So, remember when I arrived in Perth 9 weeks ago and the airline had left my luggage in Malaysia? Well, it happened again. Welcome to the fail that is my life!
I made my way to Melbourne Tullamarine airport on Tuesday morning, and admittedly I was cutting it a bit fine for check in. That said, I wasn’t late – just last minute!
So I dropped my bag off, all fine, and hotfooted it to the boarding gate, arriving a mere moment before they opened for boarding.
The flight was smooth and easy, they’d moved me to the emergency exit row due to a lack of passengers there, which meant extra leg room for me!
I landed in Sydney, and went to grab my rucksack off the carousel. Slowly but surely, the crowds dissipated, and he bags on the conveyor belt got fewer and further between, but no sign of mine. *sigh*
The lovely lady at the service desk, Yasmin, checked with the ground crew to see if it had fallen off the outside carousel, and then phoned Melbourne to see if they had it. They did. Somehow, my bag hadn’t quite made it onto the plane!
Thankfully, they rushed it onto the next flight and it was delivered to my hostel the next morning. AND by a twist fate, when I’d put the booze from the wine tour in my bag, I’d taken out a few clothes and shoved them in my hand bag to make room – so I even had a change of clothes while I waited for my luggage.
Get your shit together Australia, you’ve been amazing but you are not good at handling luggage!
I woke up feeling dreadful, and within minutes of drinking a large glass of water, thinking it would make me feel better, I threw up.
My first thought was that I must be hungover from the day before – but even this seemed odd, because I didn’t think I’d drunk enough to warrant this reaction. Nevertheless, I went back to bed to sleep it off. I was actually meant to be checking out this morning as well, so that was an added complication.
My bed was booked out for that night so come 10am, I had to pack my stuff and vacate the room. Shoutout to Nicole for letting me sleep in her bed for most of the day!
Long story short, the vomming didn’t stop all day and I decided to go to the doctor and get a certificate, so I could change my flight and claim the money back on the insurance. He also prescribed me some antisickness tablets so I could actually drink some water and have it stay in my system; I was well on my way to dehydration by this stage.
Unfortunately, while waiting in the Pharmacy, I went again. The poor staff member looked a bit shocked when I interrupted her conversation to say “I need a bag, I’m gonna be sick!”. The staff were very sweet and professional, and one of them showed me to the staff bathroom so I could wash up. Thank you nice lady from Priceline!
I checked back into a different room at the hostel for the night and got straight into bed, where I slept from about 6pm until the next morning. Thankfully, I woke up feeling much better (if a little weak and weary from not having eaten anything the day before) and jumped on a plane to Sydney… that comes with its own story though!
What better way to spend my last day in Melbourne than touring the Yarra Valley tasting wines?
It was another early start, catching the bus at 7:45, and heading first to the ‘Gateway Estate’. Here, we were shown around the indoor Capsicum farm (a capsicum is a bell pepper, who knew!), where the owner told us about the growing and farming process, which sounds dull but was actually super interesting! However, the tasting was a lil more exciting! Three types of strawberry liquor, strawberry jam, capsicum chutney – not bad for a first stop!
Throughout the day we visited the Napoleon cider-house and brewery, the Killara winery, Punt Road winery and the Yarra Valley chocolate factory and ice creamery.
At Killara, we had the most delicious provided lunch. Italian tapas to start, which honestly could’ve filled me up by itself! Followed by a choice of Pizza, Pumpkin Salad, Gnocci or Tortoloni for mains. I went for the Gnocci but did a classic switcheroo with one of the people in a little group of 5 of us who were the same age, so he had some of mine and I got some of his pasta. It was all bloody delicious!
The Great Ocean Road is a famed must-see here on the South coast. Without the time or the means to go and roadtrip it on my own, I visited a Backpackers Travel Shop down the road from my hostel and booked a day trip to go and see the main sites.
Having slept until 8:30/9:00 most mornings since I’ve been here, it was a slight shock to the system having a 6am alarm, but was definitely worth it. The tour I took was actually referred to as the great ocean road ‘in reverse’; most tours start at the Melbourne end, stopping at various places and then making the long trip back in one go. We did the opposite – drove all the way out to the end and then stopped at the sights on the way back. One of the main advantages of this was that it was much less busy everywhere, as we got to places at different times to all the other tours that go out.
The first place we stopped was Port Campbell, a little seaside town where I met a lovely lady who runs a souvenir shop called ‘Spence’. It wasn’t your average tacky souvenirs though, but unique products designed by herself, her daughter, and other local artists.
The main attractions we saw throughout the day were the Loch Ard Gorge, The Twelve Apostles, The Otway Rainforest and Kennett River.
