Surprise, I’m in 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!
View from the Eureka Skydeck, 285m over the city of Melbourne. The lift takes you up 88 floors in 38 seconds!
One of the more interesting mirror selfies I’ve taken in my time.
That pointy thing is Melbourne’s Arts Centre!
Posting my Mummy a post card from Australia’s highest postbox.
Feeling smiley in the sun!
The sheds of Victoria Street Market, home of The Night Market. (It looks dead cause I took this on my way out, after the market closed/ended.)
Sat listening to these amazingly talented guys for a good half hour. Go check them out on Instagram, they’re planning to release an EP soon.

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!

36 hours later…

I’m very happy to report that I have made it to Alice Springs!

Jane drove us through to Katherine in pretty much one go, save for a few hours between 1am and 6am when she stopped to let the horses have a walk about. I laid down for a kip in the cab of the truck and subsequently got eaten alive. (Don’t give me that look Karen, I swear I thought I had enough Mosi-Gard on!). Suffice to say, I’ve learned my lesson on that front, and the itching is a constant reminder of my errors. I have so much Stingoes on me, I look like I’ve bathed in the stuff!

Around 1pm on Monday, we finally pulled up at the transit station in Katherine. After thanks and goodbye, Jane went on her merry way.

I had until 5pm before I needed to get on the Greyhound bus to Alice Springs. Desperate for a shower and with no clean underwear left, I sought out the Backpackers Hostel in town and they kindly let me use their shower and laundry facilities. Fast forward a couple of hours and I was clean, dry, dressed, content and just waiting for the dryer to finish so I could be on my way.

Then it was the overnight Greyhound bus to Alice Springs. I fell asleep after a few episodes on Netflix and woke up in Alice Springs.

09:18 was the time. I knew that the coach for my excursion was leaving Alice any minute now, so I phoned up Tom the tour manager, who said they’d already left but if I could jump in a cab and get to the airport, they’d turn around and pick me up there. Cue me hotfooting it to the taxi rank with all my stuff and quite literally jumping into a taxi!

It all came together in the end, I rocked up at the airport and 5 minutes later, so did the Contiki bus, and that brings us up to now. I have another couple of hours on this coach before we get to today’s destination, so excuse me while I doze off again!

An update on my plans

Many of you will have heard me talking about my itinerary for this trip, and so many of you will be expecting me to head east pretty soon. But I’ve had a change of plan.

I felt that 2 beautiful coasts, plus a week in Alice Springs was too much to tackle in just 2 and a half months. When I leave Alice Springs I’ll have only three weeks before my flight home, and the last thing I want to do is rush any part of this experience. So, I’ve decided to come back West after Alice, and experience more of what WA has to offer. Even in the 5 weeks I’ve already been here, I know I haven’t seen even half of it!

As mentioned in my previous post, changes of arrangements during a big trip can be a little anxiety-inducing, but this is one decision that I’m 100% confident is the right one!

I have no clothes…

Day 1 of my Australian adventure and I think the locals have begun to notice that I’m wondering around in nothing but yesterday’s knickers…

Okay, so it’s not that bad, but at the time of writing I have nothing to wear but the clothes I wore on the 22 hour plane journey (and those need to see a washing machine before they see the light of day again).

I’ll add some context. The first leg of the flight was actually fairly pleasant – I got through two movies, 6 episodes of Brooklyn 99, a few chapters of my book and even managed to snooze on and off.

We arrived in Kuala Lumpur about 20 minutes behind schedule but thankfully our connecting flight was slightly delayed anyway.

Beth and I didn’t manage to get seats together this time and I ended up stuck between one guy on my right, who practically folded himself up so he was all knees and elbows sticking out everywhere, and another on my left who thought it a good idea to spread himself and his belongings as wide as possible. Now, I know I’m not huge, but I like my personal space.

Fast forward 6 hours and I’ve moved seats, had some grub, watched another film and we’re coming into land at Perth International Airport, 20 minutes early!

Since all had gone well up to this point, there was bound to be a snag at Perth airport. As we stood waiting for our checked luggage, we got increasingly nervous when the conveyor belt was on its third rotation and our bags were still MIA. Finally, the belt stopped and we were told that if our baggage wasn’t there, we were to file a report with the baggage services desk. This took us about another hour and we didn’t leave the airport until 3am local time!

In all the faff I’d almost forgotten where I was, until I stepped out of the terminal and into the warmth of the night. I was hit by this amazing smell, very sweet and very clean. It certainly didn’t smell like England! Suddenly the feeling of surreality set in and I became a bit overwhelmed… I am actually in Australia. For real. Fortunately this also came with a bizarre sense of calm, which I reckon bodes well for the rest of my time here..!

We’ve been told our bags should be delivered to where we’re staying on Wednesday, so keep your fingers crossed for me that I can have my clothes back and poor Beth can stop lending me hers!

26735759_2202581676441142_1531429338_o
Last bit of excitement before heading to bed; watching the sun rising over the Swan River.