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14 August 2018

postcards from melbourne

Two days in South Australia 

I arrived in Melbourne from Wellington with teary eyes and a running nose. My last few weeks in New Zealand had caught up with me – emotionally and physically – and frankly, I was a wreck.

I was excited though. I'd never been to this part of Australia before but had only heard good things. Friends had reminisced with me and sailed me along on their memories of nights in St Kilda and days in the laneways. It's like Wellington, they'd say, only bigger and probably cooler. A city with coffee as its cultural capital and oodles of hipster charm.

Finding my AirBnB in this city was a little nightmarish – with no phone internet connection and only offline Google Maps to contend with, I made my way on the SkyBus from the airport to Abbotsford before getting incredibly lost. Turns out trying to locate then wrestle with a "green and purple" roller door in an alley of green and purple roller doors at 10pm after a day of goodbye cries can be quite difficult. Eventually, with help from a fellow visitor, I got in and clunked myself down in a room smeared with questionable artwork.

The next day my spirits were higher, even with worsening sinus function. The sun was out for once, and I felt good – glad to be back on the road, traversing new climes once again.

In the light of day, Melbourne reminded me a lot of London. Could that have been because it was the first big city I'd been in for a while? Possibly. Did I find my mood swayed downwards by the biting cold of a Southern hemisphere Winter? Okay, maybe.

More and more as I visit places, I realise the enjoyment of 'travelling' is inordinately subjective – destinations are felt and known through the lens of our emotions and our circumstance. The way we can interpret a location can be altered by so many different factors; persuaded by so many variables. If we're happy, and surrounded by the right people, even shit-heaps can shine.

That's not to say that Melbourne was rubbish. It was quite the opposite. I loved walking there a lot, each day somewhere new to help my head and my heart – to St. Kilda with its gleaming beach front and retro theme park Luna Park. Through Brunswick and its second-hand shops, to the buzzing neighbourhood of Fitzroy (the Newtown of Melbourne). From tram-stop to bus-stop when lost en route. For a BYOB dinner with a friend in Collingwood/Abbotsford, and with another to Higher Ground for incredible ricotta hotcakes topped with seasonal flowers.

Abbotsford Convent was my favourite place of all – an ancient building renovated into an art space and coffee spot. Somewhere to find peace in the inner city. I grabbed breakfast there at Lentils As Anything, a pay-as-you-feel outfit that empowers people from diverse background through volunteer training and employment opportunities. I'd stay there for days if I could.

Two days in this city was definitely not long enough. Not enough time to even get the decent cup of coffee that its famous for. And so, I've made a pledge to myself that I'll be back some Summer sometime, Melbourne, to see you properly sparkling. Until then!


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