Melbourne is the second most populous city in Australia and the capital of the State of Victoria. Unlike New Zealand, where cities feel more like towns, Melbourne is definitely a city. Home to a vast multicultural population the city is dynamic and cosmopolitan, as well as boasting many of Australia’s oldest cultural institutions.
Sport is a crucial part of the fabric of Melbourne. The city hosts the annual F1 Grand Prix, contains Australia’s most famous cricket stadium, the M.C.G., which recently hosted the Cricket World Cup final, which is next to the Rod Laver Arena, home of the Australian Grand Slam tennis tournament, and both are just a stone’s throw from the Olympic Park. We decided to take a guided tour around the Rod Laver Arena, which was fascinating. It was interesting to snoop around the locker room, and take a stroll down the ‘Walk of Champions’, the corridor to the main court which is lined with huge photos of previous winners.
Melbourne is often referred to as Australia’s cultural capital and during our visit the city was hosting its 29th annual International Comedy Festival. Whilst enjoying the free internet available at the Victoria State Library we were gifted a couple of tickets from a lady who was unable to attend a show later that day. Throughout our stay in Melbourne Luke managed to suffer his first illness of the trip, but as the saying goes “laughter is the best medicine” and the evening with comedian Hannah Gadsby proved a satisfactory treatment (almost). It took a few more days before he was back up to full health.
On our final morning in the city we met up with an old friend of Luke’s for brunch; a very ‘Melbourne’ thing to do, with countless cafes and restaurants offering quirky menus. We then picked up a hire car, this time a stylish Toyota Yaris, and excitedly headed west the Grampians National Park, one of the world’s most famous climbing areas.