Monday, November 14, 2011

1000 visitors and still going strong !

Wow .. This blog shot past the 1000 visitors mark sometime on Sunday ! .. another big milestone for Melbourne Ahoy ! 

Admittedly I have been a bit slow with the posts of late due to work commitments (I don't do this for a living you know) but I promise to keep the blog posts coming !

Again, any feedback is much appreciated especially suggestions for future blog post topics

Now on towards 2000 ! .. :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Getting a Driver’s License in Melbourne

As Melbourne is a large expansive city, you will soon find that getting around with just public transport is extremely limiting. Moreover, as taxis and delivery services are VERY expensive, having a car to transport groceries, small furniture, etc is very handy.

If you don’t have one already, the first step is to get a Driver’s License!

In order to drive a car in Melbourne, you will need a valid driver’s license which is issued by Vicroads.

As a newcomer to Melbourne with an existing license, you will probably fall into one of the following categories:

  • Hold an interstate or NZ license
    • If it is a current license or has expired less than 5 years, you don’t need to take a test! Just show your current license, prove your identity and Vicroads will send you a local one.
  • Overseas license
    • This is a bit more complicated and depends on several factors
    • If you are on a temporary visa, you don’t need to get a local one provided it is in English
    • If you are on a permanent visa, you will need to get a local license 6 months after you enter the country or 6 months after you get a permanent visa – whichever is more recent
    • If you have a license from a country on the Vicroads recognised list – includes USA, UK, Singapore, etc – you don’t need to take a test to get a local license. Note that the list does NOT include many popular immigrant countries like China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Phillipines, Korea, South Africa, Sudan, etc.
    • If you find that you DO need to take a license test, it comprises of:
      • Road knowledge test
      • Hazard perception test
      • Eyesight test, and
      • Practical driving test

If you don’t currently hold an interstate or overseas driver’s license, you will need to go through the same process to get a license as with local Melbournians. That is …

  • Apply for a Leaner’s Permit (if you are above 16 years old) and start learning ! – either with licensed instructors or friend/family with a full license.
  • Pass your test and get your Provisional driver’s license! There are quite a few restrictions during the provisional period of 3 or 4 years – like the car that you can drive, zero alcohol, passenger restrictions, etc. Not to mention you must display big P plates.
  • If after provisional period and you haven’t got your license busted, your license automatically be converted to a FULL license
Last but not least, don't forget to check out my brand NEW website - - dedicated to all things about moving to Melbourne and life in general in the world's most liveable city !


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sports and Fitness : 1st City2Sea run in Melbourne!

On Sun Nov 13, the very FIRST City2Sea run will take place in Melbourne !

Starting from on the outskirts the CBD, the 14 km course will make its way to the Port Melbourne beach (hence City2Sea). Some of the interesting sights, the route will pass by include ...

City2Sea Run passing by fantastic views of Port Phillip Bay
  • Arts Centre
  • State Museum
  • Royal Botanic Gardens
  • Shrine of Remembrance
  • (Run around) The Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit
  • Beaconsfield Parade along the St Kilda / Port Melbourne foreshore

So if you are in town, bring a pair of runners, be healthy and soak in the atmosphere ! The distance is not too long and Nov late spring weather can be really nice.

Don't forget to sign up ( in advance though ... coz ... NO REGO, NO RUN !!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sports and Fitness : Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre

Being a sporty kind of person (at least I like to think I am!), one of the first things that I looked for when I first arrived was a place to stretch my legs and play my favourite sports. I soon found that there was no better place than the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre (or MSAC to locals).

MSAC was opened in 1997 and is located in picturesque Albert Park Lake precinct (also the venue for the Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix). It is a truly amazing one-stop sports facility covering a plethora of sports & activities like:

  • Water Sports – Outdoor 50m pool with 3000 seat grandstand, diving, a variety of smaller indoor pools for lap swimming, children’s play (water slides and wave pool), hydrotherapy, etc.
  • Huge fitness and wellness centre for gym training, yoga, pilates, etc.
  • Stadium sports – Basketball, Squash, Badminton, Table Tennis, Volleyball, etc.

Not surprisingly, MSAC frequently hosts world-class events like 2006 Commonwealth Games, 2007 FINA World Swimming Championships and of course local and state events like table tennis championships.

What I like about the place is how social and accessible the place is. The centre frequently arranges social sessions where strangers can come together and play sports like basketball, badminton, table tennis, etc. This especially useful for new Melbourne citizens who have not made many friends yet or simply don’t have mates that share the passion for a particular sport.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Melbourne University voted the #1 university in Australia!

