You might not really be from the UK if you've never seen an episode of Neighbours. Many hours of my childhood, teenage years, and early twenties were spent watching the goings on at Lassiter's and Harold's, and for a while I seriously wanted Susan Kennedy to be my mum. With this deep love for the show a Neighbours tour was a must!
Unsurprisingly all but one person who'd been dragged along by a friend was British and everyone was enthusiastic about the tour. You get to visit Ramsay Street and check out the studio lot where a bunch of the other location sets are which was so fun. Many photos were taken! Our guide was both knowledgeable and hilarious and we learnt a whole lot of stuff about how the show is filmed including how they always make it look sunny in Erinsborough when the reality of Melbourne is a little different.
• Take a Walking Tour with I'm Free Walking Tours
I love taking walking tours when I visit new cities, they're are usually led by interesting local people who know the city's history and who have great tips about where to eat, what to see, and where to hang out. We were lucky with the weather and our two hour tour with I'm Free was a blast. As well as checking out some cool historical sites the tour also takes in street art and parks and it even included a little stop in the middle for a bathroom break and some snacks. The spot that this tour stops at has a branch of epic Aussie doughnut spot Doughnut Time which made the whole thing even more awesome in my eyes. Good job Melbourne!
• A Tour of The Steve Irwin
Our paths finally crossed with the Sea Shepherd ship the Steve Irwin during our time in Melbourne and Nick and I headed to Williamstown to take a tour of the ship with Lex one of SS's amazing crew members. It was really cool to get to see where some of Sea Shepherd's most dedicated activists are living and working and holy wow was it hot in the kitchen! I'm not sure that I could handle working on board especially as I get very sea sick but they just so happened to be having a bake sale for the World Wide Vegan Bake Sale on the day we swung by (okay so that was not a coincidence!) so we were able to support SS and eat some delicious treats - I think I'll have to stick to that kind of activism as far as saving the oceans is concerned.
If like me you can't step on board and head out to save the planet yourself there are still things you can do (aside from buying cakes!) to help ocean wildlife whilst keeping your feet firmly on dry land. One easy step is to take a long hard look at your plastic consumption. As a traveller I find this very difficult - there are times where you will need to drink water from plastic bottles - but you can take tote bags to the store and learn how to say no to a plastic bag, refuse straws, ask for a drink in a real mug rather than a paper cup with a plastic lid at Starbucks, and try to buy your fruit and veg from local markets rather than in plastic packaging from corner stores. When I'm home I'll definitely be taking a look at where else I can cut back. You don't need to give up all plastic to be making a difference, just take some small steps and remember that every little helps. If you'd like to visit the Steve Irwin to learn more about ocean conservation you can take a free tour on Sunday's between 11 and 4.
• Grab drinks and check out the view at Naked for Satan
Okay so this one kinda involves food but it's more than that! Naked for Satan is a bar specialising in vodka and pintxos. It's located on Brunswick street in Fitzroy and aside from the fact that they serve great drinks, including interesting non alcoholic options, and tasty nibbles you can also take your drink up in the lift to Naked in the Sky to check out the gorgeous wrap around views of the city. I'd recommend heading there around sunset on a weekday if you're hoping for a more chilled vibe.
• Visit the Phillip Island Penguins
The day out that Nick and I were probably the most excited about was visiting Phillip Island to see the little penguins emerging from the water. We took a guided ranger tour which meant that we were in a small group of just 10 people and we were able to view the penguins from a secluded beach away from the larger groups of tourists near the visitor centre. We sat on the sand as the sun set and soon saw penguins emerging from the water. Our knowledgeable guide was able to fill us in on their movements before we spotted them thanks to our handy earpieces so we were always looking at the right spot. There are no penguin pic's because they don't come out until after dusk and flash photography would damage their eyes and confuse them. We watched the penguins through a night vision eyepiece which made me feel like I was in some kinda spy movie! Sadly the other attractions on Phillip Island are not so animal friendly, there are some dubious photo op's to be had with koalas, horse riding experiences, and farm tours all of which we avoided. A visit to see the penguins here is definitely a bit of a splurge budget wise but we thought it was more than worth it.
• Head out to Edgar's Mission
Edgar's Mission is Australia's largest farm sanctuary and it's located approximately an hours drive north of Melbourne. Sadly Nick and I haven't had the chance to visit yet (it's not accessible by public transport) but hopefully we'll be back in that neck of the woods with a vehicle in the not too distant future. You can take a free tour on weekends and on occasional weekdays, just check out the availability calendar and book your place.