United Kingdom, Australia · 135 Days · 103 Moments · December 2018

Kat's Aus-ventures

14 May 2019

Went on a ghost tour (as you do!) around Melbourne gaol with Jem, Steph and Gregg. The guy giving the tour was a proper talker but didn't manage to win (most) of us over about the existence of ghosts. Still a fun evening though! Went to a Viking bar afterwards where they serve beer out of horns.
I'm back! Sorry for the weeks of silence... you'll probably have seen from my Facebook post that my phone took a dip at Bondi beach and had to get rescued by no less than three lifeguards, but sadly it didn't quite recover. So I was stuck without a phone for a while, and then work has been a bit hectic so I only just got around to recovering my pictures from the rest of my week in Sydney. Anyway, I will get onto filling in the blanks 😊

12 May 2019

It feels like we missed out on autumn in Melbourne, with it staying (apparently) unseasonably warm for ages and then switching into chilliness without any warning. So I made the trip up into the Dandenong Ranges to see some autumn leaves at the Alfred Nicholas Gardens, which was absolutely beautiful. Also got an excellent pie in a little village called Olinda, and saw some creepy sculptures along a woodland walk.

10 May 2019

Had a planning day at work in a conference room at Melbourne Zoo. Was nice to watch the monkeys through the glass wall when the work stuff got boring! Despite the rubbish weather at lunchtime, I made the most of my free entry and did a little bit of animal spotting.

6 May 2019

Day off in Williamstown, just down the coast. Near miss with an ice cream that contained peanut oil (luckily I accidentally saw the container for a second while it was being scooped out and my eagle eyes noticed, as the server was clueless!!) but otherwise a pleasant day by the beach and botanic gardens. Stopped off at scienceworks on the way back, which was like a much smaller, slightly disappointing version of the science museum in London.

4 May 2019

We'd been talking about a night out on Chapel Street since I moved in, so it was nice to finally get around to it! We played cards against muggles at ours for a few hours and then bat hopped up the road. Didn't get as far as planned, but plenty far enough for a full day hangover the next day!

27 April 2019

We stopped at the Glebe markets for lunch (they had some awesome bookshops too!), then drove across the harbour and through Kings Cross and Paddington before I was dropped off to make my way back to the airport. And there concludes my week in Sydney... it's only taken a month to write it up!
Day 2 of the tour started from the town hall in Sydney and worked it's way through various suburbs. We passed some very impressive examples of architecture, such as an apartment block with a garden growing all the way up the side. We had a tour of the White Rabbit gallery which was showing a rather unusual collection of Chinese modern art, and through Spice Alley with lots of little street food stalls.
Started my last day in Sydney with a totally nutritious breakfast in a cafe in the Queen Victoria building, an ornately decorated shopping centre.

26 April 2019

In the evening I caught up with some friendly faces in the form of Felicia and Stefan who we met on the wine tour in Adelaide. Had dinner and a few drinks down by the water in Barangaroo.
After the first part of the tour wrapped up in Newtown, I embarked on a mammoth walk back into central Sydney. It was surprisingly hot so I stopped off at the Powerhouse museum, which covered a weird mix of design and technology but was mostly good for its air con! I then walked the length of the CBD to the harbour bridge, as I had a free ticket up the pylon and wanted to take some photos of the view to make up for the ones I didn't buy earlier in the week. Unfortunately my temporary phone was so rubbish it wasn't really worth the effort (and the many, many steps as it took me a long time to find the entrance!) but do take a minute to enjoy the best of the terrible selfies I managed to take! After all that walking I rewarded myself with a stop at Gelato Messina, an ice cream parlour that's been on my list to try for ages. Definitely worth the wait!
Friday morning, armed with a cheap but incredibly useless phone, saw me head over to Surry Hills to meet Maria, who owns a local 'alternative Sydney' tour company. I was meant to do her tour all day on Friday, but I was the only one signed up to it, so we did a deal that I'd join the Saturday tour up to when I needed to leave for the airport, and do the parts I'd miss (plus a few extra weekday only stops) on Friday morning. The tour focused on the suburbs of Sydney so was a great way to get a local's view, learn about the history and discover lots of places I wouldn't have found on my own. On Friday we covered Surry Hills, Redfern and Newtown. We stopped at the Grounds of Alexandria which is the cutest garden cafe in the middle of the city and had the world's most instagrammed cake (apparently - right hand one in the pic).

25 April 2019

After a return to bed for a while, I took the bus out to Bondi and had a great brunch while writing some postcards. I then started the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk... which is where it all went wrong. The photos stop at the next beach along from Bondi, which is where my phone went for a swim in the sea! Despite being rescued by three lifeguards, it sadly didn't survive it's ordeal. I spent the afternoon trying to save it/find a replacement, which was surprisingly hard on a public holiday in a strange city!
Up at the crack of dawn the next day – well, technically before that – to go to the Anzac Day dawn service in the centre of Sydney. Was well worth the early rise to pay my respects, it was a very moving service.

