Melbourne: The world’s most liveable city?

If this had been 20 years ago, the biggest draw of Melbourne would have been a tour of the Neighbours soap opera set. Aside from that, I’ve often been told that Europeans usually love Melbourne: it’s the cultural capital of Australia, artsy, international, and the number one city in the world according to The Economist’s “liveability index”. While I enjoyed my stay, I have to say: I’m definitely a Sydney girl.

Melbourne street art

My apartment was on Southbank, where I enjoyed walking every day, past the restaurants and hotels. This is one of the officially sanctioned areas for Melbourne’s street art.

Southbank, Melbourne

Walking along the river did remind me somewhat of being in Paris, and I can see why Europeans would feel at home here.

National Gallery of Victoria

I continued the French theme and my cultural experience of Melbourne with a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria for the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition.

Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition

Only a little bit creepy, an animation of Monsieur Gaultier himself wished us la bienvenue to this voyage through his career.

JPG teddy bear

Jean Paul Gaultier’s original muse, his teddy bear Nana, wearing a prototype of the iconic conical bra later made famous by Madonna.

JPG perfume

A display of the first perfume bottles designed by JPG.

JPG fashion show

The first, and only, time I’ll ever be in the front row of a JPG fashion show.

Melbourne Christmas tree

It’s Christmas! And summer! At the same time! I did do a little bit of shopping but this time limited to my first pair of Toms, after I had just finished reading the company founder’s book, Starting Something that Matters.

Royal Botanic Gardens

Looking back on the city centre from the calm of the Royal Botanic Gardens. I think I’ve been to more botanical gardens on this trip than I ever have in my whole life before!

Royal Botanic Gardens

Fancy a punt?

The Shrine of Remembrance

The Shrine of Remembrance, built as a place where families could mourn the loved ones they lost abroad in the First World War.

But where is the ocean?! My favourite part of Sydney, or of any city, unfortunately missing from Melbourne city centre. As a result, I took a boat trip out to Williamstown, a suburb of Melbourne, to get closer to the sea (and I had fish and chips again!).

Williamstown harbour

Arriving at the little harbour of Williamstown.

Path in Williamstown

A walk along the coast, having left behind the skyscrapers of the big city.

Williamstown Botanic Gardens

Botanic Gardens again! Very small, these, though…

Ball Tower

The Ball Tower used to help seafarers to calibrate their chronometers: from 1858 to 1926 the ball would drop at exactly 1pm.

Williamstown Ferry

Returning to Melbourne on the Williamstown ferry.

On my last day in Melbourne, my flight wasn’t leaving until 3am and I had already checked out of my apartment the previous morning. What to do? Late night cinema showing of Interstellar, of course. (For the record, as much as I love wormholes and relativity and space in general, I really didn’t get this film for all the hype it’s had. Nowhere near as good as Gravity, which really moved me as well as being ground-breaking in terms of the filming itself.) Although my flight was a little delayed, my free upgrade to business class made up for the inconvenience. A glass of champagne and a short sleep on a horizontal bed later, and I arrived in Kuala Lumpur for the next part of my trip…


The practical bit:

National Gallery of Victoria: The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition is on until 8th February 2015; $22 for an adult ticket.

Williamstown Ferry: The ferry leaves from outside the Southgate shopping centre; $28 for an adult return ticket.

Apartment: I booked a studio at Melbourne Short Stay Apartments and got a free upgrade to a one-bedroom with a balcony. Very nice, and great location by Southbank.

5 Things to Do in Sydney – when you’re visiting for the second time…

Sydney Opera House

[It’s impossible for me to post this today without offering my condolences to the individuals and families involved in the Sydney hostage situation that unfolded in the past 24 hours. My thoughts are with those affected, directly and indirectly. This type of isolated incident can clearly happen anywhere; I hope that realisation makes people travel […]

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Windy and Wonderful Wellington: The end of my northern kiwi experience

Wellington from Mount Victoria

We had originally intended to do our road trip from Auckland at the northern end of the North Island down to Wellington at the southern end. We found, however, that it was more expensive to leave the car in a different destination than it was to fly there and, on top, the main attractions we […]

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Road Trip in New Zealand: Waitomo Glowworm Caves – and back to Auckland

Waitomo glowworms

Visiting the glowworm caves in Waitomo: another item on my bucket list, albeit a late entry. The glowworm caves were first explored in 1887 by local Maori Chief Tane Tinorau accompanied by an English surveyor; our guide on the day happened to be that Chief’s great grandson. He first took us through the upper level […]

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Travel Maps and Travel Lists: Why this urge to visit more countries?

Travel map

This week on Facebook has seen a proliferation of travel maps, tool from Matador Network that lets you see how many countries you’ve been to. A lot of my friends have shared theirs, with little comment except: “Must do more.” I myself have “Visit 100 countries” on my bucket list, in addition to visiting specific […]

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Visiting the Hobbiton Film Set and Weta Workshop: A not-so-unexpected journey into Middle Earth


The Hobbit was one of my favourite children’s books, The Lord of the Rings when I was a little older. My mum and I were obsessed with the BBC Radio 4 adaptation of the trilogy, a 13-hour dramatisation from 1981, on cassette tapes and then CDs. It had John Le Mesurier as Bilbo and Ian […]

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Fearless Fridays: From project manager at a multinational to illustrator working from home

Annemarie Vermaak

One of the classic career dilemmas, I think, is the tension between doing an office job – with (perceived) benefits like security, stability, prestige – and doing ‘something creative’. Creative careers get a bad rap, with dark clouds of poverty and unemployment looming over you. For every J K Rowling, there are millions of struggling […]

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Road Trip in New Zealand: Driving around the Coromandel Peninsula


Last time I was in New Zealand, I was 18 years old. It was my first proper trip away without my parents, and it involved two weeks on the South Island doing all those classic gap year things: my friend Kirsten and I took the Kiwi Experience bus around the whole island, swimming with dolphins, […]

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Two Days in Auckland: Wine and volcanoes in New Zealand’s largest city

Ferry to Waiheke Island

New Zealand is almost exactly as far away from the UK as you can possibly get: it’s almost a two-day journey with a 13-hour time difference. Somehow, though, I arrived having slept surprisingly well on the plane(s), and proceeded to sleep for 10 hours each of the first three nights in Auckland. Jet lag? What […]

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I am the One and Only! Over-confidence on The Apprentice


This year, for the first time, I’m watching each and every episode of The Apprentice; finally I get what all the fuss is about! (Yes, it’s in its tenth year – I’m not exactly an early adopter…) I find it strangely compelling, painful at times and hilarious at others. It’s particularly interesting to ask myself […]

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