Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
Trip End May 21, 2011

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Sunday, November 21, 2010

From New Zealand, we flew directly into Sydney, waited for a couple of hours, and then flew to Melbourne. Arriving late in a new destination is never a good thing. We walked in the dark in a strange city with our heavy bags, which we hadn't carried in 4 weeks because of our lovely campervan, in an attempt to find the hostel we had booked. After several frustrating wrong turns and back-tracks, accompanied by aching shoulders and copious amounts of sweat, we found our hostel- The Vic. They define it as a 'flashpacker’ hostel which means it is a bit more upmarket than the usual backpackers. And indeed it was. There was a gym, a mini cinema, hot drinks stations on each floor and flat screen tv’s in each room. It was like being in a good hotel which was a great treat after 4 weeks in a campervan!

Through our explorations over the next few days we discovered that we really liked Melbourne and felt that it was one of the best cities we had ever visited. It is hard to define why exactly- I think the huge skyscrapers next to Victorian buildings, the huge park next to the river, the different areas which have their own distinctive character, like Chinatown and Brunswick St, and the vast range of interesting museums to visit and places to eat make it an exciting and vibrant place with a big personality. We visited the excellent ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) which charted the history of the moving image in Australia and had fascinating interactive activities that kept us absorbed for hours. We also went to the Immigration museum which was extremely interesting and formed a great start to our Oz travels as we learnt a lot about its recent history. Another place we really enjoyed was the Old Melbourne Gaol which had lots of moving stories and the gallows where the infamous Ned Kelly was hung. After looking round the gaol we went to the old police house and pretend we were prisoners. We were locked in a cell at one point and even though it was just for a few minutes it was a relief to leave.

On our last day in Melbourne we took one of the iconic trams to St Kilda and relaxed by the sea front. We had read that Ackland St was famous for its cake shops so we thought that we had to try the cakes in order to fully experience this area. After a stressful and over-long decision-making session, we made our choices and savoured each mouthful whilst quietly regretting not having made another choice.....

Following the advice of a local guy who works at the hostel, we went to a nearby family-run cinema and watched ‘The Town’. It was possibly the smallest cinema we had been in with only about 25 seats in the room. Cosy. It was an interesting film too which stopped Paul from viewing Ben Affleck as a cheesy actor.

Unfortunately, a chunk of our time in Melbourne was swallowed up by trying to arrange transport and accommodation for the Great Ocean Road adventure we had planned. It proved to be a tricky experience as the campervans were booked up and many of the cars were very pricey. Eventually we found something but it was a lesson that we were travelling now in a busy tourist season and needed to be organised. Gone were the easy days of turning up in a new place and having the pick of the hostels. Sigh.

When we picked up our car, we simply had to drive in slow traffic in the pouring rain to Ramsey Street. It just had to be done. It was pretty cool to see something which is on the other side of the world but oddly familiar. We could picture Harold Bishop walking down the drive to get his morning paper and say hello to Dr Carl. Yet it wasn’t long until we felt that taking pictures of stranger’s houses was a bit wrong, and could easily be misread by a neighbourhood-watch member, so we left and entered the slow crawl out of the city.

IIf you put the following link into your browser then you can see a small clip from our time in the ACMI:
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Yvonne Butwell on

Just came home from a visit in Melbourne and also went to "Ramsay Street" in Wantirna.....just around the corner from Tony's son's house. Also took photos. Not what I expected, but it was quiet and just another surburban street.

Love reading about your travels.


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