Congrats to Melbourne University for being voted #1 university in Australia .. again for the second year running!

Here’s the full top 10 Australian university list …

Top 10 Australian universities

1. University of Melbourne (37)
2. Australian National University (equal 38)
3. University of Sydney (58)
4. University of Queensland (74)
5. Monash University (equal 117)
6. University of New South Wales (173)
7. University of Western Australia (189)
8. University of Adelaide (201-225)
9. Macquarie University (226-250)
10. University of Wollongong (251-275)

.. and out of interest, here's the top 10 World list :)

Top 10 universities

1. California Institute of Technology
2. Harvard University & Stanford University
4. University of Oxford
5. Princeton University
6. University of Cambridge
7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
8. Imperial College London
9. University of Chicago
10. University of California, Berkeley

Friday, October 7, 2011

Suburbs based on ethnic groups

Melbourne is the arguably the most multicultural city in Australia (maybe Sydney might disagree but we shall know for sure when the latest census results get revealed). As a result there are many different ethnic groups that are represented in the population.

For better or worse, these different ethnic groups tend to want to live together and it is totally understandable why this is so. New immigrants to Melbourne would naturally feel more comfortable living near friends and in an area with links – e.g. religion, food, stores, culture, etc – to the “old” country.

So here is a list of suburbs that have a particularly strong representation of a certain ethnic group:
  • Altona North, Preston, Epping – Macedonians
  • Box Hill, Doncaster – Chinese
  • Brunswick, Coburg – Middle Easterns
  • Carlton – historically Italians but not so much these days. The Azurri have been around for relatively longer and have since spread out.
  • Dandenong, Flemington, Noble Park – Africans
  • Ferntree Gully, Boronia – South Africans (my SA mates tells me that this is because large land blocks remind them of home!)
  • Kew, Caulfield – Jews
  • Kings Park, Caroline Springs, Cairnlea – Filipino
  • Melbourne CBD & Surrounds – Chinese, Koreans
  • Point Cook, Dandenong – Indians
  • Springvale, Footscray, Richmond – Vietnamese (Best places to find great Pho!)
  • Sunshine – Croatians
  • Sunshine / St Albans – Maltese
As a last word, I would strongly encourage anyone new to the country to broaden their horizons and mix in with the locals (of all ethnic groups) as much as possible. I intentionally did so by avoiding suburbs with an over-representation of my ex-countrymen. It certainly helped me to absorb the Aussie culture, settle in quickly and feel engaged with the wider Melbourne community.

Last but not least, don't forget to check out my brand NEW website - - dedicated to all things about moving to Melbourne and life in general in the world's most liveable city !

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

500 visitors and counting!

Melbourne Ahoy! 

This humble blog just had its’ 500th visitor! 

I am really proud of this small achievement especially considering that this is a very niche blog and its only been up for a short while. Not to mention, I have not done much promotion at all!

I would like to thank everyone who has visited this blog and I sincerely hope that I have managed to be of some help to you! :)

And if you are visiting for the first time, this is what this blog is all about. :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Finances : Opening a Bank account ..

Moving and starting a new life in any new country requires a significant amount of finances and getting ready access to your money is crucial to settling in smoothly. 
ATM Banking

Naturally, one of the first things you would want to do after arriving in Melbourne would be to open a banking account and apply for an ATM card to get cash conveniently. Having a bank account also means you can electronically transfer money from overseas.

Here are some quick facts and tips to help you along with the process:

  • The four main banks in Australia are – Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, ANZ and Westpac (also known as Bank of Melbourne).
  • There are a number of smaller banks and financial institutions but I would recommend starting with the Big 4 for convenience because of the coverage of their branch and ATM network.
  • To avoid delays, you can apply for an Australian bank account online before you leave your home country. After you arrive, all you need is to visit a branch and use your Passport to identify yourself and activate the bank account.
  • I would recommend with starting with a no-frills transaction account. There are fee-free accounts available from most banks if you meet certain easy conditions.
  • Being new to the country and not having a credit history, getting a credit card might be hard. A better bet would be to get a Visa / MasterCard scheme debit card linked to your bank account.
  • You don’t need a Tax File Number (TFN) – which you will have to apply and get from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) – to open an account but it means that any interest will be charged at the highest tax rate until you provide one. Tax in Australia is a massive discussion topic in itself which I will cover in future blog posts.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Myer Melbourne awarded World’s Best New Department Store!

Congrats to the recently renovated Myer Melbourne winning the Store Design of the Year award! It is a proud achievement indeed as it’s the first time an Australian retailer has won a World Retail award.

