Friday, March 23, 2018

Melbourne 2018 (some sort of an itinerary, consult at own risk)

After quite possibly the most epic trip last year, finding another travel destination was tough.
What could match the sights of snow-capped mountains and glaciers?
But also, probably enough snow-capped mountains and glaciers for a lifetime (I say this while I'm toying with the idea of Antarctica).

I owed the boy a trip after abandoning him at home for Alaska.
Tempting as it was to drag him to Korea again, it was time for him to visit parts of the world he hasn't been.


Hello Melbourne!
We meet again

First day in Melbourne and we hit the ground running 
(didn't have much time because we could only do an 8-day trip).
Landed in Tullamarine around 12pm and headed straight for the SkyBus counter to get our tickets for the bus into town. AUD19.50 for a single one-way ticket (you can save some money by getting return tickets). Quick and easy ride, free WiFi on-board. 

Got into the CBD, checked into our fuss-free (and not bad) hotel (they let us check in early too!) so we could leave our luggages before heading for the beach.

Yes, get off plane, go to beach.
(Why we do these things to ourselves, I don't know.) 

Day 1 - Monday

Tullamarine Airport - Melbourne CBD - Brighton - St Kilda - Melbourne CBD

Hello Brighton Bathing Boxes!

Didn't get to see the bathing boxes the last time I was in Melbourne, but now I can happily tick them off my bucket list (don't judge).

It took about 54,396 (or what felt like) years to get a 2-second window to take a somewhat decent shot of ourselves in front of the bathing boxes because 76,435,465 tourists visit the bathing boxes.

Take the train to Sandringham station and walk about 15 minutes to the coast. Head left along the beach and you'll know when you're near the bathing boxes because people mountain people sea
(we got our WiFi router at Changi Airport and relied on Google Maps to get to places the whole time we were in Melbourne city; WiFi, can't live without it anymore).

In St Kilda, must visit Chapel Street.
At least that's what TripAdvisor advised. 

Had this place on our to-visit list but because #australia (and also public holiday),
it was closing by the time we got there at 5pm.
Didn't get to go in, so I joined the other disappointed visitors outside sticking their noses to the glass to peer at the awesome displays in store. 

This looked really promising.
But also, check out the opening hours first before bringing hopes up.

Because we didn't get to see the vintage bazaar that we were so excited about, we drowned our sorrows in beer.

Well, no, because this place is also ranked high on the to-visit list.
The Local Taphouse made up for the disappointment of missing out on the vintage bazaar. 
Craft beer on tap, long list of brews, all different all good.
Can't decide? Do like we did and go for the beer flight.
Comes with a side of crackers.

After beer, go to vintage theme park,
which was supposed to be free entry and pay-to-ride.

The internet lied.
It was AUD2 for entry, which isn't exorbitant but we were barely surviving by this point already tired from the plane ride.
Gave this a miss,
but must take photo outside because entrance was pretty.

Had a great evening planned and wanted dinner at Milk the Cow.
Wine & cheese!

We ended up crawling back to our hotel in the CBD instead because, 
too tired.

We tried to make ourselves feel better about missing out on Milk the Cow by grabbing a bottle of wine at the supermarket.

Chips and TimTams and wine for dinner, to end our first day in Melbourne.
(Calbee Hot & Spicy and Nongshim Prawn Crackers are our travel pouches, not food.
I realise now how it looks like we had a tonne of chips.)

Oh, he also bought me a Crumpler when we passed by a Crumpler shop in St Kilda.
In Australia, must buy Crumpler.

Day 2 - Tuesday

Melbourne CBD - Yarra Valley - Melbourne CBD

Starting the day bright and early (7.30am!) because we booked ourselves on a day trip to Yarra Valley (pick-up at 8.50am at our stop in the CBD).

When alcoholic in Melbourne, must do wine-tasting.
But first, coffee.

Because Melbourne is so famous for its coffee, we had a long list of to-visit cafés for our short 8-day trip.
Too much coffee to try, too few stomachs.
We strategised each day's coffee and only bought one coffee from each place to maximise the number of different coffees from different places we could try.

