Posted in Holiday

Melbourne (April – May 2016)

We set for Melbourne while this tropical island continues to melt everything except my fats.

It was a myki-less trip, heil Free Tram Zone!

 

Day 1 – Arrival

We flew the first flight out via Singapore Airline, but due to a 2 hours delay at Changi Airport, we only managed to reach Melbourne at 6 in the evening. Silver top taxi brought us to the apartment with a whopping A$73 for 4 pax. Note, go for uber if you want to save on transport.

We settled down for ACD Apartments @ Docklands as we didn’t really have much choices, since we have requirement. No regret for the price paid, awesome marina view from the balcony, spacious hall and fully equipped kitchen. Note, Melbournians knock off sharply at strangely early hours, do keep the apartment staff informed of your arrival time so that they can make necessary arrangement.

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Day 2 – Chinatown (Anzac Day)

We found this Melbourne Visitor Shuttle online prior to our trip. With just A$10, we get a 2-days hop-on-hop-off pass that brings us to various attractions. But to our disappointment, the shuttle is not in service on Anzac Day.

 

Change of plan! We went to Melbourne Chinatown instead. Visited the Chinese Museum Melbourne to learn about Chinese immigration to Australia. The 5-storey historical building showcased the heritage and culture of Australia’s Chinese community. Note: If you love History, do pop by this museum for a time-travel to some 200 years ago.

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Nothing beats Chinese dim sum in Hong Kong, we had out lunch in one of the Dim Sum restaurant in Chinatown, and realised we were too adventurous; the meal was a disaster. The restaurant shall remains anonymous.

Direction: Tram 86 (boarding and alighting stop within Free Tram Zone, no myki required)

 

Met up with a friend in Melbourne for Italian cuisine at Gradi @ Crown. Quality food, perfect ambiance, friendly crews and of course great catch-up with the lady.

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Direction: Walking distance (15min) from Southern Cross Station.

 

Day 3 – Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne Museum, Carlton Gardens, Sea Life Melbourne

Away from skyscrapers, off we went to the Carlton Gardens. The Royal Exhibition Building shared the same plot of land with the gardens. How can I miss an Autumn shot of the gardens. Such a rare sight for the tropical islander!

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Direction: Tram 86, alight at Nicholson Street before it goes out of the Free Tram Zone

 

Melbourne Museum is right beside Royal Exhibition Building. Similar to Singapore’s National Museum, there’s various free exhibitions Melbourne Museum. Look out for Australia-made first computer (product of 1947), that weighted 2,500kg.

 

If you think Singapore’s S.E.A. Aquarium entrance is expensive, be prepared to pay for a minimal additional 40% of that fee for Sea Life Melbourne (aquarium). There is a diverse amount of sea creatures (including penguins) and fun facts, so do set aside a few hours here. The exhibit talks are good catch, where else in Singapore you get to listen to free and non-robotic talks?

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Direction: Tram 86 towards Waterfront City. Alight at William Street/Bourke Street

 

Day 4 – Flinders Street Station

G’Day! We didn’t have anyone to meet at the clock tower, but it’s still worth a visit to the 100 over years old building. Flinders Street Station, being Australia’s oldest train station, and with its distinctive yellow facade and green copper dome, is commonly known as meeting point for the Melbournians.  Cross the road to the other side of the station, and we entered a brand new world, I picked up some on-the-go rice paper wraps and continued to venture into the art street.

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Direction: Tram 70 from Central Pier towards Wattle Park. Alight at Elizabeth Street/Flinders Street

A blue bus caught our attention along the way, the Mobile Shower Bus. We later on found out that it’s actually a bus that provides shower facilities for who are experiencing homelessness. With the on-board 2000L clean water, the bus can provide showers for approximately 40 people. Visit OneVoice if you would like to find out more information about this amazing mission.

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Day 5 – Puffing Billy Road Trip (Puffing Billy Steam train, Dandenong Ranges National Park), Southgate, Ludlow Bar & Dining Southbank Melbourne, Eureka Skydeck and GPO H&M

Enjoy Melbourne the tourist-way! We booked a Half Day Tour to Puffing Billy with AAT Kings. As what the itinerary suggested, we are going to “enjoy some good old fashioned fun amidst some of the most beautiful rainforest in Victoria”.

 

The tour started off with a simple stop-over at Dandenong Ranges National Park for some Devonshire Tea and buns. Breathe in the free clean air! What excite me next was the Cockatoo feeding session, such adorable birdies. Puffing Billy steam train operates on a narrow gauge heritage railway in the beautiful Blue Dandenong Ranges. It was also one of four experimental lines used to develop rural areas in the 1900s. These days, “Puffing Billy” enjoys a more leisurely life taking visitors for a scenic ride through the rainforest. The train is non-enclosed, so feel the wind! Note: If you are boarding the steam train at Belgrave station, do keep in mind to sit on the right side (or the platform side) of the train for scenic view. The other side of the train shows you little houses and mountain sides.  Avoid sitting too front too, unless you like “smoke gets in your eyes”.

