Mat and I went to Melbourne over the Easter long weekend with the thought, “could we move here?” lingering in the back of our heads.
We’re always weighing options and wondering where we could end up living. This is a pretty typical topic of conversation for many expats living in Australia. It’s hard being on the other side of the world, so far away from all our family and childhood friends. Even though the friends we have here have become our pseudo-family, and are the closest people to me, they are equally as unstable as us. It’s like we all go through phases of “this is it, Australia is the best country in the world, I’m going to live here forever.” Then we go home for some special occasion or holiday, and we think, “you know what? Australia is not my home, [insert name of country] is my home. These people know the real me, they know my story. That’s it, I’m moving back.” This cycle usually happens anywhere between 3-7 times a year.
Living in either Australia, Canada, or France is a hot topic of conversation in the Hetherington-de Chalvron household. We never reach a conclusion though. We usually get tired and decide to pick up the conversation another time in a few months. I mean, the thought of planning our future is pretty overwhelming as is, especially when it’s a choice between three countries. If you’re reading this thinking, well at least you have a choice. You are certainly correct. But actually, so do you. Unless you’re from Iraq, in which case getting a visa may be difficult/impossible. But for the rest of the world, getting working visas to different countries is pretty easy if you’re willing to put in the paperwork and jump out of your comfort zone. For us, we split our time between 3 countries. Ideally, we’d split it between just two. It’s good to have options, but too many options can be paralysing.
Anyway, back to our trip.
Melbourne is a cool city. It’s in-fashion, European-esque and extremely diverse. It’s like Sydney’s anarchist sibling. It’s the one who went rogue; the middle child who decided to leave his cookie cutter Aussie family and be everything everyone else his family wasn’t.
While Sydney is tame and visually stunning, Melbourne is all about the art, culture, and food. It’s like Sydney is the brother who is attractive, good at sports, intelligent and annoyingly perfect at most things; while Melbourne is the shorter less attractive one who makes up for it by being cultured, artistic, and wears a leather jacket with Dr. Martens boots.
So many cultures from all over the world call it home, and you can hear pockets of conversations in different languages from people passing you on the streets. It feels a little more diversified than Sydney, and a little more open to immigration.
Instead of countless beaches like Sydney, Melbourne is all about the Yarra River (and a little St. Kilda – sounds like a good name for a song). Bars & cafes hug the winding river making it feel very European. We had a few drinks and ate some calamari in a floaty bar. It felt like a Paris in Australia. Except for the house music that played a little too loud for my liking. We sat there sipping our drinks and became deeply amused by the ducks swimming in front of us bobbing their heads as if dancing to the robotic, head thumping music.
We wandered through the streets and found busker upon busker. If you ever want to make it on the streets, this is the city for it. I’m pretty sure these buskers get paid quite well. My favorite was a man dressed as a statue. His entire outfit was spray-painted copper. He moved whenever someone put money in his hat, which, luckily for him, was quite often. It was hilarious to watch little kids slowly approach as their parents gave them money to drop in his hat. Mat and I sat on a bench watching the crowds come and go, laughing and posing for pictures. I wondered how this statue man managed his day; how did he get dropped off? Would he need a garbage bag over the seat of his car so the spray paint didn’t ruin anything? I mean, I couldn’t imagine he’d take the bus dressed like that. Funny enough, one night Mat and I were having dinner in a lane-way and Mat said, “hey look, there’s your statue man finally off for the night!” I spun around and saw the walking statue finally off his shift, walking briskly with his copper suitcase, disappearing into an alley.
We also took a day tour to visit the 12 Apostles which was $100 per person and it was a jam packed tour. I didn’t read the entire website itinerary so I thought the drive was just about seeing the 12 Apostles but we also walked through a national park and saw a *wild* koala (I’ve always wanted to see a wild koala, I was elated for hours!), stopped in little towns along the way for bathroom & ice cream breaks and got to drive along the beautiful Great Ocean Road. I figured the apostles were one of those hyped up places that would be a disappointment in real life. But wow, it was stunning and even more beautiful in real life. If I had to do it again I’d rent a car and spend a few days in an Air BnB in that area.
The surrounding area of Melbourne is gorgeous. That entire coastline is like something you’d find in a magazine brochure. Sometimes Australia is so beautiful you have to pinch yourself to remember it’s not a dream. I’m beyond grateful to have the chance for my eyes to soak up so much natural beauty; that fluorescent green of healthy trees, the aqua blue waters and the clear blue skies. I feel so fortunate to have the chance to live here.
So, I guess that settles it. We’re back in the “that’s it, Australia is the best, I’m going to live here forever” state of mind.
Check back with me in a few months!