24 April 2019

On my second day in the Blue Mountains I did the Grand Canyon walk - a 6km hike down into a canyon, along the bottom and out again. I met two European girls on the bus to the start of the walk so we ended up walking together. They were 18 and 19 so I felt super old (and unfit!) but was nice to have some company. The walk was stunning but so challenging – the steps back out of the canyon took a full 30 minutes to climb at a decent pace with few stops! When we finally made it out we had a clifftop walk of another 3km to get to the other bus stop… I mistakenly thought ‘clifftop walk’ would be a nice gentle walk with great views but it turns out that was only half true! It was pretty much non-stop steps up and down, which would have been fine any other day except when you’ve just climbed as many as we had, and were on a time limit to make the next bus or else face a 2 hour wait for the one after. Safe to say I deserved the fish and chips I had on the train back to Sydney after that one!

23 April 2019

I stayed the night in a cute independent hostel (it basically felt like someone’s home) in Katoomba. Everywhere in the village was packed for dinner, it still being pretty busy after the Easter weekend, so I put my name down on a waiting list for a table upstairs at an Irish pub/brasserie type place. In one of those ‘unplanned yet turns out to be a highlight of your trip’ type moments, I ended up sitting with an older couple downstairs while I waited for my table – they heard me asking if I could perch at another couple’s table with a drink while I waited and getting rebuffed, and came over to offer me their spare seat instead. They were locals who have dinner there every week and we had such a lovely chat about their adventures campervanning around Australia with their kids. I got some good travel tips and a great recommendation for the steak too 😁
I spent the afternoon completing a circuit around Katoomba and Leura with a mixture of walks and the hop-on, hop-off bus. I saw the Three Sisters (famous rock formation… Australia seems to love these if my time here so far is anything to go by), Leura Cascades (a kind of long, drawn-out waterfall if that makes any sense), the Pool of Siloam (a bigger, slightly more impressive waterfall though with an absolute ton of steps to get down to it and out again the other side) and more generally impressive views.
Next was the world's steepest railway (a 52 degree incline) down into the bottom of the valley, and a walk around the rainforest floor complete with an obscure collect of 'modern art' sculptures. And then the steepest and largest aerial cable car in the Sourhern Hemisphere back up to the top.
Early start to get the train 2 hours out of Sydney to the Blue Mountains, where I jumped on a hop on hol off bus to explore the villages of Katoomba and Leura and the amazing scenery around them. First stop was Scenic World, an amusement park of sorts with a couple of 'rides' around the valley. First up was the Scenic Skyway, a glass bottomed cable car across the valley. I went across one way and accidentally ended up walking back the other (around the valley not down into it!) after I went in search of a waterfall viewpoint.

22 April 2019

Not content with having kayaked under it and having photos of it from nearly every conceivable angle, next up was climbing the Sydney harbour bridge. I don't have many pictures as you're not allowed to take your phone up and they wanted to charge an extortionate amount for the pictures they took. I might have been tempted to buy them except for the ugly glasses strap they made me wear that was highly visible in every shot! I got a group picture, a certificate and a hat to prove I made the climb though 🤣 (and if you zoom in on the last picture, I'm on the far left - you can just make out said glasses strap!)
Hopped off the ferry back from Cockatoo Island early and had lunch in Barangaroo scenic reserve with views over the harbour. Returned to Sydney observatory for a look around and joined a guided tour which included a look through their massive telescope to see the sun and Venus.
I spent Easter Monday morning doing a self-guided audio tour around Cockatoo Island, an island in the middle of the harbour that used to be a convict prison and then a ship building site.

21 April 2019

I spent most of the rest of the day walking over 10km from Spit bridge to Manly, up the coast from central Sydney. There were some incredible views making the constant steps up and down totally worth it, and lots of lovely viewpoints and beaches to break up the journey along the way. Manly was heaving when I got there though - unsurprising at 3pm on a gorgeous sunny public holiday weekend but too much for me after a nice peaceful day! So I beat a hasty retreat on the ferry back which was also heaving - but I didn't need to worry about people getting in the way of the views as the ones I got this morning can't be beaten 😍
Up at the crack of dawn (literally) for a sunrise kayak under the harbour bridge, which was every bit as amazing as it sounds!

