My last few days in Melbourne were among my favourite days of the whole trip because I got to spend them with one of my best friends. On Saturday, May 26, I was up very early so I could meet Jess at the airport. I showed her around the city a bit and then we went to Melbourne Cricket Ground for her first Aussie rules football match. We decided to back local team Richmond Tigers, and they beat Hawthorn Hawks 137-75. The MCG had a capacity of 100,000, making it the largest stadium I’d ever visited. Even though there were only 51,617 spectators at the match, there was a fantastic atmosphere, and it was a thrilling game.
The next day, we visited the market (where we got Richmond Tigers socks) and went up Eureka Tower. Then we went to St Kilda where we ate cake, played Cowardy Custard on the beach, had drinks at a couple of pubs, went to the end of the pier and saw a couple of penguins, and had a nice dinner. When we returned to central Melbourne, we went back up the tower to see the city at night. We made it with six minutes to spare before last entry!
On Monday, May 28, I hired a car – a red Hyundai i20 which we named Scarlet – from Europcar, with the intention of seeing as much of the Great Ocean Road as possible. We travelled about 570km altogether, and would have done more if it hadn’t got dark so early. We visited Torquay, which was only interesting because it shared its name with a town near Exeter. Then we went to Bells Beach and watched the surfers catch some pretty big waves. Then we decided to head to the 12 Apostles and work back. It started to rain, but at least that meant that we had the more unusual sight of a rainbow over the famous rock stacks. Unfortunately, there wasn’t time before nightfall to see the other places on our list, so a quick comfort break in Lorne was our only other stop. We were lucky enough to see a kangaroo by the side of the road on the way back. Later, we went to Nando’s and met up with Jemma in the bar next to the hostel.
On Tuesday, May 29, it was time to leave. We went for a drink in the cafe by the hostel and then headed to the airport. It was hard to say goodbye because it’s going to be a long, long time before I see Jess again, but I couldn’t have asked for a better send-off from Australia and, I think, Jess couldn’t have asked for a better start to her own adventure down under.