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2023 Victoria - Australia (part 1)

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First intercontinal trip for the 2 of us since we've been to Japan in 2015. The last 8 years, we mostly have been travelling in Europe, avoiding as much as possible to take flights. It's also 8 years ago that we were doing a big trip without taking our bicycles. Australia is far to big to make it a cycle holiday unless you are going to stay for a long time or just want to see a tiny bit of the country.

It's a very long flight, so we decided to make a stop over in Singapore, both in the way up and the way down. I (Dirk) left a few weeks before Linda, allowing me to fit in a 10 day Vipassana meditation in Kuantan (Malaysia) and to catch up with friends and ex-colleagues in Malaysia and Singapore.

(A) Part 1 of our trip started in Melbourne, where we rented a car to get us to Anglesea for our first surf lessons and to drive along the Great Ocean Road, a stunning coastal drive known for its breathtaking scenery, including the iconic Twelve Apostles rock formations.

(B) Part 2, We took the night train from Melbourne to Sydney where we rented a Campervan for the next 3 weeks. Starting in the Blue Mountains, we followed the coast direction north, passing Byron bay, the Gold coast, Brisbane and up to Noosa on the Sunshine Coast.

(C) Part 3, we returned the Campervan in Brisbane and took a train to Gladstone to visit Heron island on the Great Barrier Reef.

Arriving in Australia, we opted to buy a local SIM card from a local operator as we wanted to have a local contact number when making reservations. The first hotel reception recommended Optus, which turned out to be a less good choice due to several system outages. In most locations, we noticed that Telstra had much better coverage and was also often providing free local internet access.

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Melbourne Central Business District

Melbourne is the capital of the state Victoria and is know for its vibrant arts scene, multicultural population and lively atmosphere. Population wise, it's the second-largest city of Australia, just after Sydney.

It has a good public transport system, whereby trams within the city center are for free.

There is a shuttle bus between the airport and the city center but if you are with 2, it's more or less the same price and easier to get an Uber taxi.

Flinders station is an iconic landmark, located on the southern bank of the Yarra river and known for its distinctive facade, clock tower and Victorian Architecture.

It's also a very popular meeting spot for locals who traditionally will meet up "under the clocks". Just like in the good old days, the departing times of the standard trainlines are still announced on analog clocks.

The area around Flinders station is a good place to start your Melbourne sightseeing trip. 

Look around to find a few City Tourism volunteers in their red jacket and straw hat. They will provide you with all up to date info about what to do during your stay.

Just across  Flinders station is Federation square with the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria), Australia's oldest and most visited art museum.

Entry to the NGV is free and you can check running exhibitions on their website.

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Printed guides of different walks in Melbourne and surroundings are available at the visitor centre at Melbourne Town Hall. We did the Street Art Walk and most parts of the Iconic laneways and Arcades walk.

Street Art Walk

If you're late for lunch, it sometimes gets difficult in Melbourne to find a place which serves lunch all day.

Exception is ChinChin in Flinders Lane 125, on the Street Art tour just after AC/DC lane.

If you want to go for dinner, best to make reservations as it's a popular spot.

When you see the giant sleeping female at the outside wall of Brunetti's at Flinders street, you can pop in for "coffee and a slice" in this legendary italian cafe with the most amazing choice of pastries.

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Iconic laneways and arcades

No shortage of coffee houses, cafe's, bars or restaurants. Just be aware that most coffee places already close late afternoon and restaurants tend to close in the early evening. Taking orders after 9pm will already be an exception.