After travelling around New Zealand in a camper van for the best part of a month, three of us had just 24 hours to spend in Melbourne between flights back to Heathrow. None of us had ever been to Australia before, so we set ourselves the task of exploring the city in a day.
We arrived in the evening and were staying in a beautiful Airbnb apartment just on Southbank, by the Melbourne Arts Centre. The city skyline from the apartment was stunning in the sunset, and dazzling by night. Feeling accomplished already from seeing hundreds of kangaroos just outside the airport, our adventure began.
We explored Southbank, wandering past the fancy restaurants and enjoying buskers and street entertainment along the way. We took in the river Yarra with it's boats and birds until we ended up in the Docklands. Not finding any of the anticipated nightlife there we hopped on the tram back to Flinders St Station, got off and walked through the bustling side of the city until we got to Chinatown. We had a lovely meal around midnight in one of the restaurants there, that was still filling up with people even then. I enjoyed some bok choi with garlic with vegetable spring rolls and sticky rice, while the boys tucked into some dumplings, broccoli and spicy chicken. Tired from our travel and late night wandering, we ventured back to our apartment to our first real bed and hot shower for weeks.
We awoke fresh and very appreciative of our hosts soft bedding! Checking out at 10am and not flying until 11pm that night, we had the whole day ahead to soak up some Australian sun. We set off on foot and soon found ourselves with breakfast juices at the National Gallery of Victoria, where I was very excited to see special exhibitions from the likes of Viktor and Rolf and David Hockney.
From the gallery we headed to the laneways and arcades, and after the wilderness of New Zealand I became acutely aware at this point that we were well and truly back in the city. You couldn't move for the crowds, people dodging in and out of narrow little bars and lunch spots, shops and stalls all crammed in on top of each other even on a weekday afternoon. We settled a little further out of the laneways in a Japanese - Australian fusion bar called Kuazi where we got a hearty brunch to keep us fuelled up.
From there we saw some incredible street art that really reminded me of being back in Manchester, as well as beautiful architecture, we went in and out of old banks and buildings and into the ANZ bank museum before deciding to take the free circle line tram to the famous Queen Victoria food market. The tram itself was a novelty, I mean, we have trams but this one was a very old tourist tram. If you're planning a trip to Melbourne it's the number 35 circle line. The tram goes clockwise around the city and is completely free, don't be worried when it isn't listed on the boards though, it's just not got the technology and it will turn up! Not only that, but once you're on board you get a commentary of nearby tourist info, historical events and attractions too, it's pretty cool considering it's free.
From the tram we wandered around the markets, seeing all kinds of fruit, cheese, meats and veg we hadn't seen before. After a quick snack at the markets we headed to the National Melbourne Museum which we sadly had less than an hour to take in. We opted to see the Forest Secrets exhibition, which starts at the caves and take you all the way through the ecosystems until the wind makes the tall trees sing. Along the way we met hunters spiders, long-necked turtles and to my delight a little bearded dragon crossed our path!
After the museum we decided to make the most of our final hours of sunshine and take it easy in Carlton park. We ate the last of our snacks, lay down on the grass and felt pretty pleased with ourselves for everything we'd managed to see and do. We grabbed a taxi to the airport around seven and even got one last look at the kangaroos.