3-Days Itinerary for Melbourne and The Great Ocean Road
Oh, Melbourne, Melbourne... Let me tell you, if there's a "hype city" contest in the world, you have your winner here. Combine it with the Great Ocean Road and yo!, you need to get your travelling bums over here ASAP and explore for at least 3 days.
Not only my friend Coni is an amazing photographer, but she is a true explorer. That's how I knew that a short trip to Australia, specifically Melbourne, was a wise choice, this is where she lives. This weekend was going to be a marathon of breathtaking badass landscapes; with the inspirational plus of a city like Melbourne.
Melbourne, a little bit of Geography
Like most of the Australian cities, Melbourne lies by the coast and it's part of Victoria. As the city is on the south-east, if you head west you'll cross paths with the Great Ocean Road. So, here's the deal: you get to visit the queen of hipster world and explore a scenic route, all within a few hours.
Visa requirements for Australia - Transit visa or Tourist Visa?
As I am Argentinian, I had to apply for a tourist visa that has a cost of about 120 USD, ouch!
If my plan was to stay in Australia up to 72 hrs and no more I would've just gotten the Transit visa, like when I visited Sydney for 12 hours on a stopover coming back from the states. But when I counted the hours --after buying the tickets--, I figured I was staying for 74 hs in Australia, so had to apply for the tourist visa. Fri-ggin-ouch!
Lesson learned one more time: If you don’t know, don’t guess, go to the source!
In any case, many passports need to have an ETA --Electronic Travel Authority-- Visa, which is way-way cheaper. So check the official site and find out about your visa requirements.
Day 1 - Heading to the Great Ocean Road, aka "GOR"
So, leaving Melbourne heading towards west, you will find, after driving for about three hours, the Great Ocean Road. A magnificent and wonderful route -- yes yes, let me live with my cliches! It's not my fault this place is fxxxng awesome--, that goes along the coast.
We rented a car and there we were, 4 happy campers ready for a wild picnic. First stop was Torquay, which is still not officially a GOR' babe, but we were excited to see sand and surfers.
So after a windy picnic, we drove to Anglesea. Here you can find a gold course where you get to see kangaroos. I was stoked to chill with this jumping bunch to reinforce my stereotypical idea about Australia jaja.
To make our day even better, we kept heading west to Kennet River, precisely 200 metres from the Koala Cove Cafe.
And there, just hanging from the trees, there were 2 koalas. In 5 minutes they fought, then became friends again, and finally cuddled up and went to sleep. They look extremely cute but hey, don't mess with them or they will scream, loud, very loud.
In that very same spot, you can make friends with these exotic parrots with blue tales. Bring sunflower seeds as they are very social and would go and eat if you offer. We were lucky that we got to see al this! And just as the cherry on the cake, when we were on our way to Port Campbell, we saw the famous Australian Cockatoos -- white parrots--.
After this very "wild" day, we pinched our tent at the Port Campbell Recreation Reserve campsite, which is quite close to the 12 Apostles which was our chosen sunrise spot for the next day.
Day 2 - Sunrise at the 12 Apostles and more cool, hot, sexy rocks
The very well-known 12 Apostles are rock formations of between 10 and 20 million years old. In the beginning, they started being cliffs that due to erosion fell apart leaving these towers of up to 45 metres tall standing.
Nature and tourists were on our side so we got to enjoy a stunning sunrise, being (almost) just us in this very famous spot. So lesson learned: waking up at 5 am it’s worth it! We got there about 30 minutes before sunrise and enjoyed all the show.
15 minutes away from the 12 Apostles is the London Bridge. This rock formation with a very fancy name it’s a nature’s orgasm.
Pink sand, turquoise and foamy water, a crazy stone… There are runways that will let you appreciate it from different angles; make sure you go through all of them!
So, before we started heading back to Melbourne for the second part of our trip, we went to The Grotto and Loch rd Gorge.
Back to Melbourne
Brighton, in St Kilda, is a very famous beach with houses painted in lively colours and with funny drawings. They were built during the Victorian Era so people in the beach could go get change and preserve their virtue and good manners. Nowadays they are famous for the designs and colours --everything in Melbourne is famous for that!--.
Sunset found us drinking Mate and getting ready to hit the club -- that's a lie, I'm like a granny--. So we went for a nice walk to the Southbank and ended up in a live music bar, dancing some salsa and Frank Sinatra's tunes, being openly ridiculous.
The Southbank is full of pubs, street artists and great views, so don't miss it at nighttime!
Day 3 - Ok ok ok, so now yes… our Melbournian non-Itinerary
Did I say that Melby -that's how I like to call it!-- is vibrant, full of colours, elegant and cool at the same time? It’s a mix of many cities. A little bit of Barcelona, a dash of NY, some similarities with Auckland. I think we could say Melby’s gotta be the coolest cities that exist.
We only had one day to soak it all in, so we decided to wander the city with no fixed route.
I feel sometimes you just try to get the energy of the place where you are, get lost and, if you are in a touristic spot, take it as it goes and chill. You can be a Buddha in a crowd. Me, personally, many times enjoy being a tourist, it puts me in the holiday-vibes zone.
We started our wanders at the Victoria Market, where I tasted Oysters for the first time. Like in a lot of markets around the world, there’s an area where you can sit and enjoy your treat of the day.
It's very useful to hop in the Tram Service in the CBD area, as it's free.
Hosier Lane is the main graffiti Street. But truly, if you are walking the CBD and the surroundings of the main station you will find all the gothic style narrow alleys and streets which lead to galleries with more art and more graffiti.
We also walked through Federation Square, Southbank, briefly visited the Botanical Gardens and Chinatown. About this last one… we went around 10, maybe it was a little bit too early, but didn’t seem very special.
Back in New Zealand!
And after 10 hours of exploring some of the main sights in the city, it was time for me to come back to my beloved New Zealand.
In my mind, it's like now, every time I think of Melbourne, all these colours popup in my mind: violet, red, yellow, orange. And then, I move onto the Great Ocean Road and it's all pink, blue and golden. I honestly, don't think this trip would leave anyone indifferent. Please, go, explore and then you tell me :)