Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 6

Going Back in Time: 1850 - Sovereign Hill Gold Mine in Ballarat

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 1

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 2

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 3

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 4

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 5

One of the attractions in Melbourne you must visit is the Sovereign Hill Gold Mine in the suburb of Ballarat. A small city from the 1850 gold rush in Australia is preserved as it was back in those days. You will be able to go back in time and experience a gold mine city.

Visiting the whole city would take a full day, so I rushed to finish everything as fast as I could. Some of the places you can experience in Sovereign Hill as they were in the past are:

- A real underground gold mine and the ability to ride a real mine tram

- Original working conditions and mining equipment

- A real gold melt & pour to make a $100,000 gold bar

- Blacksmiths and traditional craftsmen

- Bakery, bank, blacksmith, post office, grocer, tentmaker, tinsmith, bank, post office, candle-dipping shop, lolly shop, stables, nine-pin bowling saloon, library and various other shops on the main street

- Houses, tents, water well, and gardens from the old days

- 1850s-style hotels, schools and a theatre with goldfields entertainers

- a gold museum is also located right across from the front exit

I spent my whole day videoing as much as possible at Sovereign Hill and will post these on You Tube.

Chasing Kangaroos at the Lysterfield Lake Park

Going to Australia without seeing kangaroos is like going to Egypt without visiting the pyramids. I encountered my first kangaroo sighting in the Lysterfield Lake Park, which is located in the greater Melbourne area.

There are 60+ different species of kangaroos. Some of them are big and some of them are small. The ones I was chasing in the park to take pictures and videos are the small ones. They wouldn’t let me get very close. I saw some of them carrying babies in the pouch located on their bellies.

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 5

Where Is Burger King? I See Hungry Jack’s

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 1

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 2

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 3

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 4

The fast food restaurant Hungry Jack’s struck me in Melbourne because of its similarities with Burger King. Later on, I found out that Hungry Jack’s is indeed Burger King in Australia. Burger King could not trademark its name because it was already taken, so it’s called Hungry Jack’s in Australia.

The Whopper tasted the same at Hungry Jack’s in Melbourne as it does Canada or USA. When I went to New Zealand after finishing my Australia trip, I saw a Burger King actually called Burger King in New Zealand.

No Regular Coffee in Australia

I usually drink 2 cups of coffee a day. The difficulty I had in Australia (and New Zealand as well) is that there is no regular coffee (coffee with cream and sugar). Wherever I asked for regular coffee, they looked at me like they had no idea what I was talking about.

Australians love their coffee, but they prefer barista-made coffee. I did not find anywhere where they would pour brewed black coffee and add cream or milk and sugar to make regular coffee. So the trick I learned after trying a few different barista-made specialty coffees is that latte and Americano are very close to my favourite regular coffee.

Fast Food Chain Aesthetic Looks

McDonald’s, Hungry Jack’s, 7-Eleven, or any other multinational companies or restaurants have one thing common in Australia and that is they all look better in Australia than they do in Canada or USA.

The designing, cleanliness, furniture, aesthetic looks - basically everything looked better and more higher-end than their North American versions.

However, I compared grocery chains, both value and upscale, and Canadians are unbeatable in grocery stores.

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 4

Supermarket Trips in Melbourne

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 1

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 2

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 3

I have visited several supermarkets or grocery stores such as Coles and Woolworths in Melbourne to compare prices with grocery stores in Toronto. I was expecting most of the items to be higher priced than Canada because that’s what I have heard in the past.

But I was surprised that prices are very comparable and some items are even cheaper than Canada. Dairy products are really unbeatable in Australia. Soft drinks and some other dry foods were also better-priced. On average, if you compare everything, I have to say it’s pretty much very comparable with what I have seen in Toronto. Some items are more expensive in Toronto and cheaper in Melbourne and vice versa.

What struck me in the meat section is the Kangaroo meat. It’s a common item in Australia, which I haven’t seen in any other country, for obvious reasons.

Roundabouts in the Intersections

In most of North America, we have intersections with either stop signs or traffic lights. In Australia, I saw the roundabouts, which was a totally new concept for me. Roundabouts control the traffic flow in intersections without any signals or stop signs.

Motorists are forced to slow down and follow certain rules to go through these roundabouts. At an intersection, for instance, someone can go through straight, beating the red light or not stopping, but at a roundabout you can’t do that because you need to go around the roundabout. I find it safer and more efficient. It’s just a matter of getting used to it if you never used it before.

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 3

Wandering in Melbourne Downtown

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 1

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 2

After visiting the waterfront of Melbourne, I started to walk nearby surrounding areas. One environmentally-friendly transportation policy I noticed is that public transit is free within certain boundaries in downtown. This encourages people to take public transit and not to drive. I hopped on a tram and stayed within boundaries, going around to see as much as possible.

I liked Melbourne’s downtown a lot. The friendly people and excellent public transit network, along with many other things, make it one of the top ten best places to live in the world.

Although population- and area-wise Melbourne is bigger than Toronto, I noticed that it’s got a lot less skyscrapers than Toronto. It kind of reminds me of how Toronto was 20 years ago. I saw a lot of construction, but possibly its priority is not building too many skyscrapers.

And that’s what I found the most striking about Melbourne; you will feel like you’re living in a city with all the modern amenities a metropolis has to offer, but it’s not a chaotic and hectic place like many other big cities. Just 45 minutes from the city will take you to suburbs where the pace of life is even more relaxed and gives off the vibe of living in a small town.

It’s no wonder Melbourne ranks so high and is always one of the top ten best places to live. One thing I found very weird is the weather in Melbourne. It fluctuates a lot and can change within hours. Because houses in Australia are not equipped with a heating system, at night I felt cold when the temperature dropped significantly, but during the day it was very hot.

Some days, even during the day, I had to wear a light jacket in Melbourne in November. This did not happen in Sydney, where I found it was always hot. So Melbourne weather is full of contrasts and fluctuations.

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 2

Australia Travel Blog: Melbourne Highlights & Impressions

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 1

Melbourne Public Transport

My first To Do List item for Melbourne was to see downtown and I decided to take public transport to reach it. I had to take a train from Wyndham Vale station, change at Southern Cross station and then get off at Flinders Street station.

Melbourne has a lot more routes than Toronto and there are a lot more variety of colorful trains. The transit system I found very efficient and functional; I had no problem reaching my destination. Whenever I was in doubt about the transfers or right stations, I asked either passengers or transit employees and they were beyond helpful.

Southern Cross station is a huge, mega transfer hub for various routes and I spent a lot of time at the station making videos and taking pictures. This station has a shopping complex or mini mall inside and I had my coffee and a snack. Small, medium, and large coffees cost $4.00, $4.65, $5.00 AUD and I find coffee is more expensive in Australia than Canada.

Flinders Street, Yarra River, Melbourne Downtown Waterfront

After changing to a different train from Southern Cross station, I got off at Flinders Street station. Flinders Street is an iconic, historic station which happens to be the busiest railway station in Australia. Its dome-shaped arched entrance with tower and clock give it a distinctive look and it is one of the city's most recognisable landmarks. The full station stretches two whole city blocks in the heart of Melbourne downtown.

A few steps from Flinders Street station is downtown waterfront along the Yarra river and there are tons of restaurants, including open-air restaurants and floating restaurants on the river. There is a cute, white pedestrian bridge called Even Walker bridge, which adds a different charm to the downtown waterfront part under the shadow of the skyscrapers.

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 3