The Grampians Trip | New to Melbourne Bus Tours

Hey, can you believe it? We finally got around to doing something touristy and leaving the city! It only took about 2 months to do so… lol.

On Australia Day (Jan 26th), we finally went on the long-awaited Grampians bus tour. I found this bus tour hosted by New to Melbourne on Facebook and it’s aimed towards travellers and budget travellers. We missed out on the early birds special and got the next tier which was about $65? I think early bird special was only $50 per person.

I mean… that is significantly cheaper than renting a car! I pushed Dan to join me on this bus tour because the reviews were great buuut… I think we’ll skip these bus tours going forward. We originally planned on doing two more tours with them but it’s not our style, despite the cheap prices.


I took a nap before arriving at our first stop, Beaufort, a small little town about 2-2.5 hours away from Melbourne downtown. It’s one of those towns with only one major main street as their downtown and everything is local. It was our first pit stop to grab some lunch and for the next 30-40 minutes or so, I just loved Beaufort. I don’t know why but I love small towns.

From there, it was only about 40ish minutes to The Grampians.

*Cue Country Roads by John Denver*

So, Grampians is like a national park in the state of Victoria and our first stop was Mackenzie Falls. It’s at the top of the park and let me just say… holy crap, it’s beautiful!

It’s a giant waterfall but the scenery and landscape were just so beautiful and peaceful. Everything was blue. The water stream was refreshing and cold on a nice 30 degrees day. It really was breathtaking and I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like this before.

The great Mackenzie Falls.

We then hiked a bit further down to get away from the crowds.

Does anyone else like copying their significant other? LOL.


Unfortunately, the tour started later than usual and the tour guide had trouble sticking to the itinerary throughout the stops so Mackenzie Falls was only about an hour… like seriously?! Only an hour to experience this beauty?

So we hopped on the bus and visited our next stop, The Balconies that overlooks The Grampian, I suppose.

This was a mediocre stop. The view was great but definitely not worth cutting Mackenzie Falls short.


And ten minutes away was Reed Lookout (I think??? lol). This was literally the dumbest thing because she only gave us 20 minutes to experience this lookout, and the best lookout was 1km always. Like, it would take 15-20 minutes alone just to walk back and forth from the lookout to the bus.

Sorry! This panorama wouldn’t rotate T__T

The last stop at the bottom of the Grampians was this kangaroo park. Unfortunately, it’s weather dependent and it was a hot day so the kangaroo park was empty. I think that sort of stricken a chord with Dan because when you look back retrospectively, we didn’t have to rush all the stops and could’ve experienced a bit more.

The next and final pit stop was in a town called Ararat where we stopped for some dinner. We had Nando’s planned (since we get dropped off right in front of it after the tour) so we just ordered some fries and drinks at McDonald’s to keep us satisfied until Nando’s.


So, all in all, the itinerary was planned for 9am to 9pm and we got back into the city at 8:45pm despite having a late start… I mean, I disliked the tour enough for me to actually be happy to have it end earlier than anticipated.

Don’t get me wrong – The Grampians was a beautiful experience and trip but the bus tour thing is not us. And New to Melbourne could really tighten up their game.

The tour guide was late to greet us. The bus was late to arrive. The bus driver was haggard and needed to take breaks on the side of the road. We stopped at a hotel to pick up another passenger’s mom?! And every stop was cut short to ensure we arrive back into the city at 9pm.

Not worth it. Crammed in a bus, our legs were tired and our shoulders were stuff, and when we arrived at our stops, we barely had time to fully stretch our legs and enjoy the views.

Sure, it’s $50-65 but for a once in a lifetime experience, I think it’s worth it to chuck out some money to rent a car and do things to your own desire and not wait on anyone else.

Oh well… lesson learned for our next road trip!

1 Month in Melbourne

I can’t believe it’s been a month since I moved out to Melbourne! Honestly, this time of the year usually flies by for me but November felt like the longest month of the year. A few days ago, someone asked if it feels like I’m on vacation because time moved so slowly in November and I stumped at that because I don’t feel like I’m on vacation… but I also don’t feel like I’m settled yet, you know what I mean?

So, what is life like in Melbourne after a month?

  • The trains in Melbourne are different than the ones back at home. I hate the schedule – you miss a train? Wait 15 minutes! Whereas, back at home, if you missed a train, another one comes in 2-3 minutes (or less during rush hour). 
  • Some produce and foods are called differently over here:
    • Ketchup = tomato sauce
    • (Bell) Pepper = capsicum 
    • Cilantro = coriander (I had such an embarrassing experience at the grocery store because of this!)
    • Frosted Flakes = Frosties
    • Fries = Chips (obviously!)
    • Thrift stores = Opp shops
    • Hours of Operations / Open hours = trading hours
  • It’s super competitive out here in the job market. Definitely much more competitive than back home. 
  • Houses are built differently over here – it seems like a lot of them are only one level and there are no basement suites. 
  • Oh my gosh, I don’t think I can ever complain about the rain in Vancouver because here in Melbourne, when it pours… it freakin’ pours! We live next to a gym (literally, 30 seconds walk) and Dan was soaked from the time he left the gym because he was caught in torrential rainfall. 
  • There are no monthly bus passes – you just have to load up your card with 4 weeks or 52 weeks or 120 days, etc. 
  • Because rent can be paid weekly… a lot of people will rent out their rooms whenever they can. On Facebook, I saw someone try to rent their room for like 5 days.
  • Fruits are hella expensive but meat and produce are fairly cheap. 
  • Sushi is completely different out here… I can’t explain it. I should probably take photos next time. 
  • People comment on my accent… that’s weird. 
  • Also, I miss hockey… so, so much. 
  • Plus side… I get K-Mart AND Target. Oh my lord, I can’t stop going into them.
  • The phone planes are SO cheap and good! I pay $30/month and get 8gb of data and unlimited talk/text. On top of that, any unused data gets rolled over into the next month with a maximum of 200gb. Like, what do Australians do on their phone that requires this much data?!
  • Major groceries delivery groceries to your door and it’s not a premium service or anything out of the norm.
  • Tax is already included in the price! If I see a tag for $10, I’m paying $10 at the register.
  • No tips culture!

