Penguins, chocolate factories and beaches - if you ask me this sounds like one of the best trips of all! Phillip Island was definitely one I was looking forward to, especially since we were doing it independently. Many people go on organised bus trips to the island, but I was keen to hire a car and go it alone so I rounded up a few friends and booked a car. Naturally I went through Budget, my favourite hire car company to use, which cost us around $100 including full insurance for the day - pretty cheap when split between four of us. It takes around three hours to get to Philip Island from Melbourne CBD so you’ll want to set off as early as possible to have a full day on the island to explore. Located down on Mornington Peninsula you can bet there’s plenty of stunning nature to see.
We headed straight for Cape Woolamai when we arrived and with the sun blazing down on us it was the perfect place to be, looking out across Woolamai Surf Beach we watched the waves roll in. Down on the beach fishermen were catching fish right in the surf, while an elderly woman collected seaweed. It was beautiful and stretched as far as the eye could see, and I simply had to go dip my toes in the water. Afterwards we followed the road and stopped off at each beach along the way for more stunning views.
There are endless beach, bush and cliff walks across Phillip Island - use the maps you can find at visitor’s centres on the island, or just stumble across them. The Pinnacles Lookout comes highly recommended but sadly we didn’t make it to that one. We did however take some cute little bush and boardwalks through mangrove forests and bush land leading to lakes which were filled with wildlife including wallabies with babies in their pouches.
We headed to Cowes, one of the main towns on the island, for lunch and a wander along the pier. Like stepping back in time, the town is filled with old ice cream shops, cute little stores and lots of lovely places to eat. We headed for Isola di Capri, which was right on the seafront and overlooked the ocean. Sitting in the window, we had the sun beaming down on us as we enjoyed the view and tucked into a feast of pizza, risotto and calamari. Although out of a usual backpacker budget, we were treating ourselves - it was the last time I would see two of my friends and myself and the other friend had just quit out jobs and were also about to set off travelling again. Plenty to celebrate and how better than with good food and good friends? After lunch we took a walk along the pier to watch the fishermen.
The rest of our afternoon was spent over at the western tip of the island at Point Grant, where The Nobbies is located. Perfect for shark, dolphin and seal watching, the Nobbies ecotourism centre overlooks the huge boardwalk that takes visitors along the cliffs where they can view natural sights including Seal Rocks, The Nobbies and The Blowhole. This area is also home to Australia’s largest colony of fur seals, and if you’re lucky like we were, you may spot fairy penguins! It’s very windy up here so take a jumper with you, but definitely stroll along the boardwalk around sunset, the views are stunning and very photogenic.
Afterwards, of course, you have to head over to the Penguin Parade - the island’s biggest attraction. I had though it was definitely worth a look as you get the cute sight of lots of tiny penguins swimming into the beaches and running up them in time to roost. But to be honest, I was hugely disappointed. As you all know, I’m very environmentally conscious and yet I felt this whole “attraction” was done in a very unsafe way for the penguins. The sheer noise of the onlookers and the floodlights on the beach designed to highlight the penguins places them in more danger for predators and confused the birds. It was the most unnatural natural experience ever and it made me sad afterwards when you could see tourists shining cameras and lights in the faces of the birds as they ran up the boardwalks, they were confused and people crowding them didn’t help. The volunteers did very little to prevent this and instead just seemed concerned with people taking photos and videos as they were already selling these in the gift shop. All in all, I didn’t think this was worth the $20-30 spent and I just felt uncomfortable with the experience. I wouldn’t recommend it personally as I feel it is harmful to the environment and the animals, I actually preferred seeing the penguins over at The Nobbies because they were less crowded.
Overall, I loved Phillip Island, it’s a beautiful place to visit and definitely worth a day trip. But the Penguin Parade left a nasty taste in my mouth and I wouldn’t recommend it. I actually much preferred seeing the penguins at St Kilda because there were less people there and it seemed much more amazing. Plus its free and right on the beach so no travelling time.
Have you been to Phillip Island? What did you think of the Penguin Parade?
