Victoria, Australia

I went to the state of Victoria in Australia from 12 to 24 June. The day we decided to leave, all flights into Melbourne were suspended due to a volcanic ash cloud from Chile. It initially threw a spanner into our plans, but we flew to Sydney first instead and had quite a good night there. We then headed on to Melbourne and proceeded with our journey along the Great Ocean Road to the Grampians, and back in a campervan. It was quite an adventure, and at the end of twelve days, I learnt quite a few things:

1. The nomadic life isn’t for me after all.

I was quite excited when I found out my father was planning for our family to travel around and stay in a campervan for seven of the twelve days. I had always wanted to try the caravan life. There were six of us – my nuclear family plus my maternal grandmother – and we lived in the campervan for seven days.

Every night, we would stop at a caravan park, where we would have access to power, water, and a communal kitchen and toilets. We would cook our own dinners every night – lamb chops, beef steaks, chicken wings, barbecued onions, rice, etc…every night ended with me feeling very full.

The interior of the campervan. My sister and my dad.

Not that I didn’t have fun in the end, but I was glad when it was over. Because one thing about living in a campervan is everyone is cramped together in the same living space. It literally brings people close together, but as a result there isn’t much personal space, or space to move around without having to say ‘excuse me’.

And if we didn’t have the luxury of the amenities of a campervan park, living the truly nomadic life would have been much tougher.

2. I would be right at home in Victoria, Australia for three reasons: books, bicycles, and art.

I noticed straightaway how common bicycles were in Melbourne, and how the city infrastructure had been designed to accommodate them. There are cycling tracks, rings to lock your bike outside office buildings, and of course Melbourne’s own city bike rental system. It’s pretty neat, and makes commuting on bicycle really convenient.

Intercity cycling is also encouraged, with signs warning drivers to give a wide berth to cyclists, and also cycling lanes in other towns too.

One of the many photos of bicycles I took.

The second thing would be books. There are bookstores everywhere – from chains like Borders and Readings to smaller independent ones – that sell all sorts of books, with a wide range of prices. There’s one bookstore that sells all books at A$4.50. In Ballarat, I encountered this quaint, little bookstore called The Second World, where if I had enough time, could have browsed the books at leisure and sat down to read with some coffee in hand. I bought two secondhand books there, Leaf by Niggle and The Silmarillion, for which the nice lady gave an unsolicited discount.

Interior of The Known World secondhand bookstore. Fantastic place.

And of course, there’s the magnificent State Library of Victoria, with large, ornate reading rooms and shelves upon shelves of books, way more than any library in Singapore and less cramped, too.

La Trobe Reading Room in the State Library of Victoria.

I also filmed the interior so you can get a look:

I also found it cool that the State Library of Victoria has a small art gallery. Which brings me to the third reason: art.

Now, I’m not really an arts buff, but I do enjoy walking through museums slowly and gazing at artwork. I also generally enjoy anything with aesthetic value. With regards to that, Melbourne also has the National Gallery of Victoria, which has a huge collection of art I don’t think I even managed to finish seeing all of it.

Melbourne is also known for its graffiti art. I saw so much graffiti art in the laneways, it was like an art exhibition had come to the streets.

 

The best example would be at Hosier Lane – here’s another video for you:

3. The scenery in Australia is a sight to behold.

Travelling along the Great Ocean Road, our eyes were spoilt with 360 degrees of beautiful scenery. Miles upon miles of green fields, or the wide blue ocean without a single container ship in sight – something inescapable from the horizon of Singapore’s beaches. I also saw quite a few rainbows. one was so huge, it could be captured by my compact camera.

 

Photos don’t really do justice to the beauty of the Australian countryside, but here are a few more:

 

 

4. Friends is a really good sitcom.

During our last few days in Australia, the hotel in Melbourne we were staying in had cable television, so I watched quite a lot of TV shows, such as the Simpsons, Big Bang Theory, Scrubs, and How I Met Your Mother; and some of them for the first time, such as Futurama, Two and A Half Men, and Friends. I only managed to catch two or three episodes or Friends but it struck me how good a sitcom it actually was. If I had to choose the best situational comedy about a group of friends, it wouldn’t be How I Met Your Mother, it would be Friends. And that’s just from a few random episodes!

5. Singapore is really warm.

Once I arrived back, it felt so hot. I could hardly take the heat at first. It seems in Singapore if you want to be comfortable, you have to wear as little clothes as possible. We really have to do something about global warming.

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