Travel Journal: Part 16 (Melbourne, Australia)

This journal was written as a physical diary by me during my gap year. I am typing this up to share my gap year experience. At the beginning of travels I was 22. I travelled with a friend (Kieren) and anybody else involved will be introduced during the journal. For more details, check here.

To spend a year in Australia, we got working holiday visas. These allow up to 1 year of travel and work in Australia. Find more information here.

Check out the previous instalment here.

The Melbourne portion of the journal doesn’t always go day-by-day because I got a job to save up for future travels so I neglected the journal a bit. There will likely be less photos (sorry!).

8th February – 11th February 2018

I spent most of this time working, but I’m trying to get as many hours as I can at the moment. We’ve decided that we’re finally leaving Melbourne on 20th February to travel around for a month. I’m excited!

12th February 2018

I had a lovely day off! Kieren and I headed to St Kilda where we spent a few hours on the beach. We stayed until 7.30pm then went to Abbey Road restaurant on Acland Street. I got a lovely steak! We then went to a pretty bar called Vineyard where I had a nice glass of wine. Then we went to one of the many cake shops. I got chocolate mousse and a beautiful chocolate macaron.

(a) Sunset at St Kilda Beach. (b) Dinner at Abbey Road Restaurant.

13th February 2018

Happy Pancake Day! I had crepes at a cute French cafe on Degraves Street.

(a) Savoury pancake with ham, mushrooms and cheese. (b) Crepes with strawberries, strawberry sauce and chocolate sauce.

14th February 2018

Happy Valentine’s Day! Unfortunately, I spent the day at work (where obviously all the tables were couples!).

I also found out that I got a PhD position at The University of Birmingham starting October 2018. I’m so happy about this because it means that I start as soon as I return from my travels!

15th February 2018

Today, Kieren and I did a 1-day trip to Phillip Island tour with Wildlife Tours.

“Go to Australia, they said. It’ll be warm, they said”

Stop 1 – Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Centre

This place had lots of Australian animals (wallabies, kangaroos, koalas, emus and dingoes). The kangaroo/wallaby section was the beest because you could just walk through and feed them. We fed a few kangaroos and there was even an albino wallaby! Adorable!

(a) + (b) Albino wallaby at Moonlit Sanctuary. (c) + (d) Feeding the kangaroos.

Stop 2 – Phillip Island Chocolate Factory

We got to sample some lovely chocolate and try out some chocolate shots.

Stop 3 – Antarctic Centre, Phillip Island

Outside this centre was amazing with views of the ocean and cool rock formations. There were also some penguins beneath the boardwalk or in these cute little penguin huts!

(a) Views from the Antarctic Centre, Phillip Island. (b) Phillip Island Chocolate Factory. (c) Wild penguins beneath the boardwalk.

Stop 4 – Penguin Parade

We headed to the beach at sunset to see the penguins come home. Groups of penguins emerged from the sea and waddled up the beach. Some would get scared of birds and run back, and the others would follow. It was amazing to watch! After this, we wandered back up the boardwalk and there were penguins everywhere!

16th February – 17th February 2018

I worked all day Friday and Saturday. On Saturday, it was White Night in the CBD. This is an all-night event (until 7am) with art installations and performances throughout the city.

Straight after work I went for drinks at Joint Bar, Elizabeth Street with James and Mart*. Kieren joined us and we stayed for a few hours. After James and Mart left, Kieren and I wandered around the city to see what was going on. There were different performances on each street, such as a catwalk at Bourke Street Mall, and most of the building were lit up with incredible art. My favourite part was the State Library, which had a lot of interactive art.

(a) Drinks with James and Mart. (b) State Library lit up for White Night. (c) Catwalk at Bourke Street Mall. (d) White Night 2018 leaflet. (e) Street performances. (f) White Night 2018 leaflet. (g) State Library lit up for White Night. (h) Drinks with James and Mart.

We then headed to Alexandra Gardens where there was a lot of 3D art installations. The entire night was magical! We didn’t get home until 7am.

(a) + (b) Art installations at Alexandra Gardens.

*friends from work.

18th February 2018

Today is my last day working at Renzo’s! Gus (the pizza chef) made me the best pizza for lunch – 4 cheese, prosciutto, rocket, porcini mushrooms, roasted capsicum and bocconcini*.

For the evening pizza selection, he made my absolute favourites. Norcina (spicy sausage and mascarpone); pesto, capsicum and goats cheese; and a Nutella pizza with strawberries and vanilla ice cream for dessert. I’m definitely going to miss this food but it felt amazing to sign out for the last time!

I am so thankful for the job I had here though. It’s a family business, which I really liked, and I felt like I made somewhat of a difference while I was there. I met great people and ate a lot of incredible food! I’ll definitely never forget this place, or the people.

*During long shifts at work, we were allowed a pizza on our lunch break, and in the evening we were normally made a selection of pizzas to share between all the staff. I was Gus’s favourite so he always made me the best pizzas even though Renzo always told him off for ‘using all the best ingredients’. Sometimes James would ask for the same pizza as he made me and Gus would say that he wasn’t allowed to make staff that pizza even though I was sitting there eating mine at the time.

19th February 2018

Today is our last full day in Melbourne!

We started off the day doing some boring tasks that needed to be done. We finally sorted out Medicare, and did some packing and cleaning of the apartment.

I also counted my tip jar* and it was so much more than I was expecting! $1285! Kieren counted his busking jar and there was $450 worth of coins! This had to be put into his account in 2 transactions because there was a 2kg limit on coins!

We decided to go to Renzo’s for dinner to say goodbye to everyone one last time, and try out all the things on the menu that I never got the chance to try. To start, we shared the Bruschetta con bocconcini and mussels. I had the lamb (incredible) and Kieren ordered the barramundi. We shared a vanilla panna cotta for dessert, then I ordered a couple of tiramisu martinis. Renzo even gave us a $50 discount!

Mussels, bruschetta con bocconcini and gnocchi gorgonzola.

Afterwards, we met up with Fiona** to go for shisha and a drink before heading home. The last night in our lovely double bed!

*I kept a tip jar, which I started once we moved into the apartment. I put all my tips in this and never spent any of them.

**Kieren’s boss from his other job at All Smiles.

Melbourne

As this is my last day in Melbourne, I just wanted to highlight a few of my favourite things about it.

  • It’s a lovely big city but never felt too busy
  • It’s so easy to get to the beach on the tram from the city
  • So many incredible independent cafes and restaurants
  • The best coffee
  • I lived so close to work that I could go in the hot tub in my apartment building on my breaks from work
  • Finishing work then going for drinks at All Smiles (where Kieren worked) or out with friends from work
  • The food at work (Renzo’s Italian, Docklands)!
  • The Royal Botanic Gardens
  • There’s always some event going on (a lot of sporting events) and White Night was my absolute favourite!
  • There are so many trips around Victoria that are easy to access from Melbourne (see a summary of my top spots around Victoria here in the Melbourne section).

I’m really going to miss this place – it was such a lovely city to live and work in, I made great friends at work and I lived in a beautiful apartment. Now, onto New Zealand!

Check out the next instalment here (available 5th April 9am GMT).

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