My two year working holiday visa for Australia is nearly at an end and I can't help but find myself reminiscing over the best times I've had in this amazing country. I've been lucky enough to live in the "most liveable city in the world" twice now and Melbourne has always been an incredible home from home for me. What is it that makes this city so great? For me, I always have my home-base of my closest travelling friends who live there permanently so it will always be the place I keep going back to. But even aside from that, I've always had amazing jobs there that have pushed me in new ways and have brought me amazing opportunities, I've always had great places to live and a huge group of mates that make saying goodbye the hardest it could possibly be. Living in Melbourne is a whole lifestyle that I haven't found elsewhere in cities around the world - it's festivals and events, it's health and fitness, it's eating out and partying, it's a whole attitude and a way of life.I loved every second I spent working and during my second year in Australia, I scored big when I managed to get a job cocktail waitressing at the number one rooftop bar in the city - Rooftop at QT. What at first seemed like just another bar job, soon proved to be so much more when I realised I would be working in such a high profile bar in the middle of the city at a 5* hotel serving celebrities on a daily basis. I hosted huge parties of up to 100 people almost nightly during the Christmas period from corporate functions to birthday parties and even later on working the Ferrari party for the Grand Prix, serving the likes of Nicole Kidman. It was a busy job, and a hard job at times. The hours were long and exhausting, I had to wear high heels and have my hair and make-up done for each shift. It was amazing, and I loved every second, but true to form I ended up working way too much and burning myself out as usual. So when it did come to my days off, I made sure to make the most of them and to get out exploring the city as much as possible.On one particular day off, a group of friends and I decided we deserved a chance enjoy the rooftop bars Melbourne has to offer, instead of always being the ones serving the drinks in them. We headed out on a bar crawl of the best rooftop bars in the city and this is my guide to the best ones I've visited.
The newest rooftop bar in Melbourne's CBD and already one of the most highly acclaimed, this is the best spot to enjoy a late afternoon drink in the sunshine and to spot celebrities. Rooftop at QT is a quirkier little sister brand of the hotel Rydges, expect ultimate luxury and a corporate feel, plus cocktails to die for.
Melbourne's third biggest rooftop bar, this is a great one to take a big group of mates to when you're all in the mood for good quality beers on tap and hearty meals like wings and nachos. Imperial Hotel is a great place to start a bar crawl if you fancy working your way down Bourke Street and visiting the huge number of rooftop bars along the way.
Famous for it's amazing view, you can't miss out on a visit to this fabulous rooftop bar in Fitzroy. The cocktails are delicious and the bar even have their own spirits on offer including a spiced rum that I absolutely loved. The view is incredible both during the day and at night - head into Naked for Satan and wait at the lift to be escorted up to the rooftop. There is sometimes a queue but trust me, it's worth the wait.
This cute little rooftop hideaway is easily missed from the street, but it's one you definitely want to know about because Loop Bar is one of the few bars that are fully kitted out to deal with Melbourne's crazy weather. Gas heaters and a large awning mean that even when it pours outside, you can still enjoy the rooftop experience surrounded by greenery and garden furniture.
After something a bit fancy for girls' night? Look no further than the kitsch decorations, the pink theme and fruity punchbowls to share at Madame Brussels. The cute little outdoors area will be perfect for all your Instagram shots, and it's definitely a bit different to all the other rooftop bars around.
I won't lie, Bomba had one of the most disappointing rooftop areas with no view and not much space for sitting but the menu downstairs more than makes up for this. Head upstairs for a quick drink then back downstairs for a delicious selection of Spanish tapas.
Head out of the CBD and over to South Yarra for a change of pace and a nice chilled out bar right by the train station. The Emerson rooftop is lovely and has umbrellas so you can enjoy it even in the pouring rain as we did when I went. It's right on Chapel Street so perfect for heading out afterwards.
Ferdydurke is not technically a rooftop bar, but this cool little bar is on the top floor and has a cool little smoking area that overlooks graffiti-covered walls and Section 8's awesome little container backyard bar, giving a taste of Melbourne's edgier, hipster side.
Find yourself in Richmond? Look no further than these two unexpected gems for a perfect rooftop experience - both used to be locals of mine for after work drinks and you can always expect a great atmosphere especially with regular gigs taking place downstairs from The Corner Hotel. Expect busy venues and a lively crowd, particularly on a Friday and Saturday night. Richmond Club Hotel also offers an incredible view over the train tracks and into the city - head here for sunset.
That old favourite will never leave my top list of rooftop bars - Carlton Club was just around the corner from Rooftop at QT so I was a regular there for after work drinks. It's always a guaranteed laugh with old school tunes on a Friday night and a busy dance floor, plus cheap drinks and a lovely outside rooftop area that is perfect for drinks day or night.
