On May 6 2016 we packed our bags and went on an inspiring 8 week journey around Australia to discover the majestic beauty, hidden spots, culinary gems and wildlife that the continent has to offer. This is our journey in which we covered 5000km by road and some 3000km via air whilst exploring all the hidden nooks and crannies in between. Australia is such a huge country with so much to see and do that we have even had to divide this blog into our experience in each Region. This week we focus on the charming state of Victoria and our journey through Melbourne, Yarra Valley, and Phillip Island.
May 7 2016 Melbourne Arrival
Being at the airport at 4am to catch a 6am flight always brings about the need for copius amounts of coffee which is readily available with fantastic service to boot at the Christchurch International Koru Lounge of which we are priveleged enough to be a part of. A hop skip and a jump across the Tasman Sea and we are in Melbourne- The Gateway to Victoria and Australia’s second largest city. The best way to get on your feet after a nice lunch at Docklands is to explore the city by foot. Victoria (my now fiancee and I) , spent the day discovering the ins and ourts of this fantastic city. Starting at Federation Square it was only appropriate that we catch a tram downtown and head to Hosier Lane to check out some of the city’s graffiti which has put Melbourne on the map of the world arts scene. Next stop is of course the best place to catch a birds eye viw of the city ‘Eureka Tower’. At 285 metres above ground, the views up here are incredible and if you have the courage (which I had to summon), Stepping out on ‘The Edge’ made the experience all that more worthwhile. This is actually the World’s only moving glass structure. After the thrill of standing on a glass box 285m above the city, it was time to venture to Southbank and enjoy dinner. Situated along the Yarra River, there are an incredible variety of eateries to choose from. We settle on ‘The Crown’ and San Antone by Bludo’s BBQ and their signature spare ribs. This was certainly enough to spur a walk along the river and enjoy the evening atmosphere and back to our accommodation for the night , the majestic Pullman on the Park Hotel.
A WALK DOWN HOSIER LANE
TORI MAKING SOME NEW FRIENDS IN THE CITY
ALWAYS GREAT SHOPPING IN BOURKE STREET
MELBOURNE STAR OBSERVATION WHEEL
May 8 2016 Melbourne
After yesterday’s fantastic amble around the city, today was all about checking out the surrounds, green spaces and wildlife on Melbourn’s oustkirts. This morning it was only appropriate to make a visit to Melbourne Zoo to check out the fantastic variety of Australian wildlife. The absolute highlight was being able to go behind the scenes and see the Elephant enclosure up close and the incredible work that the staff put into caring for these majestic creatures. Later on this afternoon, we were lucky enough to discover one of the highlights of the city being the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. A real standout point here was the collection of Australian native plants and the Melbourne Observatory. Always up for a coffee at any point of the day, the café on site really puts together a great cappuccino !! After a fair amount of time on foot, we decided to take advantage of the city’s fantastic tram network. Tonight we decided to try our luck and dine on the surrounds of the city in the suburb of Richmond. We chose the Richmond Oyster Bar with its delectable range of seafood and of course a Pinot Noir or two to wash it all down. There would be plenty of that in store tomorrow.
Checking out the flowers in bloom on the way to the Botanic Gardens
Good morning Melbourne ! Great view from Pullman on the Park this morning! Today's mission. Phillip Island. Koalas,penguins and other furry such things !
Our incredible view from Pullman on the Park
May 9 2016 Melbourne- Yarra Valley
Today was all about the incredible culinary wonders of the Victoria region and we were really looking forward to it. Leaving the city, we headed out into the Yarra Valley to spend the next couple of days exploring the ins and outs of this area known especially for its signature Pinot Noir and Shiraz. Our first stop however broke the mould so to speak, as we decided to hit up Coldstream Brewery and try out their signature tasting platter and one of the area’s refreshing local beers. This pitstop is well worth it on the way from the city to the Vineyards and we left more than satisfied after a great range of local cold cuts, breads and cheeses. Next however it really was all about the wine and we could write all day about our stops but the two that stood out most for us were Yillenna Park, a fantastic family run outfit and yering Station Winery. Tonight we were lucky enough to stay in a hotel with the most incredible views of the valley and surrounds- Balwgownie Estate. I can’t say enough incredible things about this hotel suffice to say that we have already flown from New Zealand just to stay here again. With its cellar door and beauty spa, one could easily base themselves here for a week. Tonight we continued on our food journey and dined on site at the Balgownie Estate Restaurant and savoured every moment of the experience.
Chris at yering Station Winery
Well worth a stop at Coldstream Brewery
Great Family run establishment greeted us at yillena Park
Tasting one of the day’s many wines
The fantastic view from our room at balgownie Estate:
May 10 2016 Yarra Valley –Phillip Island
After an incredible breakfast on site it was once again time to hit the Road. Our first stop of the day (as if we hadn’t eaten enough yesterday J), was the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie for a sugar fix. You can actually watch them onsite create a sugary work of art in front of your very eyes and then sample the goods ! From here it was time to see some Kangaroos , wallabies and koalas among other animalls at Healesville Sanctuary. For a really authentic Australian Wildlife experience, you really can’t go past this place! For another unique experience, from here we drove through to meet our steam train for the day- Puffing Billy railway. Travelling on a locomotive through the Wright Forest was an experience of a lifetime and Tori was even invited to to have a go at driving!!! After yesterday’s food fiesta it was time for some exercise and fresh air however, so it was only appropriate to make our way through the Dandenong’s and onto the Kododa 1000 Steps track for both a challenge and stunning nature walk. After a big day of sightseeing it was time for our destination for the next 2 x nights of Cowes Situated on Phillip Island. Tonight was one of the highlights of the entire trip with a visit to the Penguin march at Dusk. We were priveleged enough to be in the VIP area for undergound viewing and marvelled as literally hundereds of blue penguins made their way from the beach inland. This is an absolutely not to be missed experience.
We paid a visit to the stunning Chateau yering hotel
I got my chance to cuddle the wildlife at Helesville sanctaury
Up close and personal with the Tasmanian Devil
Tori Boarding the mighty Puffing Billy
It was time for some fresh air at the Kokoda 1000 steps memorail track
The nobbies Phillip Island
The Beautiful Grounds of Isla House on Phillip Island
May 11 2016 Phillip Island- Melbourne
We woke up this morning satisfied with our up close and personal penguin encounter but decided that it was time to see some cuddly Koalas, so cuddly Koalas we saw. Several of them at the Phillip Island Koala Sanctuary. Next we were back into Melbourne City to check out one of the city’s most iconic venues- The Melbourne Cricket Ground simply known as the MCG to the locals. We were taken on a behind the scenes tour of the ground and even into the changing sheds where the AFL teams receive their pep talks before the games. This is actually rated one of Melbourne’s top rated attractions and for good reason. Our guide, Bryan was a member of the club and had been for years and spoke passionately of sporting events spanning over the last few decades that are forever membered at the MCG. Tonight was another chance to experience something incredibly unqiue and something that Tori and I had never tried before- Glamping!!! St Jeromes Glamping experience was something that we still rate up there as a bucket list item for us and we were humbled by the incredible service and attention to detail that the staff made to make our experience uniquely Melbourne!! Stay tuned for the next edition where we take you through our adventures into the wild western town of Ballarat and the Incredible nature of the Grampians Mountains.
Chris pretending to commentate at the MCG
What a fantastic guide Bryan is
Glamping at St Jeromes Hotel
More Glamping shots- Can’t rave about it enough