There’s probably a bit more differences that I’ve noticed during my month here but these are what comes to the top of my head. 

Of the 4 weeks here, I’ve worked for 1 week which isn’t too bad! I got a sense of the Australian workforce. I’m hoping to ditch the contract realm soon and find something permanent or at least a longer contract term.

I think I’m most excited for Christmas because it’d literally be Christmas in summer. Like, I would be wearing shorts next to my Christmas tree and I’m excited for that, lol. 

Also, given that it’s been a month already… I think it’s time for me to meet new people. So I downloaded Bumble and half-assed my swipes but I’d try to put more effort into my matches.

Expat Life: 2 Weeks into Melbourne

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since we’ve arrived in Melbourne… if I’m being honest, it seriously feels like we’ve been here for a month or two already. Here’s the lowdown on the past two weeks…

Arriving in Melbourne

Remember that nice hot pot dinner we had two days before leaving town? Well, unfortunately, that cold from the dinner didn’t go away anytime soon so we started our 33 hour travel time with a cold.

For me, as I slept on the plane, my cold progressed into a small fever. I normally don’t mind flying but every little thing was irritating me since I had a cold. When we landed in China for our first layover, I failed the health screening and their machines picked up a higher body temperature and I was told to go into quarantine.  

So, let me just tell you how scary it is to be sent to quarantine in a foreign country. Dan went through the screening first and was waiting for me on the other side. When I tried to go through the screening, the gates wouldn’t open and the guard pointed to the quarantine room after giving me a mask. I walked into the office and a female doctor was there typing away. She requested to see my passport and then gave me a thermometer stick to stick into my armpit to test my temperature. After a few minutes, she requested the stick back and told me in English that my body temperature is higher than normal.

I don’t speak Mandarin so I replied back in English that I don’t have a fever (like seriously, why would I admit to that in an unknown situation?) but I told her I did have a runny nose. She didn’t understand me and started replying in Mandarin so I told her I don’t understand her. We both stared at each other until she returned back to her screen, backspace a few times and recorded a lower temperature number for me. And with that, she let me go catch my connecting flight to Chengdu.

Chengdu Airport. This city is known for its pandas, hence the art display.

We left Vancouver on October 30th, 11:55pm. We didn’t arrive in Melbourne until November 1st, 6pm (local time). By the time we left the airport, we decided to just hail a cab to our Airbnb and the last thing I remember was sending a voice message to my mum and dad saying I’ve arrived and it’s 7pm and I’m going to sleep.


The first week…

Within the first week, we had our bank and cellphone set up. Can I just say that I can’t believe I’m paying $30/month and I have 18+ gigs of data?! Like, what do you Australians need this much data for?!?!?!?! If I was back in Canada and wanted 10gbs of data or something, I’ll be forking over $300. 

We also noticed the Starbucks out here are soooooo much better than back home! Look at all these damn goodies they have in store…

During the first week, we started cracking down on some job and rental applications. I think we did two days worth of applications and decided to take a break and enter into the city to explore.


Week 2…

Job hunting with a restrictive work visa is hard and very discouraging. The Working Holiday visa only allows you to work for an employer for up to 6 months… so, you can only imagine how companies are reluctant to hire for such short terms. I took Kendel’s advice and started putting my CVs forward to agencies and contract roles only and not waste time for permanent roles.

Also, during my 1st week here, I discovered Target is big in Australia…and as a Target lover, I was extremely thrilled to see them. I needed a new eyeliner so I decided to stop by the one in CBD.

And… I came to this disgusting realization that since everything is imported,the cost is triple in price…

So, how are things going? Well… I feel a bit confident on the trains but not so much on the trams and buses yet. The CBD area is super walkable so I’ve been getting my steps in every time I head downtown. I’m starting to recognize and remember suburbs and wherein relations they are to the CBD. 

Earlier this week, to get out of the house and take a break from job applications, we decided to head over to Southbank and check out the Korea Week festival. There were delicious food stalls, dance performances and a funny comedy performance by a well-known Korean comedy group.

To end the week, it was super sunny and hot in Melbourne so we decided to relax in the park. We also went to check out the Melbourne Museum.

Anyways, I realized how ridiculously long this post is so thanks to anyone that actually read it til the end… and I’ll try to keep the posts shorter next time!

Oh, and forgot to add… 2nd week included us finding a home! We’re moving out of the Airbnb on Saturday and even our Airbnb host said we got super lucky and found something in less than two weeks. The competition here is insane…