We had 8 days in Melbourne and they were 8 great days. It was a total contrast to dull Queensland; civilisation, culture and not a single wet t-shirt contest to be seen! Real people live in Melbourne! I couldn't possibly list everything we did but there was a whole lot more to report than our last few stops. We managed to visit the Melbourne Zoo, Melbourne Museum, Immigration Museum, Scienceworks and Planetarium aswell as loads of other sightseeing. Lots of museums there but their like nothing you'll see in the UK, a lot more fun (as you'll see in the pictures), we found ourselves as stowage on a convict transport ship, racing Cathy Freeman down a sprint track and falling asleep ina dream inducing machine, then it all got intelligent with a space show narrated by Harrison Ford. We had way too much cheap fun!
Speaking of cheap, our hostel was the cheapest in Melbourne, I say hostel, it was more like student halls that were being refurbished (which meant no sleep after 7:30am). We met some interesting people though, including a male nurse from Nigeria (with a big interest in reducing African corruption) and another guy from Malaysia who was rather interested in the history graduate amongst us! He kept himself busy asking obscure questions about British activities in Sarawak in the mid 19th century (Nat: and later asked me if I knew a certain Mr Dent who lived in the uk in the 1850's).
These were our likeable roommates, there was one we weren't so keen on. One night we took the absolute cheapest dorm room and boy were we made to pay for our mistake! The only other personin our room was a middle aged alcoholic Korean guy who had a box of wine conveniently located above his bed. He snored his way to 3am, the room shaking with his every breath and then he rose from his pit and paced back and forth, in and out of the room right through the night. Nat had seen too many Korean horror films and thought we were going to get butchered, as it happens the biggest threat was to our belongings as this guy didnt seem to understand how to close the door to the room, either that or he was scared of the dark! Either way, we hardly slept for fear of a gruesome death or a nighttime robbery.
Our final roomate brings me to my big gripe about lots of people we've met in Australia, the hopeless working holidaymaker. You would think that the opportunity to live in a far off country would inspire people to have the adventure of a lifetime but for so many people we met it seemed like an excuse to either be slothenly or to do an incredibly demeaning job for an even more demeaning wage. Take Annie our roommate in Sydney, working as a "waitress" in a strip club because she couldnt find a better job and has run out of money. Now in Melbourne we met Sam, a cassically trained musician on both guitar and piano and with a degree in music production, his job? potwashing. The pay was so bad that he was having to work ridiculously long hours to survive given that he had spent all his money and maxed out his credit cards. Australia is a great place but its not a great place to be poor as there are constant reminders of what you could be seeing or doing. We've been on a shoestring budget but we've done more in our 5 weeks than he'd done in 4 months and without any money he didnt have much to look forward to. Thats not to say everyone is the same. We met plenty of people who were having a great time of it, including Nat's friend Ste who we saw on our last night in Melbourne.
It was great to be in a place that feels real, where everything isnt catered towards tourists and where you feel like a guest rather than a money making opportunity(read Cairns). It was with a mixture of sadness and excitement that we left Australia, we'd arrived in awe of Sydney, fell in love with Glenelg in Adelaide and really felt like we wanted to live here but our time in Queensland really brought home how isolated Australia is and no matter how much you like one place, who wants to stay in one town/city forever? Theres no 40minute hops down the motorway to the nearest city, the drive from Sydney to Melbourne takes 12 hours and although flights are short and cheap its not very practical when you wake up on a Saturday morning and fancy a day trip.
So, we're not going to be emigrating any time soon but Australia is still a great place for a holiday!