Melbourne – Australia Day 1


So after a quick solo stint in Bali and Singapore I made my way down to Australia to meet up with Stonge. Australia is easily the country I was most looking forward to. I’ve heard nothing but good things from my friends who have traveled and studied there. How could you not look forward to an English speaking country in their summer with great beaches, surfing, and a no worries lifestyle.

Luckily, I planned my trip to arrive in Australia on the 23rd of January, unbeknownst to me when I booked it that Australia Day is January 26th. Unfortunately that also meant that I had to find my way to the east coast immediately since I was booked into Perth, and I couldn’t explore Perth properly. I ended up spending 8 hours in the Perth domestic terminal, which was pretty awful since there’s really nothing much there except for a restaurant and a book store.

From Perth I made my way to Melbourne, where I would meet up with Stonge to travel up the east coast together for 2.5 weeks.

We only had a couple days in Melbourne, so we wanted to take full advantage of our time in that part of Oz, and took a day trip to the Great Ocean Road.

The Great Ocean Road was built after World War 1. And was built mostly by servicemen who had returned from the war. The inspiration came from the Pacific Coast Highway, and I think they did a good job in giving the PCH a run for it’s money. It is also the worlds largest war memorial, as the servicemen wanted to give recognition to those they lost in the war.

It was several hours of driving along the coast with stops along the way to take photos and what not. There were some magnificent views, as you’d expect. I’m sure I’d have more fun driving along the coast in a convertible at my own pace, versus a van. One of the unexpected highlights was seeing some Koala’s in the wild. They were just hang ing out in the trees, and we even got to pet one that was hanging in the bush.

Koala in the tree

Here are some fun facts about Koalas:

It takes them 48 hours to digest one Eucalyptis leaf, as they are quite fiberous. Eucalyptis leaves are typically poisonous to most people, however they are not to Koala’s, in fact they get high on them.

Koala’s typically spend 18-20 hours sleeping. Think of it as a constant food coma.

A large portion of the population have Chlamydia, so those few hours they are awake they are promiscuous little buggers. Although this has caused a lot of them to go Sterlie and/or blind because of the disease.

Koala’s brains are too small for their skulls, which also may account for the blank look on their faces, and overall sluggishness.

Now, back to the scenery, and enough Koala talk.

The ultimate highlight of this day trip, was catching the sunset at the Twelve Apostles. Which are Limestone Karsts that have formed in the ocean after thousands of years of erosion from constant pounding of the waves.

Twelve Apostles at Sunset

Twelve Apostles at Sunset

One thing about Melbourne and the state of Victoria in general, is that they can get all four seasons in a day. By the time nightfall came, it was really quite cold (40’s-50’s F?), while during the day it was probably in the 80’s. A couple weeks earlier it was as hot as 105 there. So I’m glad we got there when we did.

The next morning was Australia Day, January 26th, for those that don’t know what it is, it commemorates when the British (Captain James Cook) came to Australia to claim the country as a theirs, and kick the Aboriginals off their land. A few days later it might have been French, as they came through to claim it as theirs, but were too late. Australia Day is similar to our Independence Day, in terms of celebrations and meaning.

It’s a pretty controversial day for the Aboriginals. Captain James Cook’s house in Melbourne has been vandalized over the past few years during this time of year. There is clearly animosity here, and rightly so. Many of the aboriginals throughout all of Australia are drunks in public parks, as I’ve heard from many different people, but didn’t see it with my own two eyes.

We spent the day checking out the city, and drinking of course. When in Australia, do as the Aussies do, and throw back plenty of beers. One thing about Australia in general, is that the price of alcohol is absolutely ridiculous. In fact, most things in Australia are quite expensive, but booze in particular is heavily taxed. The tax is close to 50% in most states. So a 6 pack of decent beer is roughly $20-25. A case (24 beers) of the cheapest beer goes for ~$50. The only thing that retains some price elasticity is wine, where you can get a bottle of wine for $10-15, and cheap boxed wine, lovingly dubbed Goon is the best bang for your buck, but obviously something you’ll regret in the AM when you have a splitting headache.

Aussie Day beers in the park

Aussie Day beers in the park

I was an idiot and booked our flight out of Melbourne to Sydney for a 8 AM flight on Monday the 27th, figuring we’d be partying on the Saturday before Australia Day, and not on the Sunday. We survived and made our flight successfully with the help of a Hungry Jacks Breaky (Aka breakfast), and got a full day in Sydney as a result.

The city of Melbourne, was nice, but I prefer Sydney for sure if I had to choose one.


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