Springtime in Melbourne
Melbourne! What a lovely city, and our first bigger stop in Australia. Unfortunately our visit coincided with the Melbourne Cup – aka the biggest event in Australia. This is good news if you are trying to go to the races, or just generally party it up while wearing a minidress and a fascinator, but it is bad news if you are a traveler low on funds. Clearly, we did not check the calendar and came to the realization that pretty much all the hostels are either booked out or have very limited availability (having to switch hostels every day) and are terribly overpriced.
Accommodation in Melbourne: What to Expect
Since we kind of missed the memo about the races, you can imagine our surprise at seeing a bed in a 16-bed dorm room going for $45 or more during Melbourne Cup week. This was by far the highest price tag I’ve seen for a hostel bed up to date, and seeing that in places like Indonesia you can get a beachfront bungalow for half the price.
Anyway, we managed to stay a few nights at the Flinders Station Backpackers, which was actually a decent hostel (clean, well-organized). The only drawback was the high school party vibe. Since Australia is a popular destination for work&travel/work&study visa recipients from Europe, it’s not a surprise. However, switching from being surrounded by collega grads and young professionals to 19-year old Germans on their first trip abroad took some getting used to. Everyone was nice and polite, but the vibe was distinctly clique-y, and it was not as easy to strike up a casual conversation with fellow travelers – as has been the case for us everywhere else.
Melbourne on a Budget
As huge fans of walking around and, simply, doing the same things we do at home, we spent an extended part of our stay exploring the city on foot. With the CBD being very walkable, it was a breeze
After taking a stroll through Docklands, we hit up the Visitor Center on Federation Square, where you can get lots of information either in form of maps and guides, or through a consultation with one of their helpful employees who really know the ins and outs of the city. We went ahead and booked a free walking tour with them as well, which was a great way to get a better insights into the history behinds the most iconic buildings in Melbourne CBD. Our guide was great, and the group was small. It took about 3 hours and we covered tons of spots, so I’d highly recommend this – even if you normally hate group tours as much as I do.
Mixing old and new
Look up! It’s worth it
Waterwall at the NGV on St. Kilda road
We also spent a significant amount of time in the National Gallery of Victoria, which consists of several galleries and museums and contains a myriad of fascinating art and cultural exhibits – from ancient Greece to photography, film, and even fashion.
We also spent a significant amount of time at the National Gallery of Victoria. The entry to the permanent exhibits was free, and there is a wide range of themes that are covered – from ancient Greece to photography, film, and even fashion.
Beach Time at St. Kilda
Taking full advantage of the one hot day we had in Melbourne, we went down to St. Kilda beach, reachable by tram from the city. While the air was still quite warm, the water made sure to remind us that it’s still springtime! I’m sure summer temperatures make the gorgeous St. Kilda a lot more inviting. But regardless of the season, there’s always a spectacular view of the city skyline that you can catch from the pier which you can enjoy in any season!
Melbourne Street Art
Feel free to fill your time between gallery runs by searching for cool, fun and even inspiring graffiti around the city center. You can grab a graffiti tour guide brochure at the visitor’s center if you’re keen, and follow the outlined trail in search of each mural. But finding them on your own is fun too.
And when you are finally finished with being an insufferable tourist in the city, hit up a tearoom for some fancy cake and tea, or a trendy rooftop bar to reward yourself with a $10 pint of beer!