“Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien
Melbourne, although often overshadowed by its cousin to the north, is more than worth a visit on its own right. Sydney may have the Opera House, but Melbourne, with its array of museums, galleries, historic architecture and extensive tram network, which give it a slightly European feel, is the true cultural capital of Australia. It also has, I was told more than once by locals, the nicest people in Australia!
The city center is an exquisite mixture of lovely Victorian architecture and towering glass office complexes; of office workers in suits and skinny jean clad hipsters; of lovely parks and gritty little byways. It’s the type of place where one wanders down a graffiti covered alleyway to discover a bar camped out in an old parking lot or hidden beneath a flickering neon sign.
It’s said that one can experience all four seasons in one day in Melbourne and the city is known for terrible weather. I say that makes for a perfect excuse to drink the heat away with an ice-cold beer or warn yourself on a chilly winter day with a steaming cup of coffee in one of the numerous café spread around town.
Besides being a nice place to hang out, Melbourne is also a great jumping off point for the fantastic Great Ocean Road, which twists and turns a path hugging the Southern Ocean in the state of Victoria. The views, both of the deep blue sea on one side and of the forested hills and lush pastureland on the other are majestic.
One of the big-ticket items is the rock formation known as the Twelve Apostles, which consists in reality of only nine towers. A drive out to see this commanding landmark should be coupled with a cabin rental and makes for a great little escape from Melbourne for a couple of days.