After managing to get into the longue at Auckland airport we mildly panicked that we wouldn’t be fed on the 4 hour flight to Melbourne (god forbid). So in true traveller fashion, we filled up our tupperware with butter chicken from the buffet. This meant that Christie had to carry curry-filled tupperware onto the flight in her handbag. In the end we did get fed on the flight and guess what was for dinner? Butter chicken.
When we first arrived in Melbourne we stayed at a hostel in Fitzroy called the Nunnery. It’s an alright hostel, it’s in a good location and it used to be an old convent so the rooms are cozy. It’s main downfall is that the kitchen is way too small for the size of the hostel and the beds were really old. Also, a lot of people are actually living there full time and working – I can’t imagine having to sleep in those creaky beds and fight your way to the toaster each morning for a 8:30am start but I guess they’re just made of stronger stuff than me!
Our first day involved us sorting out our sim card – we got a $40/month sim from Optus. This gave us 15GB for the first month (7GB thereafter but your data can roll over), unlimited text and calls and free calls to UK numbers. We also set up our bank account. Christie and I signed up to Westpac – they have a free current and savings account for 6 months and you have to pay a small fee after that but as we are only here for 5 months this worked perfectly for us. They don’t even mind you saying your address is a hostel and the whole process was super easy.
We spent the rest of the day exploring the CBD. We had coffee and lunch on Flinders Lane, which is an almost European looking street with cafes crowding either side of the lane and some amazing places to eat and drink. Melbourne has been crowned the ‘coffee capital’ of Australia and we had been told that Duke’s Coffee Roasters was the place to go. I’m not the best to ask about the quality of coffee as I only drink mochas, but Riss says it was fabulous.
That evening we met some of Rissbrook’s friends, a group of boys from Manchester. We went to happy hour at a bar called The Aviary Hotel – it does $5 pints and wine so can’t really complain. The boys were lovely and now we’re all the best of friends (how sweet). The following day, Christie managed to drag me around the length of Church and Chapel street (the main bar street) giving in CVs. She got a job at the first bar she went into but we still walked for another 40 minutes having in CVs ‘just in case’ – she works at the first bar, a new restaurant and bar called Café Brass. By the end of the day I was so crabby and it took us over an hour to get back on the tram!
Although I complain, the public transport in Melbourne is pretty good – as long as you’re going in, or coming out of the city. If you want to get from suburb to suburb you’re in trouble. All the trams go into the CBD and back out again, none go around it. This situation proved to be very annoying as for the first couple of weeks at my job which was on St. Kilda road, it would have only taken me 10 minutes to drive from home in Richmond, but actually took me 40 minutes on the tram. They are really easy to use however, and you can get away with not tapping your ‘Myki’ card for the majority of journeys – if you want to really live on the edge.
That weekend we were lucky enough to have been invited to a girl (Bridget’s) which the others had met in South America, beach house down in the Boneo on the Mornington Peninsula. On the Friday night we arrived and made pizzas in a real pizza oven – how dreamy! The next day Bridget had booked us a winery lunch which was just fantastic. We drank lovely wine and ate lovely food in the Australian sunshine – we even got to see a Kangaroo! What this did mean however was that we had all passed out by 9pm, I had to beg Christie to try and at least stay up till 9:30pm as a 9pm bed time is unacceptable but my efforts were useless.
You can literally see how happy wine makes me (and how happy food makes Christie)
Avo & a view
On the Sunday we headed back into town quite early and checked back into the Nunnery. We were getting pretty fed up of hostels by this point and one of Bridget’s friends Ellen, who Riss and Christe also met in South America, offered to let us stay in her gorgeous family home in Brighton. It was music to our ears! We were going to move in the following day until the festival. When we got back from the peninsula, we had a very quick turnaround of check back into the hostel, get dressed and head down to the boys for pres before a street party on Sydney road in Brunswick. We were feeling a bit ropey and not really ready to get back on the wine but we somehow managed to power through, with aid from a maccers I’m embarrassed to say! The street party was alright, the company was better than the music but all in all it was a pretty good day.