20 April 2019

I followed the coast round to the Opera House itself which looks just as impressive lit up at night as it does during the day.
I walked out to Mrs Macquarie's Chair which is a point at the end of the peninsula along from the Opera House. Absolutely stunning views as the sun went down!
I'm staying in the Rocks for the first few days, so I did a bit of exploring around there after lunch, including around a busy market and up to the observatory with great views over the harbour. Later on I wandered into the CBD briefly and then over to the Botanic Gardens.
I already have about a million pictures of Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge so I'll try not to bore you with too much of the same, but these are my first ones as I ventured out after dumping my bag at the hostel. It's kind of surreal to see them in person, and I think that's when it hit home that I'm really in Australia! I intended to have brunch by the harbour but a lovely waterside pub caught my eye so vino it was.
On my way to Sydney!! Expect plenty more updates than my other trips, as I'm flying solo on this one so will have plenty of time on my hands 😀

18 April 2019

Jem and I continued on to a rooftop cocktail bar called Naked for Satan, along with Nicole who organised the drag bingo get together. I've been wanting to try this bar for ages and it didn't disappoint! Probably had the best view of the city I've seen from a rooftop bar yet (and I've been to my fair share of them, if you can't tell!).
Continuing the theme of new experiences, I started my holiday off with a night of drag bingo! So much fun, and met a new group of girls in the process which was lovely. Highlight of the night was winning a prize... Barbie mug and Easter egg, of course 😂 everyone else that went up on stage got slated for their choice of outfit so I was pleased to escape with an approving comment about my polka dots haha.

17 April 2019

On Wednesday evening I went out for dinner and a mini cocktail bar crawl (like a pub crawl but classier...!) around the CBD with Jem, Steph, Irene and one of her work colleagues. First up was the Croft Institute, a laboratory themed bar right at the end of a laneway. Then dinner at my favourite restaurant so far, an Italian place that does the best meatballs. Next was a cocktail and dessert bar that I was really excited about, but it ended up being distinctly underwhelming. I had a cocktail in an ice cream cone that went a bit wrong when I bit the end off the cone and got bright green cocktail all over me! We finished with a rooftop bar in Fed Square with views over the Yarra.

14 April 2019

After the Twelve Apostles we took the quick road back to Melbourne to round off our road trip! We packed so much into two days, I'm still recovering from it a week on... 😂
And we finally made it to the Twelve Apostles, which is the main draw for tourists... pretty but I preferred the quieter parts of the coast we'd already seen!
Loch Ard Gorge and the Razorback
Impromptu roadside photo shoot, as you do...
Breakfast stop in Port Campbell
Next up, London Bridge
We spent the morning driving down Shipwreck Coast, stopping off every time there was a sign for something to go and investigate. They were pretty much all rock formations but some great views nonetheless! And we were the only people at the first few stops as it was so early. First up, the Grotto.
We decided to do that classic traveller thing and get up for the sunrise... which in practice meant 4 hours sleep so we could be up in time to drive back down the coast to the Bay of Islands before sunrise. But it was totally worth it - we were the only people there and it was beautiful.

13 April 2019

11 hours after we left Melbourne, we did make it to our airbnb in Warrnambool and the end of the Great Ocean Road. We ended up driving the last bit in the dark, which brought on a panic attack for our driver... I never again want to be sat next to someone driving at 60km/h telling me they can't feel their hands!! But we (I) averted disaster with a wee stop in the middle of nowhere (Rachel would kill me if she knew I'd used this pic 😂) and a song about fried chicken (don't ask) and we made it in one piece. Celebrated with a girl's night in - pizza, wine and chick flick.
We decided to power on through for the second half of the GOR and go straight to the airbnb without any more stops, thinking we'd come back on Sunday for the bits we'd missed. But we happened to be going past the Twelve Apostles at sunset and couldn't resist a photo opportunity. We actually went to Gibson's steps, just along the coast, where the tourist info lady told us we'd get a better view of the Twelve Apostles (which are basically rocks sticking out of the sea) without the crowds. As it turned out, the thing we saw from there looked very much like the Twelve Apostles but actually wasn't. (We didn't realise that until we saw the real thing the next day!) But we made the most of a relatively empty beach and got some more exercise in walking up yet more steps.
Next up we drove down to the bottom-most point of the coast, Cape Otway, which is home to Australia's most important lighthouse apparently. We didn't actually see said lighthouse up close as we're stingy and didn't want to pay $20 for the privilege. Especially as it was raining and visibility was poor, and we were only halfway down the road with 2 hours to go till sunset! So we took a walk along the coast and saw it from (very) afar, before continuing on a misty drive through the rainforest.
We made a couple of stops around Lorne. The first was at Teddy's lookout which had the most stunning views ever! We then went inland to Erskine Falls, and worked up an appetite climbing back up a ton of steps to the top. And followed that up with a Devonshire tea...not quite as good as the British version but not bad at all :)
We did make it out of Melb though, and an hour and a half later were in Torquay at the start of the GOR. We stopped at a tourist info to get maps and think we quite alarmed the lady who helped us there with our ambition to drive the entire road before nightfall with just one driver. Still, not to be deterred, we set off and got our first glimpse of the ocean within about 5 minutes. Not long after we stopped off for the requisite pictures under the GOR memorial arch.
In the spirit of being adventurous and saying yes to more things, this weekend I found myself on a road trip down the Great Ocean Road with 4 strangers. Lovely ones, as it turns out, which was just as well! We met via a Facebook post that Rachel (British girl who ended up doing all the driving) posted saying she was in Melbourne for a few days and did anyone want to join her. Also along for the ride were Krystal (Canadian), Nive (Mauritian) and Clarissa (Singaporean). Rachel booked a hire car, I booked an airbnb at the other end of the Great Ocean Road and we were off! With me navigating, so we made a wrong turning before we'd even got out of the city, of course.
Continuing the theme of disappointing experiences, Jem and I spent our Friday evening at Neon Playground, advertised as an evening at Melbourne Zoo with amazing light installations and visual art. What it actually turned out to be was a mostly closed off zoo with a few lasers and some neon pipes that were meant to be a maze - oh, and the world's worst silent disco in a not-quite aquarium. Anyway, we saw a possum which was cute, and managed to get discounted prosecco which was a silver lining of sorts. We stuck around long enough to tell that it didn't get much better in the dark, before heading to a rooftop bar in Brunswick.

