While I’ve fallen in love with the city of Sydney (as you may have read in my last post), I’ve had the opportunity to visit a couple of other parts of the beautiful country of Australia. Every au pair’s schedule is different and many make big travel plans for after their family commitment; however, some host families have trips of their own planned, and if they’re not bringing their au pair along that means time off!
My host family vacationed for the entire month of January so I decided to take two of those weeks to enjoy Sydney and one of the weeks to get away and see some more of what Australia has to offer.
Typically I like to plan my own travels each step of the way, but I had received a credit through a backpacker’s booking company and thought why not. Booking through the tour company meant I didn’t have to worry about anything. I’d pay one flat fee and nearly everything for my tour would be covered: food, accommodations, activities. The toughest part was deciding where to go.
As if the universe knew I was struggling to choose, I received a message from an old childhood friend in the moment of perusing the tour website. He said he saw that I was living in Sydney and that he’d been living in Melbourne for the past year for work. He’d be heading back to the states in May and suggested that I take a trip to Melbourne while he was still there. A free place to stay and tour guide-- what could be better?
So that settled it! I was to visit my mate in Melbourne, so I’d look at tours out that way. I ended up booking a 3-day tour of Grampians and the Great Ocean Road with Groovy Grape. I flew from Sydney to Adelaide but unfortunately didn’t have much time to explore Adelaide before an early morning departure. The first day was a lot of driving, but it was great to be able to sit and relax and take in the views of the Australian bush. There were about 20 people on my tour, young and old, mainly Europeans with a few English thrown in there. Our tour guide did a great job of getting us comfortable as a group, which was definitely necessary as we were to spend 3 days in a van together.
We got to see some of Grampians National Park later that afternoon and visited Mackenzie Falls. Our second day started with spotting some wild kangaroos in the morning mist and then a gorgeous sunrise hike in Grampians.
Our third day was our main drive along the coastal section of the Great Ocean Road, and besides our scheduled stops for certain sites and visits like the London Bridge and Twelve Apostles, we made heaps of stops at lookouts just to take in the amazing views. It was a lovely three days of nature, beaches, and history.
We arrived in the Melbourne city centre around dinnertime, said goodbye to our new friends and went our separate ways. For me, it was the end of one fun trip but the beginning of another!
My mate and his roommate picked me up from the Melbourne CBD and so our weekend of fun began! It also just so happens that I was in the city while it was hosting the Australian Open and my mate scored us some general admission tickets.
We had a full day at the tennis watching matches and hanging out at the Coopers Brewery concert grounds.
Over the three days I got to see nearly every neighborhood in Melbourne and a few of the beaches as well. It actually reminded me of New York with its very metropolitan vibe. My favorite thing about the city was how well it utilizes space. There are bars, restaurants, and shops down every alleyway, a gem in each nook and cranny. Old warehouses that look like nothing from the outside are transformed into trendy brunch spots and any old wall lends itself as a canvas for a street artist.
I’d love to return to Melbourne one day, but of course there are so many other great Australian cities to visit. Where to next? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.