Melbourne, Travel Digest, April 2012


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Melbourne, Travel Digest, April 2012

  1. 1. 21TRAVEL DIGEST, April 2012 Victoria'scrown jewel Melbourne is so hot right now. This creative, exciting, ever-changing city holds extraordinary surprises to be discovered in every basement, rooftop and laneway. SARAH WEEKS visits the “most liveable city in the world” to find out what all the fuss is about. Laneways are the new highways in Melbourne I nternational visitors are proving Victoria’s capital city is the “most liveable city in the world” by flocking to it. In fact, Victoria recorded its highest number and share of total international overnight visitors on record with a 9.1 per cent increase to 1.74 million for the year ending September 2011. New Zealand is the largest source of international visitors, with 259,000 overnight visitors to Victoria for this period. So what attracts so many of us Kiwis to this cosmopolitan city? Plenty it seems! WHAT TO SEE AND DO Melbourne Zoo provides a window to a range of extraordinary wildlife – everything from butterflies to elephants and only 4km from the city. 2012 is a very significant year as it’s their 150th birthday! A lot has changed
  2. 2. 22 23April 2012, TRAVEL DIGEST TRAVEL DIGEST, April 2012 MELBOURNE N atural Treasures Tours is a great small eco-tour business run by Melbournian Jeremy Redmond and offering a range of tours departing from Melbourne. Their popular two-day tour of the Great Ocean Road showcases the diversity of one of the best touring roads in the world. 600km of pristine coastline and natural bush forest can be enjoyed from the comfort of their minivan in small groups of two to 12. Unlike other large group tours that try to pack as much as they can into one day, there’s no need to rush the experience with National Treasures Tours and you can take in the amazing sights. Their tour guides providing a wealth of knowledge of the local area, people and its history while you enjoy the wildlife and unique stories and stay in fantastic ocean view villa accommodation. The tour starts in Melbourne with the first port of call being Geelong, the gateway to the Great Ocean Road where you can wander along its stunning waterfront showcasing public art. Next stop is Torquay, a major holiday resort town, home of Bells Beach and the birthplace of iconic brands Rip Curl and Quicksilver, where you can enjoy a scenic Victoria’s hidden treasures At the Mr Hive Kitchen & Bar [Crown Metropol] my personal favourite dish is the cannelloni shaped cigar of beetroot filled with goat’s cheese and walnuts The many lights of Victoria’s capital city The famous Twelve Apostles, along the Great Ocean Road morning tea. Along the way, you’ll be able to enjoy Australian native wildlife in their natural habitat, without having to pay a fee for a zoo. You’ll spot Eastern Grey Kangaroos wandering wild amongst a local golf course - a unique experience. The journey continues along the very scenic, cliff-hugging section of the Great Ocean Road. While winding your way along you can stop to view Memorial Arch and learn how this incredible road was built by soldiers between 1919 and 1932. With its Mediterranean feel and charming scenery, Lorne is the perfect place for a lunch break, after which you’ll visit more scenic spots including Kennett River where you can see koalas and many colourful native birds in the wild – you will even get bird seed to feed them, they actually land on your shoulder! The tall wet forests of the Great Otway National Park fringing the rugged coastline feature some of the world's tallest flowering plants, prehistoric trees and ferns and Yabbie chimneys. At the end of day one, relax in Apollo Bay at your private self-contained villa accommodation, Beacon Point Ocean View Villas. Set high on a hill overlooking the Southern Ocean, enjoy stunning ocean views. All of the apartments are contemporary with modern fittings, floor-to-ceiling windows and a balcony to enjoy the great outdoors as you unwind for a couple of hours. Dinner tonight is at Apollo Bay Hotel, popular with the locals and serves classic pub-style meals. Day two starts with a hearty breakfast at a great local cafe before the journey continues through the Otway ranges and onto the Shipwreck Coast. Witness the rugged splendour of the famous 12 Apostles, magnificent rock stacks that rise up majestically from the Southern Ocean. By visiting the stacks early in the morning, you avoid crowds and the morning light makes for great photos. Next stop is Loch Ard Gorge, the site of the most famous 19th century Australian shipwreck. Your tour guide will retell the dramatic story from the calm voyage, tragic wreck, courageous survivors and their ultimate fate. You will also be able to hold some original artefacts, photos and diary from the Loch Ard in your tour guide’s treasure chest. Stopping at Port Campbell for lunch, you can admire views of the beach with a selection of restaurants, cafés and