The Road to Becoming OZ Experienced – Melbourne from Cape Otway

Photojournalist David Savage travels Australia on the OZ Experience

On The Bus…
From Bimbi Park in Cape Otway we drove for just a few minutes to Maits Rainforest. This is the last piece of ‘Cool Temperate Rainforest’ in the area, wear a jacket because it van be pretty cool. Some of the group had been here the night before to spot Glow Worms. The rainforest is pretty amazing, the huge trees are almost beyond belief they are so big. The circular walk only took about twenty minutes but it was good to take in an ancient habitat that nearly was wiped out.

This was our second day on The Great Ocean Road heading towards Melbourne. Parts of this road were cut out by men who had returned from World War One. Finding themselves unemployed, the government offered them the task of carving out the road using picks and shovels. The task took years to complete but is now one of Australia most popular tourist drives.

Have you ever seen the movie ‘Point Break’? The end scene is where Patrick Swayze paddles out into the surf at Bells Beach to catch a huge wave that was brewed up by a legendary one hundred-year storm. He caught the wave only to wipe out half way down. We had made it to Bells Beach on the Great Ocean Road and the surf was pretty big. In fact, in the movie, the wave that Patrick Swayze caught wasn’t a Bells Beach wave. It was a Wiamea Wave in Hawaii. The stuntman that performed the wipe out was paid thousands of dollars to wipe out on several waves so that the action could be caught from different angles. Still, surfing is pretty good along this part of the coast and the waves can get pretty huge.

Our final stop before arriving in Melbourne was Torquay, the home of the famous surf brand ‘Rip Curl‘. In town there are many surf industry factories like Billabong and Quiksilver, all have their own factory shops where you can purchase cool surf wear at a reduced price. If you’re not into shopping then there is also the Surf World Museum.

We arrived in Melbourne at about 2pm. There is the option to stay on the OZ Bus through to Phillip Island but most people get off to take in Melbourne, Australia’s second most wealthy city.

Melbourne in comparison to Sydney has more of an Art Culture, it’s a little more laid back and less shiny. It’s also cooler, temperature wise, yet it has a similar rainfall to Sydney. The city centre itself is just one big square grid of roads leading to all the big name shops, food halls and banks.

Melbourne is quite quaint in it’s own way. The architecture has a strong English influence and it has trams. A whole network of these Victorian looking carriages criss-cross the city and lead to some of the inner suburbs. You have to buy a ticket of course, but whenever I’ve asked people in the street where to buy one, they tell me not to bother as tickets are rarely checked. However, there is an instant $10 fine in the event of a ticket collector turning up for work and asking you for your ticket.

To surround yourself with art, culture and the theatre get yourself over the Yarra River to the South Bank. I guess this is the yuppie place to be seen and if you follow the river you’ll also come to the Casino. Inside the Casino complex are the ‘Planet Hollywood’ and ‘McDonalds’ American Embassies, along with a variety of night clubs, although better places can be found. The Casino itself helps feed Australia’s immense gambling habit. There are apparently more ‘Pokie’ machines per head of population in Australia than anywhere else in the world.

Although regarded by many as a second in most ways to Sydney, Melbourne has the best music scene in Australia. That goes for live music and especially the dance scene. Top UK DJ Phil Reynolds has recently moved here after marrying an Australian woman. Also, the UK’s Ministry of Sound and Frantic are regularly putting on nights in and around the city.

Melbourne is an ideal base to strike out into the Grampians, Dandenong’s, Snowy Mountains and Great Ocean Road. Close to the city are two areas that are well worth pointing out. One is Brunswick Street near Carlton, full of cool caf�’s, alternative clothing shops and huge arty sculpture-signs hanging over the shops. It’s all a little like Camden Town in London. The second place is St. Kilda and especially St. Kilda Market. Again it has a very arty feel to it and is probably the best market in Melbourne to buy original crafty type things.