Melbourne! Melbourne! Oh Melbourne!
From the moment I stepped out of the aeroplane and realised my made-for-British sunglasses were not going to be effective, I fell in love with the city.
The ride from the airport to my new home felt familiar and yet I had never visited before. Perhaps in another life? In the first few days and months it felt like the perfect blend of Lagos and London rolled into one.
The plan was to stay for a year, get refreshed with a daily infusion of Vitamin D and return to my home and family in London.
Over a decade later, I am still living here and I love it. Every time I travel overseas and return, I want to kiss the ground and get excited by the sight of the ever changing skyline.
Home! Who would have thought it?
I miss my family a lot. I have been fortunate to have several members of my family and treasured friends visit over the years. They never believe that it gets quite cold and rains here. Blame the TV shows Neighbours and Home and Away for that; every scene had sunshine without an umbrella or winter coat in sight. Improved health and lifestyle have kept me in Melbourne. I also have an incredible group of friends who I now consider to be my Melbourne family. They are a mixed bag of people who keep me in hugs, laughter, companionship and so much more.
Melbourne the most lovable city in the world. If it’s not top of the list then it will be second. Which lists? Well, if you know, you know, If you don’t know, you better find out. Yeah, Sydney, that’s right! Uhun!
Melbourne and Sydney – the most visited and well known cities in Australia. I could be wrong but I doubt that a contestant on a quiz show would buzz in with “Darwin” as an answer to “Name an Australian city”.
Melbourne, traditional home of the Boon Wurrung and Woiwurrung people of the Kulin Nation, and Sydney, traditional home of the Gadigla people of the Eora Nation – are fierce rival cities. One good thing to come from this rivalry is Canberra.
Canberra, traditional home of the Ngunnawal people, was selected as the Australian Capital City. Canberra with its beautiful lake and impressive Parliament House is the one other place I could consider living in Australia. Canberra, the city of roundabouts. With your decent factory outlets, makers markets and easily accessible social events. My favourite place to visit is QUESTACON! Simply fabulous and speaks to the nerdy parts of me. I spent the whole day there with equally nerdy Little Sister and we could have stayed longer. Highlights – Questacon, The National Gallery of Australia, The War Memorial Avenue, walking around Lake Burley Griffin and Florida.
Once I decided I was going to stay a bit longer than 2 years, I made a goal of visiting every State and Territory at least once. Australia, The Commonwealth of Australia, is divided into six states and ten federal territories. At the time I made my goal, I thought there were eight states including the island of Tasmania.
I visited Tasmania, traditional home of the Palawa and Muwininia people, in July, which is our winter. Travelled with a friend, flying into Launceston, and the only thing we booked before we left Melbourne was a car and our first night in Tas. It was so much fun not having a plan and watching everything unfold beautifully. I don’t remember much but we did stay in some amazing places recommended by locals. The drives on the windy roads and the scenery was beautiful. It was incredibly cold and took a little while to get going on the mornings when our car was covered in snow. Must go again soon and I would fly again. I do think that travelling via The Spirit of Tasmania would be an incredible experience but it’s a ship on water and so, no, just no! Highlights – shopping in Launceston, driving with my mate and the private concerts we had in the car, seeing funny road signs, Cadbury factory and staying in different boutique hotels.
Perth, will always be special to me as I visited it with my Mum. Perth, traditional home of the Whadjuk Nyoongar people. Apart from sight-seeing in Perth, we had day trips to some amazing places in Western Australia. Our tours would often start at 5am if we were to have any hope of arriving at our destination. Hours of driving with a straight for miles meeting the horizon in the distance and no buildings interrupting the landscape. All things being well, I will be visiting again with a best friend, French Sister, in Autumn. Highlights – Kings Park, seeing Flora and Fauna that was vastly different to Victorian vegetation, visiting a Country Women’s Association, Wave Rock and Fremantle Prison.