Edgy are our middle names
We moved into Ellen’s house the next morning and it was just as dreamy as we had imagined it. A kitchen with no one else in it! It had things like spices and oil and a coffee machine and a blender – we were in heaven. The house had a pool and the back garden was such a sun trap. We spent our 4 days there just chilling and tanning and preparing ourselves for the festival that weekend! Christie’s friend from home, Sophie, had also arrived and was staying with us and coming to the festival – was really nice to have her along as well. Bridget was kind enough to lend us our car so that we could go to the world famous K-mart (I literally love this place), to buy all our camping gear. Now, I’ve been to enough festivals to know that I am never going to one again without a tent that is at least +2 people larger than the actual number of people that will be sleeping in it, a blow up bed and a chair. It was pain in the arse to carry all of this stuff to the festival but it was 100% worth it!
We were SO happy to be here
On the bus on the way to Pitch, the girl who actually interviewed Riss the previous day was actually sat behind us. We got chatting to them and ended up camping with them for the whole weekend. The girl and her boyfriend were so lovely, but the other two guys they were with, these ‘geezers’ from Essex were less lovely. They were rude to the bus driver which immediately put me off them and they were the type of boys whereby if you didn’t laugh along to their misogynistic comments or have good ‘bants’ then you were a stuck up bitch. I may or may not have gone off at the worst of the two, a boy called Harry, I guess I’m just not very good at pretending to find awful people funny. Safe to say we weren’t really friends after that. I managed to lose everyone and my phone on the first night but still had an absolute blast. Luckily for us, we had a few friends from home at the festival as well so we didn’t have to spend all our time with the people we were camping with! A boy called Harry Fox who Christie and I actually inter-railed around Europe with when we were 18, and a bunch of his friends. These boys were so lovely and we were so glad they were there. Some of the people we met at pitch, to name a few; a boy called Doron and another called Ratbag (real name Rupert) we’ve actually seen since getting back to Melbourne so having Fox there turned out really useful for us!
Pitch was my first every Australian festival and it was so different from festivals in the UK, for example:
- It didn’t rain – I think this honestly makes such a difference, trainers instead of wellies! What a treat!
- You can park your car in amongst the tents which means people brought sofas and decks and everything you could imagine because you didn’t have to carry anything!
- There was literally no security at all so although they had a limit on what alcohol you could bring there wasn’t even anyone pretending to check it.
- The festival itself was BYOB – so we just had our sacks of goon in our backpacks and camping cups in our hands – like the classy gals we are! This on its own saved us so much money and not having to queue for drinks!
- The outfits insane – very burning man-esque. I felt very underdressed!
The only downfalls were that it was SO hot. Thank god we made friends with people that had gazebos, if you go to a Australian festival – BRING A GAZEBO. It is physically impossible to sit out in the blazing sun with a hangover. We also made sure we had factor 50 on the entire time, there was no way I was going to figure out how to sleep in a sleeping bag sunburnt. The evenings were also terribly cold, cold enough to the point we would get into jeans and jumpers after sweating our arses off in tiny skirts and crop tops during the day. Thank god our $12 sleeping bags actually held out! Finally, although the dryness of the festival was amazing, it did mean that the entire place was so dusty. In retrospect wearing a bandana over your mouth of some sort of mask would have probably been a good idea, I can’t imagine how much dust I probably inhaled.
My favourite acts of the weekend were probably DJ EZ and Bicep (how typical I know, I can hear Harry Fox crying at that statement from here). All in all we all had a fantastic weekend although 4 nights at a festival left us feeling like shells of women. We got back and checked into our Aribnb in Richmond which I then didn’t leave for 36 hours.