One I only finally visited just before leaving Melbourne but had spent a long time checking out from Rooftop at QT. You can see across the skyline to the other rooftop bars and this one always looked popular with a steady crowd up there drinking and enjoying the sunshine. Completely unpretentious, this bar doesn't even need a name, just Rooftop Bar, but for those who can't find it - you'll want to head to Curtin House on Swanston Street, the building that houses popular venue Cookie, then head to the top floor.
An awesome little find - I love Good Heavens for brightly coloured afternoon cocktails with friends - think refreshing beverages, live DJ sets and a party atmosphere. It's all set right above Fancy Hanks BBQ joint that serves all the smoked meats you could possibly eat - so head downstairs for some dinner after a few drinks.
Have you been to any of these rooftop bars? Which one is your favourite? Can you recommend any others that aren't listed?
As a backpacker who has now lived in Melbourne twice, I've loved getting out and exploring the city and far beyond. Not being much of a city girl, I've noticed Melbourne really has a fantastic balance of modern built up areas interweaved with beautiful sprawling parks that really help to make the skyscrapers feel less claustrophobic and imposing than they do in English cities. It's easy to wander around the city and quickly find yourself leaving the busy streets behind to get lost in lush, green woodland. Having lived in both South Melbourne and Southbank, I've been lucky enough to live with Albert Park right on my doorstep - a perfect place to run around the lake of an evening, or to gather with friends for barbecues or to watch the Grand Prix. Just behind sits the Royal Botanic Gardens, huge endless parks that stretch across the city with all kinds of treasures tucked just out of sight of the city.Fancy getting a bit further out of the city? There are so many amazing places right on your doorstop in Victoria that it would be a shame not to! Here are my top 5 places to escape into nature around Melbourne:
Wilson's Promontory National Park
Just a couple of hours drive down to Mornington Peninsula and you'll feel like you've entered another world. Wilson's Prom has everything from forest and mountain, to marshland, river, beaches and even sand dunes! You'll want a weekend to explore at your own pace so pack up the camping gear, the beers and bring your best mates for a weekend you won't forget. Definitely don't miss seeing the view from Mount Oberon Summit, sunset from the beach at Tidal River campsite and The Big Drift sand dunes.
Great Ocean Road
The absolute must-do when you go to Melbourne - Great Ocean Road is a perfect road trip to take with your buddies and is perfect whether you're on a budget or fancy a big blow out. There are plenty of luxury escapes to take your breath away, or do like my gang and just pack a tent, hire a car and take advantage of the many free things to see and do. There are so many hikes, beaches, viewpoints and more to explore - don't miss Bells Beach during the surfing competitions, Twelve Apostles at sunrise, the Round the Twist lighthouse if you're a 90's kid. Camp in Cape Otway National Park for an amazing experience and take a break from driving at Loch Ard Gorge for spectacular views. On your way home, take a detour through the Grampians National Park!
The Grampians National Park
A perfect trip to do on your way home from Great Ocean Road, you can see the highlights in 1/2 days. Taking you up into the mountains, don't forget a jumper for that fresh mountain air. Stay in the Hall's Gap campsites, they're perfect for a campfire and nice and sheltered from the wind. Don't miss the Pinnacle viewpoint - take the walk through the canyon - the Balconies, and Mackenzie Falls for those perfect photographs.
Dandenong Ranges National Park - 1,000 Steps
One I only ticked off my list last week, this national park is easily within reach for those without a car as you can get the train from Flinders to Upper Ferntree Gully and then walk from there. It takes just a few hours to get out there and complete the walk so perfect if you just fancy spending an afternoon in nature. The 1,000 Steps are the big attraction and although they'll definitely have you huffing and puffing, they're not as daunting as they sound. You'll see runners of all shapes and sizes taking them on over and over again as they sprint up and down. Pack a picnic to enjoy at the top then take a different path down to enjoy a different pace of walk.
The last one I had to tick off my list, I was so excited to finally be visiting Phillip Island to overdose on nature, especially seeing wild penguins down by the shore. One that can be done in a day either by organised day trip or by just hiring a car with your mates and heading off independently. Home to some seriously beautiful beaches and even a Grand Prix circuit, there is plenty to explore and it is a perfect day escape from city life.
This post previously featured on Wild Melbourne - see the original post here.
What are you favourite places to escape into nature around Victoria? Can you recommend any other places across Australia or the world?
