Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Melbourne adventure...

As most of you will know, Sham works for a small Brisbane based company. Since he joined three years ago, the company has almost doubled in size. The two owners have still kept that "family" feel though - they still fly non Brisbane based staff and their partners to the Christmas party, give all employees a Christmas present and give hilarious drunken speeches (sorry Craig - we haven't forgotten that one!).

When they were taking on a new client in Melbourne, they asked if anyone wanted to go and help set up - it would mean six weeks in Melbourne in a serviced apartment just on the outskirts of the city. The deal included flights to and from Sydney each weekend so Sham volunteered to do it! He left Sydney mid October.

We quickly realised that the return flights were best spent on me - I could holiday in Melbourne at the weekend rather than Sham coming home to help me with housework! Altogether, I got to visit for three weekends - and each weekend was different in what we did and saw, but each was as much fun as the one before!

On my first visit, Sham had already been there five days and was very excited to show me around his new home! The apartment had two bedrooms (he occasionally had a colleague staying for a night or two), a small open plan living, dining and kitchenette area and a bathroom. It was not flash by any stretch of the imagination, but it was perfectly functional, clean and most importantly, it was in a great location! A four minute walk to the office and a ten minute stroll to Flinders Street Station - the heart of Melbourne's CBD.

We spent the first weekend exploring Melbourne on foot - according to an app I have on my phone, we walked approximately 17km that weekend! We wandered down the lovely lane ways, shopped in Brunswick and strolled along the river at Southbank... stopping frequently for sustenance (coffee) and to take pictures of some of Melbourne's delights! It really was a perfect city break.

Yep, it's a busker!

The iconic Flinders Street Station

The second weekend just as lovely, but we did completely different things. Sham has an old friend from London, Mike, whose family moved to Australia around seven years ago. Because his family run their own business, Mike splits his time between Melbourne where his parents live and Brisbane where his wife and kids are. Luckily for us, he was in Melbourne while Sham was there. Mike had very generously offered to lend us his car over the weekend... but as we were negotiating a parking space in the apartment's underground car park, we were not quite prepared for the "car" we were borrowing!!

Our chariot for the weekend

Sharing the driving was out of the question as there was no way I was going to be able to drive that beast! This was a shame for Sham as he had some big plans for the weekend! After a late breakfast with Mike in the famous St Kilda beach, we dropped him back to his parents house and set off for a drive to Mornington Peninsula. It's a lovely sleepy coastal town and as the weather was lovely, we enjoyed a walk and lunch there.

We got back in the car and Sham said the next destination was a surprise! I worked out within 5 minutes that we were on our way to Ramsay Street, Erinsborough... home of Neighbours! Ok, don't judge me... I have watched Neighbours on and off since I was a kid and it was my first reference to Aussie life! I am not even slightly embarrassed to say I was very excited about our next stop! Pin Oak Drive (AKA Ramsay Street) is actually a really tiny, residential cul de sac. I wouldn't say I was disappointed as it was cool to see the Robinson house, but the size and non majestic nature of the street was a bit surprising ( I am not sure what I was expecting!)

Paul Robinson's house, Ramsay Street

Our next stop was the beautiful Dandenong Ranges.
It was a windy, steep drive up there and as we were there for sunset, it was absolutely freezing! I have to be honest, despite my best efforts to keep warm (hot chocolate and jumping up and down), I struggled to keep focussed on the amazing views looking down on Melbourne's CBD, so once the sun had set, I decided to wait in the car while Sham tried to capture the moment!

By the end of our first day of having the car, we had driven over 200km (approx 125 miles) and we were ready for an early night to prepare for the next adventure.

200 km later...
The next day was an early start and after a quick stop for coffee and snacks, we were on our way to do one of Australia's most famous drives - The Great Ocean Road! It really is a breath-takingly beautiful drive.
We stopped frequently to take pictures of the amazing scenery.

It was a REALLY hot day, so by the time we got to the 12 (now 8) Apostles, we wanted to get home the shortest possible way. The journey back on the motorway was not nearly as pretty, but it was quick!

530km driven
By the time we gave Mike his truck back at the end of the weekend, we had clocked up over 800 km (almost 500 miles!!) We loved road tripping together and are already planning our next one!

My last weekend in Melbourne coincided with my birthday so the weekend was spent shopping, eating at yummy restaurants and drinking cocktails!

Birthday dinner!

We both really liked Melbourne both as a city to work in (Sham) and as a city to visit... and we reckon we probably wouldn't rule it out as a city to live in! The weather is not as nice as Sydney, but it's also NOT as bad as London!!

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