bakeries. The great thing about this tour is seeing lesser-known areas of the Great Ocean Road such as London Bridge (a collapsed arch), Bay of Islands, Bay of Martyrs and Boat Bay. Standing on top of these cliffs, you’ll be amazed by these stunning rock stacks – it’s easy to see why this is one of Australia’s most popular driving tours. since they first opened and they are now one of the most established and best-known city zoos in the world. Later in the year, the streets of Melbourne will play host to the zoo’s famous character, baby Elephant Mali. The one-of-a-kind public art event, Mali in the City, will feature a herd of 50 artist-designed Malis that will appear across the city from August. There will also be Walk for Wildlife in October, a community event for all ages to help raise funds for Zoos Victoria’s conservation work. Children under 16 years of age years also receive free admission on weekends, public holidays and school holidays so it’s a great day out for the whole family. Tours on Trike run regular tours on their custom built Chopper 4 OZ trikes, which can carry up to three passengers. Their two-hour Bay-City-Bridge tour gives a great overview of Melbourne and it’s many bays along with an informative commentary from tour guide, Alan. There’s nothing quite like having the wind in your face and don’t worry about not being able to hear the commentary as Alan’s got that sorted with built-in microphones and headphones to communicate with each other. If you feel the need for speed, they’ll be opportunity for a thrill or two when he reaches top speed along the motorway. Overall, it’s a fun day out and you’ll learn a thing or two about this great city and it’s people - who will wave and smile at you on your trike. Melbourne is so easy to walk; yet it’s laneways and hidden places are hard to find if you’re not in the know. That’s where MELTours can help – their knowledgeable tour guides provide a wealth of information about this fascinating city. You’ll soon see why Melbourne is not just a place for sightseeing, but a cultural destination too. Their Laneways Tours of Melbourne will take you on a journey through the city as you discover hidden art bar setting. Some of the best jazz musicians have played here including Harry Connick, Jr and Prince so you know it’s got to be good! FOODIE HEAVEN Spice Temple brings a new level of Asian dining to Melbourne and is conveniently located at Crown Melbourne. If you’re looking for something more than the standard Chinese cuisine us Kiwis are used to, you’ve come to the right place. The culinary focus here is regional China with a distinct avoidance of standard Cantonese fare. There is chilli for the chilli lovers or subtle flavours for those desiring a more mild experience. The menu is colour-coded with extra spicy dishes in red such as Bang Bang Chicken – boy, is it banging! Elegant and sexy, the restaurant is suited exquisitely to the refined cocktail list with a Chinese zodiac theme and the friendly and helpful service is outstanding as they go the extra mile to make you feel welcome. St Kilda is a picturesque bay close to the city with safe sandy beaches, music venues, restaurants and a cafe lifestyle. After enjoying a stroll along the beach, you can savour a fine dining experience while watching the sunset at Donovans, conveniently located off the boardwalk. As soon as you enter the restaurant, a former bathing house built in 1920, you’ll instantly feel at home. Owners Gail and Kevin Donovan have done a wonderful job decorating the restaurant with seasonal themes. The menu matches the decor with their seafood selection a stand out hit. With a glass of wine in hand, taking in the view and enjoying some of Australian’s finest food – what more perfect end to a day out exploring Melbourne’s seaside village could you ask for! Donovans charming style and friendly hospitality will have you coming back for more. One of my favourite laneways in Melbourne is Hardware Lane, which packs a lot of punch for a small space. The Mill Restaurant is one of the best in this laneway with a contemporary a la carte menu using the freshest ingredients. If you’re looking for a touch of class, you’ve come to the right place. Enjoy fine dining with some of the tastiest dishes while you watch the world pass you by. After you’ve finished dinner, the good times and socialising can continue downstairs in the basement at Charlie’s Bar. This intimate setting is great place to meet with friends and enjoy your favourite cocktail or two. Grossi Florentino is Melbourne’s quintessential Italian restaurant with a colourful history that spans more than a century. Whether it be high end dining in the upstairs restaurant or the bustle of the stylish open-kitchen style Grill downstairs, the chefs bring together the finest ingredients in a luxurious setting. Run by Australian chef Guy Grossi, the business has been such a success that it has branched out into two other restaurants, Grossi Trattoria galleries, cafes and vintage