Melbourne: Day One :)

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

After an amazing week in Port Douglas I decided to fly to Melbourne. Since none of my friends were able to join me, this was the first part of the trip I was really doing on my own, which was a bit daunting to begin with! I knew that I really wanted to see Melbourne though, and so regardless of who was or wasn't able to make it, I was going to explore this city!

When I say I was alone, that is true for the most part. I flew there and back on my own, stayed in a hostel on my own and explored the city on my own. However, one of my friends from uni happened to have just moved to Melbourne, so I met up with her and her boyfriend to go to the museum the first day, and for dinner the second day, so it was nice to see a friendly face! Spending time in a new city on my own, however, wasn't half as scary as I thought it might be. I'm comfortable in big cities - as long as there are signposts and lots of people around I'm happy!

Flinders Street Station

The first day I wandered along Flinders Street where my hostel happened to be, and found myself at Federation Square. According to wikipedia Fed Square is a civic centre and culutral precinct in Melbourne, and was opened in 2002. It's such an interesting space, the buildings are angular and the pavement is covered in writing, and it's often used for big events in the city. St Paul's Cathedral sits across the road on one side, while Flinders Street Station (pictured above!) sits on the other side.

St Paul's Cathedral pictured from Fed Square

I then headed off past Fed Square and took a walk through the Queen Victoria Gardens, before turning back and heading past the Natinal Gallery of Victoria and the Melbourne Arts Centre.

After exploring that part of the city I set off down one of the many interesting little lanes Melbourne has to offer! I chose Degraves Street, a narrow little lane off Flinders Street which is full of cute cafes and restaurants, book shops and jewellery shops, and it has such a good atmosphere. My friend Stacy and I ended up having lunch in one of the cafes here and it was so lovely to sit outside (even though it was cloudy!) and people watch while we caught up!

That afternoon Stacy and I headed off to the Melbourne Museum where we met her boyfriend and spent a good couple of hours wandering around the different sections. We got there mid-afternoon, but you could easily spend most of the day there, and at just $10 standard entry it's not a bad deal.

When the museum closed at 5pm we went to a Vietnamese restaurant in Richmond, another part of the city just a train ride away, and had a really nice meal before I headed back to the hostel! The hostel I stayed in was the Melbourne Central YHA and it was great. I was in a four share girls dorm, with three other really nice girls, and the bed was perfectly comfortable. The staff were lovely and while I didn't actually use the kitchen, the bathroom was amazing! The showers were huge and always perfectly clean, with a shelf to put your shampoo etc on - they were the best showers of the three hostels I've stayed in in Australia!

Keep your eyes peeled for Melbourne Part 2 which features a very exciting trip to a famous television street...

Thanks so much for reading, let me know what you've been up to in the comments below :)

Port Douglas Adventures... Part 3

Saturday, 20 April 2013

My final couple of days in Port Douglas consisted of shopping, eating and a bit of crocodile spotting... that's right, I got to see a croc in the wild! We headed to a local hotspot for seeing them, a popular fishing spot in a creek where at least four crocodiles are known to live.

Our first trip was fruitless and we ended up going back into the town to do some shopping and grab some lunch, but a local fisherman told us to head back around 1pm because one occassionally appears around then. Once again, the first twenty minutes or so resulted in nothing but the odd movement of a fish below the bridge we were standing on. Just as we were thinking about leaving, however, our luck changed!

Never smile....

My friend Lynsey managed to get this photo of him as he lay across the surface of the water. Having seen crocodiles in both Taronga Zoo in Sydney and the Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas, it wasn't the first one I'd seen since I arrived in Oz. The difference here was I was getting to see this deadly creature in it's natural habitat, and that was amazing. High up on the bridge we were at a completely safe distance, unlike some crazy people who apparently go right down to the edge of the water here, despite the warnings, but it was still a huge deal. Seeing one in the wild isn't something that happens every day, so that's a memory I'll definitely hold on to forever!

Wildlife aside, Port Douglas is such a lovely little town. I was there just before the busy diving season so the town was fairly quiet and we got to wander around the shops and browse at our leisure.

