After spring break, I only had the funds and the time for one last excursion away from Sydney, and I chose to go to Melbourne for a week before finals began.
My friends and I took a Firefly bus from Central station, and we arrived in Melbourne 12 hours later, at 7 am. Although Melbourne is supposed to be chillier than Sydney, it was quite warm all day while we explored the harbor and the CBD. Melbourne offers a free tourist tram that stops at major sites, and we took advantage of this luxury which we had never before had in Australia. We had come during the week of the Melbourne Cup, which is the largest meeting of any horse race in the world. Somehow, we had managed to book a hostel that was right next to the Queen Victoria Market, a daily arrangement of items for sale ranging from fruit to food, tapestries to shoes and clothing, and even live chickens and other types of birds. By this point in my trip I had become accustomed to every major site being named after a British monarch or a member of the royal family, with George and Victoria being the most popular street, building, and market names. These first couple days we explored the graffiti galleries, the Central station, a new mall built to surround a historic building, and also did some shopping. We wished that we had studied abroad in Melbourne because it is slightly more affordable, but its night life is not as exciting as it is in Sydney. This city is very walkable and easy to navigate, and it has a strong culture evident in the behavior of its inhabitants and also in its architecture.
When more of our friends arrived in Melbourne, we were crammed into an 8-person room at our hostel, and we all escaped in a rented van which we drove to the Great Ocean Road. This highway is famous for its scenery and also a sight called the 12 Apostles, however once we entered the route we realized there were several other beautiful sights along the way, situated right along the arctic water. my favorite part of the trip was a beach at the end of a national park where we all took off our shoes and ran across the shoreline, through a channel when the water inside of it receded, and to a cave. We all felt so free and euphoric after the long car ride, and we put our feet in the water, which was surprisingly warm for being situated right above Antarctica. The trip was affordable and one of the most memorable of my time in Australia, but the pictures convey much more meaning than any words that I could type.
The last days we spent in Melbourne, we went to the World War 2 memorial. We were there 2 weeks early; on November 11th of every year to celebrate the timing of the end of WWII, the sun shines in such a way that the writing on the sculpture which reads “Greater Love Hath No Man” is illuminated at 11: 11 in the morning. Since it was only later October, we were not able to see this spectacle.
We also ventured to the top of the Eureka Tower, which is the highest tourist lookout in Australia (even higher than the Westfield Tower in Sydney). While it was a steep price, it was still a fantastic view of Melbourne and a great way to end our trip. The final day of the trip, we took a look at the exhibits in the Melbourne museum. It was a great museum, and we ended our final day by meeting up with one of my friends from camp who was studying abroad in Melbourne. I was sad to leave this amazing city, but I hope to be back there soon.