The coast that the GOR runs along is split into two sections; the Shipwreck Coast and the Surf Coast. The latter is named for obvious reasons; the former is named for its notorious history of ships running aground. These ships include the Loch Ard, which was coming in from Scotland in 1878. When a thick fog came down, the captain was unable to see how close they were to land, and they ran aground on a reef. There were only two survivors; a young boy who swam to shore, and a young girl named Eva Carmichael. The boy heard Eva’s cries and went back out to rescue her. They came ashore at what is now known as Loch Ard Gorge, later named to commemorate those who had died in the wreck.
Next, we saw the Twelve Apostles… of which only eight are left! There actually was only ever nine apostles, and I don’t think anyone’s quite sure why they’re named the Twelve Apostles. They used to be referred to as Sow and Piglets, but this was changed to something more appealing when the site became more popular with tourists. The Apostles are a collection of sandstone stacks, caused by the erosion of the cliff face. The ninth apostle collapsed in 1990 and eventually, the other will as well, as the sea erodes away the sandstone over time.
After this point, the Great Ocean Road goes slightly inland and cuts through the Otway Rainforest. This was a particularly cool part of the trip, probably because a rainforest just isn’t what you think of when you think of Australia! Our tour guide took us on a walk at a point called Mait’s Rest, and talked about the wildlife and the symbiotic nature of the rainforest, where none of the plants can really survive without the others. His explanation made me nerd out and go ‘argh, nature is so cool!’.
In Kennett River, the idea was to see Koalas in the wild, but I only managed to see one, way high up in a tree. Which seems unfair when you find out that someone else in the group saw one on the ground right in front of her! I did get plenty of attention from the wild birds though!
We finished the day with pizza and drove back to Melbourne.
Look. I know I said I wasn’t coming to the East, but after the clustertruck with the car, I reserve the right to change any and all subsequent plans!
After the Contiki Tour, I flew from Alice Springs to Melbourne. It feels pretty weird to be back in a big city, having spent a few weeks in the outback. Add to that the fact that I hadn’t planned any of my movements post-flight and the first half hour or so of my time here was a little overwhelming..! But I soon found my way onto a bus and into a hostel.
I’m staying at Flinders Backpackers, right in the CBD (which means Central Business District, as I learned a couple of days ago, despite having been in this country for two months!). Tired from travelling, I aimed to get an early night my first night here, but I ended up acquainting myself with two of my dorm-mates and going for a walk with them. Nicole from Glasgow and Tom from Cambridge met in Sydney and then came down to Melbourne together, and since I arrived they’ve taken me under their wings also. Tom came home to bed but Nicole and I stayed out wandering the town until past 11…oops!
The last couple of days have consisted of about 50% sleeping and 50% sightseeing. For some reason, I’ve been feeling very fatigued over the last few days, which I’m not at all happy about. This is something I struggled with back home but, save for the jet lag, haven’t experienced while I’ve been out here. I seem to be slipping into a routine of getting up around 8:30 for the free breakfast at the hostel, going back to sleep for a morning nap, waking up around lunchtime and then spending the afternoon sightseeing. Not ideal, but I wouldn’t say I’ve not made the most of the time I have been awake!
In the three days I’ve been here, I have:
Explored Bourke Street Mall (including the biggest bloody H&M I’ve seen in my life!).
Been up to the Eureka Skydeck to see the city from the 88th Floor.
Visited the Immigration Museum, which was immensely interesting and thought provoking.
Spent the evening at the Victoria Street Night Market, upon entering which, my first thought was ‘This is like Covent Garden, but better!’
Lit a candle in St Paul’s Cathedral (yes, they’ve got one here as well).
Been to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), a museum all about the history of film, TV and video games, including a whole tonne of interactive areas.
Had a mooch around the National Gallery, Victoria.
Visited the Eureka Skydeck again at sunset.
And done a whole lotta exploring the city on foot!
I’m loving Melbourne; it’s been voted the world’s most liveable city something like 8 years in a row, and is dubbed the cultural hub of Australia. There’s something about the gentle hubbub of Melbourne, combined with some beautiful architecture in amongst the skyscrapers that make it feel homely rather than overwhelming.
All that being said, I am wanting to explore further afield while I’m here on the south coast, so this afternoon I went to a Backpackers travel shop and booked myself onto a couple of day trips over the weekend; on Saturday I’ll be taking on the famous Great Ocean Road, seeing the likes of the 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge and the Otway Rainforest, and on Monday I’m off to the Yarra Valley Wine Region for a day of wine and cheese tasting – yes, please!
After what I think will be a much needed lie in Tuesday, after all the wine, I’m catching a late-afternoon flight to Sydney, where the adventure continues! Of course, I will let you know in detail how all of this pans out, but for now, I’m going to sleep!