Life as a Convict

Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
airport tourist village, melbourne
What I did
Penguin Parade Cowes
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Sunday, March 11, 2012

Arriving into Melbourne, our trip got off to a terrible start. We had tried so hard to book accommodation from Tasmania but didn't manage to get Internet connection once whilst we were there. Mainly because we spent all of our time in beautiful countryside but also because Tasmania is nowhere near as well connected as mainland Australia. 

We spent a fortune ringing hostels and budget hotels only to be told there was no availability time and time again. The only place with availability was a bit out of town and $125 per night which is way more than we wanted to spend. Therefore we decided to wait until we got into Melbourne and ask at the tourist information. This was completely unhelpful. The lady at the desk told us that Melbourne was very booked up because the grand prix is coming up soon and we subsequently found out that it was a public holiday weekend and there were two festivals on that weekend.... clearly we hadn't prepared ourselves.

Unhelpful woman: "We haven't got much available, what was your budget?"
Me: " As cheap as possible"
Unhelpful woman: "There are lots of backpackers in the city"
Me: "that would be great, we were keen on a backpackers place"
Unhelpful woman: "Yeah, they're all booked, the city is very busy"
Me: OK, so what do you have?
Unhelpful woman: there are lots of cheaper hotels but they're all booked too
Me: OK, so what DO you have???

Anyway, they didn't help us so we found ourselves forking out for the expensive hotel but at least we had somewhere to stay and it ended up being a good spot for us as we could easily walk right into the centre of Melbourne from where we were.

Melbourne is such a beautiful city both in the day and at night, full of amazing buildings ranging from English style buildings from the 1800's right up to seriously modern skyscrapers and artistic buildings. The city is full of art and sculptures particularly in the City centre and at night the city lights up and the Federation square is buzzing with activity and looks amazing. Plus there are hundreds of bars and restaurants of every type of cuisine but unfortunately we couldn't really fork out after paying so much for the hotel so we enjoyed a meal in Chinatown on a bit of a tight budget.

While exploring the city we caught the city circle tram which is a free service and takes you around the whole of the CBD before we went on to explore some of those areas by foot. The trams for the city circle service are really old and creeky but are pretty cool and quite iconic, you can imagine them running people around the city decades ago before all the modern high rises and art sculptures were lining the streets. Apparently the first tram system was powered by horses in the late 19th century. 

 We walked all over, past the parliament buildings, through Chinatown, down by the river and through parliament square. Then we paid a visit to the old Melbourne Gaol which is where a number of famous Victorian convicts were held and executed including the infamous gangster, Ned Kelly. The prison is still in pretty good condition so you can see the original cells and they have maintained the gallows and turned a number of the cells into mini museums so that you can learn about the prisoners, their crimes and their punishment (usually hanging). there's a fair amount of detail including the doctor's noted from the hanging as to how clean a death it was and several of the prisoner's death masks are on display.

After exploring the prison we were arrested and taken to the cells to see how the arresting and processing works for a new prisoner. Katy was arrested for violent and disorderly behaviour and banged up in a dark shared cell, they took any contraband, took a mugshot and locked her away... it was hilarious. Somehow I didn't find it as funny when I was arrested in a similar manner. It was interesting to see the process, and even to experience the cells for just a few minutes sucked! So uncomfortable, dark, smelly and you can only imagine the sort of people you'd have to share with. We're going to try to avoid jaywalking while we're here so we don't end up there. 

One of the big debates amongst people who have traveled to Australia is whether Melbourne is the better city or Sydney. In Sydney's corner is the beautiful harbour with the Sydney Opera house and the Sydney harbour bridge. Sydney-siders insist that there is nothing better than life around Sydney harbour with the amazing beaches and awesome beach/city lifestyle. I think for most international visitors, Sydney is the main city when they think of Australia.
Melbourne however has more of the culture, restaurants, bars and the city feels much bigger than Sydney in my opinion. Plus there is plenty of incredible coast nearby with the great ocean road, tons of sporting heritage and lots of wildlife within easy reach of the city.

For us, we absolutely loved Melbourne and want to definitely spend more time there and we felt it seemed the bigger and more major city. BUT, having spent so much time living on the Sydney harbour, it just can't be beaten! Plus Melbourne is missing that iconic building which Sydney has. 
 Sydney's skyline with the harbour bridge, glistening harbour, Opera house and iconic ferries tip the scales in Sydney's favour for us.

So for us, Sydney is the winner but Melbourne is very close second. And to give a fair opinion, we'd need to live in Melbourne for a few months... hmm, there's a good idea!
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charlene on

|Love the photos. It does look really beautiful and interesting but can't hold a candle to rugby :-) xxx

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