We are two brothers. Since we were kids, we knew we wanted to travel the world. Life took one of us studying in Milan, and the other working in London. Now, we rejoined to live a new life experience: a Working Holiday Visa in Australia. We started settling for a while in Melbourne, and this is what we found out about it.
Melbourne City’s Latin motto, “Vires acquirit eundo”, means “She gathers strength as she goes”, and it could not fit any better. Founded as a speculative settlement by British explorers in 1835, and declared a city by Queen Victoria on June 25, 1847, it broke away from the New South Wales state, becoming the capital of the newborn state of Victoria in 1851. The Victorian gold rush during the 1850s made of it one of the wealthiest city in the world.
Nowadays, Melbourne is considered not only the most buzzing town in Australia, but one of the world’s most livable cities, topping the charts in education, entertainment, health care, research and development, tourism and sport. It is also considered the Australia’s “cultural capital”, being recognized as a UNESCO City of Literature.
The Central Business District (CBD) is the bustling heart of the town, boasting futuristic skyscrapers, home of a well-fed class of white collars, and many sparkling shops and restaurants. Here you will also find all the cultural meccas, as the National Gallery of Victoria and the State Library of Victoria. After having fed your mind properly with such heritage, walking down the Yarra’s riverbanks is a perfect way to enjoy the sunset, which is smoothly taken over by a majestic display of city lights at night.
The city looks undoubtedly great, but its vibrant atmosphere is made by the people living here. Aussies from Melbourne are among the most polite and generous people ever met, but the town turned out to be a melting pot of cultures. The Australia we know was built upon the British colonization during the XVII and XIX centuries, and we would dare to say nowadays Melbourne plays for South East Asia and Oceania a role quite similar to the one London plays for Europe and.. pretty much all the rest of the world. Since the beginning of its “new” history , Australia always relied on workers, scientists and businessmen from foreign countries. Today, many migrants and students, especially from the Arab Peninsula, Turkey, Nepal, India, Cina, Malaysia and Indonesia, move down here, even though border controls and immigration policies are quite strict for those who want to settle.
Melbourne takes people to be proactive: it’s with no doubt the sports’ capital of Australia, and all its parks, beaches and open spaces just make you want to join this relentless, sweaty crowd. Cycling, rowing, running, tennis, cricket, skateboarding, kite surfing (no waves to ride in the Port Phillip Bay!), whatever is your addiction, you’ll find something to work on. Just laying in the sun is still allowed though. Football it’s not the one Europeans are used to, which here is called soccer (Lord forgive them). Its most popular Australian version it’s the one friendly called footie; we had the honor of witnessing first hand the Grand Final, won by the Western Bulldogs, a team from the inner suburb of Footscray, after 62 years since the last title!
One of the most representative spots of the town is St. Kilda Beach. A stone’s throw away from the CBD and the city center, St. Kilda offers lush lawns, fine sand, a fairly clean water, cycle paths, buskers, free BBQs and many, many bars and shops all along the way. It is such a cool place that we decided to spend here the holy day of Christmas, finally fulfilling our long time dream of wearing a Santa hat while laying in the sand, kissed by the sun and enjoying a refreshing mojito.
As it always happens, we barely had the time to enjoy the Christmas celebrations, that the New Year’ Eve was already at the door. A magnificent fireworks show lit the night up, and we couldn’t do anything but joining the cheerful crowd down the streets, stepping into the new year we our backpacks filled with resolutions and dreams.
Photography: Enrico and Matteo Fabi