Goodbye Melbourne

It feels like I was writing about moving to Melbourne not so long ago. And that's because it wasn't so long ago! I lived in that incredible city for almost 6 months but sadly I had to up and leave again. It wasn't part of the plan, but after being made redundant I applied for the perfect role for me back home, almost on a whim, and was offered it less than a week later. I moved to Melbourne to try and find a killer job that would be a good move for my career, but turns out the right one for me is back here in NZ. 

Goodbye Melbourne 2


Australia has been luring Kiwis across the ditch for many, many years now, but was living the Australian dream all it cracked up to be? For me, no. But I'm just one person, I met so many kiwis in Melbourne who said they'd only stay for a year or two and have ended up staying for several, and they have great jobs and absolutely love it. I wish I could say I was one of those Kiwis because I do love Melbourne and could live there for a long time, but for me it just didn't work out this time around sadly.

Goodbye Melbourne

I was job hunting intensively for a month for a job in my field (digital marketing/social media) and when I finally found one, it didn't turn out to be right for me. 4 months later I was made redundant because of staff cutbacks and started the gruelling process of job hunting all over again. It mightn't have been the best way to go about it, but I don't regret it at all. I made some friends for life, experienced some amazing restaurants and cafes, and took in some of the stunning local sights. 


  • Melbourne is always voted "most liveable city" for a reason. It's a great city to experience, even though it's not a huge tourist hotspot. 
  • There are great jobs in Melbourne for the digitally minded folks out there, but there are also a lot of digitally minded folks looking for those great jobs, and it's very competitive. 
  • Friends become family. I didn't get homesick, and I put that down to having an amazing group of friends.
  • There are more kiwis in Melbourne than in Auckland. It seemed. Seriously, half my friend group were kiwis (I only knew 2 beforehand), half my netball team, and a quarter of my workplace.
  • IKEA is a life saver for someone with no money and no car - they delivered pretty much all the furniture in our apartment for $59 and carried it up 3 flights of stairs for us! 
  • Aussies aren't half bad.
Goodbye Melbourne 3

The exciting thing is that my new job is in the travel industry, so I'll be coming for you again Melbourne, you haven't seen the last of me! 

Check out some of the wicked stuff I was able to see and do in Melbourne below, it was hard fitting it all in but I got the highlights. 

The Great Ocean Road (Take 1)

Over the weekend I was treated to a roadie by two of my new Melbournian friends and they took me down the Great Ocean Road! This post is Take 1, because I hope to go again in Summer when there's a bit more sunshine and a bit less torrential rain. 

We were aware on Saturday that the forecast wasn't great for Sunday but went anyway. I've found that Melbourne only rains for a few hours max, so was really optimistic that we'd only get a few showers. Boy was I wrong! 

Great Ocean Road - Wet Selfie

In spite of the terrible weather, we had a great time. Or maybe it was because of the weather? We certainly had a lot of laughs on the trip and I'm so glad the weather didn't stop us.


Great Ocean Road -sign

What's a road trip if you don't get a photo in front of an iconic sign? Our first stop was the only one where we didn't look like drowned rats and we were all very glad we took plenty of selfies there and at the little nearby beach.

Great Ocean Road - Beach

The sign is on The Great Ocean Road, according to Google Maps it's numbers 689/721 in Eastern View, Victoria. You can't miss it! 


Great Ocean Road - Koala spotting

The next stop was really exciting, we got to see Koalas! I do apologise that you can't see them either, it was raining really hard so I left my DSLR in the car and it was just a mission getting a good photo. That's the best one...

There's a bit of bush just by Kennet's River that is known for being home to koalas and friendly Australian birds. There were several parrots and cockatoos that will accept seed from you if you offer it to them, and although we didn't have any, that didn't stop me from pretending, and getting a snap with a curious parrot.

Great Ocean Road - Parrot

Then we went for a little walk up the hill to spot some koalas. We saw three of the poor things, they looked so miserable just huddled in the corner of their branches getting soaked by the rain. I didn't take my DSLR out for that point because it was so wet, and couldn't really get a good shot of them on my phone - another reason to go back in the summer. 


