Melbourne: The Working Holiday Top 10

This is it. My Australian Working Holiday visa is about to expire. After 24 months of major and minor excursions, the time has almost come for me to say goodbye to Melbourne. Before I do I thought I’d take a moment to look back, revisiting some of the best moments of the past two years. Some of these posts are my personal favourites. Others are, according to my statistics, some of the most popular.

When it all began I had rather different expectations. Melbourne was to be a starting point for a prolonged period of travel. I arrived at the start of spring, just in time for the blistering heat of the summer. Looking back at the boy who arrived, he was naive, a bit too care-free and had incredible fortune. I had good friends in Sarah and Matt who were already well established in the city. Work fell into my lap within a week, a place to live followed almost immediately. I was set to go in no time at all.

Melbourne CBD from Southbank.

First Impressions

My first adventure beyond Victoria came in December. I left for Brisbane to visit old friends and memories before dropping by Sydney to see in the New Year. I came back to Melbourne viewing it as my second home. Destinations awaited me beyond the city limits. I found myself on a gradual conquest of regional Victoria.

Fireworks on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, New Year's Eve 2013.

Happy New Year

I made my way West to the Great Ocean Road. To the East I visited the wineries of Gippsland. It would not be long before I visited the Mornington Peninsular. Much later trips to Wilson’s Prom and Phillip Island would follow. The vast expanse of Australia remained almost untouched as the first year disappeared.

The remaining limestone stacks along the Great Ocean Road.

The Great Ocean Road

Some of my most unique experiences came when I left Melbourne to complete my regional work. Unless you’ve spent some time in a hostel somewhere in Australia, or have friends who’ve been backpacking, it’s unlikely your familiar with anyone who’s picked fruit for a living. Citrus season in Curlwaa gave me the opportunity to extend my stay for another year. My instagram account reflected my blog with photos of sunrises, sunsets and oranges. But what was the people’s favourite?

The Beard

The Beard Challenge

What can I say? Beards are in, even when they’re disgusting. The end of my time in the country brought a change in my attitude towards my time in Australia. It was time to stop thinking about travelling and start thinking about an office job, apartment, utility bills and a washing machine. A more stationary life brought with it friends. I’m around the age when friends have the tendency to get married. This year kicked off with the most unexpected event yet; Tamsin and Jag’s wedding in India.

Tamsin in traditional Indian bridal dress.

A Very Indian Wedding

After the wedding we completed a rapid tour of India’s Golden Triangle. The final stop? One of the new seven wonders of the world; the Taj Mahal. Before leaving home in 2013, I would never have dreamed of being in India. There I was walking through the mist alongside a reflecting pool, as the white mausoleum emerged from the haze. Being in the presence of such an incredible, and completely unreasonable, work of architecture was captivating.

The Taj Mahal emerges from the mist.

The Taj Mahal

Following a brief stop in Singapore and a short return to work I was back at Tullarmarine Airport and on my way to New Zealand. After 18 months away, I was looking forward to seeing my family for the first time. We drove across the South Island, crossed the Cook Strait and raced up the North Island in just under a month. With all the places we visited, the incredible landscapes, picking a favourite shouldn’t be easy. If you’ve spoken to me about it or, less-likely, kept up-to-date with every post you’ll know I had no such trouble.

The view from the central crater of the Tongariro Crossing.

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Mountains have enchanted me for as long as I can remember. The trek with hundreds of others across Mount Tongariro and her sister peaks is one I’ll never forget. Catching my breath at the summit in complete solitude. The horizon curving away into forever. The sudden, overwhelming feeling of peace defined my adventure. Yet without Mum, Dad, and Lisa there to share it with me, would it have been half as good? Probably, but for the sake of sentimentality, we’ll pretend it wouldn’t have been.

Lisa, Chris, Paul, & Sue on Franz Josef

Another Journey Ends

I came back to Melbourne as my home again. Even then with the end of my visa looming, the idea of having to leave didn’t feel real. I declined the opportunity to return to work, this was a holiday after all. Having worked for the best part of three quarters of it, I decided it was about time I had some serious me-time. Yes, I know how I sound. I’m well aware of how self-indulgent the entirety of these past two years has been. If you’ve been dropping by over the last few weeks, you’ll have noticed a change of subject. I’ve been exploring those indulgences further. I don’t want to think of it as a change, but a diversification. My interest in craft beer is drawing level with my passion for travel.

Mountain Goat's Surefoot Stout with herbs and vegetables.

Cooking With Beer

All that time on my hands has given me time for reflection. This has lead to some philosophical ramblings about my motives and methods of travelling. It’s no surprise I’ve started to think about how moving home is going to be, seeing as I’m going to be back there in just over two weeks time.

Why I Travel

Here I am writing out some highlights while two week still remain. I have plenty of time to add to the list, but I’m just skimming. After two years overseas, the experiences can’t be summed up in a top ten. I’ve been so far, seen so much and yet I’ve hardly left the city. You can hardly blame me knowing it’s just been awarded the world’s most liveable city for the fifth year in a row.

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