Some people swear by snowy skiing holidays, some people can't live without fresh mountain air - for me it's beachy bliss and ocean dreams that fuel my travels. I've been a total water baby since I was a kid and I can't stand being far from the ocean - I've always lived no further than 20 minutes from the sea and it's always been the one thing to soothe me. From winter beach walks to summers running along the seafront and charing the waves, I just love the peace and simplicity of a life with sandy feet and salty hair. My farm work was possibly the hardest time of my travels - and some of that I put down to being the furthest away from the ocean I have ever been. 800km west of Brisbane, I was pretty much in the centre of Australia and a minimum of 12 hour driving away from the sea. It sounds silly, but we humans are 80% water and it seems crazy that being near or far from water cannot affect our mood.Since being back in Melbourne, I've been working like crazy sometimes 50/60 hour weeks and so it's become more important than every that I make the most of my time off by going to new places I haven't yet explored. For me, that means venturing in different directions to explore the best beaches and most beautiful places I haven't yet seen in this amazing city. I love Melbourne and there is so much more for me to discover so I've been on the buses, trains and trams to find my favourite new beachy destinations in the area. I've come up with my top 10 list of my favourite beaches I've been to in the area - all within easy reach of Melbourne CBD and well worth visiting if you fancy a change.
My top 10 beaches in Melbourne
St Kilda Beach
It goes without saying that St Kilda Beach is a lot of fun - it's far from the prettiest beach in Melbourne but it's the place to be if you want to enjoy beers in the sunshine, the odd festival or to warm up for a night out. I spent Christmas Day here with my nearest and dearest - we enjoyed a full Aussie Xmas Day from beers in the sunshine to water fights in the sea and a full rave on the beach - so much fun and always a good place to head to meet people. Plus, penguins... need I say more?!
My new favourite after visiting the other day, this one is perfect for escaping the city. Just 30 minutes on the train from Flinders, this beautiful untouched beach promises crystal clear waters and gorgeous golden sandy beaches. Endless rock pools and nature to explore, or you can just relax in your own little cove.
Half Moon Bay
Last time I was in Melbourne, I went on a lovely date with a guy to Half Moon Bay. It was a beautiful little cove attached to Sandringham Beach but also completely separate. We had the whole beach to ourselves and went swimming at sunset, it was beautiful to watch the sun hit the water and watch the ships sailing past. A perfect spot to romance anyone special in your life.
A home away from home, this little gem comes complete with an amazing view of the city from across the water and cute little beach reminiscent of those you'll find on quaint English beaches like those near my home. Plus, it's only 20 minutes by train! A lovely chilled beach and great for swimming as there isn't too many rocks in the water and it isn't quite as shallow as some of the beaches. While you're in the area you can also check out Elwood and Hampton beaches.
This has become my local beach of late -just 5 minutes on the tram from my apartment, it's my perfect escape for a sunny morning before work. on the same stretch of Port Phillip Bay as St Kilda, it couldn't be more different. Usually empty of people and very peaceful, this is more of a family beach and less party. It's a perfect place to take a book and relax for a few hours.
Halfway between a beach and a cliff face - this one is definitely worth a visit. The water was ice cold when I went but you couldn't miss the beauty of the place. Come here for cliff jumping and a good swim in crystal clear deep waters. On hot days the place turns into a party for the Mornington crowd!
Take a 25 minute train ride and a step back in time to Williamstown, a small seaside town with all the cuteness of a British seaside resort. I went on a windy day when it was perfect for sandy beach walks instead of sunbathing but still saw the beauty in the simple, untouched beach. Perfect if you fancy escaping the busy sands of St Kilda.
Escape the city for a day or overnight like I did, I went to visit a friend who lived down in Torquay, near the start of Great Ocean Road. This was a perfect excuse to head down to the gorgeous surfing beaches like Bells Beach to walk the dogs and catch up for a few days. While you're at it, why not hire a car for a few days and do the whole Great Ocean Road? Check out my posts for planning your trip here and here.
I just spent a few hours on one of the many Mornington Peninsula beaches during a stormy day, but it was very beautiful and the whole area is covered with gorgeous beaches to explore. Easy to get to in a day, they're worth exploring and if you have more time then Sorrento and the beaches down at Wilson's Promontory are also worth a visit.
