Melbourne Must-Sees

GOLD Fever!

G’day!

Let me tell you about a place that’s a lot of FUN for little kids AND big kids …

It’s a place where you can literally step back in time and appreciate what was once the region’s “gold era”.

Welcome to Sovereign Hill … an open air museum located in a suburb of Ballarat (approximately 105km WNW of Melbourne).

Main Street at Sovereign Hill

The hub of Sovereign Hill, Main Street

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

HISTORY
The concept of building Sovereign Hill was initially put forward in Ballarat in the 1960s. The idea was to preserve the historic buildings and reconstruct the diggings that made this provincial city flourish. Consequently, the first ten years after the discovery of gold in 1851 is what has been recreated at Sovereign Hill.

And so on Sunday, 29 November 1970, Sovereign Hill as we know it today, was officially opened.

The town of Ballarat is also significant for the Welcome Nugget (not to be confused with the Welcome Stranger which is the largest nugget ever found in 1869 further north of Ballarat near a town called Dunolly). The Welcome Nugget is the world’s second largest gold nugget, weighing in at 69kgs and containing 99% pure gold unearthed in the Red Hill mine in 1858. At the time of discovery, the Welcome Nugget was worth approximately 10, 050 pounds but it is now worth over US$3M in gold (or even more as a specimen).

Welcome Nugget Replica

Replica of the Welcome Nugget, the world’s second largest gold nugget found in Ballarat, Victoria Australia

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

To find out all about the discovery of the Welcome Nugget, you can actually take the self-guided tour of the Red Hill mine which has been recreated at Sovereign Hill.

Gold Panning

Try your luck at panning for gold at Red Hill Gully diggings, Sovereign Hill, Ballarat

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

TODAY
Sovereign Hill is Ballarat’s most famous attraction and also one of Victoria’s most popular. The experience here is completely immersive, interactive and put simply, so much fun! The main attraction is the gold diggings which feature a winding creek where you can pan for real gold (and keep it)! But what really brings all this to life are the costumed staff and volunteers going about their daily routine of working in a fully operational replica township and who are more than happy to pose for a photo with you making for an extra memorable visit.

Gold Museum

Gold Museum at Sovereign Hill, Ballarat

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Gold Museum, located on the same site as Sovereign Hill, is also worth a visit. The museum displays an impressive exhibition of gold and extends Sovereign Hill’s story of Ballarat. The building itself is quite striking with its glass façade that lets the sun in to shine on the gold collections.

There are plenty of exciting attractions to visit in this region and Sovereign Hill in Ballarat is just one of them. To find out more about this area, here are a couple of links (including one where you can join our day tour if you’re not up to driving there yourself):
•    http://visitballarat.com.au/things-to-do.aspx
•    http://www.grayline.com.au/australia-sightseeing/melbourne-day-tours/sovereign-hill-tours

Always welcome any comments you may have!

Explore Mornington Peninsula

Mornington Peninsula

Traditional and colourful bathing boxes are an icon of the region.

Mornington Peninsula is a favourite among locals and it’s easy to understand why. With such diversity in offerings such as pristine beaches, picturesque wineries, boutique shopping, coastal walks, health and wellness pampering, gourmet eateries, intimate galleries, marine activities, history and heritage, family activities and fantastic variety of tours.
It’s such a lovely region to visit year round but of course being on a peninsula, it is especially busy during the warmer months. There are numerous beaches to check out from the calm waters of the front beach in Sorrento to the wave crashing, great surf conditions of Rye Ocean Beach.

T'Gallant Winery

Picturesque vineyard of T’Gallant Winery on the Mornington Peninsula.

When it comes to nature trails, two spots come to mind worth doing … Millionaire’s Walk in Sorrento. An easy 1.5km return cliff top walk with stunning ocean vistas, you’ll walk past some of the most magnificent properties of which many have their own private jetties with gorgeously built boat houses! Located at the very tip of the peninsula, Point Nepean National Park is most significant for its role in shaping the early settlement, quarantine and defence of the state of Victoria. Here you can explore historic Quarantine Station, military forts and tunnels or just enjoy the spectacular coastal environment.

Peninsula Hot Springs

Peninsula Hot Springs – first natural hot springs and day spa centre in Victoria.

For some luxe pampering, a favourite place is Peninsula Hot Springs. This was the first natural hot springs and day spa centre in the state. There are two bathing facilities to cater for everyone, Bath House and Spa Dreaming Centre. The Bath House has over 20 bathing experiences from cold plunge pools, reflexology walk, massaging thermal mineral showers and Turkish steam bath to name a few. The Spa Dreaming Centre is more exclusive for guests 16 years and older. The emphasis here is on tranquil spaces, private pools and spa treatments to revitalise body, mind and spirit.

