While selecting activities for my trip to Australia, I came across many tours for penguin watching on the beach online. As an animal lover, I decided that this was something I must definitely experience! However, most of these tour packages were priced at over $100 to go on a two hour trip to Phillip Island, which is a bit expensive for people who are backpacking. With a little more research, my friend and I figured out that you can see them pretty much every night at the beach in St. Kilda, which is just 20 minutes away via tram from central Melbourne.
After knocking back a couple drinks at the bars in CBD, we hopped on the tram from Southern Cross Station and made our way to the pier at St. Kilda Beach around 7pm a little after the sun set (we confirmed this time via the weather app). At first we weren’t sure if they were going to come out, as spring had just started in Australia and it was a bit chilly. But we saw a large group of people gathered at the pier and sure enough, a group of penguins started to emerge from the rocks!
Sometimes they are hard to see in the dark, so usually a fluorescent light is shone over them so people can view them from the wooden docks. Park rangers are present to ensure the penguins’ safety, but sometimes they wander close to people. One even climbed up to say hello to us (I apologize for the low video quality, as no flash photography was allowed):
I really enjoyed this experience a lot because it wasn’t like going to a zoo–it was a completely natural phenomenon! Compared to other penguins I’ve seen in other countries, these ones looked a lot tinier. In addition to Melborune, there are several other places in Australia where you can see penguins frolic on the beach.
St. Kilda also has botanical gardens that I recommend going to during the day! My friend and I were able to see some sakura blossoms here and along the Yarra River. Though I thought the weather here was quite cold compared to Tokyo, I am really happy I was able to see the beautiful sakura once again this year!
No matter what time of year you come to Australia, I think you can always find something beautiful to enjoy!
For the past 2 weeks I’ve been invading Australia; starting from the southern picturesque city of Melborune to the charming countryside of Adelaide. Since a number of my Japanese friends have studied abroad or traveled to this country, it’s always been on my radar. Unlike my previous trips to Asian countries where I have a set itinerary for each day, this trip was a lot more easygoing and spontaneous. A friend I met at a beach party in Japan kindly let me crash at their place near the center of the city, so together we decided to hit the city while catching up and also experience the seemingly endless nightlife.
A lot of my American friends have asked me what Melbourne was like, and I told them: “Picture a cleaner, safer, version of your favorite American city with slightly less people, and that’s pretty much it!” One thing I notice about most Australians is that they are pretty laidback and travel more frequently outside the county than a lot of Americans do. Australia is very affordable to live in, and the tuition fees for education are greatly subsidized by the government compared to America. The only downside is that eating out is somewhat expensive, but on the plus side, there is no tipping like in the US.
This trip initially started out very rough because I negligently forgot to apply for my ETA to enter the country (I thought I could do so upon arrival), so Jetstar had to reschedule my flight a day later after I applied for it. Essentially all you need to do is fill out a form online and pay $30 to enter the country so it’s extremely easy, but make sure to do this before your flight! I have never had issues with tourist visas until this trip, but it was only a small bump in the road because I still was able to do everything I wanted.
Once I landed, I took the Sky Bus to Southern Cross Station to meet my friend. Immediately he recognized me due to my flamboyant blonde hair despite us not seeing one another for over two years. We first got some lattes at Mid Town Coffee which I highly recommend, then immediately proceeded to go day drinking at Melborune’s famous rooftop bar. The coffee and the White Russians somehow helped me fight off the jetlag as we walked around Chinatown and other parts of the city. What I liked most about Melbourne is that almost all of the downtown area is walkable and there are inexpensive trams available as well. The system is very easy to figure out.
Being in Australia felt like being in an alternate universe America. Instead of GameStop, they still have EB Games, which seems to have more selection and be far more superior. Forget about Burger King–it’s called Hungry Jack’s here. Porn Hub should cum and get their pizza. 8bit burgers is also a great place to eat out (I love their logo design). Lord of the Fries is not only a good pun, but they also has an entire vegan menu. Despite living in Tokyo, I tried a lot of Japanese places here that were a little expensive but overall delicious. Wagaya was one of my favorites due to its large sake list, but Japanese Gyoza Bar deserves an honorable mention. Those are just a few of the places that we visited, but there are many more!
My favorite dessert places were Chokolait, where I had amazing rainbow pancakes made with pavlova, and a cakeshop called Glace where I had an amazing mushroom pastry. They also had a really cute marshmallow one I wish I could have tried, but was too full!
There are a number of bars along the Yarra river that runs through the city, but my favorites were Storyville where I ordered Butterbeer, and the Croft where one of my Japanese friends DJed. They also have syringe drinks available that are very tasty and fun to share with others. All of these places had really friendly and welcoming atmospheres, and I even managed to make friends in the bathroom!
One event I recommend checking out is Delight because they run really fun music events with Smash Bros. tournaments at various locations in central Melbourne. I met some very nice people here, and was impressed with the quality of music.
One of my favorite memories in this city was drinking Korean sochu while watching Kenny Beats & Zack Fox with two friends in an office building. I felt like I was reliving my college days and it was extremely nostalgic. The above poster I shot inspires you to let go of your thoughts and embrace your surroundings, which is exactly what I did during this trip. It was really beneficial for my mental health.
Overall I was very impressed with this city and felt like I could finally escape from my high-stress life in Tokyo. Some people refer to Melbourne as the “hipster” area of Australia, but I think it has a lot more to offer than just chic cafes and murals like other places that have that label. I will be writing more about the art galleries and wildlife reserves I visited in my future posts so you can get a better feel about what this country is like, but I recommend that you visit it if you ever get the chance!
Have you ever had the urge to just straight up inject fresh Nutella into your mouth with a syringe? Well at Dex2Rose, one of Melbourne’s most unique gelato spots, you can legally do this without any shame. In fact, the syringe filled with chocolate and hazlenut spread actually packs a lot flavor you wouldn’t get by simply spreading it on food. Not only do they have Nutella gelato that seemingly defies gravity, but they also have crepes, waffles, cider, and other brilliant desserts. This was one of the silliest things I did while I was on my two week trip to Australia, and it was completely worth it for the meme factor.
Another unforgettable dessert I had was Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Ice Ccream at Milkcow. Who knew that by mixing vanilla ice cream and ground up Cheetos sprinkled with the “flamin’ hot” powder, you could get this beautiful creation:
The taste of this ice cream is a bit difficult to explain in words, so I recommend that everyone tries it for themselves! The ice cream was definitely still sweet, but the texture of the powder makes your mouth tingle for a bit at first until the ice cream hits your tongue. Regardless of the initial sensory processing disorder, this is something I’m really happy that I had the chance to try!
I will be writing about my experience traveling through Melbourne and Adelaide including stories about closeup counters with kangaroos, partying and playing Smash Bros. at the local bars, and all of the aesthetic food I had in the meantime! I am currently back in Japan writing and doing some freelance work, but I will be planning my next international trip for my birthday very soon. Thank you for reading, as always! ♡