Pretty far out of the city but worth a visit if you have more time, Frankston is full of lovely beaches to explore, most of them I saw during windy days so I enjoyed walks rather than sunbathing but they'd be beautiful on a hot day!
There's something so soothing about the ocean isn't there? If you love it as much as I do, why don't you check out Celebrity Cruises by Bolsover Cruise Club for their take on modern luxury while you explore the globe.
What's your favourite Melbourne beach? Can you recommend any others?
I haven't posted in a while. I'll be honest and say I've just been working so much and haven't had time to sit and write, but it's not just that, I've lost my motivation a bit lately. While my life is almost full to bursting with exciting stories to tell, I'd kind of hit a wall with inspiration. It happens every now and again, life gets busy and gets in the way of writing, but when it happens I don't try and fight it because I know that I'll always regain my mojo in the end, it just takes time. You can't force yourself to be inspired and to write beautiful things, it comes naturally or not at all. While I was struggling to express the beautiful sides of life through this blog, something awful happened, something painful and sad and devastating. I may have been struggling with the words to express the happier situations in my life, but once I started typing my feelings of anger and hurt at the dangerous assault on my favourite city and it's people last week, the words just wouldn't stop.
For those who don't know what happened, on Friday five people including a baby boy died in a horrific incident in Melbourne's busiest shopping centre. A man went on a rampage around the city after allegedly stabbing his brother, mowing people down with his car and leaving 31 people in hospital. For those who were around the shopping centre at the time - including myself and several friends of mine - it was a scary, confusing and devastating experience. I was just about to start work and was walking past the incident as around 20-30 police cars went tearing along the tramlines in the pedestrianised areas to try and stop the man. Police helicopters were circling and police were screaming at onlookers to get away as quickly as possible. Luckily I worked nearby so I could find shelter in the hotel, at this point we had no idea what had happened with vague reports of a shooting/stabbing and a lot of misinformation. My first fear when I saw the police reaction was that it could be a bomb or some kind of terrorist attack, lack of information put this fear straight into my mind.
But I don't want to dwell too much on what happened, instead I want to focus on what really horrified me that day. While the man's actions were terrifying and have left the whole city unnerved, it was the actions of the onlookers that really showed me a dark side of humanity. As I ran up the street towards work I was dodging between people who preferred to stand on their phones recording every second of the incident, ignoring police advice to move to safety and choosing instead to share it on social media. A friend of mine was right in the middle of the incident and dived straight into help the injured people - he was brave and selfless in that moment, ending up covered in blood and just grateful he could help stop the bleeding from a man's head injury. He was kind and patient despite his fears for his own safety and I find that incredibly inspiring. As with all the people who stepped up and helped save lives or to protect their fellow man that day - the ones who stopped and cared. My friend has since received word that the man he helped is safe and recovering in hospital.But less inspiring was the man who stood right behind my friend and videoed the whole thing - instead of helping to stop the bleeding and to tend to those who were seriously injured he preferred to stand there and capture what was happening. I know we live in a modern age where camera phones open up the world to all of us to be the journalists and to share every bit of news at a flick of a button. But just as I always felt uncomfortable reporting the news from a desperate situation when I felt I could be helping to ease the pain and suffering of others, I find it disgusting that people would prioritise social media sharing and Snapchatting attacks on mankind over helping to save lives. Have we really reached a point where sharing an experience is more important that protecting a human life? While this experience may have inspired me to write about my anger and pain, I still don't see how sharing it could ever be more important than protecting lives. Since Friday, countless people have flocked to Bourke Street Mall to lay flowers and messages of strength, love and compassion. This really makes you see the other side of humanity - the warmth that helps the world to move on and heal after such an incident.
It's times like these when people need to put down their smart phones and to come together, because that's what is really important. The love you feel from the other side of the world when friends and family message to check you are okay, the love you share when your best friend's safety is your first thought as an incident happens, the love you feel from co-workers who rant and cry and understand the pain of others. It's so easy to get caught up in the modern world we live in and to forget to break it down to the most basic and most important things - those around us who make our lives worth living, those individuals whose lives and presence we treasure more than anything. After hearing about the death of a Lynn legend - Juggling Jim - back at home, it shows more than ever the love for this character. The outpourings of sadness on social media at his death, he brought light into the lives of others and will be sadly missed. His spot on Lynn High Street will never be filled and his memory will be treasured.
