From the moment you start planning a visit to Australia, you know it’s going to be an adventure. Mine happened in Melbourne, the world’s most liveable city. It was exciting from the moment we started looking at places to stay. Hotel Club Melbourne is a good place to start your search, especially if you want to be close to the action, but we decided on the enticingly-named Wonga Park, a picturesque suburb on the edge of the city.
After our first sleepless night of lingering jet lag we arose at Wonga Park to a symphony of Magpies and Kookaburras, such a beautiful sound that you shouldn’t leave Oz before hearing. But whilst we could hear these harmonies, it’s not always easy to spot the birds amongst the gum trees. So we headed to Healesville Sanctuary in the Yarra Valley to admire Australia’s most beautiful creatures.
At the sanctuary we were greeted by a most alert Emu, a striking bird that you’d be unwise to cross. Throughout the day we saw koalas, Tasmanian devils, mischievous platypuses, huge flying foxes and of course the kookaburra performed her song, right on cue. And as if the day hadn’t been awesome enough, I also had the opportunity to feed a hungry harem of female kangaroos; a typically touristy activity that left me bouncing.
Healesville is ideal if you want to see Australia’s native animals in a relatively natural environment. It’s different from a zoo in that you’ll feel closer to the animals in a more natural habitat. The journey alone is worth a trip, offering views of the aromatic Yarra vineyards and you may even spot Kangeroos in the wild, they’re not a rare sight!
Aside from the beautiful wildlife that surrounds the city, another must in Melbourne is a tour of the sporting venues. Walking into Melbourne we passed the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Rod Laver Arena where the Australian Tennis Open is held and Aami Park where the rugby teams and Collingwood football team play. I’d definitely recommend catching a game whilst in Melbourne. The Australian football is great for the crazy pace of play and the entertainment provided by the goal referees.
For action off the pitch we headed to Federation Square; the bustling centre of Melbourne. Here we found everything from musical performances to get-involved cycling challenges and from food and drink to galleries and exhibitions. One exhibition that I particularly loved was the ‘Art of the Brick’ Lego exhibition. Here we moved between incredibly impactful and thought provoking statues that, from a distance, seemed to represent one concept but, when viewed up close, became a collection of concepts. I could have spent hours here with Nathan Sawaya’s creations but the buzz of Fed Square was beckoning.
Whilst the excitement and pace of Fed Square is infectious, in just a short walk down the Anzac road we came to the Shrine of Remembrance, a place of calm and reflection. The shrine is a moving experience that reflects the courage and endurance that ANZAC (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) is about.
So we’ve seen Melbourne’s buzz, we’ve seen her serenity, what about chic Melbourne? St. Kilder is where it’s at for cafes, bars, boutiques and Sunday craft markets. There’s a jazzy vibe about St. Kilder and I loved it. Sitting at the street side restaurants we digested the atmosphere before admiring the craft stalls. And as I had come to expect from Melbourne, these weren’t your regular craft stalls. Every tent was pegged with quirky, cool and beautifully quaint knick-knacks in true Australian style. The craft market, above the board walk is well worth a trip for trinkets to take home and to remember Melbourne -not that you’d ever forget it of course!