As a Brit, I was doubtful I’d ever make it to the home of BBQs and beaches. After moving to Hong Kong, however, the flight time was slashed to a mere 9.5 hours. This was my chance to see what Australia’s two largest metropoles, Melbourne and Sydney, had to offer.
Let’s kick things off with my tips on Melbourne!
What to Do in Melbourne
- Get ready to relax. Melbourne is a scenic place with lots of great cafés and boutique shops to while away the hours.
- Enjoy the veggie food! There are plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten/dairy free options in Melbourne! For a masterclass in veggie cuisine, head to the Moroccan Soup Bar. The portions are generous but, even after several courses, you won’t want to stop eating; it’s too delicious. Don’t worry if you get full, locals often bring tupperwares so they can take any leftovers home with them.
- Get a myki card. Hopping on a tram is the best way to get around Melbourne, and when the weather turns (which is frequently does) you don’t want to be rummaging around in your bag for change.
- Brunch. Brunch. And brunch again. It is an institution in Melbourne, and you will be spoiled for choice. I was saved by the perfect mocha after a foggy Friday night!
What Not to Do in Melbourne
- Expect to be enlightened at the Melbourne Museum. The Melbourne and aboriginal sections of the museum were disappointing; however, the body and mind galleries were fascinating and could hold their own against any major science museum.
- Go out without a coat and an umbrella. It’s common to get four seasons in a day — sometimes even in the hour in Melbourne — so go prepared for rain, shine, and everything in between.
- Miss out on local festivals and pop-up markets. We enjoyed the Asian food festival by the river, eating noodles with live music and a cold cider. Check before you travel to see what’s coming up!
What to Do in Sydney
- The bridge climb. Fitness/fear is not a problem. Having completed it with my friend who is scared of heights, we both thought it was the highlight of our trip. You don’t need to be particularly in shape — we had grannies on our trip who put us to shame! Be bold and ask the friendly guides to take loads of photos for you — this is a once in a lifetime activity with an incredible view.
- Get on a ferry and head out to do some exploring. Watsons Bay was nice, but Manly Beach was my favorite thanks to its huge sandy stretch, fish and chips, and great little hiking trail to help walk off lunch.
- Bondi to Bronte walk – backwards! Starting at Bronte and walking round to Bondi meant we went from cute coves to the panoramic jewel in the Sydney coast. As you go round the final corner to Bondi you get to really take in its full beauty.
What Not to Do in Sydney
- Allow too much time. Five days in Sydney was plenty: we had enough time to loop back and spend another day on Bondi taking in the view.
- Expect historical treasures. Districts like The Rocks, which are advertised as “historical”, usually only date back 100-150 years — the same age as my mom’s house in the UK!
- Stay too far out of town. Staying out towards Cronulla, we spent a fair amount of time on trains in to the city center. The subway is efficient and clean, but evenings would have been easier without worrying about the long journey home. It’s worth paying extra to stay centrally.