Personally, I think Myer Melbourne deserves all the plaudits it is getting. The exterior is classic art deco with the interior feeling very classy and spacious. And the renovations are not even fully complete yet!

I love shopping there with its 6 floors (plus a basement) of different themes. It also has 2 cafes – including the brilliant Brunetti’s with their famous Italian cakes / pastry – and a posh champagne bar to take a break from shopping.
Also interesting is the “Galerie de Parfum” showcasing the world's most coveted, rare and original fragrances. This includes Australia’s most expensive perfume Amouage at $400 a bottle – drawing its fragrance from the rarest rose in the world harvested from the mountains of Oman – which was founded by the Sultan of Oman to be offered as a gift to his guests.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Things to do in and around Melbourne ..

A very common question I get asked is .. What are fun and interesting things to do in Melbourne?
"Love Never Dies" at Regent Theatre

Well, I could easily grab my latest Lonely Planet guide to Melbourne and shoot off a dozen of the top common attractions – like Crown Casino, Melbourne Zoo, Art Centre, Museums, Aquarium, etc. But let’s think a little bit out-of-the-box, shall we?

Here’s MY list of fun and interesting things to do in Melbourne that you may or may not find in your pocket travel guide:
  • Watch football megastar Harry Kewell play for Melbourne Victory in the A-League football competition. The opening round of the 2011/2012 season starts on 8th Oct at the 50,000 capacity Etihad Stadium with a pulsating derby against rival city Sydney FC!
  • Watch Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Love Never Dies" (sequel to "Phantom of the Opera") before it ends its Melbourne season in Dec!
  • Enjoy the Hot air ballooning experience over the Yarra Valley or Melbourne City. Not cheap but an experience you will never forget.
  • Have a walk along the Sunday market at St Kilda Beach and follow up with coffee/cake at the famous cafes along Acland St
  • Go up the Eureka Tower Skydeck and admire the views from the tallest building in Melboure. If you are really brave, you can try The Edge where you stand in a glass box that slides out of the building!
  • Take a boat ride from Southbank to Williamstown (a beautiful seaside village with fantastic restaurants and cafes)
  • Visit picturesque Altona Beach and do some fishing on the historic pier. And on a sunny windy day, you can enjoy the passionate kite surfers perform their tricks.
  • Take a walk along Little Vietnam (Victoria St in Richmond), soak in the South East Asian culture and try the best Pho in town!
  • Hire a bicycle and cycle along the Yarra River. Alternatively, you can make your way to Fairfield Boathouse for a scenic breakfast followed by a relaxing rowboat ride on the river. The kids will absolutely love feeding (they sell feed there) the ducks!
  • Hot air ballooning over Yarra Valley
    The Edge at Eureka Towers Skydeck
  • If you do not have a fear of heights (like myself!), you can try rock wall climbing at Hardrock Climbing in the CBD. Personally not for me but rave reviews from all my mates!

Last but not least, don't forget to check out my brand NEW website - - dedicated to all things about moving to Melbourne and life in general in the world's most liveable city !

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Royal Melbourne Show 2011 Opens Today !

The Royal Melbourne Show is a great family event that will entertain people of all ages and not to be missed by anyone new to Melbourne. It provides a fascinating insight to the history and culture of a major traditional industry of Australia.

Starting in 1848, this was originally an agricultural show where farmers gathered in Melbourne from all over Victoria to display their best livestock, goods and produce. There was also all manner of competitions and awards from farm animal contests to wood chopping. 

Since then, the event has gone from strength to strength and is now an annual event (held in September) attended by hundreds of thousands of Melbournians (and international/interstate visitors) over 11 days and nights.

Here are some of the key things that I love so much about the show:

  • The amazing best-of-the-best farm animals on show. You can walk around the stable, chat with the owners and get real up close
  • Various farm animal contests like dog obedience competitions, horse racing, etc.
  • Witnessing the miracle of birth – the farmers bring along pregnant pigs, sheep, etc to share this amazing experience with city-folk like me
  • Kids animal section where children can mingle among baby animals and touch / feel
  • The Showbags – over 300 different bags of lollies, toys, stationary, body products, etc costing from $1 to $240! Most popular are the children’s bags of course like Sesame Street, Hot Wheels, Star Wars, Spiderman, etc. My personal favourite is the Manchester United showbag that includes a gym bag, ball, pump, water bottle, keychain, etc.
  • Rides – I am personally not a big fan but there are a plethora of thrilling carnival rides that are unsurprisingly wildly popular
  • And many more!

A truly unique Melbourne experience not to be missed!
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