As the clock ticked down on my final days in Melbourne, it struck me that there were still several things I had yet to do before leaving. All those touristy things we want to do but simply forget once we start working and life gets in the way. Well working 12 hour days six days a week definitely cut back the amount of time I had to give to such activities, but I was still determined to give it my best shot. So when the birthday of one of my best friends was approaching, I thought how better to celebrate than with a trip up the Eureka Skydeck to see our beautiful city twinkling in the moonlight followed by a night of cocktails by the river. We met at Ludlow's, a bar along the river where loads of our friends who worked there were celebrating the boss' birthday with drinks and food. The crowd that work at the bar are great, such a friendly bunch and they definitely know how to party. The company actually owns part of the Skydeck and when they heard we were going up there that evening, the bosses gave us free tickets to both the Skyjack and The Edge - we couldn't believe it! It was so lovely of them and we really appreciated it. Normal prices at $20 for entrance to the Skydeck Experience and a further $12 for The Edge.We walked over to the entrance and were given a warm welcome by the staff to ushered us into the lifts which carried us a whopping 285m above ground in just 38 seconds! No wonder my ears were popping. The fastest elevator trip in the Southern Hemisphere took us directly to the dizzying heights of the Eureka Skydeck - and I wasn't sure how well this was going to go down. Heights have never bothered me in the slightest, but the birthday girl suffered terrible vertigo as we had found in the Grampians and I hoped she was going to be able to enjoy it. We walked around the Skydeck where we experienced Melbourne sightseeing at its finest, the whole city was alight and glowing against the dark skies. It was beautiful - take your breath away beautiful. I was so glad we hadn't come up during the day, but also wondered what it would have been like to witness this spectacular view at sunset. We had an incredible 360 degree view of the Melbourne skyline thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows. From the top it is possible to see Albert Park Lake, Port Phillip Bay, the Dandenong Ranges and beyond. There are also 30 viewfinders around the Skydeck, so you can take a closer look at some of Melbourne’s favourite landmarks such as the MCG, Federation Square and Flinders Street Station.After exploring the platform, we decided to enjoy a nice glass of wine with the view over the city - it really was a breathtaking sight. We all had to take a minute to breathe in the fact that this was our home, we lived in this amazing city. It was one of the moments I really found a true appreciation for how lucky I am. Then our buzzer went and it was our time to check out the second stage of the experience - The Edge - a glass cube that projects from the 88th floor of the Eureka Tower and suspends visitors almost 300 meters high above Melbourne. A world first, it gives you a chance to stand over the city and really experience the view from a whole new perspective. Now I know that it might not appeal to those who are scared of heights but with me were two of my best friends who were both nervous about the experience and worried they couldn't cope with the height. Both came out with huge beaming smiles on their faces and not a hint of shaky legs. Even if you hate heights and ca't usually deal with them, don't write off this experience because my friends coped well and were so glad they had given it a chance. There really is no other way to see Melbourne like it and I will always remember seeing Melbourne twinkling below me.
Have you been up the Eureka Skydeck? How did you find The Edge? What other top Melbourne attractions could you recommend?
Melbourne goes all out when it comes to celebrating the culture that pours from its streets - from street parties to festivals, there’s always something going on and yet another amazing faction of the city to celebrate. (Check out my previous post on White Night and St Kilda Festival) There’s so much to get involved with and so many ways to feel a part of the city whether you prefer to celebrate the music, art, people or history of the city. These huge events bring people from all walks of life together in that magical way that only a festival can - and we all know how much I love my festivals. Whether it’s a four day bender in the heart of the English countryside, a weekend of acoustic performances, fields filled with art installations or the atmosphere of a heaving city event - all festivals have one thing in common. They bring people together to celebrate something we all love - creativity.Festivals are definitely something I’ve missed since travelling - if you’ve been reading for a while you’ll know I’m something of a festival queen after my work as editor of This Festival Feeling. So after managing to miss out altogether during my travels, I was so happy to find so much going on in the streets of Melbourne. If you’ve read my post on Piknic Electronik then you’ll have already had a taste of the vibes I’m talking about. While the festivals and parties I’ve found here haven’t been quite as wild as the ones back home or up in Darwin, they’ve been plenty of fun! I’m talking about the bush doofs just outside the city, and the warehouse parties in Footscray - all with a totally different atmosphere to those I’m used to but awesome in their own right.Elsewhere in the city, I gathered a few friends and headed to the Lonsdale Street Greek Festival one sunny afternoon back in February. Melbourne’s biggest Greek street party filled the city’s historic Greek precinct with the sights, sounds and smells of Greek culture. From the delicious scent of freshly fried calamari with a squeeze of lemon juice, to the students Greek dancing in the streets, to the three stages crammed with entertainment, children’s rides and activities. The street was lined with over 60 food, drink and craft stalls and the space in-between was filled with hundreds of people. The atmosphere was fantastic and the musical