My first trip to South Australia, traditional home of the Kaurna people, was with French Sister. We naively drove from Melbourne and were determined to make it to Adelaide. No accommodation booked, no plans. We lost the will near Hahndorf and decided to pull in and stay there for the night. We knocked on several doors, made phone calls but, no room in the inn! It was about 10pm and we were considering sleeping in the car when we decided to knock on one more door. There was a free room. Result! (There was another room available in which I was uncomfortable because I felt a presence. The hotelier confirmed that there was a ghost in the room. No wonder it was vacant!). We made it Adelaide, the city of churches, the next day. We attempted to visit Kangaroo Island and missed the ferry by minutes. Perhaps there is some merit to always meticulously researching a place before you visit. Before I made the trip, several Melbournian colleagues, friends and acquaintances tried to put me off visiting. When I returned, I agreed with them. I could tick SA off my list and would never visit ever ever again. Fast forward several years and another bestie, British Sister, is relocating to JT, a town in SA. I went with her and family for a weeks holiday. It felt like a month, in a good way. We toured around and visited several different towns. Thoroughly enjoyed my trip and will go more often especially as British Sister and God-Daughter 4 will be living there. So many highlights, far too many highlights. The only down side was seeing so many Kangaroos lying dead on the road side. It’s incredibly sad and confronting. Thoroughly enjoyed travelling from town to town.
My first out of Victoria trip was to Queensland, traditional home of the Yirrganydji people. I went with French Sister. Yes, we travel a lot together. That trip was researched and planned as it was intended to be a mainly touristy trip. Cairns was our main base. We went snorkelling and diving in Port Douglas. I got to see parts of The Great Barrier Reef. WOOOOOHOOOOOO! It is pretty spectacular. There was a lot to be seen just by snorkelling. The feeling of being in the water and seeing vibrantly coloured fish swim passed is like no other. Can highly recommend visiting TGBR. We travelled on The Kuranda Scenic Railway and the same day journeyed on The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. At one point the cable car stopped over an expanse of water whose name i can’t recall. Being scared of heights, I was terrified especially as French Sister thought it funny to rock the car and when I looked down below us, I saw specks of crocodiles sunning themselves and waiting… I’m sure I saw them! We hiked in The Daintree Rainforest and swam under a waterfall. One evening we got drenched through to our underwear from a deluge of rain. We took shelter under an awning and started walking back to our accommodation to change. Within ten minutes of walking, our garments were dry and we carried on towards our original destination. Although it is a humid place, it was that hot, that we our clothes were able to dry quickly.
Uluru (Ayers Rock) is a magical place. My SistaCousin came with me on my second trip. No prizes for guessing who was on the first trip. Walk around it in the morning before the heat from the sun becomes unbearable. Please do not climb it as traditionally, it is a sacred place. As tourists, we should travel and explore but respect the customs and traditions of places we visit. It is part and parcel of the travel experience. Do go on the tour given by the Park Rangers, who are usually Aboriginal, you will not regret it. Uluru is in the Northern Territory, the home of The Larrakia Nation. I have been to the area twice and learn so much when I go.
In New South Wales, I was speechless when I visited the Blue Mountains. (Nothing like The Blue Mountains in Jamaica, not better or worse just different). I’ve been to Sydney 3 times and meh! Sorry Sydney.
Melbourne is my home and I am biased. It is the cultural capital of Australia – fact. It is top 2 of the most lovable cities in the world – fact. I could go on and on. Victoria, my state is amazing. I would fail miserably if I had to make a list of only 20 places to visit in Victoria.
My goal is complete as I have visited Western Australia, Tasmania, South Australia, Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, New South Wales, Queensland and of course, Victoria.
If you do visit Melbourne, you will be Wominjeka yearmann koondee biik Wurundjeri balluk!
Lack of photos is deliberate so that you are encouraged to make the trip and form your own first impressions.
I apologise if I have misspelt names or not attributed the correct Nation to a Land.