My last blog from Australia (for a while) - I'm going to New Zealand on Friday for 6 1/2 weeks!
Melbourne, though, has been a lot of fun. The best trip was probably to Phillip Island and Wilsons Promontory. I was there for 3 days travelling with a couple of Dutch guys I met in the line for New Years Eve in Sydney - crazy! Phillip Island was good, the highlight being the evening penguin parade. At about 9pm 1000 (yes, 1000) little penguins began emerging from the sea and walking across the beach to find their young and nest for the night. It was amazing - the penguins were tiny, and watching them standing on the water's edge before making a dash for it across the beach was cool. On the boardwalk back to the carpark you could get really close to them - touching distance! The 2nd and 3rd days were spent in Wilsons Prom. Supberb scenery and amazing wildlife. We were camping and at night around the campsite appeared wombats, possums and spiders! All this after we had seen kangeroos, wallabies and a snake during the day! Excellent! The scenery was great too - a couple of awesome beaches with soft, white sand and good waves, and we did a few walks through the rainforest and up a mountain. A great trip.
Back in Melbourne I had a day at the Australian Open on Monday 14th (the opening day) where I saw Rafa Nadal amongst others. Continuing the sporting theme that is Melbourne I did a tour of the collosial MCG and then went to watch a Twenty20 cricket match between Australia and India. There were 85,000 people there! For cricket - mental! Even though the match was a non-event (India batting first scored 70 odd) the experience was great. Plus I got to see Rogue Traders perform in the break between innings (lol).
Whilst there is not as many 'obvious' attractions to Melbourne as there is in Sydney it is still a great place. St Kilda is a very cool suburb, complete with beach, loads of cake shops and plenty of bars. The southbank (of the river) has the crown complex - a massive casino/shops/restaurants/bars/cinema building which was quite fun to just wander around. Another good day was hiring a bike and cycling around the city and down through the (lovely) botanical gardens, around albert park and along the St Kilda esplanade. The botanical gardens were great for a walk around - there's a big lake in the middle and plenty of shade from the 30 degree heat!
So Melbourne is more relaxed and less busy (i.e., there are far fewer tourists) than Sydney, and has a more European feel to it. But which do I prefer?? I'm not sure.....