We had a pretty good time at Pitch
We got back from Pitch on The Tuesday and by the on the Thursday I was still feeling crap. I manage to get into town to buy some work clothes and Rosie (friend from uni living in Australia) arrived from Sydney that night to come visit! The next day we went to Queen Victoria market and wandered around the CBD. We had dinner at this healthy burger joint called ‘Grill’d’. It was quite expensive and probably not worth the money but the burgers were good! Christie was working that night so we popped into Café Brass 1 happy hour cocktail – this place is way too expensive for us!
Just as we were trying to the manager stopped us. He said that we could ‘work something out’ in terms of food and drink and in the end we managed to get a full sharing board, we were drinking $200 Resiling and pretty much got a free ride all night! Our bill was supposed to be $120 but it ended up only being $40… what an absolute steal. Now I know he only want to keep us there to attract in rich business men but honestly this was some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. In this whole process we also got introduced to a man called Paddy who is the manager of another restaurant/bar in town called Higher Ground – it’s in an old church and really cool. Paddy called ahead so when we got there we got taken up to a private landing upstairs and got free drinks there as well, it was turning out to be a pretty decent (and cheap) night. After Higher Ground, Rosie took me to meet some of her friends that lived in Melbourne. On our way there she warned me that I may not like them, not exactly what you want to hear when you’re about to walk into their flat! The guy that opened the door looked 45. He was 23 but had a receding hairline and wrinkles. I felt so bad for him. In all honesty he was nice enough but me and his friends ended up in a stupid drunk political argument about healthcare (lol) and if I’m completely honest it gave me the perfect excuse to leave, I wasn’t really feeling it!
The next day we were quite lazy.. We didn’t really leave the flat all day until the evening when we went to this great rooftop bar called Naked for Satan. The views were great and it had a very cool vibe to it, however it was really expensive and we were so tired – how pathetic! Instead we went for a Mexican (Fonda Mexican) dinner and a shitter version of Wahaca, made brownies, drank tea and watched a movie. On the Sunday Rosie and I went for brunch just down the road from the flat. We went to a place called Touchwood and had the most amazing pulled-pork eggs benedict. Now, the reason we had been so boring the night before was that we were hosting a big BBQ that afternoon for all our new friends in Melbourne. It was a really nice afternoon, however we ended up at this day rave thing which we thought would be a couple chilled beers on a rooftop, not heavy techno with very intoxicated people! I was starting work the next day so was on my best behaviour, going to one of those things sober was quite the experience. I’ll admit I excused myself around 9:30pm to head home and try and get a good night’s sleep!
God, we’re so popular!?
Working holiday visa
I kind of cheated with the work aspect of my working-holiday visa. The company my dad works for has a Melbourne office so he managed to wangle me a temporary job there. It’s an engineering and construction company, both things which I know nothing about, but he managed to get me a job assisting the environment team – my official title being “Environment Team Support Officer”. My role pretty much just involves helping the team out with anything they need, I’ve been helping sustainability create a climate change adaptation tool for another company, or helping HR create a process document.
On my second day, they sent me out to the middle of nowhere in Victoria to do a letter drop with a very quiet, recent civil engineering graduate. He was nice enough but don’t’ think we’ll be best mates. To be honest I don’t think I’m going to make many work friends, I’m probably the youngest by a few years, especially in terms of the environment team. I mean there are some 28/30 year olds. I still think that’s old compared to me but I guess it’s not really… When we were discussing Easter plans, they all had family things with Easter egg hunts for the kids etc. I’m going to a day party because there is one every Sunday and having the Monday off means it’s the only week I can actually go. There is one guy, Nick, who sits opposite me who I think is around 28. From what I can gather he is (or was) a bit of a smasher. I went out to a meeting with him on bike lanes which was probably 2 of the most boring hours of my life – I now know more about bike lane construction than I ever thought I would.
