Our last week in Melbourne featuring Luna Park – the weirdest amusement park…

After spending our first week in Melbourne Lucy and I embarked on a magical roadtrip across the Great Ocean Road (which I will blog about in a future post because it’s going to take me a million years to write, plus they’ll be a video)
We spent 6 days on the road and then returned to Melbourne, we were a bit reluctant to return to a city after visiting sleepy seaside towns along the Great Ocean Road but I have to admit that returning to Melbourne was great!

We decided to chill out a little more in the city and not put so much pressure on ourselves to see EVERY tourist attraction and we decided to get out the city for a bit too. Our first stop was St Kilda…
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St Kilda isn’t your typical Australian beach, think more of an english seaside…BUT considering it’s only a 20 minute tram ride from the city center if was a nice place to spend the day. There were lots of skateboarders and cyclists along the boardwalk of the beach and luckily for us we picked a glorious day to visit!
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Apart from the beach itself, St Kilda’s other big tourist attraction is Luna Park – an old, creepy amusement park. When you walk through the doors (giant mouth) of Luna Park you’re instantly struck by how weird it is. The staff all wear ‘old timey’ uniforms and the rides are shocking, weird old machines that look like they should have been shut down years ago!
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The whole time I was walking around Luna Park I just kept thinking ‘do they get it?’ Like, do they know this is a thing?! If anyone has seen the film Adventureland, it reminded me of that!
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I hate rides, ALL rides. Even teacups but Lucy wanted to go on a few. Turns out, nope, not gonna happen. The park literally has like 10 rides but they put them on at scheduled times so you have to pick certain ones depending on what time you get there. Lucy had her heart set on the biggest, scariest rides but instead was pointed in the direction of the kids dodgems…we quickly left.
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We spent the rest of the day walking around St Kilda, we walked along the beach, went to the shops and had a lovely dinner in a great vegan restaurant. St Kilda is definitely worth a visit and I would say you can’t walk past Luna Park without having a peek inside!

The following days were spent in Fitzroy (you can read about my love for it in my previous post here) we also made friends and drank cider on the roof of our lovely hostel. Greenhouse Backpackers = 10/10!We explored the city a little more and checked out the state library which was really nice and such a peaceful place to visit. We also checked out more amazing street art around the city…
and went on a little tour of Captain Cook’s house which was good to see, if only for Lucy’s comment of  “it just looks like my Grandad’s house!”
Exploring a new city is always fun but it’s easy to get lost in the pressure of doing everything and ticking off every tourist attraction in your guide book, it’s nice to actually just find little treasures that are in and around the city and spend the day there. Returning to Melbourne was really nice and it made me appreciate the time we’d spent there but we both agreed we were happy to move on to somewhere new and that meant embarking on a 12 hour bus ride to Sydney… more on that later! (I’ll tell you now we weren’t as smiley as the creepy Luna Park guy!)
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Melbourne: being cultured but also a cheap skate.

Travelling and living in a city can get expensive, paying for your hostel, food, activities, coffees etc all adds up but luckily there are lots of free things to do in Melbourne (thank god). We’ve made a point of taken full advantage of the free things that are on offer in the city!

Melbourne is full of art and photography galleries and we decided to check out the NGV – National Gallery of Victoria. It’s located near Federation Square right in the heart of the city centre – you can’t miss it! Luckily for us there was a great exhibition on in the main hall. The exhibition was by Patrick Pound and was a collection of old photographs that the artist had put together over the years.
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The photographs were grouped together by similarity – dogs, people with cameras, shadows, selfies, sporting events etc. It was so good to see all these old photographs from all over the world and from different decades with the same subject matter. It was great to see how the fashion and trends changed throughout the years and also the changes in the cameras.
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We stayed at the exhibition for about an hour and it was great to look around. You can find out more info about the exhibition here www.ngv.vic.gov.au/exhibition/patrick-pound

