To celebrate my official six months of living in Sydney I decided to take a long weekend away to the second most popular city in Australia - Melbourne. Determined not to miss a thing during my short stay I had meticulously planned out every hour of the trip (that doesn't sound like me, right?).
First thing on my itinerary was food (obviously). Just a five minute walk from my hotel and I was at the Queen Victoria Market. This was more of a festival than a market - there was so much going on and you could get lost walking around all the stalls! There was everything there: seafood, coffee, candy, pastries, underwear, suits, toys, kitchenware, souvenirs, etc.
I wasn't sure how to choose a food stall to eat at so I went with the one with a long line, hoping the other people waiting knew what they were doing. The bratwurst with sauerkraut ended up to be a solid decision, although, obscenely large (see my hand for scale).
In an attempt to walk off a fraction of my lunch I went down my list of sites to see: Degraves Street, Bourke Street Mall, Flinders Railway Station, Queen Victoria Gardens, and the Shrine of Remembrance.
My favourite parts of Melbourne were all the narrow alleys full of shops and cafes. I would be walking on this busy main street and then turn in an alleyway and be surrounded by these quaint flower shops, wine bars, and hip cafes. Check out this one, doesn't it look magical?
My second day was spent on an all-day tour of the Great Ocean Road. The 151 mile road is packed full of spectacular views and breathtaking sights.
The Great Ocean Road is probably best known for the Twelve Apostles. Fun fact: there are only eight limestone stacks left, as over time they erode and crumble under their own weight. In this picture below you can actually see where the one closest to the camera has fallen.
Did I mention this is a popular destination? It was a bit crowded to say the least.
My favourite sight on the road was Loch Ard Gorge - look how beautiful! I decided to take my shoes off here and stick my feet in the Southern Ocean for the first time (it was very cold).
More photos from the Great Ocean Road, including London Arch and Gibson Steps (I think you'll figure out which ones those are)...
On the tour I also enjoyed some time with the wildlife. This included koala spotting and bird feeding. At first there were just a few birds and everything felt under control:
Then they just kept showing up and things got a bit out of hand:
My third day was again filled with nature and animal encounters. I had decided to take a tour of Phillip Island, which is known for the Penguin Parade! But first, the tour began with wallaby and kangaroo feeding:
Spotted! I finally saw a little joey - can you see it?
Then we headed to a few beaches:
And we did a few coastal walks:
But the best part of the day was what happened after sunset... the Penguin Parade! Unfortunately, there were no cameras or phones allowed, so you will just have to fly down to Australia and see the spectacle for yourself! Once the sun had gone down and they felt safe enough the penguins, known as fairy penguins or little penguins, waddled from the ocean, across the beach, and to their burrows in the grassy hillside. They looked like this and you are this close to them! I watched about 1,000 penguins cross the beach, and in the summer about twice as many penguins make the journey!
The little guys only grow up to be 13 inches in height and they are the tiniest species of penguin - and darn cute if you ask me. The waves knock them over like bowling pins and they were quite slow crossing the beach despite their best waddling efforts. It just amazes me that these tiny guys spend all day in the vast ocean fishing and make this gruelling journey back to their burrows each night. Then again, I've been told that the little ones often have the most fight in them :)
Keywords: Ausrtalia, Melbourne, explore, kangaroo, nature, penguin parade, penguins, phillip island, the great ocean road, tourism, travel, wallaby, wildlife
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