On the Southern coast of Australia lays Melbourne. It feels like Toronto’s sister city with trendy, distinct neighborhoods, Victorian style buildings, sprawling residential areas, and a busy financial core. Tucked away in one of the artsy neighborhoods, north of downtown, was a friendly face. Mark’s sister Victoria has been living in Melbourne for almost two years and we were excited to see her. It’s an easy place for young people to start a new life as the city is very livable and social. Walking the streets, you immediately notice the younger demographic and how they have shaped the feel of the city. Hip restaurants can be found on every corner and most proudly advertise their vegan/vegetarian products. An initiative has caught on where customers bring reusable mugs and coffee shops reciprocate with a discounted price on beverages. People are upbeat and being smiled at on the streets isn’t uncommon.
The weather however, has a mind of its own. Constantly fluctuating from low 20’s to high 30’s, it can be trying on your mind as much as your wardrobe. People from Melbourne take it in stride and appreciate the warm weather when it comes. They can often be seen lounging at the community pool or down by the beach. We, too, shared in the sunbathing experience and swimming cool down routine. First thing after arriving in Melbourne we were off to the pool. We wound down the day by drinking happy hour cocktails at a hipster hangout and then going for vegetarian food. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
As with most Australian cities, wonderful nature is within an hour’s drive of Melbourne. We decided to take advantage of that and prep ourselves for our future camping adventures in New Zealand. Luckily, Victoria’s boyfriend is an avid camper and quickly became our camping tour guide. Our destination was Philip Island which is a few hour’s drive from Melbourne, off the south coast of Australia. The island is absolutely gorgeous and scarcely populated. Most of its inhabitants are Wallabies and Kangaroos both of whom are unconcerned by human visitors. As with most plans there are hitches along the way. After a late start, detours and shopping, we were finally arriving at our camping spot. Nestled in the shrubs near the summit of a large cliff we looked out onto the wonderfully blue ocean. A short walk would brought us to a mile long, white sand beach where penguins come to nest. White wash sloshed around the base of the cliff and accented the various blues that led all the way to the horizon. The slowly setting sun made the grasslands glow orange, the ocean vivid red and the sky brightly pink. There we were, enjoying drinks and taking photos of each other many of which were “Insta-worthy”. The night was followed up with a campfire and subsequent Tim-Tam-Mores (we’re looking into I.P. rights – unfortunately none lasted long enough to photograph).
Our final day in Australia was spent with the same group. We went to a ocean pool beach for a good portion of our day. The leaving tide reveals hundreds of caves and water pools that become isolated from the ocean. It makes for fantastic cool-tub exploring.
There was diving, canon balling, frolicking, and all sorts of horseplay. Alayna even got nibbled on by a two centimeter shrimp. Alcohol may have been involved. Sun baked, wind burnt and pruned from salt water we ate a full watermelon and called it a day.
Our flight to New Zealand was the following morning at 6 AM – ouch! That means wake up time is 3 AM – double ouch! The last supper was spent with Victoria eating Uber Eats burritos in her backyard. If you’re unfamiliar with Uber Eats here’s a synopsis: Have you ever found yourself peckish but far too lazy to clothe yourself and mingle with the outside world? Well, us Millennials are plagued with this 21st century illness. Forunately, a tech behemoth has swooped in and saved the day. Simply order your favourite food directly from your smart phone and some starving artist will bicycle your juicy burrito from restaurant to your door. Payment is done automatically and you can answer the front door in nothing but your favourite undies. It’s quite a time to live, indeed.
After a delicious burrito experience we were hankering for something sweet. Luckily, Uber Eats offers delivery gelato. That’s right folks, the tasty, frozen Italian desert delivered in 40 deg C weather. That starving artist sure had his work cut out for him. Perhaps that’s one way of summarizing Melbourne: delivery gelato from your smart phone.