Back to city life and weather that made us feel right at home. During our month in Melbourne we experienced the famous 4 seasons in a day where you can be wearing shorts and t-shirts one minute, but then the next need a hat, scarf and umbrella. Melbourne is an arty city which is just what we both love. Graffiti isn't actually illegal so you see plenty of it about, but suprisingly not as tacky as you might think. Projects have been completed by some very talented artists in every corner of the city.
There is a very European feel about Melbourne where we were able to enjoy a cafe style culture, hidden lanes with secret shops and bars. Whether you are into art, clubbing, gambling, eating, sports, theatre... Melbourne has it all. We certainly never felt bored and if we couldn't think of anything to do we would simply jump on a tram and see where it led, because we knew that what ever stop we jumped off at we would find something of interest. We adopted a second home known as the ACMI (Australian Centre for Moving Images) which we could go to if we didn't want to spend money. This was a free exhibition that was both educational and hands on. You could learn all there was to know about moving image and there was even a matrix booth. You pressed a button, entered the booth and did any action of your choice. The booth was filled with cameras so that it created a slow motion circular shot of your action like when Neo famously does the limbo to dodge those bullets! The ACMI was also the location of the Tim Burton book signing which we went to to meet Tim Burton himself and have him sign his exhibition book for us. We queued for 5hours and there were many hardcore fans there all dressed in costume. Fay even turned up in her Mad Hatter Alice in Wonderland t-shirt. She denied wearing it on purpose but I beg to differ ;)
Despite being in Melbourne for over a month, we never paid for accommodation once! This was achieved by staying with couchsurfers (info of this can be found at www.couchsurfing.org) a friend from fundraising in Western Australia, as well as our boss, and Karen and Will who we know back from home :) We also took a couple of weeks outside of the city to WWOOF (Willing Workers On Organic Farms). Basically we lived with a family and did gardening, weeding, mulching, housework etc for 5hours a day and in return received accommodation as well as all meals instead of getting paid, which I feel certainly paid off better, as money can disappear very quickly in a city! Our host lived about an hours drive out of Melbourne but it took us 3 hours on public transport. The family and home had a pretty hippy feel to it, with the two girls going to a Rudolph Steiner school, and the home being made from mud brick and wood. Especially since the previous owners had been artists, various metallic sculptures could be found in the bush that their land was on. Being out in the hills and valleys the weather was a lot colder than the city and we had to go and buy ponchos, gloves and hats, helping us look even more like foreign travellers :)
We haven't spent as much time anywhere else than we did in Melbourne. We thoroughly enjoyed our time there and would certainly not hesitate visiting again in the future. There is plenty to do and lots of close friends who we hope will be able to see again and will definately repay the favour of providing a home if they are ever in London :)
We are flying to Sydney next, we wonder if it can top Melbourne. Many travellers have had differing opinions on our travels of the two cities. Will let you know what our verdict is.
Dan & Fay