Christie was an absolute babe and when the festival found my phone she went to the office for me and picked it up. I was SO glad to have it back! After work I popped by her bar to pick it up and then went into town to meet Riss, Ellen and one her friends Paris. They dragged me up to this Rooftop bar called.. Wait for it.. Rooftop bar. But it was shut – they have an outdoor cinema up there and the screening was starting soon – I REALLY want to go one night! It looks so cool. In the end we went to this Asian bar called Asian Beer Café which is found upstairs in Melbourne Central. It had super cheap food and drinks so actually hit the spot – it had $25 jugs!
What is very handy about my work is that there is a gym in the building. I have to physically walk past it to exit the building so it makes it quite hard to find excuses not to go! It’s a tiny gym and it costs $20/week. The staff were quite nice about it and let me just pay it all upfront so I wouldn’t have a members joining fee or have to remember to cancel it a month before I left! I’ve been trying to use my time here to train for a 10km or at least get back up to be able to run that far without too much of a problem and I’m trying to go to the gym 3-4 times a week. I’ve been doing OK so far so let’s just hope it continues!
That Friday we had a big night out planned to see Jane Fitz at the Lounge – don’t know who that is? Yeah either did I but her tunes were banging. Nothing at all like what you find on Spotify or her boiler room. Two of my best guy friends from uni arrived, Henry and Roddy, which was pretty funny – of course they didn’t get into the club first time round because they were too drunk (I have a very love-hate relationship with these boys). The whole crew was out that night, honestly think I have more friends in Melbourne than I do in London at the moment. Riss’s best pal from Leeds arrived that evening, Gabby, she’s living and doing the East Coast with us. I was very impressed that she managed to go out after the a flight from the UK! Everyone has a great night and we had the Manchester boys back for an after party. I’ll admit we were probably being too loud but we got screamed at by one of the neighbours which was a bit excessive – apparently we’ve kept him up all week? I was trying to work out when we might have kept him up. We had had that BBQ the previous Sunday but everyone had left by 8pm and we all worked the rest of the week and were in bed by 10pm! Fair enough we were being loud but it was a Friday night and when he asked us to turn down the music, we shut it all off and moved inside. He came round the next morning again and shouted at us. In all honestly, if we’d been keeping him ‘up all week’, you’d have thought he would have come round to let us know that the sound was travelling? He shouted something about telling the landlord that the tenants were renting it illegally on Airbnb. I tried to talk him out of it saying it was unfair and that we were sorry but he was having none of it. Anyways, Christie called the Airbnb people to let them know and they seemed find about it, seems like they have a problem with this neighbour quite a lot, what a shame.
Due to the very late night I actually ended up sleeping until 3pm on Saturday – it felt like I was back at uni! I emerged from my room only to shower and eat Nandos and went back to bed (Mum please don’t judge me!). We were supposed to be having another BBQ that Sunday to make use of the Airbnb and its lovely outside area but because of Mr. Grumpy down the street we didn’t want to get the Airbnb people in any more trouble we cancelled it. To be honest it was probably the right thing to do as we were moving the next day and needed to pack and clean.
My Second week at work was very dull, thank god it was only a 4 day week. I was falling asleep all over the place as a result of not getting a good night’s sleep since I left Houston (probably). I did end up goig for drinks on the Tuesday night with the boys from uni at Rooftop bar even though I was exhausted. I’m terrible at sharing beds with people and sharing a bed with Christie for 2 months might actually be the death of me. She’s a tiny bit of a heavy breather (she’s going to kill me when she reads this) and I swear to god she has more than four limbs, I honestly don’t understand how they get everywhere. I’m mentally and physically drained from sharing a bed with that girl.
MINI UPDATE: I’m officially going back to Edinburgh for my masters. The decision has been made! Feels quite nice to have a solid plan for the next year or so.