Great Ocean Road

The 12 Apostles were what we were really there for, and despite the weather we were still able to get some really nice shots of them! Apparently it's normally really packed and hard to get shots of it without having people's selfie sticks in the shot so I guess the rain was good for something. 

You can't see all 12 of the Apostles anymore and from the lookout point you can see two to the East and about 7 to the West. They are slowly being eroded away by the waves, the most recent one to be swallowed by the ocean was called "Judas" and it collapsed in 2005.

Great Ocean Road - 12 Apostles 2


Great Ocean Road - Loch Ard Gorge
Great Ocean Road - Loch Ard Gorge 2

My dear Melbourne natives had never heard of Loch Ard Gorge when I was trying to describe it to them! I had recently seen pictures of it on Instagram and assumed it was well known but apparently not. It is only 5 minutes away so we headed down the road to take a look at the spectacular beach hidden between the cliffs. It was well worth the trip! 

Have you been down the Great Ocean Road before? Got any hidden gems that I can check out next time I go?! 

Day trip to Sandringham and Blackpoint

Some days I feel like being alone, and the best place for that is the beach. There's nothing like hearing the waves hit the shore as you walk along with the sand under your feet and the salty air blowing through your hair. 

One of my favourite things about Auckland is the beaches and now that I'm in Melbourne I have the pleasure of exploring it's beaches. So far I haven't been wowed by what I've found, but I have been pleasantly surprised, and it was definitely the case when I took the train to Sandringham this weekend. 

The beach itself looked really similar to Hampton, there wasn't anything that stood out or caught my eye. That is, until I walked around the corner and found this:

Day trip to Sandringham and Blackpoint 1
Day trip to Sandringham and Blackpoint

Once I'd taken some photos I kept walking, chuffed with my little discovery. But when I got to the next point, at the other end of that section of the beach,  I climbed up to find even more of the rich yellow/brown rock formations that look like they should be in a dessert somewhere. 

Day trip t0 Sandringham and Blackpoint 3
Day trip to Sandringham and Blackpoint
Day trip to Sandringham and Blackpoint 5

On the walk back to the train when I was done, I came across a briefcase of poetry! I was really random, it was a really dry old thing, chained to a park bench and inside was a whole bunch of poetry that people had written and left in there. The "Poetry Pouch 3.0" wasn't really filled with modern works of genius, but there were some funny bits in there and it's such a cool idea. 

Day trip to Sandringham and Blackpoint Poetry Pouch
Day trip to Sandringham and Blackpoint Poetry Pouch 2

Would you leave something in the Poetry Pouch? 

Kanye in Cremorne

Last week I heard there was a new Kanye mural of his latest music video just up the road from me, done by the same artist who did the Taylor Smith memorial on Hosier Lane, so I decided to check it out. I don't really give a shit about Kanye or the family he's married into, but I love Melbourne's street art and Lush Sux's work is always top notch.

Cremorne We the lost girls

Cremorne is a weird little suburb nestled in between Swan St and the Yarra. From my apartment I can see it across the river, it's a bunch of old warehouses that are now filled with digital agencies and covered in graffiti art. Even peoples' garages are colourfully decorated. 

Cremorne 2 We the lost girls
Cremorne 3 We the lost girls
Cremorne 4 We the lost girls
Cremorne 5 We the lost girls
Cremorne 6 We the lost girls
Cremorne 7 We the lost girls

When I got to Cremorne there was not one, but several Lush Sux murals. The first ones were the 100 emoji and a weirdly muscular Kurt Cobain captioned "Come as your are at me bro".

Cremorne 100 We the lost girls
Cremorne Kurt We the lost girls

Then there were the heads of Kanye, Kim, Donald and Lenny, captioned "I dare you to Snapchat Faceswap with this wall". 

Cremorne 1 We the lost girls

The faceswap results were horrific and will never see the light of day. 

Then there was the main event.

