29 March – 2 April 2017

As a first-time Melbourne goer, if I were to sum up my short, but sweet experience in a phrase it would be: hook turns & hipsters.

The Great Ocean Road – Melbourne 2017 from Jess Shipton on Vimeo.

For two people who have never driven in Melbourne before, getting a hire car and driving from the airport to our hotel at 10pm was the best and worst thing that could have happened. Let me explain. Hiring a car was perfect for our itinerary during our stay: we could easily explore the Great Ocean Road at our leisure, while also visit family who either lived outside of the CBD or were staying in a hotel out of town. However, those bloody hook turns had us turning left at every corner until we could go straight across the intersection and avoid them. Who turns right at an intersection from the left-most lane?!

There are a few things that need to be considered prior to hiring a car. Firstly, the driver must be over the age of 21, but moreso, if the main driver is under the age of 25, the prices jump quite significantly, so do your research beforehand! We chose to hire a car through Europcar and received a cute little VW Golf for the four nights at a little over $400.

And secondly, the #hipsters. Simply put, it’s as if someone has picked up all of the hipsters in Australia and funneled them into the one state. Melbourne is the epitome of being alternative. While every cafe offers you the same smashed avo + chai latte as the next (which would literally cost $1,000 less if the avo wasn’t ‘smashed’), they each have a unique name or style about it enhancing their authenticity and #individuality.

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Throughout our time in Melbourne, I did notice – and, mind you, appreciate – the copious amount of effort that has gone into the architecture and design of a lot of the buildings, shops and cafes in the city. Most street walls are merely giant canvases to a plethora of colourful murals. While some of the street art you see is just a load of messy, illegible tags of artist’s names, for the most part they are meaningful and inspiring paintings that together, create an incredible piece of artwork. If this is the type of thing you’re into, then checking out Hosier Lane is a must!

I had always been told that you tend to experience all four seasons on any given day in Melbourne. I had never really understood what that meant, until we decided to take a three hour drive to the Great Ocean Road to see the Twelve Apostles (which turned out to be eight due to the other four finding Buddhism more fulfilling – or maybe it was wind and water corrosion over time, I can’t quite remember). All jokes aside, the scenery was amazing and the drive there was completely worth it. Needless to say, we did indeed experience five minutes of torrential rain, followed by sunshine and so on for the entire drive there.

The hotel we stayed at was called Oaks on William, which, in its name, conveniently reminded us of which street we had to navigate our way back to. The hotel had its own parking as well, but we opted for the cheaper option at the public car park a hundred metres down the road. It turned out to be half the price ($15/night rather than $30). The location of the hotel being in the heart of the Melbourne CBD was perfect for exploring the city easily on foot, rather than having to drive in and out each day. Our studio apartment room was a great size with a fantastic view of the park across the road. It also came with a kitchen. That said, the extent of our cooking really only managed to peak at three packets of two-minute noodles each – I wish I was kidding. The room cost roughly $195/night, so was just under $800 for the entire trip between the two of us.

Overall, after mixed reviews about Melbourne from many people, I would  have to say that it definitely lived up to its expectations. If you’re a gym junkie, into the whole alternative lifestyle, wear organic bamboo hats, like to think you’re a coffee connoisseur and drink spinach + kale smoothies, then pack your bags and get the next available one-way ticket for Melbourne. Really though, the place has some cool vibes and once you master those hook turns in the city, the world of Melbourne is your oyster.

The incredible views at Loch Ard Gorge on the Great Ocean Road.

I definitely recommend visiting at least once in your life and taking a few days to do some sightseeing while you’re there. If you know you will be doing lots of moving around, a hire car is definitely the most cost-effective way to go. Otherwise, there are free tram zones that take you around the heart of the city or train lines and other modes of public transport that are easy enough to navigate. So go check out the place if you haven’t been yet – I know it definitely won’t be my last time there.

But if you come back with a man-bun and call it #trendy, I’ll be buying that one-way ticket for you. You can thank me later.

Keep smiling. x