Golf enthusiasts are well catered for with numerous world class courses to tee off. Here are a few to look into; Moonah Links Golf Course, Eagle Ridge Golf Course, Dunes Golf Course and St Andrews Beach Golf Club.

The easiest way to get to the peninsula from Melbourne CBD is to self-drive (suggest the scenic way along the bay) or join an organised day tour (so you won’t have to worry about navigating the roads). Whichever you choose, you’ll not be disappointed spending the day in this stunning region.

Have you visited Mornington Peninsula? If so, what were the highlights for you?

Hop, Skip, Jump from Melbourne CBD: Get to know our “inner side”!

G’day!
Take a little break from what you’re doing right now and join me in getting to know some of Melbourne’s funky inner suburbs.

These inner city suburbs I’m about to introduce you to are a stone’s throw from Melbourne CBD making it so easy to access by public transport, on foot, by bicycle and of course, by car if you have it available to you.

Let’s head north and make our way clockwise around Melbourne town …

Painted seat located on the street in Fitzroy

Fitzroy: A taste of the alternative

Fitzroy: Alternative culture, night life and plethora of eateries
Fitzroy (2kms NE Melbourne CBD) exudes all things hip and kooky. Wander along Brunswick Street, Fitzroy’s main drag, and you will instantly feel the alternative vibe with its numerous vintage clothing stores, second-hand bookshops and bountiful cafes, restaurants and pubs. If you’re lucky, you may catch ‘celebrity’ black Elvis rock-n-rolling away on the street … always entertaining to see. Dare to step out of your culinary comfort zone? Vegie Bar is a long standing institution much loved both by the health conscious and the hungry for its satisfying comfort food. On weekends, enjoy Rose St. Artists’ Market, the most exciting and unique place for you to find all kinds of handmade treasures.

Shopping in Richmond

Richmond: Top-to-Toe shopping experience

Richmond: Shopping, sports bars and live band venues
3kms SE of Melbourne CBD is Richmond and I have to admit that I did once shopped til I dropped (I guess I may now have also given away my gender!) along the infamous Bridge Road shopping strip … a top-to-toe fashion experience! With major sports stadiums and arenas nearby, there are also a handful of bars and pubs that are a draw card for sports fans (we do love our sports in Melbourne!) and for those who love to see live bands, legendary rock venue the Corner Hotel always has a fabulous line up.

 

Albert Park Lake with city in the background

Albert Park: The lake is home to Australia’s F1 GP

Albert Park: Albert Park Lake, Australian F1 GP, terrace homes, parks and gardens
Head south 3kms from Melbourne CBD to picturesque and leafy Albert Park, one of Melbourne’s oldest suburbs. I just love walking around this area and admiring the charming heritage homes and delightful Victorian shopfronts of Bridport Street and Victoria Avenue with its collection of upmarket retailers and cafes. Perfectly suited for an active outdoors lifestyle, enjoy the beachfront, parks and gardens, an inland lake that is home to Australian F1 Grand Prix, Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre (MSAC), a golf course, soccer stadium, sailing clubs and several sporting ovals. Before we leave Albert Park, allow me introduce you to a legend … Andrew’s Hamburgers, burgers made old-fashioned home-style that is big and fresh and many agree, is absolutely worth the journey from even across town to try. The chips are just as amazing too! Let me know how you liked it … bon appetit!

Art Deco Sun Theatre in Yarraville

Yarraville: Restored art deco Sun Theatre on Ballarat St

Yarraville: Endearing village life and architecture
Our next destination is a little further and completes our circuit. Yarraville is 8kms west of Melbourne CBD and is a hidden gem even for many Melburnians. The west has always had a reputation for being a tad on the rough side but Yarraville has transformed into having a wonderful community spirit. Yarraville Village has a charming village atmosphere where you will find the beautifully restored, iconic art deco cinema Sun Theatre and adjacent Sun Bookshop. Coming here, you can’t help but slow the pace down, enjoy its quality village life and notable examples of Edwardian and Victorian architecture of which many house the neighbourhood’s epicurean cafes and restaurants, eclectic bookstores and boutique shops.

Melbourne from the air

Aerial view of Melbourne with Albert Park Lake in the foreground

Going out and exploring just beyond the Melbourne CBD to these wonderful inner city suburbs will not only enhance your experience and knowledge of our eclectic and absolutely fabulous city but also complement some of the day tours we have on offer.

Which part of Melbourne has been memorable for you? Got any ‘secrets’ to share? We would love to hear your comments and suggestions!