11 April 2019

Today I discovered my new favourite Aussie word - jaffle. How cute is that?! It's another word for a toastie, but specifically the type with sealed edges and two triangles like in the picture. People at work looked confused when I had no idea what it was, as they thought it was a British word. Anyway, after I saw my colleague with a tasty looking jaffle I had to try one for myself. I didn't feel I could just write an update about toasted sandwiches, so here's a picture from another comedy show I went to in the evening as well. T'was very funny 👍🏻

10 April 2019

There's a massive night market on every Wednesday evening throughout the summer at Queen Victoria Market, but I didn't make it this summer. So when I found out there is a new version, on for 5 weeks over the autumn, with a European theme, I had to go and check it out. Underwhelmed is probably the polite adjective to describe our reaction - while there was a good array of European cuisines represented, it a felt very stereotypical. The "British" stand (at least that's what we think it was meant to be!) featured curry or mashed potato served with garlic bread (?!) and servers in flat caps like Dad's... oh, and there was a Brexit bar too, because the world's not heard enough about that yet!! Anyway, we gave the food a miss and went to a restaurant instead where I got a Parma the size of my face (no, really) for $14.

9 April 2019

Have to share this amazing rainbow picture I took from the kitchen at the office. I've never seen anything like it! My whole team came over to watch. On the suggestion of one of my work colleagues, I tweeted this picture to the guy who presents the weather on national TV, in case it made the news the next day (apparently they do show good weather pics people send in). I'll never know if it did or not, seeing as I don't watch the Aussie weather forecast on TV, but he did tweet me back so that's something I suppose.

8 April 2019

The rest of my day off was about as Melbournian as you can get - coffee in one of the laneways while I finally wrote a letter back to Rachel, then a wander around ACMI (the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, a museum with lots of cool film and visual exhibits) and the Koori Heritage Trust exhibition (an Aboriginal art exhibition) followed by a spot of shopping. It's starting to get cooler here (by which I mean it's not making it above 20 degrees some days!) so I invested in some boots and jumpers in preparation for winter. I'm fighting my instincts that are telling me we should be getting into spring/summer as it's April, when in fact the clocks just went back so it's getting dark by 6pm now! So confusing...
My alternate Mondays off seem to come round quicker every time! This one was all about ticking off a few more things from my Melbourne bucket list. After my morning gym sesh I did a tour of the state Parliament which was really interesting - the Victorian system is based on the Westminster system, with the Lower House (green, like the House of Commons) and Upper House (red, like the House of Lords).

6 April 2019

Jem and I went to a Chinese lantern festival in the evening down by the Yarra river. It wasn't as big as we expected but nice and colourful!
My leaving present from Ofgem was a tour round Melbourne on a Harley, which turned out to be so much fun! I nearly went last week but moved it as the weather wasn't looking great, and I'm so glad that I did - it was a perfect sunny evening to be out and about. We went round the botanical gardens, round the Grand Prix track at Albert Park and down the coast by St Kilda before coming back through the posh part of Melbourne near where I live. I'm very tempted to try motorbike lessons now so I get to drive one of these myself...!

5 April 2019

Bre joined us for the pub crawl, where we went to 4 bars, each with a different comedy act, over the course of the night. We stayed on at the last bar for a late night comedy show complete with the weirdest Australian Santa act. And then we went dancing! My fitbit informs me I did 90 minutes of "sport" in the small hours of Saturday morning, and by the time I got home I'd already done my 10,000 steps for the day - result!
Pictures of the comedy pub crawl, as promised! Jem and I went for cocktails on a rooftop bar in the middle of the CBD first, followed by dinner at a Mexican place.

