After leaving Byron Bay last week I flew to Melbourne to stay with my sister for a few days (she is here on a working-holiday visa at the moment). (A side note on Aussie no-frills airlines: They’re pretty similar to the European ones, except JetStar had very good planes with fairly comfy wide-leather seats while the Virgin Blue seats were very cramped: I’m really glad the Virgin Blue flight was only 90 mins! Virgin Blue do allocate seats though, whereas JetStar use the RyanAir/Easyjet free-for-all method.)

Melbourne was a lovely blend of old and new in a very compact space that was really good to walk around, or just sit and people-watch in a little cafe. It lacks the stunning natural beauty of Sydney’s harbour and beaches but its CBD has more character.

A real highlight of my trip to Melbourne was the chance to see a game of Aussie Rules Football (although unfortunately I picked the one weekend when there was only one game instead of the usual programme, so it was at the ultra-modern Telstra Dome instead of the historic MCG). It was a really interesting game to watch: it’s like an aerial combat as the main aim is to catch a kicked ball within striking range of the scoring posts and thus the main skill is to pick a ball out of the air before an opponent reaches it, except when the ball goes to ground there is then a messy form of scrum until someone gets a decent kick away and the aerial battle resumes. Anyway, it was fun to watch and Essendon beat St. Kilda 119 points to 104.

Another highlight was my trip down the famous “Great Ocean Road” which has beautiful wave-battered coastal scenery that definitely lived up to its reputation. I also saw some koalas in the wild (which is pretty rare) and the interesting rock formations known as the “Twelve Apostles” which are very beautiful. On Saturday, Sophie and I watched the Little Penguins on Philip Island — 30cm tall penguins that even I thought were quite cute!