After exploring the NGV we decided to take a little walk around the city, we’ve been walking most places rather than catching the trams, it saves money (yes!) but it’s also a great way to see the city, when the sun’s out it’s nice to have a stroll and discover new places.
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Another day we decided to check out the Shrine of Remembrance, the sun was shining and the shrine is set in a beautiful garden so it was the perfect day to pay a visit!
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The gardens were beautiful and when we went inside the shrine it was full of flags and memorabilia, a crypt and a medal gallery.
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There was also a great balcony that you could go out onto and the views from there were amazing! You could see out over the gardens and the city. Seeing the trees with huge skyscrapers behind them was really cool, I could have stayed up there for hours watching everything that was happening on the street below!
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It’s not until you’re on a tight budget that you realise that there’s actually so many free things to do in cities, we tend to head to the city’s info centre and the staff are so helpful, they give you leaflets and maps of all the things going on in the city and there are so many free things to choose from which is great!
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Melbourne really is a great city to visit and with so many free activities to do it’s a city that suites all budgets, plus if you go to a free museum or art gallery and it’s not for you, it doesn’t matter because you haven’t lost anything! Win, Win!

Melbourne: first few days and first impressions.

Two years ago my best friend and I were sitting in a coffee shop in London dreaming our lives away, I had just decided that I was going off travelling and was desperate for her to join me. We always talked about going on a big trip together (usually when we were drunk and loving life!) and last week it finally happened – we would finally be travelling Australia together! I was due to fly to Melbourne and meet Lucy, who had been travelling around Japan, on the 2nd of April but Cyclone Debbie had other ideas and left me flooded in Lismore (you can read about that here!).

After switching my flights around (thanks Jetstar!) it was finally time to meet Lucy in Melbourne, which was super exciting because I hadn’t visited Melbourne before and it was Lucy’s first time in Oz! Lucy came to meet me in the city and there were lots of tears and hugs and we couldn’t believe we were finally reunited after 7 months apart – the longest separation to date! Now the fun could begin, lets explore Melbourne!

Spoiler alert – we’re both pretty shit at organising stuff so neither of us had done any research into what to do in Melbourne but luckily, like any city, there is always something going on! Our first day was spent walking around in the sunshine checking out the street art around Hosier Lane.
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Visiting the lanes of street art in Melbourne is high up in all the guide books as something to see and I have to say I really enjoyed walking around and seeing it all. I’d heard mixed reviews about it but I really liked it, it’s colourful, you can take great photos there and best of all it’s free!
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The following day was freezing and wet so we decided to take the tram to Fitzroy – the hipster part of town. We looked around the shops, grabbed a coffee whilst planning the rest of our stay and had dinner at Smith and Daughter, a great vegan restaurant. Being a Sunday alot of places were shut…! (see told you we’re shit at organising!)
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Fitzroy is great and we both really liked it there, lots of trendy coffee shops and cafes, vintage shops, unique bars and now home to the biggest vegan shop in the WORLD! We were freezing cold and it was raining so we took shelter in a really nice bar where we drank cider and made friends with a huge dog that looked like a bear!
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We loved Fitzroy and were sad that so many places were shut because it was a Sunday so we got up the next day and went back there, this time the sun was shining and it was great to walk around. We looked around the op shops (charity shops to you english folk) had lunch in a vegan cafe and just enjoyed walking around without being freezing! (Seriously Melbourne, your weather is crazy!)
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One thing that I instantly love about Melbourne is the colour of the city, there is street art around every corner and it gives the city such character. Fitzroy has a real charm about it, lots of little quirky shops and it reminded us of the more hipster parts of London which we both think is a good thing!
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I’d heard mixed reviews about Melbourne, I know people who absolutely love it there and people who have visited and come away unimpressed. I for one really like this city, I will admit there isn’t loads to do and it doesn’t have huge ‘tourist attractions’ but it does have huge charm and character. I love the artsy feel of the city and the colour and vibrancy that is here.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt reminds me alot of London, especially Fitzroy, I also love that fact that even though you’re in a big city it’s very green, the city is lined with trees and there are lots of parks and open spaces to chill in, plus it has beautiful botanical gardens. So far Melbourne gets a thumbs up from me!
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Any suggestions of where to visit in Melbourne? Any must have sights to see?!