4 April 2019

And now I'm up to date... once again I'm so sorry for the sporadic updates! I will endeavour to be more prompt :) I'm off to Sydney over Easter on my first proper solo travels since I got here, so expect lots of pics from that!

3 April 2019

The Melbourne international comedy festival started last week and is on for a month, so that will be keeping me busy for the foreseeable future. There are loads of comedy performances on all over the city every night. Last Sunday I saw a British guy performing a show about grammar and dating (it was pretty nerdy but right up my street!) and yesterday Jem and I went for a spontaneous pot luck show by an Aussie comedian who turned out to be very funny. Not bad given we turned up at the box office and went with what was recommended! Comedy pub crawl coming up tomorrow night, watch this space...

30 March 2019

Finally checked out this little manmade island just down the river from my apartment, Herring Island. You can get a punt over to it on weekends during the summer, so I wanted to see what it was like while I had the chance. In the end it wasn't all that great, just some weird sculptures, but at least I'm making progress on my Melbourne bucket list.

25 March 2019

This is a mixture of sunset/nighttime pictures from various points around Melbourne over the last few weeks, because they're too pretty not to share! I'm trying to make the most of the last drops of summer before the tables turn and I start getting jealous of the weather back in the UK...
There were too many cute photos, so here are the wallaby and koala ones!
Phillip Island has been top of my list of places to go since fairly soon after I arrived here, so it was great to get to go! It's about a 2 hour drive down the coast and we saw so many amazing Aussie animals there. I saw my first Tasmanian devils, fed the cutest kangaroos ever and got bitten by an emu that was trying to get in on the action (you can see the moment captured perfectly if you scroll to the end of these pics...).

23 March 2019

Another weekend, another amazing brunch! (No idea why the waffles were black, seemed quite unnecessary...) On Sunday I went bowling with some friends and managed to come 2nd out of 6 which is by far and away my best performance ever. Think I might have to retire from my bowling career now while I'm on a high 😂
There's no end to a week like cocktails by the beach! Jem and I went to see the penguins at St Kilda as well, and we did see two but the hoards of tourists put us off from sticking around too long.

17 March 2019

Just to show I'm not spending all my time gallivanting around on holidays, this was a Sunday spent actually being productive! I went over to Brunswick to have brunch with Jem (who's just moved over from the UK), and then helped her build her new bed. One of the most complicated flat pack projects ever, it took us all afternoon and I nearly got squished by the heaviest mattress ever at the end! So of course we had to reward ourselves for a job well done with drinks on a rooftop bar :)

11 March 2019

I'd almost managed to forget I was living in Australia, the land of everything that can kill you, thanks to my lack of encounters with creepy crawlies etc... until we got home from the airport. I walked into my bedroom to find the biggest spider I've ever seen in my life. I now know it was a Huntsman and completely harmless, but I didn't know that at the time and totally freaked out. Poor Steph (who has a phobia of spiders) was enlisted to help with spider removal services, but safe to say I slept incredibly badly that night! Dreading my first encounter with something that can actually kill me even more now...
We spent our last day in Adelaide exploring a few villages in the Adelaide Hills - Stirling for brunch, and then Hahndorf (a German village) for a glass of wine and catch-up with a couple of friends we made on the wine tour the previous day. Then I got my first taste of Tigerair, Australia's answer to Ryanair. Made it back to Melbourne in one piece, and with both Steph and I fairly sure we were exceeding the super strict hand luggage limits but managing to avoid getting checked... result!

10 March 2019

Back to the Fringe for the evening, and this time we saw a mixture of comedy and sideshows that we happened to wander into. Mixed quality but the atmosphere was great!
Doing a wine tour on a hangover was... hard, to say the least! We had three wine tasting stops before lunch, and it's safe to say that I wasn't feeling my best for most of the morning. But I perked up later on 😊 We also stopped off at a cheese place and farm shop with amazing ice cream in the afternoon.

9 March 2019

Needless to say, one drink turned into a few (the wine was excellent), and when we got back to Scott and Sam's there was a mini street party with some of their neighbours. This was followed by an all expenses paid evening out at the Fringe thanks to Sam's work, including an amazing burlesque/circus act.
We headed further down the coast to Maslin beach which was absolutely gorgeous (minus the naked people from halfway down onwards 🤣), and then up to the McLaren Bay wine region for lunch and some wine tasting at the Woodstock vineyard.
On Saturday morning I headed out to the suburbs to meet my housemate Steph at her cousin Sam and his partner Scott's house. We had the best pancake breakfast and then drove out to Glenelg, a seaside resort not far from Adelaide. We met this Belgian guy with a drone who took some cool zooming out pictures of us on the pier, so if he ever sends them to us I will add them on here!