 

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Devonshire Tea session at Dandenong Ranges National Park
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Cockatoo feeding session
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Puffing Billy

The tour couch brought us back to Federation Square, which is just 10minutes walk to Southgate, alternatively you may take Tram 35 (City CircleTram). We bought a lottery ticket at a convenient store, the prize money was 21 million for that week. For very obvious reason why I am sitting here typing away and not extending my holiday, we didn’t win any prizes. But for the fun of it, why not try your luck too if you happened to be nearby.

 

Late lunch was by the Yarra River at Ludlow Bar & Dining Southbank Melbourne, right beside Southgate. Street Artists singing, wind blowing, slow life, perfect lunch. They served quality and QUANTITY fish & chips, so if you’re a small eater, consider sharing your food, you won’t want the fish who sacrifice for you and end up in the bin.

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We rushed to Eureka Skydeck before the sun goes down, to catch the day time city view. The lift rose up to Level 88 within 30 seconds. Being at this level reminds me of the song “Top of the World”. To bring our excitement to a greater height, we concurred The Edge. The Edge extends from Eureka Tower’s 88th floor and suspends you nearly 300 meters over Melbourne in a glass cube (glass walls, glass ceiling and glass floor). Not very pleased with the experience, glass floor wasn’t clear enough, and no photography allowed (professional shot available for purchase though).

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Direction: Eureka Skydeck is just a short walk away, behind Southgate.

 

Very eventful day, let’s do what Singaporeans do best before the day ends, shopping time! Previously the General Post Office, the heritage listed building now plays home to H&M. A particular para in the GPO website caught our attention, “Please note we are not a post office and do not have a postal service available. For such services you will need to contact Australia Post on 13 13 18.” I could imagine myself rolling on the floor laughing.

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Direction: Cross over to Flinders Street Sation via underpass, take Tram 57 and alight 2 stops later at Bourke Street Mall/Elizabeth Street.

 

Day 6 – Phillip Island Road Trip (Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park, Phillip Island Vineyard & Winery, The Nobbies and Penguin Parade), Chinatown (Petaling Street Chinatown)

How could we, the human from the summer land miss the chance of getting up close with little penguins? We had seen the Emperor Penguins at the Sea Life Melbourne earlier on, but that was through the glass panel in a controlled environment.

 

We booked our road trip to Phillip Island via Go West Tours. Our Guide plus Driver plus DJ, Phil picked us up at Atlantis Hotel (2 tram stops away from where we stay). They have a list pick up points, if you wish to enjoy maximum convenience; do plan your accommodation at their listed hotels. But since trams are rarely as packed as our public transport and since we were within the Free Tram Zone, that 2 tram stops weren’t our concern at all.

 

First stop, Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park. Weather wasn’t on our side, although we managed to keep ourselves dry with ponchos, we didn’t manage to take good photo. Kangaroos hopping, ducks wobbling, and some birds trying to seek attention. Because of the wet weather, wombats and koala bears went into hiding. Oh well, there’s always a next trip there, yes? Lunch was on the go, pre-ordered with our guide.

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I have never seen so many kangaroos before!

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We had wines and cheeses tasting at the Phillip Island Vineyard & Winery. Not a fan for wines, but the blue cheese tasted good! Scenery was awesome, and oh the air so green!

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We stopped by The Nobbies before the sun sets, to snap a few photo.

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We reached Summerland Beach about an hour before sunset, and patiently waited for the little fellow to return ashore after a day of fishing out in the sea. The tiered and 180 degree elevated seats provided really good view for everyone. These little penguins come home in all direction every evening, so there’s really no best seat to recommend. Seats are quite narrow, so do apologise if you kicked some butts, oopsy!

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No photography allowed after sun sets (because little penguins will be home anytime), flashlight blinds the penguins, the rangers are on standby, no fooling around. We visitors at the parade, must respect the penguins (their home).

 

I remembered when the first little penguin that I spotted getting ashore, magnificent is an understatement.

 

“Welcome home, little babies, how’s fishing today?” One by one, they waddled across the beach to their sand dune burrows. All ticket holders get to “waddle” with them from an elevated timber walkway, watch them return to their burrows, and wish them good night before we head home.

Journey out of Phillip Island was dark, and everyone onboard were quiet, I guessed we each have a piece of Phillip Island in our hearts. Along with the soothing songs played by our Multi-tasking Guide Phil, and the occasional car lights on the opposite side, I was mesmerised. No more drizzling by the time we returned to Melbourne City, having a fantastic guide add point to our magical day with the little penguins. Phil from Go West Tours, you go man!

 

Time to fill our tummies! We had our din at Petaling Street China Town, at China Town. Food was authentic, serving was humongous. And that’s my Indian Mee Goreng.

