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!

Part I: A Weekend on Australia’s Island State … Tasmania

On the summit of Mt Wellington in Hobart, Tasmania

Mt Wellington, Hobart

Overnight bag. Check!

Boarding pass. Check!

Five senses. Check, check, check, check, check!

We’ve set off to explore the country’s smallest (island) state … Just how much did we pack in on a weekend mini-break? Read on my friends!

It’s VERY early Saturday morning in Hobart town and there’s no contemplating our whereabouts but to be at Salamanca Market. Only open on Saturdays, this is an absolute MUST-DO! Originally a warehouse and storage area in the 1830s, you can easily spend half the day wandering through the 300 stalls, galleries, boutique shops, cafes/restaurants and being entertained by talented buskers.

But first, to fuel our bodies and our unique breakfast venue of choice at Salamanca Square certainly ticked our sense of taste. Don’t be put off by their unusual name but Machine Laundry Café is a hidden gem highly rated on Tripadvisor and was well worth the wait for a table to enjoy their extensive menu, generous servings and friendly service. Oh, and great coffee to boot (you might even come across some feedback that says “A bowl of coffee? Yes please!”)!

Tummy rumbles gone, we explored what the markets had to offer. Local produce is always a drawcard for me so I couldn’t resist buying a few small bottles of jam and honey to take home.

Next destination … Mt Wellington and what a vista from the summit! A pleasant half hour journey from Salamanca Place, Wellington Park connects the city to the bush and the mountains to the waterways. We were lucky enough to be there on a clear day with panoramic views of Hobart, surrounding suburbs and brilliant harbour! Weather conditions change quickly on the summit with temperatures often below zero so be well prepared for your visit. Sense of sight … tick!

There was no stopping for lunch only because we were still full from breakfast!

The remainder of our Saturday afternoon was spent leisurely at Australia’s largest privately owned museum, the Museum of Old and New Art (a.k.a. MONA). Officially opened in January 2011, MONA alone would satisfy all your senses in one visit. You’re in for a gallery experience unlike any other as you take in MONA’s unique architecture and frequently updated collection. My favourite part? Enjoying a glass of wine and listening to live ‘MoFolk’ music on the lawns in the sunshine (on not so nice days, the music sessions get brought indoors to the museum). Sense of sound … tick!

After a BIG day of walking and exploring, we still didn’t mind taking a stroll from our comfy accommodation to Battery Point, one of Hobart’s exclusive and historic little pocket. Step back in time as you admire a bygone era of stunning sandstone buildings. At Kathmandu Cuisine we appreciated a candlelit, relaxing and flavoursome meal where the friendly and attentive staff made sure we enjoyed our dinner. After our three course dinner (good to indulge every now and then), we were more than ready to hit the sack in our newly refurbished Executive Room at Travelodge.

Well folks, that was day one of our ‘Tassie’ weekend adventure.

Like to know what we got up to on our second day? Here’s a snippet … roadtrip, beaches, midlands, bushwalk, more beautiful, historic towns and plenty of photo stops!

Keep an eye out for Part II!

Romantic Ideas in and around Melbourne

Zios Restaurant

Valentine’s Day dining at Zio’s Restaurant

Hang on; Valentine’s Day is this Friday!?  For those not romantically inclined, this popular day for celebrating love can seem to creep up way too soon after Christmas and New Year’s Eve.  With limited time to sort something out or for those who need ideas for next time, here are some suggestions on what to do together on Valentine’s Day in Australia’s city of love: Melbourne.

Melbourne is bursting at the seams with new food and drink hangouts amongst old favourites.  Enjoy afternoon cocktails at Naked in the Sky; the rooftop bar is very popular due to its massive range of infused vodkas and fancy cocktails, trendy atmosphere and spectacular unspoilt views of the city.  Afterwards there are plenty of eateries along Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, for something not too fancy but still absolutely delicious, try the oriental delights at Rice Queen. However, Valentine’s Day is a day to spoil your loved one somewhere small, intimate, quiet, special and has exceptional food and wine.  You then can’t go past Zio’s Restaurant in East Melbourne, set in a small terraced building; Zio’s has a range of food to cater for all tastes in the perfect setting for a romantic dinner, if it’s cold there’s even a few wooden fireplaces.  There’s no better way to spoil the one you love than to get them Zio’s famous chocolate soufflé for dessert, it’s heavenly.

Valentine’s Day luckily falls on a Friday, so why not spread the romance over the rest of the weekend!  If the weather is nice, Melbourne is scattered with many parks and gardens to explore. The Cranbourne Botanic Gardens, around an hour out of the city is a huge park showcasing Australia’s large variety of beautiful native plants; the park is perfect as a lunch spot and a walk.  Your traditionally romantic English-style gardens such as the Fitzroy Gardens and the Royal Botanic Gardens provide stunning settings for picnics, there are plenty of paths to walk around and the lush green grass is perfect to lie on for a bit of relaxation.

Melbourne is only a few hours’ drive to the rolling green pastures of the Yarra Valley, an area synonymous with romance.  A day in the Yarra Valley region can easily be done by car and at your own pace.  To impress your loved one on Valentine’s Day you can’t go past tasting fine wines at the Dominique Portet cellar door set in a romantic French style building. The Yarra Valley Dairy cannot be missed for their award winning marinated fetta, perhaps take a cheese platter and sit out on their deck taking in the serene views of the valley.  A few hours can also easily be spent at Hedgend Maze, hidden down a dirt track; this delightful hedge maze is great fun. You are given a list of clues and you need to match the clues with various objects you find in the maze to be able to solve the mystery.  There’s also mini golf, Frisbee golf or relax in the beautifully manicured gardens with an ice cream.