). You weren’t allowed to take photos, of course. We toured the Old Melbourne Gaol (learned about Ned Kelly). We saw the ACMI’s Hollywood Costume exhibit (again, no photos, but some standout pieces were the curtain dress from Gone with the Wind and a number of big huge historical gowns). We spent nearly an entire day at the Royal Botanic Garden seeing the entire garden (D planned our route through the garden so we saw every single marker/point of interest on the map). We saw Star Trek 2. We saw Melbourne street performers. We spent a bit of time in the historic Shot Tower. We tried to go to the NGV (National Art Gallery) but it was closed on Mondays and on Tuesdays on the paid gallery was open (we were tired of paying to see everything and just wanted to see the free galleries, but nope! They were roped off. I was unimpressed). We went to the State Library (more free exhibits – and Ned Kelly’s infamous armor. What is Melbourne’s obsession with Ned Kelly, anyways?!). We rode the trams.
We had burgers our first night in. Then we ate Mexican (ok, Australian attempt at Mexican. Not really even close to tex-mex, but delicious. Oh, and they don’t let you take a doggie bag for leftovers! Again, unimpressed.). We ate a Krispy Kreme donut. We had Italian on Lygon Street. We had a number of milkshakes. We ate Indian. We had pizza. We had Asian take-away. We had Mexican again (a chain called Mad Mex – it was essentially Chipotle). In general, we ate a lot.
After my conference, D & I met up in Geelong and checked out Australia’s National Wool Museum. As a textile geek, this was pretty cool. D being a museum geek may have loved it even more than I did. Then we traveled down the Great Ocean Road with friends and saw the 12 apostles (something that has been on my Australian to-do list for the past 6 years). Ok, so there’s only about 5 apostles now, and it’s a loooonnnngggg drive to look at some rocks (along a drive that looks quite a lot like NZ coastline, FYI), but at least I’ve seen them now. And they are pretty impressive.
We stayed in Apollo Bay and had an awesome night just chilling with friends, checking out the beach (at full moon), and just enjoying being out of the city. On the way back to Melbourne, we stopped at the Warribee Open Range zoo and had a bit of a mini safari. We finished our trip off with a 4 hour long visit to the RMIT Fashion & Textile department, the Hangover 3 and a fantastic huge Greek meal on Monday. We arrived back to NZ on Tuesday, but due to a big dumping of snow (there is a rather massive hill that would have been impassable), we weren’t able to drive back to Dunedin (we flew out of Christchurch). Fortunately D has friends in Christchurch who very kindly took us in on very short notice! It was a rather dramatic ending to our journey.
Melbourne is an awesome city. But Melbourne is an expensive city! The shopping is amazing! But I didn’t do any (insert very sad Becca face here). I honestly didn’t buy a single thing except some soap at the Queen Vic market and 2 boxes of gourmet tea from T2. After our food and sightseeing, I was concerned that my budget was pretty well used up (this is even despite the fact that D and I only paid for accommodation for 1 night our entire trip. Yay for having awesome friends who were happy to have some visitors!). So despite seeing so many amazing stores (particularly in Brunswick and Fitzroy and also the Shot Tower – and even setting foot inside Kinki Gerlinki) – I did not purchase any clothing! I’m not sure this is really a win or not, but D was very impressed at my ability to exercise such restraint. Honestly, the entire time we were there I felt a little bit like country mouse visits city mouse. Dunedin is by no means small (~100,000 – 120,000 people), but compared to Melbourne’s 4 million… And having grown up in rural Minnesota, well, you get the idea.
Someday maybe I’ll visit Melbourne as a shopping only trip! A long weekend would be ideal…. *sigh, someday!*
To sum up: I’ve been to Melbourne 3 times now so I think I’ve got it thoroughly sussed out. I know Melbourne is not all of Australia, but as a tourist I think New Zealand has more to offer. Also, New Zealand isn’t nearly as expensive, and in general most of the sights are closer together. Of course, I’m not biased or anything… (Hah!) But Melbourne has a lot of what any huge, cosmopolitan city has to offer (restaurants, bars, shopping, a handful of historic tourist sights, lots of hipsters, etc.). Regardless, D & I had a great time catching up with friends, I made some very valuable professional contacts, and we saw some sights. Success!