It’s been a pretty dramatic couple of weeks for me. I should be packing up my stuff into my well-worn bag ready to jet off to New Zealand right now. But I’m not… instead I’m making Melbourne, Australia my home for the foreseeable future. In a turn of events that I never saw coming, I’ve done something so spontaneous I’ve completely surprised myself, as well as my family and friends.
This decision didn’t come easy. I’ve had to look very closely at why I feel I want to stay here and ensure my motivations are pure and honest. It’s not about anybody except me. Actually, in staying I have to bid farewell to my favourite person in Melbourne which makes things very tough. The choice comes down to two factors: one, I absolutely love Melbourne; and two, I am so not ready to go home yet.
So here I am, a Victorian for the present. The months ahead are empty just now but living in this city it’s impossible to be bored. There are a lot of reasons why I’ve fallen in love with Melbourne. It’s not been named the most liveable city in the world for nothing. Something exciting is always going on here, whether it’s sport, music, theatre or food.
There’s no end of cool places to hang out in Melbourne with a few friends and enjoy a couple of drinks. One of my favourites is Cookie which has scrummy Thai tapas, fantastic cocktails and a rooftop cinema/bar. Ponyfish Island is an open-air bar located underneath a bridge on the Yarra river, the perfect setting for sunning yourself with a cider in hand and watching black swans glide along on the water. World Bar on Southbank is pretty chilled and super-trendy. Efiftyfive is a dingy basement on Elizabeth Street with worn-out sofas and shabby décor, but somehow it works. My favourite place to end the night? Cherry Bar on AC/DC Lane (yes, that’s a real address). The Thursday evening ‘Soul Night’ is one huge dance party with 60’s motown on the decks and some awesome live bands to boot. Not to be missed.
Melbourne’s big on sports, too. The AFL season hasn’t started here properly yet, but when it does I’ll be sure to go and see a game. Hot guys running around in little shorts, what’s not to love? I was lucky enough to catch the Boxing Day cricket test match which was the best way to kill my Christmas Day hangover. The sun was shining, the beer was flowing and the Aussies were enjoying themselves to the max. The Australian cricket team got all 10 Sri Lankan wickets before the day was out – it was as though we were watching a one day international. Riding the early evening train home full of intoxicated cricket fans was an experience in itself! I spent a day at the Australian Open at the start of January which was also great fun. The sun was shining (again) and we managed to get seats in the Margaret Court Arena to watch the Williams sisters play a doubles match. Seeing the girls in action was really cool and the ticket only cost $35.
Being here over the summer months, there are so many outdoors-y things to do in this city. Just a short tram ride away is St Kilda beach, complete with ice cream stands and a run-down funfair (Luna Park). The sea is gentle and cooling, as long as you avoid the jellyfish, and it’s a fantastic spot for people-watching. There are a number of parks around the CBD worth a stroll or sunbathe. The Botanical Gardens are peaceful and it’s easy to escape the city noise in there. I recommend an afternoon picnic on a sunny day. Fitzroy Gardens, just east of the city centre, are also lovely and home to James Cook’s cottage, transported over from England and therefore the oldest building in Australia. Visit after dark and you’ll see and hear the native possums everywhere.
Melbourne is a bohemian, artsy kind of place and one of my favourite things to do is just wander the streets and alleyways. Graffiti is everywhere – in the form of artwork rather than vandalism. Little boutiques, cafes and quirky bars are hidden down lanes all over the CBD. Degraves Street and Flinders Lane are two of my favourites. There’s always something new to discover in Melbourne. Just this last weekend I was introduced to a funky bar in Brunswick, had gorgeous Mexican food in South Yarra and danced Saturday night away at an awesome indie night in Fitzroy. Shame I had to work on Sunday!
I’m here for the now, the city is my oyster and I’m definitely going to make sure I continue to enjoy all it has to offer. I found out this week that my hometown (Stamford, Lincolnshire) has been voted one of the top places to live in all of Britain – and I was lucky enough to grow up there. Currently I’m living in a city which regularly tops the polls as the most liveable in the world. I am one lucky girl.