Friday, 29 May 2015

1 week itinerary in Melbourne 2015

Edit: All posts and itineraries have been shifted to http://totravelanywhere.com :)

Finally converted all my previous entries as drafts so this domain is now strictly to record all my travel stories :)


Made a spontaneous decision to do a solo Melbourne trip from 22/5 - 27/5 and this time with the company of a car :)

Air Ticket: Emirates Round Trip from Singapore - SGD $676 (so glad I no longer have to fly via budget airlines)

Accomdation:
I stayed in 2 accommodations, in Melbourne city itself and 1 night on the Great Ocean Road.


Airbnb apartment at Footscray (in Melbourne) $48/night - SGD$277 for 5 nights after including airbnb's service fee)
(link here: https://www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/4106918)
The room was actually good for two to share, but since I was travelling alone I had the luxury of having the entire huge bed to myself. Footscray is said to be quite a dodgy area at night according to my friend who lives in Melbourne, but surprisingly I actually thought it was alright. My host said it's not scary too since she walks back from the train station alone every night at 11pm and she hasn't come across anything yet so... It's really up to your own discretion whether you would like to live there. I had the perfect host though who made it so easy to me to locate her apartment and it was so cosy I actually really liked it. Best part, the location was so close to the city, perhaps just 10 minutes drive away, or easily accessible via their train services.

Airbnb Accommodation on the Great Ocean Road: $181 (for 1 night, after airbnb's service fee and the 8% discount using my DBS card)
(link here: https://www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/3449022)
This was extremely pricey I know. The only reason why I booked it was because I wanted a secluded apartment where I could do stars photography on the night that I was on the great ocean road. And guess what... The night I reached there, the sky was full of clouds I couldn't do any stars photography or night photography at the 12 apostles at all zzz so I practically wasted my money. But I have to say that the location was great for a stopover to rest for a night before continuing the GOR drive, basically it's just 25 minutes away from the 12 apostles and it's probably the nearest accommodation to it. If anyone is intending to do night photography / sunrise photography at the 12 apostles, this probably is the best place to stop over at. :) My host was really nice and gave really good recommendations as well, you might get lucky and spot wild kangaroos in the accommodation as well. I made a wrong turn when I was there, so I ventured into a private small farm where there were kangaroos and horses just further down though half the time I was freaking out about driving through a dirt road and (almost) losing control of my vehicle down the super steep and uneven dirt roads.


Car Rental: Bargain Car Rentals (http://www.bargaincarrentals.com.au) - AUD$37/day for a compact auto car, possibly the cheapest you can find in Aussie! However, since it was the first time I was driving (plus I was alone) in Aussie, I decided to buy their Gold premium insurance and I rented the GPS system so it added up to $70/day. There was no surcharge for the driver being <25 years old though so that was good. Petrol generally costs about $40+ to fill a full tank.

Expenses: Inclusive of luxury meals, petrol costs and expensive car parking fees - $700

Total cost: $2250 for 6 days, possibly not the most economical trip. But that is the very problem of travelling solo because you have no one to split car rental and accommodations costs with you and that's where the bulk of my expenses went. (I don't regret one bit at all though :) )


So here goes my itinerary:

22nd May:
Touched down on 22/5 at about 7am. Bought a prepaid card ($2/day with 500mb data under Optus Telecom Company) and collected my rental car. By the time I settled everything and got to my accommodation it was about 10am.

I headed to Queen Victoria Market for breakfast, sadly I thought the place was slightly overly hyped. I didn't find anything too spectacular with this market :( Parking costs a bomb in the city as well, I parked at QVM parking lot and it was $8 for the first 2 hours, and $3 for every subsequent hour so I easily spent about $14 that afternoon on parking.

From what I have researched, the must try food in Queen Victoria Market includes the churros and doughnuts from those makeshift cutesy vans (I only tried the churros which I really did like), boreks (some wrap that has different fillings, I tried the spinach cheese one but I thought it was just pretty normal. At least it was cheap; $2 per piece), some turkish kebab which I didn't try. And of course, the legendary market lane coffee which I absolutely love. It's true that every cup of coffee you buy in Melbourne is way better than any you can find in the world haha.

After that I explored Melbourne city just for a little while - checked out the State Library of Victoria.







Then, I headed out of the city and drove to Princes Pier. I think the place is so underrated, there was no one around and I had the entire place to take as many photos as I wanted. I really really love the place, so much better than St Kilda's Pier. It's hidden somewhere in a (rich) housing estate.