8 March 2019

Friday night was my first taste of the Fringe festival (a bit like Edinburgh fringe, with performances of all types going on everywhere). There are actually a couple of different festivals going on in Adelaide at the same time, so there are tons of people and the atmosphere is incredible. I saw three comedy shows - first an English ex pat talking about his experiences of living in Aus, appropriately named 'whinging Pom', then a pair of Aboriginal comedians with an act called 'Aborigi-LOL' - name was better than the jokes - and finally a 'best of the fringe' show with snippets from 4 varied acts, also of varying quality!
Chilled afternoon pottering around the city, including wandering through Adelaide Central Market which had so many food stalls, though my terrible pic does it no justice. Nice to have a break from work but I'm finding myself inclined to agree with the people who say there's not a ton of stuff to do here! Just as well I came during Fringe season (totally deliberate move 😁)...
Finally made it to the botanic gardens and spent the rest of the morning exploring. They were huge and definitely had a bit of a Kew Gardens feel to them (I'd been told before that Adelaide has more of a British feel, and I can see that a bit)
Lovely chilled morning making up for the crazy early start - I was aiming for the botanic gardens but got side tracked with another park and then a second breakfast in the sun (told you!)
And now as I write this it's 6.30 on Friday morning in Melbourne airport and I'm hoping the sugar rush from my first breakfast (I suspect it won't be the last) will tide me over until my flight is called! It's been a long week at work so I am more than ready for a break. The picture is my "it's not even 5 o'clock and I'm up and about on my day off what is going on" face 🤣 Keep tuned for my Adelaide adventures!

6 March 2019

I've not taken many pics over the last few weeks, so here are some edited highlights before I start sharing updates from my trip to Adelaide... It's been another amazing few weeks, I'm definitely slipping back into the work hard, play hard London mentality thanks to a busy time at work (my first publication for the commission comes out next Tuesday though!), but still with plenty of the play which is how it should be :) I'm turning into a weekend runner (ha) and even got up at 6am on a Sunday to climb the 1000 steps in the Dandenong national park a few weekends ago. Apart from that I've been doing lots more exploring, continuing to enjoy the wonder of Melbourne brunches (pics 6 and 7 were from the same weekend... yes I know...), planning more travels and meeting lots of lovely people. I'm starting to welcome new people to Melb too which is weird when I still feel so new!

11 February 2019

Right, that's me all up to date! I don't want this to turn into a food and exercise diary, that's not remotely interesting for anyone - so from now on I'll just post from time to time when I've been up to something interesting or so you know I'm still alive and well :) I have trips booked to Adelaide, Sydney and Darwin over the next 6 months, and am planning to get to Canberra, the Great Ocean Road and much more as well, so it shouldn't be long before there's more! I'm also skyping people most weekends and love to receive emails or letters to hear about what everyone back home is up to, so don't be strangers 🤗

10 February 2019

And that brings us to this weekend, and finally up to date 😇 I'm working compressed hours over a 9 day fortnight, so this was my first long weekend thanks to that. Saturday I went to a travel expo where I booked a trip to Darwin for July that I'm very excited about! In the evening I had dinner with Bre who I met through Bumble BFF. Had some amazing Japanese food and lots of good chat - she's moving to South Yarra soon so nice to have another friend in the area. Sunday I ran the Tan again and actually managed to do the whole 7k without stopping (bar one v short walk) which I was very happy with! (I promise this blog isn't going to turn into a running journal 😁) In the afternoon I went to a festival in St Kilda with Leslie - perfect weather for a bit of music by the beach. And on my day off today I... went into work to go the gym (I know...) and walked back home along the river. I did actually relax after that though with a book in the sun at a local cafe!

2 February 2019

Something odd happened this weekend... I voluntarily got up early, on both Saturday AND Sunday, to go and exercise. Look what this place is doing to me! There's a popular route around the botanic gardens called the Tan track that's about 4km, and I'm only living about 1.5km from there so it's a good route to do. On Saturday I attempted to run it - I managed the uphill bit at the start but the rest was definitely more walking than running! On Sunday I joined my housemate at 7am (!!!) for a power walk version. The rest of the weekend was all about avoiding the heat - a spot of shopping on Saturday including Prahran market again for fresh fruit and veggies, and the state library on Sunday for some serious travel planning. At my manager's insistence I've also given vegemite another go, but the marmite I brought over from the UK wins hands down!

1 February 2019

This is my work crew (or a small part of it)! Sugi on the left is my line manager and the person I'm working most closely with. We randomly went for dumplings after work on Friday to celebrate my one month anniversary of being in the country - any excuse for happy hour!

31 January 2019

Love this photo! It's from another meetup event I went to with the same group, this time star gazing and watching the Milky Way. My attempt at taking a photo of the stars was somewhat less successful, so I went for the artistic approach instead...

