The best place to start your backpacking adventures in Australia is probably the east coast, Melbourne to be exact. Melbourne is famous as one of the top three World’s Most Liveable Cities. So, let our one year in the land down under begin! You have to soak in the laid-back, yet dynamic energy of this city. Plus, there’s an abundance of nearby destinations you should check out.
Australia is definitely a festival-driven country with plenty of open land and music lovers. The beaches look like fantasies on postcards… or on Discovery or National Geographic channels. Here, we’re sitting on the rocks of Rock Pool Sorrento Ocean Beach in Blairgowrie, Australia.
Make sure you slather on plenty of sunblock because the sun is BRUTAL. It’s a known fact that ozone layer is depleted over Australia, therefore, you have no protection. UV rays will age and bake your skin. Even with sunblock, you’ll get some sun damage. Wear a hat, sunblock and drink plenty of water.
When arriving, you’ll be in price culture shock; the cost of living is pretty steep vs most countries, but you can manage. Save more than what you predicted, especially if you’re coming on a working holiday. Summer time starts in December. So if you’re a working holiday traveler, it might take longer to find a job during high season.
Melbourne’s public transportation is easily accessible, a bit old school, most importantly… it works, just takes a little extra time management. You’ll be impressed by the funky architecture of the city. I really dig it. Triple J is a public radio station that airs throughout Australia; similar to BBC Radio One in the UK. It’s government-run, very diverse and even plays the explicit version of songs. I find myself using Shazam every time that I listen. Don’t look for a hip-hop station because you won’t find one.
As for places to stay, we lived with friends for a couple of months. Rent is weekly (p/w-per week). You can search Gumtree (similar to Craigslist) for rooms. But, The Nunnery, Fitzroy is pretty chill. The bathrooms are small and co-ed, but it’s close to everything and about a 10-minute walk to the city center. When looking for hotels, motels and hostels, I recommend Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor for info or try Couchsurfing until you find somewhere to live.
Queen Victoria Markets is the best and coolest place to shop. St. Andrews Market is just as awesome. You can check out other markets by clicking here for specific places, times and days. Also, arts, crafts and clothes markets are plenty in Melbourne, here’s a list. If you like vintage clothes shopping, here’s a list of vintage markets.
Melbourne has some really awesome cafes. Manchester Press is quite nice. I would have loved to drink at all the cafes, but here are some pages with recommendations where I yearn to go! Cafe List A Cafe List B Cafe List C Cafe List D
When planning a fancy din din out, I’d recommend the Docklands which is Melbourne’s waterfront area. You can dine at plenty of restaurants, cafes, cocktail lounges, and see lovely views. There’s even a bar on the water called Riverland Bar. Dip any part of your body in that water and get sick if you want. The E. coli levels are pretty high, as any city river is. They will actually fine you for it.
As for Korean restaurants, there a few in the center, but the more prominent areas are Doncaster and Box Hill. Chinese Chic’s blog has many recommendations on Korean restaurants, markets, shops, etc in Melbourne. we’ve been to City Mart (Korean grocery store) and it had everything that we wanted at great prices. Here’s a list of Korean grocers.
Nightclubs and lounges are everywhere in the city. I’ve been to Marrakech Cocktail Bar where they play a nice blend of tunes, with great drinks. Eden is the spot if you want that Vegas style party. You’ll pass many dive bars which are always filled with people. Here’s a list of the top 50 bars. Also, here’s a list of rooftop bars and beer gardens. You can always grab a Beat magazine or a Timeout magazine to find local shows, theme-nights, and clubs. You can check out many festivals throughout the year, such as Big Day Out or St. Kilda’s Festival (which is 100% free).
Can you believe that people still say, “Excuse me. Sorry” when they need to go around you or bump you? Manners. That’s what I’m talking about. Reminds me to mind my own.
Thanks, Melbourne. You are a really cool, funky city. Stay classy.
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