This morning, he got his at Little Rogue (my favourite cup from our 8-day trip; I broke the rule of not-more-than-1-cup-of-coffee-from-1-place and went back again on Sunday for another cup).

I got mine at Switchboard Café (his favourite cup from our trip).

It's hard to find a bad cup of coffee in Melbourne.
Unless you go to Starbucks, in which case I can't guarantee. 
We didn't.

Switchboard Café was easily the quaintest café we visited in Melbourne.

Doesn't hurt that they also brew a very decent cup of coffee.
(We would have also broken our not-more-than-1-cup-of-coffee-from-1-place rule for Switchboard but we didn't manage to catch them open the next few times we happened to walk past the area.)

But I digress.

Hello Yarra Valley!

Our Yarra Valley day-trip provider brought us to 4 different wineries, 1 chocolate factory and 1 dairy+cheese place. Also includes lunch.

Small group (7 people) tours are always the best way to go.

Ice cream.

We got back into the CBD around 5.30pm, by which most of the shops in the city were closing/closed.
Australia, why you so chill.

Back to the hotel it was, for our last night in the CBD before starting our 3-day tour.

Day 3 - Wednesday

Melbourne CBD - Great Ocean Road - Warrnambool

The start of our 3-day tour booked under Wildlife Tours Australia.
3 Day Great Ocean Road and Grampians Tour.
Quite possibly the highlight of our trip.

Hello again, Great Ocean Road!

The Great Ocean Road needs no introduction so, 
just a whole load of pictures.


Stopping to have lunch on the beach before continuing on our road-trip to the Twelve Apostles.

Stopping in Warrnambool for the night, 
grabbing dinner in town before heading to our backpackers.

This chicken grill place gave us so much food it was insane.
No one could finish their dinners. We regretted not sharing.
Sorry for wasting food.

Our bed for the night.

This place had a small bar in the common area (AUD4 beer on tap).
They also had a pool table (we played pool and sucked at it).

And cats.
They had hostel cats.

Day 4 - Thursday

Warrnambool - Grampians National Park

The highlight of our trip to Melbourne - we're going on a hike today!

But first, doing as tourists do, 
stopping at photo-spots on our way to the Grampians.

Tower Hill National Park.
30,000 year old extinct volcano.




Always a treat to catch animals in action, where they belong (not in zoos).

A quick stop in Halls Gap for lunch (love their pies! Was very happy when we got the chance to stop at Halls Gap again for lunch on Day 3 after we swapped cars and joined another group heading back to Melbourne) and,

Up the Grampians we go!

Our guide took us up the trail that leads us to the Pinnacle Lookout. 
3-hour hike (return), 2.1km, steep and rocky.
Best kind of hiking.

Our guide says they call this the Facebook Like rock.


After the hike, we come back down to Halls Gap exhausted but accomplished.

But the day wasn't over.

When in Australia, must chuck boomerang.

"Chucking boomerangs in a field full of wild kangas.
Don't get more Australia than this, mates."


Nope, day still not over.

Aussie BBQ dinner!

Our guide grilled beef, sausages, hash browns, 
and kangaroo. 

We were eating kangaroo while the wild kangaroos hung around our hostel's backyard.
I'm sorry kangaroos

Nope, day still not over.

Ending the night sitting round the campfire - drinking, toasting marshmallows, 
sharing stories about our homes, our experiences, our lives, 
wild kangaroos hanging around us in the backyard, 
a sky full of stars above us.

This was quite possibly the best day of my life this year.

Day 5 - Friday

Grampians National Park - Melbourne CBD

Good morning, Grampians.

Hello Wallaby, 
I love you.

'Jaws of Death'.

MacKenzie Falls.

And then it was goodbye to our tour-mates - 
their 3 day tour takes them to Adelaide by car while we return to Melbourne.

Small group (8 people) tours are always the best way to go.

3 days spent with 6 other mates from other parts of the world 
(1 Rio, 2 Canada, 2 UK, 1 Germany, 2 Singaporeans + 1 Australian guide).

