G: Sad to leave New Zealand behind, we crossed the ditch to get cozy in our new home: Melbourne, Australia. It was finally time to take off our packs and stay a while, and there was certainly no better city. A real cosmopolitan hub, Melbourne thrives on international cuisine, delectable coffee, contemporary art museums, an eclectic music scene, plenty of green space, and an intricate network of bike paths.
When we first arrived, we couch surfed with a local who was offering up every room in his house to backpackers. We stayed with travelers from Sweden, Finland, Germany, and France for a couple days. We drank wine, cooked, and shared stories over meals gathered around a 6” thick, 10′ long wooden dining room table. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay for long as our host was leaving for Sydney soon. We were already frantically running around city searching for an apartment and jobs while hopping from one wifi hotspot to another in blazing 30˚C (90˚F) heat, and now we needed a place to sleep on short notice!
B: After scouring the couch surfing website and sending out a dozen messages without a welcoming response, we finally were accepted by a host in Northcote. Katrina and Macca are a professional couple who were curious about couch surfing and had bravely accepted us as their first. When we showed up, they had dinner ready and a spare bedroom instead of a couch! Sweet as, mate! We shared nightly dinners to express our gratitude with our amazing hosts and knew we made some good friends to hang with during our stay in Melbourne.
We continued our apartment hunt in between the time I spent looking for a job. Most places we looked at were dingy, expensive, and had housemates packed in like sardines with one bathroom to share for eight people. No thanks!
G: Feeling a bit discouraged with apartment hunting, Katrina recommended checking out the housing board at University of Melbourne. We followed up on several notices, but one in particular felt right. Soon we met Jason, a 39-year-old Melbournian getting a Master’s in Public Health with an affection for Asia and whiskey. The room was one of three bedrooms in a townhouse in the hip neighborhood of Brunswick. The area was built in and around what use to be a brickworks factory, hence our street name Brickworks Drive. The architecture captured components of the old factory building and added new, modern & eclectic designs and bright colors – full of character! And what more could we ask for than to have our front door open out to a beautiful park full of gum trees (Eucalyptus) and an off-leash dog haven. Saweet!
Jason has the master bedroom with attached bath and uses the smaller room as an office. The room for rent was spacious with a huge closet and our OWN bathroom. 😉 The development was quite new and the interior décor showed signs of Asian influence, since Jason had spent about 8 years teaching English in Vietnam. We had seen enough by then to know that this was it and we quickly made our interest known. We moved in on Tuesday, which gave us a few more nights to enjoy as couch surfers with Katrina and Macca.
B: By the beginning of our second week in Melbourne not only did we move into our new home, but I had been hired as a fundraiser with Public Outreach, where I have been working full-time since March. It’s an awesome company and I get to talk to interesting people while raising a bunch of money for charity! I started out working on Cancer Council Victoria, then moved to Save the Children, and now it’s the Australian Conservation Foundation. The people I work with inspire me all the time and it’s been a very rewarding experience, although sometimes stressful. 😉 A couple guys and I also joined a basketball league with games every Sunday night, but our jerseys greatly surpassed our athletic ability. Gabriella happily found a job teaching yoga at a couple of studios. It’s given her the opportunity to branch out in her experience of health and well-being and to learn the art of teaching. She’s gotten great feedback and it has really awakened in her a new-found passion.
Though things slowed down a bit and we fell into a rhythm, we still made the time to explore in and around the city, including the Melbourne Zoo, St. Kilda, CERES Environment Park, and William Ricketts Sanctuary. We also went down the Mornington Peninsula for a weekend at the Peninsula Hot Springs and a day hike at Cape Schank with our friends Katrina and Macca. We’ve kept so busy we haven’t even had time to update this blog, but we’ve certainly been thinking about it and taking mental notes for when we publish more entries. Stay tuned…there’s more to come!