Artsy Melbourne Becoming Australia’s Cultural Hot Spot

While the 2000 Olympics and Opera House have helped to catapult Sydney onto the world stage, recent polls and the vibe on the street indicate that Melbourne is fast becoming the hottest city in Australia.

According to the Herald Sun, much of the credit is due to the rising Melbourne art scene. London, Paris, New York, LA, Rome—these are all cities which have cultivated their own unique artistic spirit. In fact, this is true of most cities which play an important role on the world stage. Melbourne is coming into its own in this sense. While Sydney has the Opera House, Melbourne is becoming renowned for its jazz scene.

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Things to See and Do in Melbourne

Melbourne and Sydney are fierce rivals, with each city having its charms and advantages over the other. But it’s easy to like Melbourne, according to A Luxury Travel Blog.

Melbourne’s specialities include coffee, food, football and trams. The latter will get you around the city more quickly than walking and there’s also the bonus of informative commentary as you ride. Jump off at Federation Square, a focal point for all sorts of events and performances in the city. Other notable sights include the Old Melbourne Gaol, the Queen Victoria Market and the National Gallery of Victoria.

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24 Hours in Melbourne

The central business district (CBD) is the place to see if you have only one day in hip Melbourne. Travel + Leisure recommended a walk by the Yarra River in the morning, followed by toasties and coffee at the small Switchboard Cafe.

Before lunch, there’s time for shopping; Melbourne is a fashionable city and you’ll find jewellery, clothes and anything else you could wish to buy in the CBD.

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Gray Line’s Great Ocean Road Day Tour for Cruise Passengers

A visitor from Sweden once asked an Australian tourism website if he could walk from Perth to Sydney. Maybe, he suggested, he could follow the railroad tracks? Certainly, the website responded, it’s only three thousand miles, just be sure to take plenty of water. And they meant a lot of water – according to Google, the most direct route from Perth to Sydney would take 745 hours to walk, or 31 days non-stop, including a well-deserved break on a ferry across the Spencer Gulf.

Visitors and Australians alike are routinely taken aback by the vastness of Australia. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in a country whose smallest state is roughly the size of Ireland, and whose largest cattle station is roughly the size of Belgium. The question for travellers is often how to maximise their time in Australia, and cover as much distance as comfortably as they can.

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Seeing the Best of Melbourne in a Single Day

Melbourne is an incredible city. It is often referred to as the cultural, sporting, fashion, food and coffee capital of Australia and, as such, has so much to offer visitors.

There is no shortage of things to see and do in Melbourne and many people choose to spend multiple days enjoying the fabulous atmosphere of this dynamic and beautiful city. However, if time is limited, it is still possible to see many of Melbourne’s highlights in just one day.

Take a Melbourne tour:

If you have just one day in Melbourne, be sure to devote it to a Melbourne day tour. A tour provides you with the opportunity to see the highlights and learn a little about the city; trying to travel around and do it yourself is not an efficient use of time and you are bound to miss out on some very special sights and experiences.

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The Historic Streets of Melbourne

Well-designed and laid-out roads have been an important feature of the City of Melbourne ever since the early days of settlement. In 1837, Sir Richard Bourke, the governor of the Colony of New South Wales, appointed surveyor Robert Hoddle to carry out a full survey of the settlement. Hoddle then went about producing the first surveyor’s plan, which laid out the streets of Melbourne in the positions they are still in today. The grid of roads originated at Batman’s Hill, which would evolve into today’s Melbourne road network.

Today, walking these roads will give you brief glimpses into time past, such as with the cobbled laneways and some of the old architecture that still remains on these now busy streets. There are even many day tours in Melbourne that attract people from all over the world to come and take a trip down memory lane. The following are some of Melbourne’s more historic streets.

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Melbourne City Shopping Tips

There are few places in all of Australia that keep up with fashion, art, furniture and other trends quite like Melbourne. From vintage to cutting edge, boutique to big time, and second hand to couture, Melbourne’s eclectic retail scene is brimming with alluring labels, products and shopping experiences. If you’re planning on visiting Melbourne and you want to indulge in a little retail therapy, the following tips will help you find just what you’re looking for.

Hit up the markets

If you’re looking for fresh produce, boutique bakery items, unique gifts, bargains and trendy fashions, there’s nothing like Melbourne’s markets. The only hard part about shopping the markets is choosing which one you want to visit! Most visitors start with the famous Queen Victoria Market in the CBD, and then move on to find creative local art and fashion at Fitzroy’s Rose Street Artists’ Market. Also check out the Dandenong Market, the Hawthorn Craft Market, Prahran Market, and the Southside Handmade & Vintage Market.

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