performances were cheered on by the waiting crowd. Just down the road in Federation Square visitors could transport themselves across the globe at the Japanese Festival where over 15,000 people gathered to honour their ancestors and celebrate Japanese culture. With traditional dance performances, traditional dress on show, Taiko drumming and sumo shows, there was plenty to watch and get involved with. Plus plenty of Japanese delicacies including sushi and bento to whet your appetite for Japanese culture.Elsewhere, over on Chapel Street one of my best friends in Melbourne dragged me out to what I thought was going to be a food festival one Sunday. We were both in recovery mode from the previous night out but couldn’t resist the promise of food and fun. We headed to Windsor Block Party, where I expected a small gathering of stalls but what I found was so much more. Food stalls with huge crowds gathered around them and the smell of sizzling goodness, further along the costumes of circus performers glittered in the late afternoon sunlight. They spun flaming poi and hula hooped to the beats of a DJ set-up - think Notting Hill Carnival street party vibes - everyone was dancing and cheering at the DJ. As the sun set, the music pounded and everyone was dancing together, a perfect Sunday evening if you ask me, all rounded off with an afterparty in a nearby bar. It was one of those events that brings everyone together in the best of spirits for all of the best things in life - good food, good music and good fun.Another weekend we just happened to walk through Moomba Festival, yet another celebration in the centre of Melbourne that had brought out crowds of thousands to the Yarra riverbanks just off Federation Square for a weekend of music, food, entertainment, all rounded off with some amazing fireworks. If you love a festival as much as I do, you’ll definitely be headed for Melbourne at some point - I know when I head back i already have a whole list of festivals I simply have to experience - I can’t wait!
What's been your favourite Australian festival experience? Are you headed to any UK festivals this summer?
The most liveable city in the world has been my home for the past four months and I don’t think I’ve ever been happier living in a city than I have been since I moved here. From the second you get off the plane you can feel the city is alive and buzzing with excitement at the arrival of yet another new face eager to unlock its hidden treasures. From bars hidden behind bookcases and acoustic performers lining the streets, to the regular festival takeovers and the incredible street art that lines alleyways across the city. Melbourne is a city of life and excitement with amazing discoveries hiding around every corner - even after four months I still have so much to learn about this city and feel like I have barely scratched the surface.With just three weeks left here I guess I’m getting a bit emotional at the thought of leaving the place that has become home to me, the first home I’ve had in 18 months. I’ve loved every second of my life here and that’s exactly what it has been. I have built a life here over the past four months, more than just meeting friends before hitting the road again, this is a place where I have friends, family, a career and a home. I’ve met so many amazing people who have set my soul alight and I know that even when I fly to the other side of the globe, I’ll be leaving a big piece of my heart here. You all know who you are, every single one of you amazing people have made this one of the best experiences of my life and it’s you that makes the thought of leaving seem incomprehensible.But if you know anything about me by now, you’ll know that I’m never one to dwell on the sad times, instead I have a series of posts lined up to celebrate Melbourne and all that has made this city incredible for me. All the reasons I’ll be returning in just a few short months, all the things that have made me live every single day with a smile on my face. And what better to start with than the amazing graffiti that lines the streets of Melbourne? I love art - walking around the city to see bold, colourful statements that reflect the consciousness of a passionate, exciting and creative city is one of my favourite parts of Melbourne. From the political and the poignant, to the current and the comic - there’s a piece for all tastes and the constant fluctuation of work is what keeps it exciting. You never know what will spring up next and what will disappear, this change is what keeps the walls of Melbourne alive in a way that other cities just cannot keep up with.Much as you often find you stumble across incredibly relatable and poignant posts across social media that seem to be written especially for you and your emotions at that moment. Melbourne city walks are like a live feed of passion and emotion spread right across your eyes - it’s amazing what you will stumble across if you just take a second to look up from your phone as you wander the cobbled walkways. Of course, if you’re planning on exploring the city anytime soon you’ll need to know the best places to start so here’s the best places to venture if you fancy seeing some of the most awe-inspiring pieces on show. Start out at the famous Hosier and Rutledge Lanes, just off Federation Square, before heading to Caledonian Lane, off Little Bourke Street, then check out Union Lane, off Bourke Street Mall.If that’s not enough for you, head for the rear of 280 Queen Street in Finlay Avenue, 21 Degraves Street, or the corner of Flinders Lane and Cocker Alley. Over towards Carlton there’s some amazing artwork at 122 Palmerston Street, and don’t forget Centre Place between Collins Street and Flinders Lane. All of these areas feature some of the best street art I have seen, and it’s so wonderful to see them displayed in a place where it is valued and considered art - Melbourne is such a modern city and I love the attitude that appreciates the art instead of squashing these amazing talents like in many cities. Another great area for checking out the art is Brunswick Street and the rest of Fitzroy where you’ll find some pretty spectacular scenes hidden amongst the streets.