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Day 7 – Queen Victoria Market, Harbour Town Melbourne

Chillax day! We went local today, visited the Queen Victoria Market, largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere. Fresh fruits and vegetables, imported gourmet food, grab-and-go snacks, meats, cheeses, sports attire, leather products, souvenirs, toys, fashion accessories, you name it, they have it. Pets stuff is limited though.13062087_10154526120717289_3253489885458247976_n

Lunch at the Vic Market was splendid, pies and chips. I tried out this Bundaberg burgundee creaming soda. I personally feel one should like it, if one has a liking of cough syrup taste.

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Direction: Take City Circle Tram, get off at the corner of La Trobe and change to Tram 30, stop at Elizabeth Street. Note: Check out the direction of the City Circle Tram, it goes 1 direction and it takes 90 minutes to complete the route. Well even if you took the wrong direction, you might as well continue the ride and enjoy the scenery, it’s free anyway.

One of the many perks of staying at Docklands, Harbour Town is very near us! So we went back to our fort, rest our feet before we continue our Round 2 at Harbour Town.

Harbour Town is just a stone throw away, not literally, but we can easily walk over from where we stay. But since the City Circle Tram is right at our doorsteps, who doesn’t like it when convenience and free stuff combined?

Harbur Town

Harbour Town is an outlet mall, consisting of local and foreign brands, selling at marked down prices! Oh Mother Nature, such a big land here, the mall is just 2 storeys high!

Direction: Take City Circle Tram, it stops outside the mall

Side note: Melbourne Star is located at the end of Harbour Town. Melbourne Star is a giant observation wheel, with its glass cabins fully enclosed and air-conditioned. There are four giant observation wheels in the world at this moment, aside from our Singapore Flyer, Melbourne Star is another one. We didn’t go for this though, I guessed we are pretty contented with Singapore Flyer.

 

Day 8 – Great Ocean Road (Great Ocean Road Memorial ArchLorne Beach, Kafe Koala Kennett River, Apollo Bay, Maits Rest Rainforest, Gibson Steps, Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge and KFC)

One last road trip for this holiday, folks. I would say this is my best road trip ever, it was enriching, breath-taking and definitely one-of-a-kind for the tropical me.

We booked this road trip via Go West Tours, just like the Phillip Island one. We were so lucky to have Phil as our guide and driver again! Woot! So as per the previous trip, we were picked up at Atlantis Hotel (2 tram stops away from where we stay).

We stopped by a beach for breakfast break, Phil got us some cakes and hot tea. New experience unlocked, I had my hot tea from plastic mug!

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A mandatory shot of the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch.

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Lorne Beach, along the Otway National Park. I read that there are plenty of amazing natural wonders that we can explore, but I guess that’s how much we can pack into a day trip itinerary, ie snap and go.

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Lunch was at Kafe Koala along Kennett River, I’m just going to give my thumbs up for any warm food in this chilly wet weather. There was this cool character that worth mentioning though, that’s Gary the friendly fur mate at the café! Keep warmth, little one!

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Next up, Apollo Bay. Yeah yeah, more sea view, more rain. We walked down a rainforest (Mait’s Rest Rainforest Walk) for a mini trail. It was officially opened in 1993, named after the district’s first forestry mayor Maitland Bryan.

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Any steps lovers here? Be sure to walk down the Gibsons Steps, 86 steps and ramped walkway that leads to the stunning beach.

Situated in the Port Campbell National Park, the twelve Apostles (massive limestone stacks) stand around 70m in height. As of the this blog posting page, there are 8 stacks remaining, while 5 have fallen. If you are interested, you can google “12 Apostles before erosion”.

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Last stop before we head back to Melbourne city -Loch Ard Gorge. There is a lovely story of this gorge, go read up, I’m not telling you. All I’m saying is, the gorge is named after the ship Loch Ard.

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As we set for the return trip to city, the sun sets. I know Great Ocean Road sits somewhere in my heart, for many many years ahead. Nature, thank you for the experience.

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Dinner on the go again! We packed KFC along the way back. I know, I know, we have KFC here too, nothing great you might think. But look, they have a massive range of wraps and burgers! Calories are stated as well, those on board the healthy eating bandwagon, look out!

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Day 9 – Spencer Outlet Centre, Departure

All packed and ready for last minute shopping at Spencer Outlet Centre, which is right beside Southern Cross Station. Note: You can do airport transfer via coach at Southern Cross Station too.

We had a hard time trying to rearrange out baggage back at the apartment’s reception office after our Spencer buys. Ladies, it’s really worth going there (if you are not into branded stuff), so do plan for half a day there aside from your last day.

ACD Apartments not only allowed baggage deposit, they even help to arrange for airport transfers. Taking into account of all our baggage, A$70 for 6 pax seems quite worth it.

Melbourne, Thank you for being such a great host, we will be back.

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