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After saying a sad farewell to Bali, we hopped onto an overnight flight to Australia, yippee! After just five and a half hours we set down in Melbourne, landing as the sun rose over the city.

Thankfully, our Airbnb host let us check in mega early, given we’d arrived at 7am, so we were able to snatch a couple of hours kip before heading out to explore our new country!

Stunning view from the top of our apartment block:

Although Melbourne is Australia’s second largest city, the centre is easily walkable; we spent the afternoon finding our bearings in the grid-style layout of streets. It’s made up of Victorian-era buildings, parks, gardens, modern architecture and leafy boulevards, and is cut in half by the Yarra river.

Instantly, we felt the vibrancy and outdoor way of life here. Along the riverbank, groups of friends, families and work colleagues convened, and all kinds of exercisers were out in force, from rowers and skateboarders to joggers.

Impressed by the abundance of electric BBQ facilities and picnic tables freely available, we felt jealous of such communal places! Why can’t we have these in England? Wouldn’t it be so cool to have them in Stoneham Park, Hove Lawns or on the seafront (for those of you reading from Brighton and Hove!)? Surely it would make us even more sociable with our local communities?

Federation Square appears to be a main hub in the city, and we liked the geometric design and structure of the buildings housed there, especially the  National Gallery. We also loved the ‘Pool’ exhibition that was on!

Note the jumper that Albie is wearing! Coming from Asia, we felt the chill as temperatures were a good 10 degrees lower than we were used to!

In Melbourne, we had our first sense that Christmas is on its way, but the giant Christmas tree and street-strung decorations just looked quite weird against a blue warm sky!!

It’s pretty hard to get in the Christmas spirit as we would ordinarily be back home, although the lack of commercialism here surrounding this time of year is a good thing!

Strolling through the Royal Botanic Gardens, we were surprised by the extent of greenery and how peacefully quiet it was despite its centrality. The landscape gently slopes upwards until  the buildings of the city below come into view.

In the garden’s cafe, Tash had her first (and probably last at these prices!) Aussie flat white!

Further along the river, we explored the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), one of the world’s greatest sporting venues. The first game of Aussie Rules Football was played near here in 1858, and in 1877 the first Test match (cricket) between Australia and England was played. Knowing one of the Ashes’ Tests will be played here this year also made it more impressive.

Wanting to find out a little more about Aussie Rules, we went into Collingwood’s Club over the Road (they are the biggest Club in the country). Unfortunately, it’s not their season, but we chatted to a couple of the staff there who helpfully told us more about it’s history and the rules. With the club colours Albie’s favourites (black and white), Collingwood is now who he supports!

With only two nights here, we only scraped the surface of this vibrant place. We’d love to see more of the city and its suburbs, so, Melbourne, we hope to be back!