Melbourne has been on the travel radar for a long time. It has attracted many people all over the world (including me) to have a taste of how’s the Australian dream like. This melting pot has got so much good stuff in it so I invited a local, Calvin, to tell you everything about Melbourne!
I met Calvin when I moved to Melbourne for med school. My first impression of him? A super well-dressed guy that seems really cool! So I decided to let him do this interview on how is it like living in the world’s most livable city!
So here goes Calvin and the amazing city of Melbourne!
Who are you, where are you from and how long did you live in Melbourne?
My name is Calvin Fletcher and I was born and raised in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs. I have lived here all of my 21 years of life.
Why did you choose to live in Melbourne?
I’ve actually always lived in the same house ever since I was born – living at home means I can save money easily for travel. I am bound by my studies to remain in Australia, and Melbourne is the best city in Australia for culture, nightlife and the leisure.
What do you do for a living?
I work as a high school (VCE) final exam tutor for English and Chemistry, but I am also a full time medical student in my fourth year at the moment.
Do you speak the main language (English) that is spoken in Melbourne? If not, what are the main difficulties that you faced while you first lived there?
Yes I do, English is spoken in Melbourne.
Do you like or hate the public transport in Melbourne? Why so?
Public transport in Melbourne is great for getting to the city and back from the suburbs, but could be improved when moving between suburbs. Getting around is very doable however and I have never felt unsafe. Journeys cost a maximum of $8.60 for a full day of travel (but this increases every year). Trams and trains are ideal, buses are also not terrible but can have delays due to heavy traffic.
Tell me 1 must-do thing in Melbourne.
You must see the Yarra Ranges, including Warburton, Marysville and Noojee for stunning cool temperate rainforest and pure water you can drink from the stream directly. If not those areas, visit the 1000 steps which is in Ferntree Gully, well within Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.
Tell me 1 thing that you wish you had done but haven’t done so in Melbourne.
Personally not my thing, but Melbourne’s café and brunch culture is a unique experience! It’s a trendy city and small hole-in-the-wall cafes and bars are something you should try if you are visiting. They can be somewhat pricey however so I don’t go all that often to save money.
What are your 2 most-loved neighborhoods in Melbourne?
Fitzroy, Brunswick and the inner northern suburbs are lovely ‘hipster’ suburbs which epitomise Melbourne. Visit for quirky bars and restaurants and consider visiting CERES community environment park during the day to see some amazing permaculture and artwork.
The CBD and Chinatown are a lovely cheap destination for a night out, featuring dumplings and BYO alcohol, darts, billiards and more, all in one central location. Shopping here is also great!
Tell me your top 3 restaurants in Melbourne.
CJ Lunch Bar (Korean in CBD), Pho Hung Vuong (Vietnamese in Springvale or Richmond) and the Black Toro (Mexican in Glen Waverley)
Your favourite bar in Melbourne?
Supersmall Club on Saturday nights at Good Things. Chill ambience playing mainstream hits usually with themed nights such as Studio Ghibli, 2000s night and Justin Timberlake tribute. Entry is free before 10pm and often you can get free drink cards if you message the Facebook page and say you will bring some friends!
What is the the cheapest and the best alcohol you can get in Melbourne?
Uhh, well you have to try goon (cask wine), though I wouldn’t call it good haha… Get a Fruity Lexia or Golden Oak and cop 30 or so standard drinks with a spend of around $12. It’s Australian tradition!
Tell me 3 local specialties that you must get in major supermarkets in Melbourne.
Get a lamington (coconut coated chocolate fudge cake), get a kangaroo steak (they’re actually a really sustainable meat source!) and get some barramundi, an Australian whitefish (it’s pretty easy to cook).
Where do you normally shop for clothes?
I normally visit Uniqlo or Muji in Emporium in the city.
Where do you normally shop for food?
I normally visit KT mart (Asian grocery) or Aldi.
How much do you spend for a month living in Melbourne?
I live in a suburb called Nunawading, which is 18 km from the city. My main expenditure will be on food and transport.
When it is sunny, how do you spend your day?
I go to outdoors places such as the Royal Botanical Gardens or a rooftop bar such as Cookie.
When it is rainy, how do you spend your day?
I go shopping somewhere such as Chadstone or Emporium, or go to see friends for a night in.
Let say you are taking a small trip over a long weekend, where would you go and what would you do?
Wilsons Promontory for the Mt Oberon hike (2 hour return walk), The Grampians for the hike to the Pinnacles (2 hour return walk) or down to the Great Ocean Road for a scenic drive and some great hotspots such as the Twelve Apostles. Some people also like Daylesford for a more relaxing weekend with spas and stuff!
Let say you are taking a small trip over a week-long holiday, where would you go and what would you do?
Consider flying somewhere like the Whitsundays or Cairns, otherwise road trip up to Sydney or Adelaide! There are some great things to see in between, some of which have been mentioned already.
What souvenir would you buy for your family or friends from Melbourne?
Pick up something artsy from inner city suburbs such as Brunswick, or nature hippy suburbs like Warburton – they are very characteristically Melbourne.
A habit that you have picked up while living in Melbourne?
Drinking tap water almost exclusively, as it is fresh, safe and of a very high quality.
The biggest culture shock that you have seen in Melbourne?
One time I got my ramen broth in a teacup and was told to pour it into my bowl of noodles… Melbourne brunch and the hipster culture associated with it is still in its adolescence and was not as prevalent 20 years ago – it shocks me sometimes with how ‘deconstructed’ everything can be just for the sake of being different.
If not Melbourne, where then?
Although I’d consider myself relatively well travelled, I have not found anywhere better to live in than Melbourne. However, if I was forced to leave I would probably live in Adelaide as it much more affordable, low-key and personal than Sydney.
What advice would you give to someone who is planning to move to Melbourne?
Melbourne is a very multicultural place – if you are from a more ethnically homogenous place, be wary that a significant number of the people that don’t fit the white Australian image are likely to be born or raised in the country. Asking questions about ethnic background is fine but it can be insulting to question someone’s ‘Australian-ness’ if they have been brought up here.
Also, try to live close to a tram/ train station!
Your worst experience/ memory in Melbourne?
Not a single occasion but having my 1 hour estimated commute to and from university take over 2 hours due to buses being delayed and cancelled. It’s infuriating to get between suburbs at times, and it doesn’t help when the bus you are meant to catch passes you by as it is so late it has to catch up with time. This bus journey is only 14km with one change, and the journey only takes 25 minutes by car.
Your best experience/ memory in Melbourne?
My best memories all involve road trips to the Yarra Valley. I remember walking through the Little Yarra river for hours in Powelltown after setting Yabby (a type of crustacean) traps here and there. The cool temperate rainforest is phenomenal and all you can hear is the sounds of the birds and the trickle of the water past your feet.
Here I found a collection of frog eggs on a log that I put into a container and brought home to hatch and release in a dam. Definitely a way to cement a love for the outdoors!
Anything that you would like to add?
Melbourne is a special city that you will fall in love with. It is well deserving of its title as one of the most liveable places in the world through its unique culture, ample green spaces and proximity to breath-taking nature. You will never grow bored in this city, as there is something new on every week!
Some words from myself…
I am very grateful that I’m able to be here in Melbourne. This incredible city will always have a special place in my heart and it shaped who I am today (physically and figuratively).
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Born and raised in Malaysia, Aaron is a medical student that is deeply in love with travelling. He loves to inebriate all his readers with the crazy travel stories and personal travel tips that he has gathered throughout years of travelling experience. Learn more about him here!