As part of our round the world trip, we are house and dog sitting in Melbourne. After being on the road for a month and a bit, having a comfortable bed, our own shower room and a kitchen is fantastic. Beats a camper van, hands down. We are very lucky to have essentially free accommodation for six weeks, which is a bonus. Another bonus is we get to live like Melburnians not tourists. Well mostly!
Other bits of this trip are going to take serious chunks out of our travel budget, so we are more than happy to look after a house and the dogs and be able to explore this great city, which is consistently voted one of the best places to live in the world. What I hadn’t reckoned on was how big the place is. And that it’s divided up into mini towns, all so very different. And the traffic and mad drivers. So we are mostly using the public transport system. To get our bearings we took the FREE city tram, which runs around the CBD. This is a hop on, hop off ride, with a recorded guide to what you can do and see at each stop. A couple of weeks later we hopped on the FREE city bus, that does a bigger tour of Melbourne. * see addendum below.
There is also a recorded commentary, but our driver also added snippets of his own which was brilliant, such as this is where my grandad got married. Random, but fun.
We have yet to join a FREE guided walk, courtesy of one of the information centres volunteers. Melbourne certainly knows how to utilise volunteers in the culture and tourism industry. They have volunteer guides around the city with maps and other information, volunteers at the Royal Botanic Gardens and you can join a volunteer guide at the NGV to learn more about the art collections on show. Also FREE. And when we are all cultured out and need to escape the heat we can get the FREE shuttle bus to Chadstone Shopping Centre we haven’t been yet, I suspect it is like Merry Hill or the Bull Ring, but bigger.
As National Trust members we also get FREE entrance to the Polly Woodside and The Old Melbourne Gaol The Polly Woodside was good fun, especially as there was only us two on the FREE guided tour. Phil got above himself, as second mate! When we visit the gaol I will ensure he is punished!
There are a few other places we will be using our National Trust membership to visit. And while we pay for membership, these visits are not technically free. However, my view is that my membership is a charitable donation and visiting the properties is a privilege. Free transport, free accommodation, free guided tours, free entrance to attractions, so all we need now is to eat for free……..
Addendum – the city shuttle is no longer free. However all trams in the CBD are (clearly marked free zone).