Stuck in a Natural Disaster Zone… thanks Cyclone Debbie!

Debbie… sounds like a nice name right? How about when you add the word Cyclone to the front of it?!…I had 6 days to kill before I was planning on meeting my best friend in Melbourne, all flights and hostels were booked and I was super excited! I thought I could cram a quick farm visit in before I jetted off, so I went to stay at Sugarshine Farm Sanctuary in New South Wales (you can read about this amazing place here)

I had been at the sanctuary for 3 days when it started raining…and continued for 24 hours solid. After checking Facebook we soon realised that places around us were flooding, badly. Lismore, the local town was seriously under water and I must admit it was scary to see those images and know the rising water was in the next town! Luckily for us we were safe on the farm, we are high up so didn’t get flooded. The poor animals were grumpy because they had to chill in the barn all day but they were safe…thank god.

We took a drive into Lismore the day after the rain started and we were shocked to see the state it was in. Cars underwater, home flooded, boats driving through the town, helicopters flying overhead, I could not believe my eyes. We drove to a look out and you could see the full extent of the flooding, as far as you can see there was water, it was unbelievable and just reminded me of scenes in a movie. We drove back to the farm thankful that it was untouched, we were safe and so we’re the animals. Many homes had to evacuate and leave their pets behind with the water level rising, I can’t imagine how tough a decision that would have been for some families.

The following day we drove back into Lismore to help with the clean up, some of the water had subsided and people were starting to assess the damage done to their properties. Seeing families throw their ruined possessions onto a huge pile they’ve made on the street was heartbreaking. It was awful driving past house after house, all doing the same thing. We spent the whole day helping out that day and it was rewarding to see the difference a few helping hands can make.

The following day we headed back into Lismore to help out some more. This time we headed to the local pet shop which is owned by an elderly woman. It was overwhelming when we first pulled up, there was mess everywhere! A huge pile of damaged goods outside and a shop that was covered in mud and water. We spent all day moving damaged stock, taking fixtures and fittings off the wall, moving fridges and freezers, pressure washing the floor and removing the mud.  The lady had managed to get the cats and birds to safety but sadly the fish tanks overflowed and washed away, it was the saddest things seeing all the empty tanks. It was a huge job but thankfully there were many people helping out. This is what struck me the most – people are great and wanna help each other.I was taken back by people’s kindness and generosity, watching everyone come together to help each other out was great to see and be a part of. People were going around donating tools and new wellies to people who were helping in the clean up. Others were going round with cars full of food that they’d prepared and were handing it out. There was even a lady and her neighbour who had cooked a huge batch of curry and were dishing it up and giving it out to the volunteers, this was so incredible to see! (and it was really yummy!)3ECD669300000578-4367028-An_aerial_view_of_floodwaters_engulfing_central_Lismore_New_Sout-a-21_1490958114892.jpgBeing flooded near Lismore meant I couldn’t catch my flight to meet my best friend in Melbourne and meant that my flights and hostels would have to be cancelled and at first I was a bit bummed BUT after helping with the clean up I was happy that it had happened. I was happy to have seen Lismore, luckily I had lunch in the town one day so I got to see it before the flood took over. It was devastating to see the damage that had happened to this place but so heartwarming to see the community come together and lend a hand to get families and businesses back on their feet. I left Lismore 3 days ago and was sad to go, it’s hard knowing that it’ll be a long time before the town is back on its feet again but I know the community spirit will get them through and help the town rebuild. It’s funny how times like these really bring people together, it was an emotional week but one I wouldn’t change, I’m so glad I was there to meet the wonderful people of Lismore and lend a hand.