Wow it’s been ages since I’ve posted on here! The last few months have been a whirlwind with so much happening and a lot of change. As I posted back in November, my boyfriend Will and I had heaps of adventure packed into a couple months. We went to Bali, bought a car and road tripped through the Australian Outback, went up to the Gold Coast for Christmas and New Year, and spent some time exploring the Queensland and New South Wales coasts before heading back home to Melbourne. Since my Australian working holiday visa ended back in November, I was on a tourist visa when we came back into the country after Bali. And since tourist visas in Australia only last three months, in mid-February it was time for me to pack my bags again and head to a different country.
It’s been a while since my last post, and I have so many cool places to write about! Since my last blog I took a trip to Bali and then did an epic Australian road trip from Darwin down to Adelaide, back to Melbourne and then up to the Gold Coast.
But before I get into all those posts, I wanted to stick with my end-of-the-year tradition of recapping some of the best places I visited over the course of this past year! There were a couple that I revisited from last year, but most of them were completely new adventures for me in 2016.
One of the great things about living in Melbourne is how much there is to do outside city limits. For anyone who likes nature and adventure, one place they’ve probably been to is the 1000 Steps. The Steps are in the Dandenong Mountain range to the east of Melbourne. Like the name suggests, the 1000 Steps is literally 1000 steps! They’re in the middle of nature and it feels as if you’re walking through a rainforest as you make the trek up. The walk is beautiful and there’s nothing like that feeling of accomplishment when you reach the top! It is pretty exhausting, but after doing it twice, I can confirm that you do feel really good afterwards. Along with the steps themselves, there are a bunch of different hiking trails you can do. There are some lookout points and cool monuments along the way as well.
It’s hard to sell the Steps with words alone, so check out these pictures to see how amazing it is.
About a year ago exactly, I packed up my things and boarded a one-way flight from Boston to Australia. I had the best year of my life living and working here, making amazing friends, and having lots of adventures. I wish I could stay longer, but unfortunately my working holiday visa only lasts for a year. So it’s time for me to say goodbye to Melbourne and head off on my next adventure.
And before you ask, even though I’m leaving Melbourne, no I am not going back to the USA! I won’t be returning to the USA for quite a while actually. I am having too much fun living abroad and travelling to stop anytime soon.
Sydney is full of beautiful beaches, a good food scene, and endless things to do. But one of the best things you can do on a visit to Sydney is get out of the city and see more of country New South Wales. Probably the most popular day trip out of Sydney is to the Blue Mountains that are about 100km west of the city. Hop on the train to Katoomba out of Central Station and in two hours, you will be in the heart of the Blue Mountains!
If you don’t live in Australia, you may not know much about the Blue Mountains. Hard to see why they aren’t more world famous as it’s the second biggest canyon in the world! While it isn’t quite as deep as the Grand Canyon, it’s both wider and longer. And if you’re wondering about the name, yes the mountains do look blue from a distance. It has something to do with oil from eucalyptus trees in the national park that give the mountains their colour. And if you didn’t think the Sydney area got snow, you obviously haven’t been to the Blue Mountains in winter! They get a few snowfalls a year in many parts of the national park.
Footscray is one of those Melbourne neighbourhoods I’ve heard a lot about but never visited until recently. Even though it’s a popular area, I guess it never seemed as if there was as much to do there in comparison to areas like Fitzroy, St Kilda, South Yarra, etc. Once I visited though, I realised it has a completely different vibe to the other areas of the city I’ve been in. The first thing you notice when you get off the train there is the huge Vietnamese influence throughout the neighbourhood. It has a totally different feel to Chinatown in the city. Other than the obvious fact that it’s Vietnamese rather than Chinese, it has a really authentic feel to it, as if you are actually walking through the streets of Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi. There are also some cool things to do, and it’s a great place to visit for a day out of the city centre.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the escape room trend that’s been taking the world by storm for the past year. Basically, you and some friends get locked in a room and have to solve a series of clues and puzzles in order to get out in a set amount of time. Sounds scary to some people, but if you love puzzles and adventure like me, it’s one of the best experiences you can have!
I did my first escape room in Boston about a year and a half ago. And ever since arriving in Melbourne, I’ve been dying to try some of the escape rooms here as well! There are too many escape rooms to count around the city, but the most well-known is definitely Trapt. What makes Trapt different from most escape rooms is that it also doubles as a cool cocktail bar! They even have themed cocktails for the different escape rooms: Biohazard, Prisonbreak, Espionage, and the one my group did, Wonderland.
Melburnians are lucky because we have so many places to explore right on our doorstep. There’s the Great Ocean Road, Yarra Valley wine region, several mountain ranges, and the one that I visited most recently: the Mornington Peninsula. Ever since arriving in Melbourne last December, I’ve heard and read about how incredible the Mornington is. Then when Melbourne had a long weekend recently (for the football finals I should point out!), I jumped at the chance to finally explore all the peninsula has to offer! Being about an hour from the city, the Mornington Peninsula is a pretty perfect place to visit for a break from city life. It has so much going on and really combines all the best elements of other regions surrounding Melbourne! It has beautiful beaches and coastline, too many wineries and breweries to count, amazing hikes, incredible views, and restaurants that are a foodie’s dream.
In order to visit the Mornington Peninsula, you can book a tour out of the city or take the train down to Frankston and buses from there. But definitely the best way to experience all that the peninsula has to offer is to hire a car for a couple days! My boyfriend and I reserved a cool sporty car from a new car sharing website called Car Next Door, and made the quick drive down to the peninsula! I’d definitely recommend using Car Next Door and you can check out their website here. Once you’re there, there is also so much variety for accommodation depending on your budget. There are luxury resorts, backpacker hostels, charming little hotels, and Airbnbs. And no matter your travelling style, there will definitely be something on the peninsula for you!
You may have seen on social media but Melbourne, Australia was recently ranked the most liveable city in the world for the sixth year in a row. Overseas Melbourne seems to be pretty under the radar, definitely less popular than its rival to the north, Sydney. But to anyone who has spent some time living in Melbourne, it’s obvious that it’s an amazing city to call home. So many different elements combine to make it the world’s most liveable city. While there are less tourist attractions compared to some other places, the unique culture is what makes Melbourne so special. It probably has the best food, drink, and shopping scene I’ve seen in any city. And that means a lot considering I spent some time living in New York! If you really want to experience the city’s culture, the best way to do it is by exploring all the Melbourne laneways that are hidden around the city centre. Venture into the inner suburbs like Fitzroy and Richmond, and you’ll find even more. Keep on reading for some of the most popular Melbourne laneways and my favourites!
It’s officially springtime in Melbourne now! One of my favourite things to do in Spring has always been to get outside and explore as many new spots as possible. Melbourne is an especially awesome city for this because there are so many unique places to see. On a recent trip into the city with my boyfriend, we hit a bunch of different spots around the CBD. One in particular that stood out to me was a place that I had never even known about before! Right behind Federation Square, there is a hidden little garden called Pop-Up Patch.
Pop-Up Patch used to be an old car park, but got renovated into the little garden a few years ago. People can become members of the garden and get a little plot to plant their own fruits, vegetables, or flowers. Pretty cool idea! They have events and gardening workshops pretty often as well. And even if you aren’t a member, the garden is open to the public most of the time, so you can walk through and enjoy it!