shops down the colourful and bustling laneways. As well as historical facts, you will also hear interesting stories about locals and see some amazing street art. There will also be time to savour some divine macaroons, chocolate and you’ll even receive lunch at a local cafe – a great way to end the tour! Melbourne offers many music venues to get your toes tapping and hips swaying and jazz music is making its presence felt in the city’s laneways and alleyways. The Paris Cat Jazz Club in Goldie Place has established a reputation as one of Melbourne’s premier jazz clubs and is a great place to enjoy an after- dinner drink and good tunes. The club features live jazz five nights a week, Tuesday to Saturday. Bennetts Lane Jazz Club is one of the best jazz clubs I have ever been to and has been entertaining jazz lovers since 1992. This club offers smooth classic jazz in an intimate cosy
  3. 3. 24 April 2012, TRAVEL DIGEST MELBOURNE H VH V 585 La Trobe Street, Melbourne, Vic 3000 P: +61 3 9321 0900 F: +61 3 9321 0901 HarbourView Apartment Hotel HarbourView Apartment Hotel Situated within Melbourne CBD and walking distance to Etihad Stadium, Crown Entertainment Complex, MCEC and Southern Cross Railway Station, makes the hotel a perfect location for business or pleasure. HarbourView Apartment Hotel offers fully-furnished studio, one, two and three bedroom apartments to suit your needs. 394 Collins Street Melbourne VIC 3000 +61 3 9211 6600 Centrally located in the heart of the city, the heritage listed Sebel Melbourne is the ideal venue for your next conference or event. and The Merchant. The ambiance in this low-lighted elegant restaurant combined with the delicious authentic Italian flavours will leave you feeling like you’ve visited Italy in one night. WHERE TO STAY Crown Melbourne is now a well-established entertainment complex offering accommodation, shopping, restaurants, bars, a casino and much more all situated in Southbank alongside the Yarra River. It’s third hotel, Crown Metropol, opened in 2010 and features 658 rooms, a new day spa, Isika, offering stunning views of the city and new restaurant, Mr Hive Kitchen & Bar which opened in December last year. The hotel’s striking design includes a stunning, futuristic podium, a sky bar and terrace on level 28, the hotel’s highest floor, four meeting rooms and a retail precinct. The hotel is suitable for both international leisure guests and conference delegates due to its close proximity to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Their City Luxe King rooms provide a private sanctuary with spectacular views of Melbourne's city skyline and river. Each room has a spacious work desk, king size bed, separate bathroom and oversized shower. Guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner served daily at Mr Hive Kitchen & Bar – my personal favourite dish is the cannelloni shaped cigar of beetroot filled with goat’s cheese and walnuts and the chocolate bar, peanuts and caramel dessert is not to be missed, it’s divine! Four-star hotel, Mercure Melbourne Treasury Gardens has recently completed a $4 million refurbishment of its 164 rooms. The new design reflects the area’s local character in the room, with black and white photography of Melbourne architecture and landmarks featured on the bed head. The bright carpet design and cube lounge lifts the look and feel of the room and new lighting, digital LCD TVs and glass-fronted fridges add a modern touch. Each room offers stunning views overlooking the beautiful Treasury Gardens, where you can enjoy walks and a picnic lunch. The hotel is also conveniently located near Melbourne’s iconic sporting attractions like the MGC and Rod Laver Arena, perfect for sports lovers. The Grand Hyatt Melbourne hotel is conveniently located at the top end of Collins Street in the CBD within walking distance of shopping, theatre, restaurants, Princess Theatre, Federation Square and Southgate. With 548 rooms and suites and extensive meeting and event facilities, the hotel is suitable for both business and leisure guests. The recent transformation of the hotel has seen it completely revitalised with spectacular new upper and lower lobbies, the restaurant, Collins Kitchen, the bar, RU-CO, as well as the addition of an exclusive retail environment and innovative events venue, the residence. If you’re looking for that extra special touch during your stay, why not book into club accommodation, which gives guests access to the Grand Club lounge. You’ll be treated to an express check-in and checkout, deluxe breakfast, all day refreshments, evening drinks with canapés and private meeting areas. There’s nothing like relaxing when you’re on holiday and best to way to truly unwind is with a cleansing lomi lomi Hawaiian massage at Sanctuary Day Spa. You’ll definitely be in a state of peace and the spa is currently having its treatment rooms renovated to provide even more relaxation. l Sarah Weeks travelled to Mellbourne with assistance from Virgin Australia. ✈