(This place is said to produce really nice photographs when you go on a cloudy day during dusk and I can imagine why)



23rd & 24th May (Great Ocean Road):

I woke up at 5am so I could head to Lune Crossanterie (apparently they sell really nice french pastries and people start queueing at 6am because they open at 8am and sell out by 8.30am, they give out queue numbers too btw). This was also the day that I was going to do the Great Ocean Road drive.

So I headed to the place and was excited to be 3rd in line, waited for 15 minutes then suddenly it didn't feel quite right because there wasn't anyone else streaming in yet. Decided to flash my phone's torchlight at the door to see if there were any notices and true enough, there was one that said they were closed for that particular weekend - imagine my disappointment. :( So because of that, I decided to drive to an overly hyped cafe Top Paddock which only opens at 8am. It was nice, the ambience was great but I thought the food could have been better. Coffee was great though, the thing about Melbourne's coffee is that they don't leave a bitter after taste.

 Top Paddock Cafe :)



After my breakfast fix, I was all ready for my Great Ocean Road trip which was spread out over 2 days.

So my plan for the GOR drive was as such (Started my drive from the city at 9.15am)
Lorne --> Teddys Lookout (great hidden place to take pictures at, it's a short drive up the road from some resort at Lorne) --> Apollo Bay (lunch) --> Cape Otway Lighthouse (on the 10km road in to the lighthouse, it's a koala community, please do keep your eyes open and observe the tree branches. Koalas are usually up there, I spotted 3 on the way in and stopped my car at the side of the road, great photography opportunities!) --> Check into accommodation at Wattle Hill (was 4pm by the time I reached) --> Short drive to Gibson Steps (25 mins away) --> Back to accommodation to rest after a long day of driving. (Was back at my accommodation at 6.30pm and the skies were so dark, I had to use high beam to navigate myself back)

Next morning: Gibson steps (again, because I love the place, it's where you can walk down to beach beside the 12 apostles) --> 12 apostles lookout --> Loch Ard Gorge --> London Arch --> Take the highway back to the Melbourne (I didn't want to do the same winding route back via the GOR because it would take too long so I took the highway straight. It was pretty insane driving for 3hours non stop on the highway, there were so many occasions I almost fell asleep so the advice is to stop by the side of the road to take a rest. Even a good 5 minutes makes a huge difference to your concentration levels).

One note of caution is, if you're intending to take the highway back, make sure your GPS knows what it's doing. Mine asked me to do this turn which did not exist and I panicked so I made a wrong turn out, the distance changed from 198km to 218 km instantly and I was frantic because I needed to drive an additional 20km suddenly!?!?! And I was in the middle of nowhere with no cars so I kept praying and praying that I was going somewhere right. The fear of being stranded in the middle of nowhere with only half a tank of petrol left makes you devastated. You probably also need to learn how to make U-turns on 1 way roads as well just in case you make the wrong turn like I did. I think my driving skills improved so much ever since I drove on my own for the Great Ocean Road Drive haha.

Teddys Lookout








Cape Otway Lighstation

Gibson Steps / 12 apostles during dusk (5pm)

Gibson Steps / 12 apostles the next morning (9.30am)

12 apostles lookout



Loch Ard Gorge



London Arch


25th May:
Fitzroy - My host recommended me to head to Gertude Street and Smith Street at Fitzroy to experience the authentic Melbourne culture, they had local designer boutiques along those streets and great cafes for people watching which I did.
I parked my car at Queen Victoria Market again and walked to Fitzroy (the only reason why I did so was because it's a place where there was guaranteed parking so I wouldn't need to waste time finding parking + there was no maximum amount of time you could park in those lots. On non market days, it was a fixed cost of $10 for unlimited amount of hours). The walk to Fitzroy was about half an hour.

I headed to Brighton Beach that evening, that's the best part about solo travelling. That particular day had a perfect weather so I made changes and headed to Brighton beach one day before instead :) Things were going perfect in Brighton Beach until my camera battery died and I forgot to bring my extra battery out. So I just sat outside some bathing box and stared at the calming waters. Then suddenly, this local walked to me and told me to look out for the dolphins. Yes, dolphins!!! Who would have expected to see dolphins at brighton beach when all I wanted was the colourful bathing boxes. They were jumping out of the water, not one, not two, but about 5?! At that moment, I was just glad my camera battery died so I could enjoy the beauty of these dolphins for a good 10 minutes :) Parking at Brighton Beach was pretty pricey too (Look out for the Life Saving Club to get to the parking lots), it costs $5/ hour to park there.

I wanted to head to St Kilda Pier thereafter but was lazy. I actually attempted to head St Kilda pier on the first day after Princes Pier but I couldn't find parking so I gave up halfway and headed home.







26th May:
Exploring the City. Checked out Flinders Street Station and Hosier Lane where the graffiti walls were. I didn't do much and went back to my apartment at 2pm because I fell pretty sick after eating horrible Asian takeout the night before, was quite a pity.


 Flinders Street Station (this is the famous angle where people usually take their pictures from)


 Hosier Lane


It seems like I didn't really fully maximise my 6 days there but I guess I'm satisfied because the main purpose of the trip was to do the Great Ocean Road drive and check Brighton Beach out :)

I'm guessing if I had more time and guts, I would drive further up to the Grampians after the Great Ocean Road, and also further down to Mornington after Brighton beach for a more extensive travel! But I really have to say it was so tiring having to drive on my own throughout the entire trip.

Also, some tips if it's your first time driving alone in Aussie (I prepared myself for a steep learning curve because I only drove out on my own thrice in SG before I daringly made the decision to drive in Aussie) -
1) Aussies drive on the left, same side as Singapore
2) Rent a car with GPS. The GPS system tells you where exactly are the speed cameras in advance so you know when to slow down. They are dead serious about speed limits, I'm not kidding.
3) Learn how to pump your own petrol because no one is there to do it for you unlike Singapore. I learnt how to do it by watching youtube videos prior my departure :)
4) Learn how to switch off the car alarm in the event that it suddenly goes off. I actually pre-empted this already so I googled it before hand.
5) Learn how to pay for parking by the side of the road (it's not automated with a cash card like SG) and learn to read parking signs in Aussie (google them).
6) There's this special road sign in Aussie, it's the hook turn sign. So basically you can only turn right by keeping on the left lane (yes, I know it's strange) but you see it everywhere in Melbourne city itself so please please please take note of this or you will end up getting honked at.

22 comments:

  1. Hi, may i know how to pay for parking in melbourne city and outside such as small town along Great Ocean Road? I used street view trying to find out, i can't even see or locate where the parking machine/meter is? Do you purchased the ticket from parking meter or machine near the parking lot and display it inside your car? I can't find anything that looks like parking meter along side the parking sign in outskirt places in melbourne.

    Also i heard the parking charges start as soon as your vehicle enter the lot. But you need to park the car before go to buy the parking coupon from the machine right? Will the traffic officer come to issue summon while you go buy the ticket?

    Hope to hear from you, thanks!!

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  2. Hi :) in Melbourne city mostly there will be the parking ticket machines just beside the lots (parallel parking usually), you have to prepay the number of hours and put the ticket on your dashboard. I do not suggest parking in the city because it's VERY expensive haha, if you want to spend an entire day in the city I would recommend you park at the queen Victoria market carpark because it's huge and you will be able to find a lot unlike other parts of the city where it's difficult to find a lot. Then from the that carpark you can walk around the city, it's not too far off :)

    So for those lots along the roadside in the city, you have to prepay the number of hours. But for those that's in a huge carpark (like queen Victoria market) and you have a barrier to pass through before getting into the carpark, you will click for a ticket when you pass through the barrier, then before you leave you will pay at this "kiosk" first, then insert the ticket into the barrier to leave. Pretty much like the sg in the past.

    And for small towns along the great ocean road, I honestly don't remember ever paying for parking ;) I think it's free especially in residential areas(?), so if you don't see the ticketing machine, then you probably don't need to pay? I always check other cars' dashboard to see if they paid for parking then I'll follow suit!

    Hope this helps :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi thanks for the great answer. Probably i won't be parking in the CBD, but just in case i need, if i see a lot in the city and i need to park my car for half an hour, i still need to park into the lot first then walk to the machine to make payment. Will i get a parking summon while making the payment?

    In small town along the GOR, i went to google street view, i actually saw the Parking sign like 1P, 2P, meaning it is not free, but i don't see any parking machine anywhere near or along the parking lots.... i check town like Lorne, or any small town in google street view, but not seeing the parking meter long the parking lots.. funny... thats why i want to find out how the payment was done...

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  4. i guess what you said about the prepayment is that before i even decide to park my car in the city lot, i already have a parking coupon prepaid at the machine? sorry , i really confused about this...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oops sorry maybe I wasn't clear enough, prepay means you prepay the hours, it does not mean you have a coupon/card before hand already. So when you park your car, you can walk to the machine to get the ticket and pay for lets say 2hours. Once you're done with payment, you'll walk back to your car to put the ticket on your dashboard. During this time, you will not get a fine (to be honest I didn't even see any traffic police throughout my trip). The machines are very near the lots, do not worry! But in CBD areas, some of the parking lots are by censor, so it can track how long the car has been inside the lot. If I remembered correctly, 1P means maximum time you can park there is 1hour, 2P is max 2 hours. But it varies because some are stated for weekdays / weekends. You have to check the signs carefully :)

      If there are parking signs then most probably you have to pay for parking, there will definitely be ticketing machines if you see those 1P 2P signs, but do check if the timings are for weekdays only, or applies to weekends. And sometimes it may be free after a certain timing like 6pm(?) it varies from place to place. Maybe weekends are free on GOR, I can't remember because I drove on a weekend to GOR and I remembered not paying for parking, or maybe I was just trying my luck of not paying :p

      Oh and an important tip, save all the coins for parking! The machines only accept coins :)

      Delete
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  6. Hi, Great pictures. A very detail description of your tour in Melbourne. Great sharing. Thanks! :D

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  7. Pleasant post.
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    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Cheryl, thanks for the informative and detailed post.
    The mention about hook turn is extremely useful! I'll be visiting Melbourne this year and I'm so psyched for it.

    May I ask how's driving in Melbourne like? I have about 2 years of driving experience in Singapore and I was thinking of renting from bargain cars with bronze insurance, to keep the costs low.

    Also, may I enquire how's the car like - are the cars fairly new? I'm contemplating between the intermediate and full size. But am afraid that the intermediate would be an old and uncomfortable car. The last thing anybody one is driving in a crappy car along GOR.

    Please kindly assist.

    Thanks much!

    Regards,
    Gary

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    Replies
    1. Hi Gary,

      Driving in melbourne is a lot easier than Singapore to be honest, except in the city during peak hours. I only drove in Singapore thrice on my own before I drove in Melbourne so I think this might give you a clearer indication of how easy it is to drive in Aussie :)

      Bronze insurance should be fine, I personally think it's quite unlikely to get into any accident except at night where there may be random animals running across along GOR from what I heard, but I didn't see any thankfully. The roads along GOR is easy, it can be winding at times but really it's fine! I went during a non peak period so there're not many cars as well. Cars from bargain car rental seem pretty new when I went and the boss is really nice, the car rental company is fairly new so the cars are generally in good condition, not some old crappy car like what you'd imagine. It should be fine, don't worry too much!

      Delete
  9. Hi Cheryl,

    Understood! Thank you so much for your informative clarifications and quick response.

    Have a good day and happy Chinese New Year to you!

    Regards,
    Gary

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  10. Hi Cheryl,

    Really nice photos and informative blog.
    I understand it was a solo trip and so may i know how you took all those photos of yourself?
    As i'm heading Melbourne for solo soon too.

    Thanks,
    Olivia

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    Replies
    1. Hi Olivia, I normally use a tripod to take such pictures. It's good to invest in one :) Hope this clarifies!

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  11. Hi Cheryl!

    I'm from Adelaide, headed to Melbourne soon. This was really helpful. And wow, you are one brave girl for traveling Melbourne solo and driving straight away! Originally coming from the Philippines, I know how daunting it is to suddenly drive in Australia. (Even more so because we drove on the opposite side in the Philippines.) But anyway, I loved this post. Thanks!

    www.jeannechristinemarie.blogspot.com

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  12. HI Cheryl,

    This blog post is perfect for me since I will be solo travelling too. Just want to thank you for sharing! :)

    Cheers,
    Andrea

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  13. Hi Cheryl,

    Just checking, do you convert your driving license to an international driving license to drive on Aussie roads?

    Thanks!
    Sha

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  14. One of the best itinerary i have seen....Awesome....!Great work. So much of hard work....pays a great output.. The pictures are pure....keep the good work up...

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  15. You just got me super excited planning my trip to Melbourne !!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Mick

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  16. When you visit Melbourne book silver service taxi Melbourne. It will help you to visit all the city easily.

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