Since starting work I’ve become (I think) a lot more sensible again! My third week on the job was only a 4 day week as it was Easter weekend. Fantastic news socially, terrible news financially. On the Thursday night we went to see our friends from Edinburgh. We went to some people we’d met through them/at pitch’s flat and had a house/street party? They had a really cool set up with decks in the garage which was, I think, also someone’s room. They just opened up the garage door and it spilled out onto the street. Was really nice to spend some quality time with Henry and Rod but I never made it to any form of club. I have this weird thing were I’ll be having a good time and then suddenly my drunk mind decides that’s enough and I will then immediately, without hesitation or a second thought, leave. So, around 1am this happened and I jumped in an uber home expecting Christie to be home from work and to welcome be back with open arms. Instead I got back and she told me she’d lost the keys. This resulted in me having to sit on the side of the road while Christie got an $80 uber to the party and back to get the other set of the girls – rather her than me I guess.
The next day of course we were hungover but ended up going for a BYOB Vietnamese dinner with the Manchester boys at a place called Ha Long Bay in Collingwood. I don’t know how it happened but our civilized dinner turned into the rowdiest night of all. I think it was 4am before we managed to stumble into an uber and head home. It was such a fun evening though and the food was great and quite cheap. This evening did result in my uber rating going down – why am I always the only one ever sober enough to be able to order the uber and shepherd everyone into the car (don’t worry my rating is back up now). By the time Saturday rolled around it felt like I’d been off work for about two weeks! I put my foot down and refused to drink this day as the main event of the weekend was actually on Sunday. Matty, one of the Manchester boys band, Fool Child, had a gig though so I went to that and had 1 beer and then went home.
The never-ending weekend (not complaining)
Finally it was Sunday and the event we had planned – a day party called Piknic Electronik was on. As the boys had bought all the wine on Friday night, we offered to buy and cook a boozy brunch. As of course none of us have cars and the boys were only living a 10 minute walk away so couldn’t justify an uber, we had to figure out how to carry a case of beer, 10 ciders, vodka and mixers for four and enough brunch food for 10 all the way to theirs. Luckily for us, our new Airbnb was next to quite a dodgy estate and therefore it was littered with trolleys, a trolley graveyard if you will, so we just nicked one. Although we got some very weird looks pushing this trolley down the street it was probably the best idea we had all day. Christie and I actually got offered a job in Sydney by a club owner on our walk down which was pretty weird.
The whole day/night was fantastic – the brunch was a hit and we got to the event around 4pm. Everyone was there and the weather was great – hot but not blazing sun, the drinks weren’t cheap but not too bad either (~$10) and the music was great. It was a smaller venue than I was expecting and the music could have been a bit louder, but I guess that’s what you expect from a mini-festival in the CBD. The music ended at 9pm so we headed back to the Manchester boys for an afters. We invited our uni friends along but they arrived with a trolley and I’m not 100% sure the two groups mixed (they definitely didn’t). As a method of escape and because it was only 10pm, Gaby (another of Riss’s friends from Leeds) and I decided to go clubbing. We went to a club called the Lucky coq, it’s small and quiet downstairs but the upstairs is alright with a small dance floor and a nice outside area.
The next morning we had to move flat. Top tip: don’t move flat on the hang. The experience wasn’t great but thankfully I didn’t feel as bad as I was expecting too. We had to check out of our Richmond flat at 12pm but couldn’t check into our St. Kilda one till 3pm. Thankfully we were able to dump our bags and then had to wander around St. Kilda for a while. St. Kilda is where most of the backpackers live. The boys had made it out that it was a horrible little place and that all the ‘cool’ things to do were north of the CBD – I mean, not that surprising that St. Kilda isn’t ‘cool’ enough for them. Anyways, we all quite like it! It’s like being on a real holiday with a beach and a theme park right next door. Our flat is in a brilliant location just a 5 minute walk away from the main street and now we don’t have to move again until we go to Sydney! 5 whole weeks in 1 place – bliss (although sharing a bed with Christie is starting to take a toll on my mental health).