Meeting (and getting to know briefly) people from halfway across the world, sharing new sights and experiences, then saying goodbye to the same people you know you'll probably never meet again in your lifetime. 
Something about that combination always gets me.

Right about time for an instant affogato from the rest-stop's 7-11.

Back in Melbourne round 6pm, getting dropped off at our stop in the CBD.
Checked into our Airbnb which was just across the road from our drop-off point, left our luggages and headed out again.
Just in time for dinner, since everything else was closed (again) anyway.

We wanted to check out a restaurant but it turned out to be located in this stretch of restaurants that had very eager service staff targeting anyone who walked by.

Didn't quite like the touting atmosphere, we gave the restaurant a miss.

Coffee. Again.
At Brother Baba Budan, said to have "one of Melbourne's best coffees".

By this point, we had had too many coffees to be able to tell the difference.
They all tasted good. 

We grabbed dinner at Grill'd instead. 
Very good burgers, even better zucchini fries.
I wish we had a Grill'd back in Singapore (someone bring in the franchise please?).

After dinner, back to our Airbnb.
Another early night in the CBD but no complaints because,

This. View.

Our Airbnb bedroom.
Thank you for the view.

Day 6 - Saturday

Melbourne CBD - Fitzroy - Melbourne CBD

Good morning Melbourne.
(I really really miss this bedroom.)

2 full days in Melbourne city after our Yarra Valley day-trip and 3-day tour,
1 set aside to visit Fitzroy because hipster.

But first, brunch.
(Doing hipster right.)

We took our time, enjoying our brunch and still ended up too early for any of the flea markets/stores in Fitzroy (#australia). 

Too much time on our hands, nothing else to do after wandering the streets of Fitzroy checking out graffiti, so,

take #hipster further by queuing up for raved-about croissant. 

We joined the queue and got our bakes in about 30 minutes.

A few cafés around Melbourne's CBD now stock Lune's bakes so you could go there instead to avoid the queue in Fitzroy.

Nice, flaky croissants, but probably overhyped. 
Bakes were good but not that good.

And the markets and shops are finally open and ready!

When in Melbourne, must do flea market shopping.

So much vintage/thrift goodness, so little money.

Back in the CBD and Airbnb, even less money after the day's loot.

Empty wallet, happy heart.

Day 7 - Sunday

Melbourne CBD: Queen Victoria Market, State Library Victoria, Flinders Street, Hosier Lane, Centre Place, etc.

Starting the day early at Queen Victoria Market.
I love markets.
(Even if I don't actually buy any produce.)

First coffee of the day: Market Lane Coffee.

They have a store right across Queen Victoria Market on Therry Street. 
There's also another stall inside Queen Victoria Market.

Good coffee, great vibes.

He was (very) amused that I stopped in front of this stall the longest.

Entered Queen Victoria Market empty handed, 
left with 2 bags of coffee beans, 6 bottles of local craft beer, 2 packets of macadamia nuts.

Second coffee of the day: Popping back into Little Rogue for another.

Disclaimer: personal preference.
(Probably slightly influenced by the suspicion that the folks running café are Korean.)

Next stop: Library.

Pretending to be cultured, browsing books I can't even borrow.

Next stop: Flinders Street and its surrounding area.

Burger here was good too. 
Greasier than Grill'd, yummy onion rings, awesome chocolate+peanut butter thickshake.

When in Melbourne, carnivore.

Goodnight Melbourne.

Day 8 - Monday

Melbourne CBD - Tullamarine Airport

Good morning Melbourne.

Grabbing our last cup of Melbourne coffee from Market Lane Coffee on Therry Street (because Queen Victoria Market is closed on Mondays 😔).
Then back to the Airbnb to pack and leave for the airport for our flight home.

SkyBus ride to the airport from Southern Cross Station, 
goodbye Melbourne!

Thank you for the good week.

Till the next trip,


Got questions regarding our itinerary?
Ask away and I'll dig further into my limited memory for answers!


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