Aussie Road Trip: Melbourne Identity 

I have to be honest, my first impression upon seeing Melbourne yesterday wasn’t what I had when I first entered Sydney. There wasn’t the awe of the iconic Harbour Bridge or the Opera House and the place seemed to bustle instead of buzz.

I’d heard a lot about Melbourne and how it has been voted the best place to live in the world- a pretty impressive achievement, but I just couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. The beach was waveless, busy and cold, and the city was crowded and uninspiring through my tired, grumpy eyes.

Then something changed. The sunset made way and the lights went up on the city like it had just been doused in glitter. Music bounced and echoed invitingly as conversations ricocheted off exposed brick decor to create the atmosphere I had craved. This was Melbourne.

My impression from afternoon to evening changed dramatically, the city was rocking on a standard Thursday night and the drinks were flowing classily and steadily- more waterfall than tidal wave.

The roof terraces sprouted palm trees and the views were insane and my first night in Melbourne turned out to be more memorable than my first in Sydney, and although it wasn’t love at first sight, it ran deeper than the initial atttaction of Australia’s biggest city.

Fast forward to today, a slightly tired gentleman I was, but one rejuvenated  (thanks to the hostel’s free brekkie) and ready to explore the city.
I went to the Eureka Skydeck as a proper tourist does and took some snaps with my Spanish friend, Sara. The views were great, despite the grey, overcast weather. The Skydeck is one of those typical things that you MUST do in the city, but once you’ve done it once, there’s not a huge amount dragging you back. Still, I got some pretty nifty snaps while I was up in the Gods.

After the views, I met up with Robert, a guy I met on couchsurfing after putting my Great Ocean Road trip on the public domain. Tomorrow myself, Robert and two American girls – Linzy and Shauna will take the trip to see the remaining apostles and beautiful views along the Victorian coast. 

So Robert, like most people I’ve met through couchsurfing, is a top lad. Having moved here from Indonesia a few years ago, he has spent his time meeting new people and learning the town like few others would.
This is reflected in crossing paths with various people in the busy streets of Melbourne, and his general positive attitude when it comes to people and his passion for the city.

He took me to a food festival called Noodle Night and introduced me to some delicious Phillipino cuisine before we stopped by the river for a beer. I learned a lot about his life growing up in Indonesia, and the racism involved for him as a Chinese-Indonesian. He told me about the fierce hatred that consumes certain groups in the country of a thousand islands.
Though what came out of that tough background, was a genuinely friendly and positive person who was an absolute pleasure to meet and share stories with. And I would have said that before he shouted me dinner too!

Already since I arrived just yesterday, I have met some truly awesome people as I did in Sydney. The cities of Australia are packed with generous, kind-hearted and crazy-fun people with really interesting and diverse backgrounds and stories.

Tomorrow, I am sure I will meet some more when we set off for a day of discovering one of Australia’s great wonders. I absolutely cannot wait.

My first impression of Melbourne was one of a jaded mind and spoiled from the eye candy of Sydney, but the city has greeted me with generosity and a nocturnal beauty that will have its own special place in the memories of this road trip. And the best part? I still have 3 more nights here- result!

Thanks for reading!

Goodbye, and don’t judge a book by its cover

IG : malzjames

SC : jamesinaus

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