My second week in Melbourne saw me exploring more of the city itself. Monday was a very hot day which a couple of light showers in between, so I decided on a day to relax a bit and let myself recharge. I was also getting confused because I STILL hadn’t felt jet lagged in any way besides waking up slightly earlier, I definitely didn’t want it to hit at some later point!
After a great dinner with my roommate, I went for an evening stroll to a part of the city I was saving for the perfect time. The Southbank is where the Art Precinct is, which is home to many theatres, galleries, arts spaces, hotels and more. Those who know me will know how much I love the performing arts, and so I had high expectations for this area. I have to say, I was not disappointed, it exceeded anything I could have imagined. I walked across the beautiful bridges over the Yarra River to see the glorious skyline of the city’s skyscrapers to the right, while to the left there’s a vast choice of bars and restaurants which leads up to various sculptures and statues. A favourite was on Sandridge Bridge, a series of sculptures titled The Travellers (a fitting name, no?). These huge steel figures represent the various people and countries of those who now live in Australia and where they came from. One particular figure shows a couple running towards the city, this particular image represents the refugees seeking safety in Australia. A poignant and relevant idea which reminds us to help those in need as we have done in the past.
I then arrived at the Crown Complex just in time to see the fire display. Now, this might sound strange and it’s quite hard to explain, but there’s several huge concrete towers lined up along the river and on the hour at night (given the correct weather conditions) they emit great blasts of fire of which the heat can be felt from the ground far below. It made for a very entertaining few minutes, it attracted a large and wowed crowd, definitely an idea that seemed pretty unique.
After a week in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, I moved on to stay with my hosts in the district of Prahran, which is around a 45 minute walk from the CBD. Their beautiful apartment has stunning views of the city, and it was nice to appreciate the view rather than be bang in the middle of it unable to admire the city’s buildings. The same day was also my host’s birthday, so we celebrated by enjoying a fantastic barbecue in true Aussie style. The next day we were greeted with staggering heat as the day reached a whopping 44 degrees. It was a day that was definitely well spent, as we took the opportunity to head down to Brighton Beach and enjoy the cool breeze and waters. Again, even here you get the most amazing views of the city, something I know I keep mentioning but just look at it! Who could get bored of that?!
Brighton Beach & view of CBD
National Gallery of Victoria
Later in the week I enjoyed indulging myself in the Arts Precinct once again, and took the time to go to the National Gallery of Victoria. Here they have possibly the best exhibition I’ve ever been to, I was in there for at least 4 hours enjoying what was on offer in their main attraction: a mix of works by Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei. The themes touched on each of their homelands and the perspective they had of the others, their place in society and their background stories. It was truly a remarkable, interactive and thought provoking exhibition. I am so glad I was able to have the time to really understand it all, it’s definitely one I won’t be forgetting in a hurry. At the end of it all there’s even an interactive children’s area, where they too can learn about each artist in a more relatable way. I myself managed to nab a go in the photo booth so now have my own Warhol inspired collage!
Shrine of Remembrance
I continued my exploration of Melbourne with another day of walking. This time I went to the Shrine of Remembrance, a beautiful structure placed high on a hill with dramatic steps leading up to it. They don’t allow photos inside, but once in the sanctuary it’s like being inside a tranquil pyramid with just a single beam of light illuminating a marble block. You then follow the dim stairs up to the balcony to marvel at the views of the gardens and city ahead. It’s hard to draw yourself away from such spectacular scenery, but eventually I made my way down to the crypt which hosts a calm burrow of pictures, items and information from the wars, and remind visitors of the meaning of the building. It’s easy to feel moved in the shrine, I certainly felt humbled by being there.
Shrine of Remembrance
The remainder of the day was spent walking through the Botanical Gardens, the Kings Domain admiring the various statues and artworks, and the Queen Victoria Gardens. I enjoyed reflecting on my time in Melbourne, trying to take in all the scenery surrounding me. As for such a modern city there is still so much open and fresh space to enjoy time away from the hustle and bustle of the central area.
To take advantage of staying a little further from the CBD, I took the opportunity to spend a day in the seaside-y town of St Kilda. The area is popular with backpackers, and is home to the creepy but memorable Luna Park, the (under construction) Palais Theatre and the hip shops of Acland Street. I roamed the very windy beach all the way along the pier to the Kiosk where many visitors to Australia would first be welcomed to shore many years ago. One thing I’ve noticed about Melbourne is that you don’t have to wander far to find some piece of history being displayed, they’re clearly very proud of their city and their place in Australia’s past.
During my time in Melbourne it’s fair to say I’ve covered as much as I possibly can in 2 weeks, but it’s not nearly enough. There are whole nuggets of joy just waiting to be explored, and I most certainly hope I’ll get round to visiting them one day. I hate to say it but I’ve absolutely fallen in love with this city. It all seemed to click when I went to walk along the Southbank, and the view of the skyscrapers just made me feel like I’d conquered the world. It’s a city that is welcoming and homely, and a perfect place for a first backpacking destination. Now I’m about to leave and I wish I wasn’t, but there’s exciting things to come I’m sure. Goodbye Melbourne, you’ve taught me so much about how I can handle doing a whole two weeks of exploring all by myself and for my first place to visit I am so glad it was as welcoming and beautiful as you.
Have you visited Melbourne? What did you enjoy about the city? Let me know!