Cremorne Taylor We the lost girls
Cremorne Kanye We the lost girls
Cremorne Kim We the lost girls
Cremorne full We the lost girls

The large mural of Kanye's controversial music video for "Famous" can be found along Stephenson Street, though I haven't been back in the last week so it might've been taken down. You can see heaps of Lush Sux's other work on his Instagram feed

What's your favourite piece of Melbourne street art? 

Melbourne in spring

I'm always the girl who is hanging out for summer, long hot days spent lounging around at the beach, evening BBQs and nighttime swims. I've really enjoyed living to Melbourne these last few months; even though it's winter, there's been so much to see and do, and I've heard it just gets better as the weather gets warmer. 

Melbourne in Spring flowers

It must be true too, already there are so many great things coming up I can tell I'm going to love being in Melbourne in spring. Check out some of the many things on offer in the world's most liveable city (6 years in a row!), it looks like spring is going to be a real treat. 


I'm going to be honest here and admit that until now, I had never been to the races! But I figured since moving here, a city where going to the races is a tradition, I'd better don my best and head along, right? The Melbourne Cup Carnival includes 6 events from September to November, including the Sofitel Girls Day Out (Saturday 10th September), AAMI Victoria Derby Day (Saturday 29th October) and Emirates Melbourne Cup Day (Tuesday 1st November). I headed along to the Sofitel Girls Day Out (thanks to Visit Victoria) and it was great fun but it was pretty quiet, I guess because the weather had taken a turn for the worst and it's only the start of the season. Will definitely have to head along to the Emirates Melbourne Cup Day though! 

Melbourne in Spring Races 2
Melbourne in Spring Races 3


This one is a lot less fancy dress, a lot more culture. The Melbourne Fringe is an eclectic mix of dance parties, light shows, poetry slams, furniture exhibitions and much more. There's something for everyone, if you're ready for some raw, unadulterated art. Not sure where to start? Head along to the Nando's PERi-PERi Spotlight Stage at Fed Square for a taster of all the acts in Fringe 2016. 

Melbourne in Spring Fringe Festival


I love a good fair, going to the Royal Easter Show back home was always a treat as a kid and I had a pleasantly nostalgic experience going as an adult. The smell of farm animals, the noise of the carnival rides and the taste of candy floss assault the senses, and you can't help but forgive the long queues and screaming children. I'm not sure if the Royal Melbourne Show is the same but it looks like a great place to take the kids, or round up a group of mates to head along and go on some of the rides then watch the fireworks at night. 


A Day on the Green promises "good food, good wine and great music" which sounds good to me! It features a number of gigs at vineyards around the country, with artists including The Temper Trap, Garbage and Mi-Sex. Plus you can bring your own picnic (food only) which is a huge bonus, although if you're like me you'll forgo the average sandwiches and carrot sticks you brought with you for a much more appealing, hot option anyway. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, unless the bird in your hand is a cold chicken salad and the bush has 2 wood-fried pizzas. 

Melbourne in Spring a day on the green


Junipalooza is a celebration of gin, and that's all I needed to know. 


I'm all about seeing women succeed and it's really cool that more women are getting into the DJ scene. My housemate worked at an EDM/dance/D&B/dubstep radio station (George FM, sorry if I butchered the description there!) back in NZ and through her I've met some great female DJs including MayaVanya and Marina Katerina but they still only make up a small percentage of the scene. I'm really excited for WRTW (Girls), to see how the ladies drop the beats. Gosh I can't pull that off! 


Oktoberfest is a traditional German festival that has been around since 1810, and is pretty much a festival for drinking lots of beer. I have only recently started liking beer, so it has never appealed to me in the past. But this year I'm definitely going to make the most of it. There are numerous places to celebrate Oktoberfest in Melbourne with the biggest being Oktoberfest in the Gardens. You can also celebrate it at the European Bier Cafe, Hophaus (where you can see the Daschund Race, below), Munich Brauhaus or at the Oktoberfest St Kilda Foreshore.