26 January 2019

Australia Day weekend! Saturday was very chilled with a picnic and reading in some gardens near the city. I wandered into a festival of indigenous music nearby too wich was cool. Sunday I walked up the coast from Brighton to St Kilda (maybe 7 or 8km in total), stopping off to swim and sunbathe at various points along the way which was so lovely! In St Kilda I met up with Leslie (friend I met travelling in NZ) for a swim in the sea followed by dinner. Monday I went to a meetup event to go kangaroo spotting. We took a train about 40 mins out of the city to a national park and ended up seeing a whole herd of kangaroos in the wild 🦘🦘🦘 All in all, a bonzer weekend (note the lingo there!)

25 January 2019

I promise not to bang on about the weather too much, but just so you can appreciate some of the extremes I've experienced... this week set new records in Melbourne, reaching 44 degrees 😫 On Friday they even started turning off power to parts of the city to ensure they could meet electricity demand! Sleeping with the window open had been enough to cope with the heat up to this point, but then I started getting attacked by mozzies overnight so I caved and got a fan. Best decision ever.

20 January 2019

I couldn't come to Melbourne in January and not go to the Australian Open! I got a ground pass and went exploring with a friend. We got to see Serena Williams warming up (3rd pic), a pretty quick women's doubles match and a super long men's singles match where we ended up sitting in direct sunshine for the last hour and a half, but were stubborn enough to see it through till the end. What with Wimbledon last year, I'm wondering which Grand Slam will be next on the list!

19 January 2019

Another weekend, another brunch! Obviously I had to start checking out the local brunch scene, and I ended up having a great French toast topped with honeycomb, berries and coconut. My apartment is right on the Yarra river, so afterwards I went for a walk up the river away from the city, to this little island you can get a ferry over to (though I'm saving that for another day). And because I love a good food pic, I've included a photo of the banging veggie lasagne I made (I would like to say the updates get more exciting than this, but it won't surprise you to hear that most of the photos on my phone are of food haha).

18 January 2019

In an attempt to start building good habits from the start, I walked into work on my first morning in South Yarra. It's about 4km, mostly along the river and then about 15 mins at the end through the CBD. I'm going to try and do it on days when I don't go to the gym... we'll see how long that lasts!!

17 January 2019

A couple of days later I moved into my new apartment. It's on the fifth floor of a modern apartment block, and all the outside walls are glass which took some getting used to but makes for some cool views! My housemate Steph has lived here for a while and is lovely. She's a similar age to me, very chatty and social and super busy at the moment with finishing a masters degree and working as head of sales. We had a beer and a natter on my first evening, and we've had many an evening in since - making very good headway on Designated Survivor, really recommend it for anyone that has Netflix!

13 January 2019

Catching up time... again... I'm sorry! I have no idea where the last month has gone. Get ready for a bumper update :) So when I last left you, it was moving out day from my airbnb. I had a bit of a gap before I could move into my new place, so I moved out to the suburbs to stay with my friend Michelle, who I'd worked with at Ofgem before. Had a lovely last brunch in Carlton before packing up everything (no idea how I managed to acquire a whole extra bag of stuff in so little time!) and uber-ing out to Michelle's house. It was quite far out from the city centre, so spent a quiet Sunday chilling in the sun with the cat and my new sunnies (thanks to the post office of mum and dad!).

12 January 2019

My first week at work completely wiped me out, and I ended up crashing out at about 6.30pm on Friday and sleeping through till 8am on Saturday! It was another gorgeous day (I'm getting used to these high 20s/low 30s days, though apparently it's meant to get into the high 30s next week urgh) so spent it all outside. Walked out to Abbotsford Convent (pics 1-3) which has some lovely gardens by the Yarra river. Chilled in the sun for a bit, met up with a new friend and walked back into town along the river and through Fitzroy Park which I didn't take many photos of (just the last one) but is lovely and quite close to work too, so may well be revisiting it soon on my lunch break! Had a few drinks in town with my friend and tried my first Parma - an Aussie delicacy (if that's the right word...) which seems to be their take on a parmo (not as good as yours though Rachel if you're reading this haha). Definitely planning on checking out the gym situation next week!!

7 January 2019

I don't have many pictures from my first week at work, but it went well though was very full on! The team is super busy so I'm being dropped in the deep end, but there are lots of similarities with work back in the UK so it's all good, and the new team are lovely (and very excited to have a Brit on board!). My office is on the 37th floor of a building so the views are incredible and keep distracting me when I'm in meetings. I get my own desk for the first time in my career which I was probably over enthusiastic about on my first day... The office is only a 20min walk from where I've been staying too, and the commute has been right through a park (5th pic) which is lovely. So yeah, first week has been a whirlwind of coffees and new acronyms, and I've been crashing out super early every night! I did get out for my first dumplings experience with Michelle, a friend I knew from working in the UK, which was great. And of course had to end the week with a celebratory ice cream!

