With just one week left in Australia we set off to explore Melbourne and it’s surroundings. We stayed in a bit of a ratty Airbnb down in St Kilda, it was pretty much a student house just at a premium rate. The area itself was nice, despite warnings about it being a bit seedy, we found lots of nice restaurants and bars (handy cause the kitchen in the house was gross). There was also awesome pizza, and if you ever visit St Kilda then you should visit this place.
On our first day in Melbourne we set off on a bike tour with Freddy and a group of friendly ladies from up near Byron Bay and a couple of enthusiastic Dutch girls. The tour was a great introduction to the city and this was definitely the easier of the two bike rides we went on in Victoria.
Freddy and his bike:
Melbourne is probably the home of sport in Australia, but Sydney i’m sure would disagree. It is home to the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground), or as Freddy put it the most religious place in the whole of Melbourne. It is where they have the Grand Final for that odd sport that only Australians like, Aussie Rules Football. The neighbouring area houses the courts for the Australian open and I think there were some smaller stadiums for netball and possibly some other sports.
The tour took us up the war memorial near to the botanical gardens, this offers a great view of the city. Freddy was great at providing tips for good cheap eats in and around China town. The afternoon finished with checking out some of the graffiti that Melbourne is famous for and then heading back along the Yarra river to the shop, it was a great way to explore the city and get to see the main spots. There weren’t too many hills and we got to have cider at lunch, what more could I want.
We had a pretty lazy Sunday but did get ourselves down to St Kilda breakwaters at dusk to see the penguins. It was great to see them coming in and relaxing in their little rock nests. Worryingly there were signs up warning against touching penguins, i’m not sure what would cause someone to think that was ever a good idea. The volunteers who were wandering around made sure no penguin-touchers bothered the penguins that night and they helpfully shone a red light (which apparently the penguins don’t detect) on them so we could see them.
I think I would like to live in Melbourne, it has crazy weather that would allow me to complain everyday (a hobby/ skill i’ve perfected through growing up in the UK) and it is close to some awesome nature, which we were pretty excited to go and explore. I wish we had more time to check out the city, it seemed to have a lot of interesting neighbourhoods. Our last morning there was spent getting our chest x-rays for our New Zealand working holiday visas, and enduring the somewhat racist comments of the guy performing the x-rays (I think he is in the wrong job working at an immigration centre). Our first road trip destination was down to the Great Ocean Road. Here we got to complete our hunt of Australian wildlife by seeing not only wild koalas but also an Echidna.
We based ourselves in the cute seaside town of Lorne for 2 days and spent our afternoons driving around. The wild koalas live near the Kennett River services. If you get there around 10 or 11am there will be lots of tour groups hanging around and taking photos, we stopped again on our way back and had 2 koalas pretty much to ourselves. Koalas look super cute but if you give this article a read you’ll read some slightly disturbing things about them!
Spot the koala:
We obviously visited the famous 12 apostles, they didn’t disappoint but there was a seriously large amount of flies hanging around that day that meant we didn’t want to stay for any length of time. We made it down to Port Campbell but I was feeling pretty bad from an ear infection so that kind of ended our exploring.
After the Great Ocean Road we set off back into the heart of Victoria, we went to the Gourmet region. I have an adverse reaction when anyone uses this word due to an argument in a bar when I visited New Zealand (potatoes were described on menu as gourmet – I enquired how they were cooked and was told gourmet – I said that wasn’t a cooking method – they didn’t like me). I have however decided to forgive the Australian Gourmet Region as it is full of delicious wineries, including Brown Brother’s who produce our favourite wine. Being a fancy region and lacking any major tourist hot spots there is not much cheap accommodation available. We lucked out with our Airbnb hosts, they provided us with bikes for our wine tasting day (WTD) and were generally the friendliest people we have met in a long time.
On WTD we set off early, we might have slightly underestimated the distance between Wangaratta and Milawa (where Brown Brother’s lives) and so we were half dead before we even got there. We were booked in for a wine blending experience at 3pm so had some time to kill. We found the perfect place to do that, the Sam Miranda cellar door! This place had amazing prosecco and some fancy small dishes for our lunch. It also had Charlie the dog who was particularly fond of tummy rubs.
Sam Miranda lunch:
Despite being tempted to stay and spend our whole afternoon there we hopped back onto our bikes and made our way slightly more merrily up the hill to Milawa. Those 6km went past a lot faster than they would on our return journey.
We love science and wine:
The wine blending experience was great fun, we got to mix up a few different batches of wines and taste them. We didn’t have much of a clue but Ernie our guide was good fun and forgave our wine ignorance. After blending up some awesome creations we went and did a bit of wine tasting before facing the inevitably painful ride home. With Pinion swigging out of the bottle of Chenin Blanc we eventually arrived back home where we could enjoy one of creations and pack our stuff before heading to New Zealand the next day.