What do you think about street art in cities - is it just graffiti or something much more? Where are your favourite places in Melbourne to spot the latest and best street art?
Now it wouldn’t be Absolutely Lucy without some raving and staying up past bedtime would it? I’d been such a good girl and barely partied for three months - giving my liver and my wallet a rest after Darwin - but now I was ready to make up for lost time. The weekend after I arrived, a group of us headed to Piknik Electronik - a weekly summer series that celebrates electronic music in beautiful summer settings. First starting out in Montreal, now the event has expanded as far as Barcelona and Melbourne, where it runs every Sunday over around eight weeks. If you’re craving serious festivals vibes but can’t afford a weekend escape from the city, or can’t spare the time off work, this is the perfect answer! I went along to the fourth edition of the event which was featuring South London Ordnance, Secret Cinema, Dean Benson and Andy Hart, on Sunday, February 7, at The Paddock, off Federation Square.All of us were in the party mood and couldn’t wait to hit the event, it started at 1pm and was due to run until 9pm, so we headed there about 3pm. We are glad to arrive then because the day was baking hot and there was very little shade at the event - I ended up with the worst sunglasses tan line on my nose! The tickets were really reasonably priced with the top price at $30 but plenty of first, second and third release tickets starting from $15. Also - it’s worth hanging out near Flinders Backpackers and other hostels in the area because Piknic staff were handing out flyers that gave reduced price entry so getting in turned out to be a bargain! Once you’re in, they have a cash-card system for the bars which definitely helps make them less crowded - you just top up a card when you arrive and anything that is left on it at the end of the day, you can claim back. This was great because I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve had money left on cards like these because the bars have been so crowded at festivals and haven’t been able to claim the money back - such a waste!The crowds were already there and we could tell we were in for a good afternoon from the moment we walked in the gates, people were already dancing and having a great time. The event had brought a complete range of people together; from businessmen to backpackers, from teenagers to parents, and the atmosphere was electric. It was fantastic to see such a varied crowd and to see how friendly everyone was, I lost count of the new friends I made that afternoon because everyone was so keen to make new friends and know your story. We had a great day spent dancing, chatting and laughing, a lot, it was a perfect event for the Dingo’s. And the mark of a good mini-festival in the city? When it really does feel like you’re a million miles away from the skyscrapers and bustling streets - with the park nestled against the Yarra riverbank it could’t have felt father away from the tourist trap that is Federation Square. It was great to be somewhere surrounded by all the colour and fun of festivals, but barely any distance from our home and without needing to take the day off work.Piknic caters for all tastes - so whether you’re there for the music, the drinks, the food or the fun, you’ll leave satisfied. Instead of stocking the usual rubbish drinks you get at festivals you can get craft beers and summer cocktails, although they were a touch expensive. Every week the event offers a new selection of Melbourne’s own delicious food trucks. And who can forget the little ones? Creating a fun, family environment, the organisers host Little Piknic - a designated children’s area with plenty of activities for them to take part in. I read that last year there were complaints over the lack of toilets and facilities but this year there must have been a big improvement as I didn’t find myself queueing for a toilet all day - a marked improvement on most festivals or music events! Running until 9pm, its the perfect place to see the sunset and to get you ready to rave all night - just a hop, skip and a jump from the CBD clubs - there’s plenty of places to head after to keep the party going.
Can you recommend any other great city events in Melbourne? Have you been to any other great city festivals around the world?