6 January 2019

Last day of freedom, and I spent it - you guessed it - wandering the streets of Melbourne with some more exploring! Definitely feel I've covered most of the inter city on foot by now. I headed over to Queen Victoria market which is massive and apparently really good on evenings, and then down to the Docklands and all the way along Southbank with a few drinks stops along the way. The weather was gorgeous again so it made for a perfect walk! Finished up in the CBD (central business district) looking at some of the street art - there were quite a lot of people out spray painting which was cool to watch.

5 January 2019

And then of course the sun came out (I really can't keep up with the weather here, makes knowing what to wear a nightmare!) so I headed up to the Shrine of Remembrance. This is a big memorial to mark Aussie involvement in the world wars. They hold remembrance ceremonies throughout the day so I was just in time for one of those, and then I climbed up to the top where there are great views over to the city.
Saturday morning started with a room viewing in South Yarra, which (spoiler alert) I ended up going with - will say more and post photos once I've moved in. The weather was being very British (cold and rainy) so I ditched plans to go to the beach and instead walked around this massive lake in Albert Park with views over to the city. I also explored a couple of markets - a food one in Prahran which is kind of near where I'll be moving to, and a massive one in South Melbourne which had other things too. In this one I got myself a pair of Birkenstocks... living the Aussie dream!

4 January 2019

(I'm so sorry for being so slow at this! Finally about to catch up, here's my last week...) Absolutely everyone I'd met since arriving had warned me about Friday's weather, it being due to hit 40 degrees, so I'd done my research to establish what Aussies do when it's so stupidly hot, and then followed that. So I spent a morning in air conditioned shopping malls, and an afternoon in an air conditioned museum (seeing a theme here?!). I had to brave the elements for a short while in between the two - poorly timed for around the hottest part of the day - and it was as bad as it sounds. There was a slight breeze which felt like a hairdryer on me. Urgh. And then as I was leaving the museum to go meet a friend for drinks, we got a 'cool change' and it dropped from 40 to around 20 in less than an hour. I'd been told about these but didn't expect it to be so dramatic - I've never felt anything like it!

3 January 2019

Went out to the suburbs to see my friend Sweta today, who I used to work with in the UK before she moved back here. Her little one was only a month old when I last saw him, can't believe how big he's grown!! Had probably the best take on an English breakfast I've ever had, followed by some shopping and lots of catching up! Two more house viewings in the evening, one of which is looking promising but hard to know how much competition there'll be...

2 January 2019

Day 2 saw a super early start (thanks jet lag!) followed by 28,000 steps of exploring. I checked out my new office location in the morning and viewed a room in Richmond, to the east of the city centre (bit of a weird set-up so that one's a no, but I love the area). I walked back into the city through the botanic gardens (first pic) and spent my afternoon on a walking tour of the city. I ended up being the only one on it so I got a personalised service which was pretty cool! Learned loads about the history of the city, started to get my bearings and came away with a loong list of ideas of things to go back to. And an equally long list of food places to try (no surprises there!). Apparently Melbourne has something like the highest number of food establishments per capita in the world, which I can well believe!
I'm staying in Carlton, north of the city centre, for my first week and a half. Lots of Italian restaurants around which will keep me going until the holiday mode wears off and I think about cooking! These pictures are from Carlton Gardens which are nearby, and have Melbourne museum and a massive exhibition centre (first UNESCO world heritage site to be granted in Aus) in the middle.
I've been a bit slow on the updates here... sorry! Time seems to be flying by. So day 1 was mostly about staying awake long enough to make it to the airbnb. I was a bit limited by having all my luggage with me in the morning, so I stuck to a little bit of exploring of the city centre, getting my hands on an Australian phone number, and enjoying the sun by the Yarra river. Eased in gently with temperatures just in the 20s, but absolutely everyone I met kept warning me that it would hit 40 on Friday, urgh.

1 January 2019

New Year on the plane wasn't quite the party I was hoping for, but they did tell us when it was midnight in Melbourne and I got some sparkling wine with my dinner to celebrate. Some of the crew were also wearing Happy New Year hats and glasses too. The American guy next to me had done the nerdy work and mapped out where in the flight path we'd be when it turned midnight for us - apparently we were near a time zone boundary so not an easy calculation, but somewhere over western Australia. Anyway, Happy New Year!!

30 December 2018

It's hard to believe that this day has arrived, it's been so long in the making! But my Aus-ventures are finally about to start 😁 After some tearful goodbyes I've managed to get my generous interpretation of Qantas' baggage policy past most of the checks (surely they won't start weighing things now?!) and am passing the time with prosecco, of course. Hope everyone is enjoying the last few days of 2018... see you on the other side!