A brown horse called Chilli looks at the camera surrounded by trees, a field and fences

The 10 best things I did in Melbourne (this time around)

I recently took my first trip to Australia to visit my brother and see him marry my beautiful new sister-in-law. It was an all too brief trip, packed to the brim with plans but had lots of quality time in there too. I’m glad to have survived my first-ever long-haul flights and even more glad that this was just the first of many trips to Australia ahead in my life. In this post, I thought I’d commemorate the best things I got to do this time around – mostly in no particular order but I did save the best for last. So, here goes…

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It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t visit the theatre on my travels and this time around it was a lovely contemporary triple bill by The Australian Ballet in the State Theatre at Melbourne Arts Centre. It was nice to meet some of the team over there, get to see their HQ and their performance which was mesmerising.

I went to a couple of museums during my wanders around the CBD but my favourite one was ACMI (the Australian Centre for the Moving Image). It was really cool and had a lot of interactive games and things to do while you explore the exhibition. In the paid exhibition ‘Light’ there were some really beautiful pieces that were right up my street.

We spent a fair bit of time out in countryside towns near Hanging Rock and I particularly enjoyed browsing at Woodend Bookshop. Of course, I made it my mission to pick up a few books by Australian authors and the staff were on hand to give plenty of recommendations. I picked up The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham, Minimum of Two by Tim Winton and Death in Daylesford by Kerry Greenwood.

On an adventure day, we took a road trip to the Peninsula Hot Springs which was gorgeous and so relaxing. Thankfully it was quite an overcast day so spending time in the cosy pools was a treat. We also did a body clay painting thing, hung out in the sauna and hopped between freezing cold plunge pools and toasty jacuzzis. Lush.

Probably one of the most unexpected but coolest things we did was see the Penguin Parade at Phillip Island. Standing on a big boardwalk, we watched as thousands of little penguins came out of the sea and toddled off to their nests in the hills. They were so cute and we loved watching them waddling past.

There’s nothing better than a stunning space full of books and the State Library Victoria absolutely served that. It was so gorgeous and I’m jealous of all the students who were using it as their study space – if I could, I’d be there all the time. There was also a wee exhibition about the history of books and illustration, which was cool to see.

On another (rainy) day trip, we drove up to the Yarra Valley and took a vineyard tour at Dominique Portet. It’s always fun to have a tasting and hear more about the process and people behind the wine, and even better to follow that up with a delicious lunch, and more wine.

Of course, the best day I had over in Australia was my brother’s wedding day! It was so stunning seeing them married in the sunshine in front of the epic Hanging Rock before dancing the night away in the barn. It was a joy to share so much Scottish culture (piper, ceilidh dancing, kilts and quaichs) with the Australian side of the family. But best of all, we made Georgia and I’s sisterhood official! (And Stuart’s nae bad either).

And best of all was having so much time hanging with family. From reuniting with Stu and G, which felt like we were right back to normal after missing them for so long, to meeting the new side of the family (including Chilli the horse) and getting to know them better – that was without a doubt my favourite part. I’m very grateful for the time we were able to share and can’t wait to get back over to do some more lovely things in the future – the Melbourne to-do list is still very long!

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