Over the last few years, we’ve heard nothing but good things about Melbourne, it’s ultra-hip and trendy cafe culture, the amazing food and good wine, the stylish centre, river front and parks. People fall over themselves to tell you what a great place it is, and travel blogs love to claim that it is the most livable city in the world.
It took us less than a day of being in Melbourne to realise that it wasn’t the Utopia it is made out to be by so many. When Melbourne gets rated the best city in the world to live, that’s probably for the people who get good jobs there who make a LOT more money there than they would elsewhere and therefore can afford the over-priced hipster offerings throughout the city.
I can assure you, for the everyday traveller, or the hundreds of homeless that sleep on the cold-winter streets of Melbourne, it certainly doesn’t have the same appeal. The town centre is clean and nice, there are cafes and designer clothing shops abound for those that want / can afford it, and it’s a safe place to be, but (and it’s a big “but”) the city itself is more like London than a dream-like haven.
It is busy constantly, the people who walk the streets are the most self-important people you could ever wish to meet, and will barge you from the pavement in to onrushing traffic if they need to be somewhere, but mostly spend their time completely ignoring everyone else without polite word or notion to be had.
The cafes, shops and hair-salons are so hipster it actually starts to make you feel physically ill. Attempting to find out the price of a drink before you order it is similar to trying to decipher Egyptian Hieroglyphics, and any person that would dare walk in to a coffee shop and order a coffee without at least a dozen descriptive words of their particular drink would be sarcastically laughed out of the place and unwelcome to return.
What I’m trying to say is, if you haven’t gathered this so far, we really don’t like Melbourne.
Having said all that, we did spend an afternoon at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) watching the AFL, which was a great game, a great atmosphere and an experience we both loved. To visit the home of Test Cricket and sit inside the famous ground was something I know my Granddad would have loved and we couldn’t have been happier to visit there for him.
Thankfully, we stayed a little out of the centre of Melbourne so didn’t have to deal with the traffic so much, which is the worst in Australia by a distance, and after a few days we were on our way to the incredible Great Ocean Road.
The first day we drove out and stopped in Apollo Bay, a town that I’m sure would be very nice in summer, but summer this was not, it rained all day, was freezing cold and had nothing to see, thankfully the drive there had some stunning scenery.
The next day we drove further and on to the end of the Great Ocean Road, passing by the tourist stops, including the 12 Apostles and several more, the views were stunning, the roads were great and the drive was another part of our great Australian road trip, it was amazing. Despite it being freezing cold.
Thankfully, most tourists do this whole area as day trips from Melbourne, even though it’s around 4 hours drive each way to get to the 12 Apostles, but it does mean that most of the time, the roads are quite empty and a pleasure to drive on. We stopped again at Port Fairy, at the very end of the Great Ocean Road, close to a town called Warrnambool.
The only great thing about Warrnambool is a small area on the edge of town called Logan’s Beach, and this place, at this time of year is one of the most amazing sights on this planet. Each winter, Southern Right Whales migrate through this area and stop at this exact spot with their Calves.
We hoped we’d get to see a whale again after the amazing experiences of Byron Bay and seeing the Humpback Whales there. We were left speechless when we arrived at the viewing platform of Logan’s Beach, and looked out in to the ocean to see at least five or six pods of several Southern Right Whales playing in the water, breaching fully out, and splashing around, it was incredible.
We stood and watched for as long as they were there and immediately decided we were staying another night in this area so we could see it again. We even returned for a third time before we set off back to Melbourne and saw multiple Whales every time. The people who live here get to see this every day, every winter, and we could tell by speaking to them, they still found it just as incredible as we did.
We set off back to Melbourne for one night before our flight to New Zealand. The Great Ocean Road was an incredible end to an amazing five weeks in Australia, we certainly haven’t seen it all but we gave it a good go, and we’ve loved it all… Well, except Melbourne… 🙂