We slept very well that night and had a great lie in and an easy morning to ourselves which was wonderful. When we did venture out we took the tram into the centre and wandered around the shops before tasting yet another amazing pie for lunch. In Melbourne City centre there is a free tram that takes you around the city pointing out all the attractions so we hopped on that for another look around and the same with a free bus too, it was such a great way to get around and see everything, we jumped off to visit Old Melbourne Gaol which is a bluestone jail that was built in 1841 and used until 1929, 135 prisoners were hanged there, so we just had to go in. We waited outside the main entrance for our tour with 12 other people when the grand door opened and a prison guard shouted us in, she shouted us to stand with our backs to the wall and do as she says, it was so funny we didn’t expect it at all. When we were all lined us in the registration office she gave us all a card with name, age, crime on it and she shouted at us all asking what we had done wrong – I got wrong for giggling....oops! She kept the act up the whole way around the jail, it was hilarious, she then separated men and women and locked us up in separate cells and turned the light out to give us a taste of what it must be like – not good. Before we left to enter the actual hanging quarters I wanted my photo taken with her but was too scared to ask. We then entered the mail jail which had lots of spooky displays, including Ned Kelly’s iconic armour and many death masks from the gallows from which he was hanged. It really was a great tour and the guide was brilliant.
The following day it rained really hard and had done all night, so we had another lazy morning then drove into the centre to visit Melbourne Museum, one thing we have learned here and New Zealand is that you can spend most of an afternoon in a museum and for very little money too. The museum is spread over two floors and had lots of exhibitions from geology, human anatomy to the brain and memory. There was a huge animal exhibition where just about every native animal was on display alongside dinosaur skeletons and because it was a Saturday the children were running a riot with excitement, it was fun to watch. We walked through Fitzroy gardens the following day and up to the posh end of town, it gave us a great view of some real Victorian houses which were stunning we then walked all the way back into the city.
Mornigton peninsular is about a two hour drive so we decided to take a day trip, we had our daily picnic at seaford and took a little walk to the beach, the coast line is so beautiful so on the way back we drove the costal route, we passed some of the most incredible, flashy apartments and villas on the way all with perfect sea views, all completely different in style, this road took us through St Kilda again then back into the city. We took Kim out for a curry on the night as a thank you then we had a few drinks before heading home, it felt very weird dropping her off at her friend flat in her car. We booked our overnight bus to Sydney which is 12 hours away the following day and the drove along the Great Ocean Road, not quite like the one in South Shields. This spectacular road bends and winds along the coast. We passed through Aireys Inlet, walked up to Split Point lighthouse and drove through a small town called Lorne before stopping at Apollo Bay for a snack and a wander along the sea front. It’s a beautiful drive but we didn’t have enough time to drive the whole road so we turned around and headed back to Melbourne. We had agreed to take Kim into the city and treat her to a meal and it was just as well because when we arrived to pick her up she locked herself out of her friends flat, so we drove her to her own flat where she grabbed some shoes. She took us to an amazing restaurant which was set in a pub but served the best Thai food I have ever tasted, the place was packed out with people. We then met her friend Rob and all four of us headed to an amazing pastry shop which served the most amazing range of cakes and pastries I have ever seen, it took us ages to decide which dessert to have. To end a perfect day she took us for a nightcap in a local pub then off to bed very full!
The following day we decided to take a suggested walk by Lonely Planet around the city as it was our last day, the walk took us down side streets which are famous for the street art all down them, there was a couple of guys spray painting as we walked part, it was so colourful. As the sun was shining we walked for miles taking as many pictures as we could, the we caught the tram to Victoria market which is a huge indoor market and because it is Christmas it’s open late every Wednesday night with bands playing and loads of clothes, food and drink stalls everywhere. It was great fun we grabbed a glass of sangria and supped on that till the sun went down.
All this walking about has made me feel as if I was really getting to know Melbourne, it really did take my breath away from the first day, it has so much to do and see and has such a great feel about it, everyone seems passionate about enjoying life: food, fashion and most of all socialising. It has many cafes and restaurants along quaint side streets which makes you feel you are in Europe and every night day we went out everywhere was packed, people catching up after work, after leaving a country that has been hid bad with recession it was a pleasure to see so many people out and about spending money.
We left on a night bus and good old Kim made sure we made it to the bus station by insisting on dropping us off and making herself late for work. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Every house needs a Kim. Thank You x
We arrived on Melbourne about 6pm and Kimmy was there at the airport waiting for us, she drove us straight to her apartment where we caught up and had nibbles, she than explained where everything is and that she would be staying at a friend's house so we can have her flat for the week and her car, people don’t come kinder than this! We all headed out for a meal then agreed to meet the following morning for our tour guide. We had a great night sleep and Kim arrived at 9.30, she took us to post off passport application....again! and to collect my new free walking boots from the post office then we drove into Melbourne City centre which is amazing, it has the largest running tram network in the whole of the world, so not only do you need to drive with fast city centre traffic but you have trams coming at you from all ends, but they made the place really likeable. Kim walked us through the city showing us all the Christmas decorations, we visited Hages chocolate shop where she bought us an incredible chocolate bar, we passed through a really posh food hall where we sampled some amazing pies, we walked by the oldest rail station in Australia, Federation Square then left us at the information centre to gather some information while she walked to get the car. We were getting top class guide around this city and before we know it she collected us from the information centre and drove us around a little more. She stopped outside a tram stop and told us we were going to have a 4 course meal and unlimited drinks on one of the oldest trams whilst it tours around the city centre....wow! We didn’t know what to say, it was a shame she didn’t come with us but she insisted she had other things to do and said she would wait for us when it returns. We climbed aboard this wonderful tram, we couldn’t help feel like we were royalty after living in a tent for two months. We were grinning from ear to ear as we tasted kangaroo loin, fillet steak the best food I have had for such a long time. The sun was shining whilst we sipped champagne, red wine, baileys etc etc. The tram took us around the city and out to St Kilda’s lovely beach front town on the suburbs, when it came to stop we didn’t want to get off, but when we did Kim was there to collect us. She then drove us to St Kilda where we walked along the beach front and along the pier, it’s such a lovely little seaside town and because the sun was out everyone was there sunbathing, walking, jet skiing and surfing we then and had an ice cream. We were then taken to Brighton beach where she used to visit as a child, we plodged in the sea and then whisked off to a Belgian pub to taste some Belgian bier. Just when we thought we were done she agreed to take us out that evening for a pizza to end what was truly one of the nicest days I have had. Thank You Kimmy.