I have always wanted to visit Australia. Firstly because its closer to Singapore and affordable to travel on budget. Second, Singaporeans have a fascination towards Australia and being in Singapore I have heard so many stories about Australia. Australia is a famous destination for budget travelers, students who couldn't get into American universities for further education and for those who want to explore Australia on a work visa. Third, I hadn't been to southern part of hemisphere and Australia is the land down under.
I wasn't disappointed a bit. Melbourne is multicultural and diverse city. Off course my comparison is with Singapore which is every bit glossy and glamorous. In contrast Melbourne has a rustic, small town charm to it. Melbourne is a very young city which had its first settlement in 1803 by a group of victorian sailors. The city has huge victorian era buildings that gives it a feel of London. Melbourne of today has Victorian era gothic structures and modern sky scrapers side by side.
The city itself is very small but energetic; bustling with people who are very laid back and chilled out "Don't worry maite". Australians know how to slow down and enjoy their lives. They have a relaxed working hours, almost no one works long hours. Evenings are for beer and trust me, people really get drunk. Australians love their coffee and are sports fanatics. Greeks followed by Italian and Chinese form the majority of Melbourne population. Greek, Italian and south east asian cuisine is readily available in Australia. You could even find Indian ready-to-eat food in supermarkets. Australians come across as very direct and straightforward people. Asians of all people, are definitely taken aback by this straight forwardness.
Australia is very easy to travel by budget. There are enormous choices for budget hostels with bars specifically for backpackers. Cost of living is high in Australia but rentals and accommodation is not so expensive. Australia has an option of "working holiday" visas that lets you have temporary jobs to sustain and fund your travels. Labour costs are high in Australia so by working even as a waiter or cleaner you could survive, save and travel within Australia.
I am surprised how is Melbourne the "most liveable" city because of two reasons.
First safety concerns. While in Australia we were advised not to venture out after dark. If you encounter muggers or drunkards, its better to leave everything you have and just run.
Second reason is the weather. Summer and winter weather is too extreme. This is winter time in Australia. Temperature was allright, around 8degrees but the wind was too rough.
Most liveable city or not, it is a very interesting city. I would have loved to stay longer if not for my life and job back in Singapore.
Couple of more Oz posts coming up, watch out this space.