Melbourne was the 4th city on our Australian trip during March 2020, sadly the Covid-19 pandemic was developing and started to impact our trip. Additionally Spain went into lockdown on the 14th March, which meant we spent lots of time working to help our clients currently in resort, as well as those imminently due to travel.
We stayed at the City Edge on Elizabeth Apartment Hotel in Melbourne CBD. This accommodation was a studio apartment which included a small kitchen and washing machine, so we could get some laundry done.
Once we had checked in, we literally dumped our cases and headed out to make the most of our first evening in Melbourne. I had a few things on our to do list which had to fit around the Grand Prix event, we were only here Friday to Monday so I was on a mission. At the top of my wish list was to watch the colony of Little Penguins come ashore at the St Kilda breakwater.
This free event draws quite a crowd, there is a viewing platform which fills up quickly so get there early for the best position. It’s also recommended to go on a weekday evening for a smaller audience.
We managed to find a table at Little Blue, the bar and restaurant at the St Kilda Kiosk. You wouldn’t know that this Edwardian structure is a reproduction of the original building dating back to 1904, after a fire in 2003.
Melbourne Grand Prix
The first casualty of our Covid-19 cancellations was the F1 Grand Prix. We had been so excited that our timing for this trip, booked before the racing season was announced, coincided with the Melbourne race. As motorsport fans, this was one of our main highlights of our Australia trip, this opening race is renown to have a fantastic atmosphere.
On the Thursday before the race weekend, McLaren withdrew from the event after a team member tested positive for Coronavirus. We kept hearing that the majority of the other teams felt the race should not go ahead. As fans were gathering outside the circuit on Saturday morning 14th March, we heard the following announcement about the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship opening race:
“Formula 1 and the FIA, with the full support of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) have therefore taken the decision that all Formula 1 activity for the Australian Grand Prix are cancelled.“
Queen Victoria Market
Gutted that our weekend plans had just cancelled, we walked to the Queen Victoria Market to treat ourselves to some fresh local ingredients that we could cook in our apartment. The food section of the market was busy, we enjoyed browsing the various stalls, buying a mixture of produce to enjoy during our stay. There was also a large goods section with a mixture of clothes, household goods, tourist souvenirs, toys and crafts.
We also splurged on an opal necklace as I had delayed my birthday present to treat myself on this trip. Additionally, we found a Myki outlet at the market where we purchased one each, this is Melbourne’s ticket to travel on the city’s trains, trams and buses.
The toilet roll situation was getting more serious, you just couldn’t buy them in the local shops, all the shelves were empty. Fortunately the hotel kept us supplied and I admit to putting a spare one in our suitcase, as it’s one essential we couldn’t do without!
Sunday morning passed in a blur whilst we caught up with work. We decided to stretch our legs and walk to a crab shack in Fitzroy. To our surprise a group of naked cyclists rode passed, touting their bells us along the way!
Fitzroy is a lively suburb with an eclectic mix of bars, restaurants and street art. Brunswick Street has trendy retail shops and a nightlife strip. Gertrude Street is a more upmarket mix of wine bars and eateries, plus art & design shops.
Monday dawned with a beautiful blue sky, it was our last full day in Melbourne so we made the most of it. We walked through Melbourne CBD to Flinders Station, then walked along the Yarra River bank. It’s lovely to see this open green space in the heart of the city. There are footpaths stretching through Redgum Gully & Yarra River Park with art installations.
We crossed over the river at Swan Street Bridge to walk back through Alexandra Gardens, passed the rowing club and on to the waterfront restaurants. Using the Sandridge pedestrian bridge to return to Flinders Street station.
The last thing on our agenda was to visit Brighton Beach to see the brightly coloured beach huts. This involved taking a short train ride from Flinders Street Station which takes around 20 minutes on the Sandringham line. We got off at Brighton Beach where it was a short walk (500m) to the beachfront and huts.
We stopped at The Baths for a late lunch. This was a pleasant place to chill out on their shaded terrace and a cold bottle of wine. Later we leisurely strolled to Middle Brighton station for our return journey, spotting some interesting properties along the way.
We didn’t really make use of the free tram service, as we tended to walk most of the time. The Myki transport cards were simple to buy and use for the tram to St Kilda, plus train to Brighton Beach.
Next stop Cairns, to visit the rain forest and Great Barrier Reef.
You can view our Facebook album for Melbourne here.