Okay, this one is pretty stupid but at the same time...HOW FREAKING CUTE, RIGHT?! Nicknamed "Melbourne's favourite sausage fest", this might just be my favourite part of spring. I love love love dogs, and am all for a ridiculous event when the silliest of the species all race each other. Oh, and there's also a costume parade, so I'll be there. 

What are you looking forward this spring in Melbourne? 

Road trip to Hampton Beach

Can you call it a road trip if you get there by train? Anyway, that's what I did on the weekend. Now that I've settled in to Melbourne a bit, I'm excited to do some more exploring. When we first got here, Sara and I did a lot of wandering around the city and inner suburbs, but I want to see what else is a bit further out. 

I'd heard Hampton was a nice little beach town and that's exactly what it is. I didn't look into what was there too much because I wanted to discover it for myself and not have any expectations.

Travel Australia Hampton Beach 1

It was awesome seeing the beach roll by as we started to get further out of the city. As we left the train stop I was stoked to see some of Melbourne's iconic graffiti art on a couple of walls. There wasn't much to the main street, some standard cafes and beachy stores, a Woolworths and some bakeries but there wasn't too much of interest so we quickly headed to the beach.

Hampton Beach 2

I am very happy we went, I'm on the hunt for a good beach to hang out at over summer, and I'll definitely be frequenting Hampton after what I discovered on the weekend...

Hampton Beach 3

Hampton has a dog beach!!! We walked through it and were just surrounded by dogs, it's a dream come true! I'm not sure what the hours are for summer, at the main beach we went to there were no dogs allowed during daylight hours, so might be the same for the dog part. I'll just give you a heads up, I am half-way to becoming a crazy dog-lady, I just need my own dog or 20 and I'm there.

Travel Hampton Beach 4
Travel Hampton Beach 5
Travel Hampton Beach 7

I could've spent the whole day taking photos of the dogs, they were so beautiful and excited, it would be hard not to be happy on a day like yesterday. The beach itself was nice, very calm with clear water and nice, soft, white sand. There aren't a lot of amenities or stores nearby but you can hire a kayak or paddle board. There were plenty of those rocky pier things along the beach, not sure what they're called though, which were fun for taking photos. The Sandringham Yacht club was nearby, offering some good views and we explored around there a bit while waiting for the sunset.

Travel Hampton Beach 7a
Travel Hampton Beach 8
Hampton Beach 9
Travel Hampton 9
Travel Hampton Beach 11

My verdict on Hampton Beach? I'll definitely be back in summer to soak up the rays and have a swim, maybe even rent a paddle board, but it won't ever feature if I write a list of my favourite beaches. 

How to get to Hampton Beach

To get to Hampton Beach from Melbourne CBD take the Sandringham Line train, it takes around 25 minutes and is the second to last stop.


10 things Kiwis should try in Melbourne

Melbourne hadn't struck me as a must-visit destination before, but since moving here I've come to appreciate what a badass city it really is. When I try explain it to people I find it hard because it's not just one place or attraction that makes it so great, it's all the wonderful things that Melbourne has to offer. I really think Kiwis should put this city on their bucket list, here are 10 of the many reasons why:

Have breakfast that looks like a dessert

Any cafe experience in Melbourne is something else! The coffees are better (I don't drink it but I'm constantly being told so), the food is always impeccable and seriously, I swear they only employ models. Brunch is particularly delightful here in Melbourne, some of my brunchs have been too pretty to eat. Not that it stops me...

This one is the French Toast from  Darling Cafe  on Darling Street, South Yarra. It is dangerously close to my apartment!

This one is the French Toast from Darling Cafe on Darling Street, South Yarra. It is dangerously close to my apartment!

Go to an AFL game at the MCG

Even if you're not a sports person, it's one of those things that you should try. The games are only $25, so if you don't spend too much on booze, it's a pretty cheap day out. It's a great way to meet the locals and if you can't go to the actual game, a local pub will be your next best bet. Victorians are as devoted to their AFL as we are to our rugby so it's a real sight to behold; watching thousands of Aussies singing along to their team's theme song. 

