St Kilda foreshore, 3pm – sunset

This weekend was the Queen’s Birthday long weekend here in Melbourne. It is a rather bizarre public holiday because the Queen’s actual birth date is in April (and of course republicans will argue we are celebrating the birthday of a British monarch). Strangeness aside, I don’t think anyone minds having the day off.

Holidays are wonderful, whether it’s one day hanging out with friends or a year long round-the-world epic. One of my special memories was when I trekked the Salkantay trail from Cuzco to Machu Picchu in Peru. I remember plodding up the zigzagging narrow trail to the famous 4500m pass, stopping every few hundred meters to gasp for air and reward myself with chocolate. When we reached the pass the clouds open momentarily, revealing the mountains towering around us in snowy blankets. I was sure Mr Tumnus was going come over the pass at any minute and take me into Narnia.

Back home in Melbourne, after a lazy morning with toast and tea, I decided to head to St Kilda foreshore to find out how Melburnians like to spend their holidays.

Deahnne Spencer, St Kilda resident

I am a strategic sales and operations planning manager for a large American food manufacturer. We make most of the McDonald’s chips, so I’m sure you have eaten the company’s food. So I’m just sitting here reading for a course I’m doing tomorrow and doing a little bit of cramming.

This weekend I went to Flemington and to the horse races. I came out even which was good. I spent yesterday afternoon hanging out with the girls at Republica, listening to Jazz until about midnight. I often go to Dogs Bar a lot here in St Kilda. I can go in there on my own, sit up at the bar with the paper, it’s just so friendly and has a community feel.

My favourite holiday was when I went to Canada for a friends wedding last year. We did a wonderful road trip from Idaho, through to the northern part of Canada. The mountains and altitude was amazing. I love hiking and skiing,  so the outdoors part of Canada was very special.

Susanna Preziati and Beatrice Nanetti, Italian cultural interns

Susanna: We from Italy and have both come here to do internships at the Italian Institute of Culture. Do you speak Italian? (I don’t!) I prefer not to try the Italian food in Melbourne, because I want to try new things instead. I live in Carlton and it’s my first time in St Kilda so Beatrice is showing me around.

The best holiday for me was when I was living in Spain in Valencia, I was living there studying for the Erasmus. I knew so many people, so it was just like the Spanish Apartment.

Beatrice: I love all of the Asian food here, so I am trying everything like the sushi and the noodles. It is so multicultural here. My favourite thing I have seen in Australia is the desert and the outback. It is truly amazing; all the red ground, the animals, especially the kangaroos.

Anne Lindsay and Phil Lee, Brighton residents

We’ve never been out here before so we cycled along the foreshore from Brighton. There is such a wonderful view of the city riding right along the edge of the bay, with the skyline of the city in the background. Especially on a day like today, the sun is out and it’s nice and dry. We’ve moved to Australia from England. The weather is a lot better than the UK and it seems like the pace of living here is a lot better.

During the summer we travel everywhere – up to the Alpine mountains, along the Great Ocean Road, to Sydney as well as the Dandenongs. We get around a lot. People are very friendly here, and people have a lot more time for each other.

Callum and Lilith Fraser, Carlton residents

On Friday night the kids stayed with their grandparents, and so we got to stay in a hotel for the night which was a lot of fun. Then we spent all day yesterday planting vegetables, and today it’s been yum cha and fishing. Lil loves fishing. We love the chats, the quiet. It’s our special Dad and daughter activity.

Our favourite holiday was the campervan holiday. For Christmas last year we got a Swagman campervan and we drove down to Wilsons Promontory, then we drove along the coast to Eden and through Eurobodalla National Park and then drove back across the mountains down the Hume. It was fun having five of us in our rockstar campervan with four TVs.

Rachel Mussett and Jonny Osborne, new Aussie residents

Jonny: I’m from Wellington and Rachel is from England, and we’ve been in Melbourne for only a week. Melbourne is an awesome city, we’ve been impressed. It is a lot bigger than I expected it to be. I loved visiting Ningaloo Reef and Coral Bay in Australia. There was just an incredible contrast between the baron landscape and the coral reefs. It was only a month ago, but it’s so cold here it feels like forever.

Rachel: We’ve got a vast list of things we want to do, especially get into the nightlife scene and see some gigs. We went to the War Memorial today and wandered around the botanical gardens and back down here to eat our lunch on the beach.

I was in Asia before here, in Thailand and Malaysia. It was a complete cultural shock. One of the major highlights for me was the sunset at the Taj Mahal in India, that felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity.