Melbourne, Australia

Sunday, March 19, 2023

If I'm being completely honest, Melbourne didn't blow me away. 

Don't get me wrong, it's an absolutely stunning city that screams 'arts & culture', and there's so much beauty in being the more laid-back Aussie destination especially if you're comparing it to the fast-paced Sydney. However, it did feel like we covered a decent chunk of what the place had to offer despite spending only barely two days (22-23 April 2022) there. 

Of course, it's also important to note that my credibility to judge Melbourne as a tourist location will be thrown out of the window the moment I reveal that I'm not a coffee drinker. The city has an obsession with their cuppa Joe's, and boasts some of the best cafes and baristas in the world, all of which I'm unable to fully appreciate. 

That said, I did still thoroughly enjoy my time there, which was mostly characterised by stuffing my face silly and being awed by the sheer photogenic quality of every nook and cranny. Here's a glimpse into that–

Day 1

Put forth by the New York Times as possibly one of the world's best croissants, getting my hands on the flaky pastry from Lune Croissanterie was really the only thing I held myself accountable to doing in Melbourne. 

And with my pre-paid order for a mixed box of six classics already filed online five days prior, I walked past this long line into the store directly to pick it up– with a skip in my step and admittedly a completely unnecessary tinge of haughtiness I credited to my foresight. 

The box included a traditional croissant, pain au chocolat, lemon cruffin, kouign-amann, almond croissant, and a ham & gruyere pastry. 

The verdict? No doubt that expert-levels of technique went into making each buttery delight, especially if one takes into account the challenge that comes with maintaining consistency in quality at such high volumes. But describing it as ethereal or otherworldly is a real stretch.  

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is Australia's oldest and most-visited art museum. 

The QUEER showcase within the NGV was extensive and popular, judging by the sheer crowd present. It also made me wonder if any public Singapore institutions would stage such an exhibition that touches on similar themes in my lifetime. 

The collection was visually and intellectually rather overwhelming though.

And the Pride/ LGBTQIA theme serendipitously continued outside of the confines of the museum. 

In the same vein, the streets were plastered in art, particularly at Hosier Lane.

Ronald is definitely coming for me, I'm chained by the offers on the McDonald's app. 

Is there such a thing as too much character? 

Art was even found within places of worship, this one being the exhibition of Luke Jerram's Gaia, housed in the St Paul's Cathedral. Gazing up towards the sphere that bore the likeness of Mother Earth made for quite a contemplative experience. 

Compared to Tasmania, Melbourne's weather was a lot warmer so these newly launched plant-based desserts made for a lovely treat. We got a few pods of pudding from their little marketing campaign pop-up. 

Note to self: Never judge the quality of an Asian restaurant by the crowd of non-Asians. This was a packed eatery, but the dishes were utterly disappointing, at least to our palates. 

Lunch decision mistakes aside, roaming around Chinatown brought me a sense of ease and familiarity.

And we just had to fit in a visit to a cafe, the most highly-rated one near us being the Seven Seeds Coffee Roasters


Unfortunately, the drinks and tart left us really disappointed. My hot chocolate looked the part, but tasted absolutely nothing like hot chocolate–and I know this sounds like an exaggeration but it genuinely isn't. Perhaps we just caught them on an off-day though, because I've friends and acquaintances rave about this establishment. 

Day 2

If I lived in Melbourne, I'd have a hard time resisting visiting the Queen Victoria Market all the damn time. It's the ultimate one-stop shop for fresh produce, artisan goods, and just good vibes all around, really. 

Breakfast started off strong with this juicy hot dog, though it could've done without that heaping mass of sauerkraut. 

Raspberry jam filled glazed donut and a beautiful Lamington–ever since I started watching Australian YouTuber Natalie Tran's (community channel) videos more than 10 years ago where this Australian cake became somewhat of an inside joke, I've always wanted to sink my teeth into an actual one. 

Alas, the idea of a Lamington is better than a Lamington itself. It's just plain butter cake coated in chocolate and covered in desiccated coconut. At least this one had a thin layer of raspberry jam between the cake slices, which gave it a bit more flavour. 

Considered purchasing a bouquet for myself just to feel like a main character. Glad it remained a consideration. 

No trip to Melbourne would be complete without a visit to the iconic State Library Victoria, which is Australia's oldest library. 

The structure of this building did remind me vaguely of the library in my junior college–obviously the latter isn't as grand, but it boasts a similar cylindrical shape and heavy teak furniture. 

How dost thou, sweet William? 

Quite the sight greeted us when we left the library–folks were organising and advocating for a Free Palestine. 

The flag bearer, literally. 

I'll be the first to admit that my understanding of the Free Palestine movement and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict barely scratches the surface and is mainly limited to what I  had studied in back in school. I did, however, use this opportunity to read up a little more about it, and found this site most useful for me personally. 

And while I am conscious not to take away from the important cause they were fighting for and turn it into an 'experience' for myself, I do want to mention that as a sheltered Singaporean, finding myself in the middle of this was eye-opening. 

Whilst we were enjoying our final cuppa at Lt. Nic, a hole in the wall cafe we stumbled upon, the folks from the Free Palestine movement marched past chanting. 

I can't think of a more on-brand way to conclude our short stay in Melbourne than having a cup of coffee, which made for this pretty picture. 

The end of our Melbourne journey also signalled the parting of ways with my four travel buddies of two weeks. As crazy as embarking on a trip with strangers seemed at the start, it's equally insane how everything fell into place so perfectly. All things considered, we were able to balance and play around with each other's qualities and preferences throughout the duration of living together through nine Airbnbs, one lakeside lodge and one historical relic of a hotel–we even had to plan out laundry days based on the availability of washing machines. 

A huge belated thank you to each one of you for being so very accommodating and honestly, being such a fun and inappropriate bunch, though it's unlikely any one of you would end up reading this. 

They headed back to Singapore while I caught a flight to Sydney to spend some much-needed solo self-soothing, soul-searching time, which I'll hopefully detail in my next one. 

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