Travel Melbourne 2

Take a selfie in front of a graffiti art wall

We have plenty of graffiti back home, but it's not the kind that you want to take photos with. Here though, there are so many walls around that are skilfully decorated in graffiti, the most famous being Hosier Lane. There are heaps more around the place, I've seen some in Prahran, Cremorne, Richmond and other parts of the city. 

Travel Melbourne 3

Visit the Brighton Bathing Boxes

Melbourne isn't known for its great beaches, which I'm silently freaking out about; I live at the beach in Summer. Because it's in a protected harbour there aren't any surf beaches unless you journey further away, like down to Geelong for Bells Beach. Brighton makes up for its lack of waves with its gorgeous, colourful bathing boxes. You can head there any time of year, as you can see in my other post about them here. It was a pretty average day but the boxes still looked great. 

Travel Melbourne 5

Pick a market, any market! 

Seriously, there are a plethora of markets here in Melbourne, and they're pretty next level. I went to the biannual Finders Keepers market recently and it was amazing, but there are so many more that are here in Melbourne all year round. You should definitely check out the Queen Victoria market or the South Melbourne market, each have a huge variety of shops and stalls to suit everyone. 

Travel Melbourne 6


I moved here with two suitcases to my name, and have since doubled my wardrobe without even blinking. I live and work near Chapel Street, which is kind of like Ponsonby Road, K Road and Newmarket all rolled into one. There's a plethora of op-shops and antique stores down the Prahran end, heaps of chain stores like Sportsgirl, Witchery and Dotti as you go further north, then right up the top in South Yarra are Australian designers like Alice McCall, Gorman and Sass & Bide. There's also the DFO in Docklands, Emporium and Melbourne Central in the CBD and if you take a trip out to the suburbs you can visit Australia's largest mall, Chadstone. Visit with an empty suitcase and leave with a full one (or two). 

Go to St Kilda for the sunrise and spot the penguins

We do have penguins in NZ, I am aware, and I've even seen a couple of little blue penguins float past me in Auckland waters. But every day in Melbourne you can pop down to St Kilda, an already popular destination, and watch the little blue penguins (called Fairy penguins here in Oz) swim home for the night at sunset. They're there every night from around 7pm and you can watch them swim into the breakwater and climb up the rocks to their roosts. Once we were about to leave when we saw them walking around behind the restaurant on the pier! 

Travel Melbourne 7

experience some culture in one of the many art galleries and museums

We have a few back home, but if you want to spend days looking through art galleries and museums then Melbourne has you covered. I've only been to the NGV so far, there are two with the same name and I'm a little foggy on the difference, but the NGV International is absolutely incredible. It took me back to exploring the Victoria & Albert in London, so much history in one building. I need to go back, we didn't even do the whole thing and we were there all day. Check out more options here

Royal Botanic Gardens

These are a real hidden gem (although not very well hidden), just east of the city. It only takes 20 minutes to walk there and you'll find yourself immersed in nature, even though the city and inner suburbs are right outside. You can also see the impressive Shrine of Remembrance, dedicated to soldiers fallen in the World Wars. 

Travel Melbourne 8

Discover all the laneways and arcades around the city

Strolling through the city will put you in contact with so many of these! I've heard Wellington has quite a few nice little laneways, but Auckland is seriously lacking. There are laneways and arcades with shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and so much more. Whether it's the historic Block Arcade from the late 1800s or the Degraves street with it's lingering scent of coffee from all the cafes and restaurants, you can find so many gems simply by wandering around the city for a few hours. I only recently found out about AC/DC Lane, named after the iconic Aussie rockers in 2004, and home to the rock 'n roll nightclub, Cherry Bar which I need to visit!  

Image from  Visions of Victoria .    

Image from Visions of Victoria


If you want more ideas of what to do when you're here, check out Visit Victoria or follow me on Instagram (@amberholyoake), I'm always out and about! 

Let me know if you think I've left something off the list, I'd love to explore more of the city!