We then took a walk to the Marina where boats go out to the Great Barrier Reef, and it finally stopped raining at that point! It's a lovely spot, with cafes and bars looking out over the water. We went to a local bar and restaurant called On the Inlet, where every day at 4pm they throw scraps out to an enormous fish that lives in the area! It's a clever marketing ploy because the bar was absolutely packed at that time, with people all ready with their cameras trying to catch a glimpse of the famous fish. That day it decided not to jump right up out of the water, but we saw it swimming around under the surface and it was huge!

Catching a glimpse of the fish!

All in all I had a fantastic time in Port Douglas, it's such a lovely place. The best thing about it though was catching up with Lynsey - it had definitely been far too long!!

Hope you are all well, thanks for reading!! :)

Port Douglas Adventures... Part 2

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Having had an absolute ball at the Wildlife Habitat, I would have been perfectly happy to do absolutely nothing for the rest of the week! And with the rain we had for several days, that could have been a real possibility!! However, we didn't let that stop us and we went off to Crystal Cascades, a series of little cascading waterfalls in the middle of the rainforest!

Apparently the spider who made this eats birds... comforting...

I love this photo, old friends catching up in the middle of nowhere!!

We had planned to go to the Daintree the next day - a beautiful rainforest area about two hours north of Port Douglas, but the weather was against us. The cloud would have covered the beautiful views and the rain had made the windy roads too slippery to drive up. So I'm so so glad we went to Crystal Cascades that day! The rain wasn't heavy enough to disrupt our trip, but gave us the authentic rainforest experience - warm and rainy! It was such a beautiful place and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone. Try to go and see the Daintree if you can, but seeing somewhere like this is just as lovely! Being there just felt like another world. So hidden away and raw, and totally removed from the hectic city life of Sydney I'd been experiencing for weeks before!

Hope you're all doing well, my next post will be my final Port Douglas instalment and then it's on to my trip to Melbourne - it was amazing too!!

Thanks for reading, leave your comments below and let me know if this is the kind of place you'd like to visit! :)

ps check out my latest vlogs over on my youtube channel here :)

Port Douglas Adventures... Part 1

Friday, 12 April 2013

After an amazing month in Sydney I headed up the coast to Port Douglas, an amazing little town an hour north of Cairns, and went to visit my friend Lynsey, who I hadn't seen in a year and a half! It was so good to see her, she and her Australian boyfriend are living in Australia and travelling around at the moment, so I had missed her so much!

I arrived in Port Douglas on Saturday and spent the first night having a catch up with Lynsey over a glass of wine. I mentioned that I really wanted to hold a koala (Queensland is the only place in the world where it's legal to hold one!) and she hit me with the amazing news that jut a twenty minute walk down the road was Port Douglas Wildlife Habitat - a beautiful zoo where the animals are free to walk around and (with the exception of the crocodiles - for obvious reasons) you can get so much closer to them than in a regular zoo.

The following morning we wandered along to the habitat in the sunshine and I had the best morning! It costs around $30 per person for entry, but once you have paid that you are given a date stamped voucher, which you sign, which allows you to come back any time in the next two days for free! The first day we had a great time exploring, it's a beautiful place with a rainford habitat, grasslands habitat and wetlands habitat, and there are the most unusual looking birds everywhere you look!

The highlight of the day for me though was the kangaroos - they were so cute! I still can't believe that a few days ago I was sitting there feeding them! We made good friends with one of them in particular, who was quite happy to sit and let me pat him, video him and take hundreds of photos of him, all in exchange for a few leaves!

I still can't believe how lucky I was to get to do that! In addition to our furry friend we saw lots of other lovely kangaroos and wallabys, including this mum with a gorgeous baby in her pouch!!

We also fed ducks, ran past an amazing bird called a Cassowary, which was as tall as us, and saw some pretty scary looking crocodiles!

That day, however, we had missed the opportunity to get a photograph with a koala - luckily enough, we had our free pass to get back the following day! So we headed back on Monday morning, and I had the absolute privelege of holding a great big koala named Samson! He was really heavy, but so cute and I think I might possibly look like the happiest person ever in the photo I had taken with him!!

Sorry for the hugely photo heavy post, but these guys are too cute not to share!! I have some brilliant vlog footage from those days, and the video is all edited and ready to go - I just need a solid wifi connection for long enough to upload it! So keep your eyes peeled for that :)

Thanks for reading guys, hope you are all well! :)