Kings Park

City Profile : Perth

We rolled into Perth stinky and weary after travelling up through Margaret River, Bunbury and Mandurah.  Our first stop was Dave’s cousin’s place located in the beautiful suburb of Palmyra.  This spot gave us the perfect opportunity to experience and explore Fremantle and the Sunset Coast.  After two weeks, we moved over to historic Guildford to spend some time with one of Dave’s old Melbourne mates, and this location put us a short drive away from Armadale, the Perth Hills and the Swan Valley.

 

The view of Perth from Kings Park

 

During our stay, we found it easy to navigate around town – the traffic wasn’t dense and the roads were well labelled and the Swan River is a great landmark to follow. The one thing we had to be wary about while driving around Perth were the other drivers – everybody seemed a bit lost and unsure about which street to turn down!

 

Fast Facts

  • Also known as the City of Lights, Perth is the capital city of Western Australia and the fourth most populous city in Australia.  It is also the most isolated capital city in the world!
  • It is the sunniest capital city in the world with an average of 8 hours of sunshine every day of the year and the ‘Fremantle Doctor’ is the most consistent wind in the world that blows in from the west between midday and 3pm almost every day of the year.
  • There are about 1.74 million people living in the Perth metropolitan area and around 1500 people move to Perth every week
  • Perth came 9th in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s August 2012 list of the world’s most liveable cities.

 

 

History

The area was first inhabited by the Noongar people for over 40,000 years and the first documented European sighting was made by Dutch Captain Willem de Vlamingh and his crew in December 1696.  While they didn’t stay long, de Vlamingh named the river after the black swans that swam in it.

 

Over 100 years later, Captain James Stirling established the Swan River Colony and once a camp was settled, convicts were sent over as cheap labour to help with the construction of infrastructure. In 1856, Queen Victoria declared Perth a city and its perpetual growth hasn’t stopped since.

 

 

Weather

We were in Perth for about 6 weeks and in that whole time, it only rained once, and it was a magnificent thunder storm.  The Mediterranean climate sat between 25 and 35 degrees with the occasional cloudy sky, but it was always safe to assume that the day was going to be bright and sunny.  It probably explains why Perth residents love outdoor activities.

 

Points of Interest

Kings Park

Over 300 native plants and 80 bird species within 4.06 square kilometres, Kings Park is the largest inner-city park in the world and is visited by 6 million people each year.  There are heaps of walking paths to explore the flora, or you can sit by the State War Memorial and soak in the spectacular view of the city and river below.

 

 

After a relaxing picnic, we followed the Lotterywest Federation Walkway over an elevated bridge that overlooked the old Swan Brewery before climbing the DNA Tower.  Afterwards, we went over to the Synergy Parkland for a coffee and to watch the kids play on the playground located on an island in the middle of the pond.

 

The botanic gardens are only a small portion of the park, with the majority being untouched bushland. It is a popular venue for art installations and live concerts, and we while we were there, they were setting up and doing sound checks for the Sarah Blasko concert with WASO by the Pioneer Women’s Memorial that night.

 

 

 

The Swan River

The city was built around this beautiful river and many activities are enjoyed in it, such as sailing, swimming and kayaking.  We hung about at Point Walter, a great family location with plenty of lawn for picnics under the Norfolk Pines.  The calm waters were perfect for snorkelling and Juz found heaps of hermit crabs as she swam between the black swans.

 

 

 

Perth Mint

Western Australia’s Heart of Gold, the Perth Mint is Australia’s oldest operating mint.

 

It all started in 1892 when two Victorians, Ford and Baily, found a 16kg nugget near Coolgardie.  Once the Gold Rush began, the population of the area doubled within a year, and doubled again the next year.  So much gold was discovered that they needed somewhere to process it, so construction of the Perth Mint began, using limestone from Cottesloe and Rottnest Island.  It was in possession of the British Empire until 1970 when it was handed over to the Government of Western Australia.

 

 

We did the Guided Tour so that we could see the Guinness World Book of Records’ largest coin made of 1 tonne of gold and the world’s largest gold bar exhibition, as well as Australia’s biggest nugget collection (LOL!).  The tour starts at the ‘Prospectors Campsite’, which is a re-creation of a campsite from the 1890s when thousands of people with gold fever walked the 600km from Perth to Coolgardie to find their fortune.

 

After a leisurely stroll through the exhibition, we found a seat in the original melting house and watched the traditional Gold Pour demonstration in the original melting house.  The gold pourers have to pile on the protective gear – layers of wool, aluminium and Kevlar with an apron and shoulder length gloves – as you do when you’re dealing with glowing hot molten gold that’s 1300 degrees Celsius!  We were fascinated to find out that the 6kg gold bar he was playing with was worth $300,000 and that same piece of gold has been melted and poured seven times a day for over the last 20 years!  Since the melting house began operation in 1899, gold dust has accumulated in the brick walls and ceilings over the years.

 

 

Western Australian Museum

Museums are one of the best places to go to when you’re in a capital city.  Entry to the ongoing exhibitions is usually free and is a great way to learn about natural and social history, geology, the story of the local aboriginals, meteorites, megafauna, dinosaurs, native plants and animals.

 

 

The museum building is heritage listed and actually used to be the old Perth Gaol until the museums establishment in 1891.

 

The Bell Tower

A design that blends the old with the new, the Bell Tower was a Millennium Project built to house the Swan Bells.  Twelve of the 18 bells come from St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in London and date back to the 14th century.  They were given to the State of Western Australia during the 1988 bicentenary celebrations, and since then, another six bells have been added to the collection, coming from London, Westminster and one commissioned by the WA government.  The tower is 82.5 metres high and since it’s opening in December 2000, over 1 million people have visited.

 

 

Engraved padlocks are attached to the chain barriers around the Bell Tower.  They’re known as Love Locks that are engraved with names, fixed to public structures and represent eternal love.  This custom started near the Great Wall of China and has spread throughout the world.

 

Northbridge

Appropriately located just north of the city, Northbridge is a hip and vibrant part of Perth with heaps of bars, clubs, and pubs – perfect for a pub crawl!  There are also lots of cafes and specialty shops, as well as a Vietnamese strip with a few restaurants.  Nearby are the WA School of Art, Design and Media, the State Library of Western Australia and the Museum.

 

 

We were lucky enough to be invited to a night out in Northbridge and went to the Brisbane Hotel on Beaufort Street.  The venue was pretty wanky and the drink prices were out of control but the atmosphere was electric so we had a great time anyway.

 

Out with mates in Northbridge

 

We also checked out Brass Monkey Hotel, one of the iconic pubs in Northbridge, before having a stroll around the block to check out the nightlife on James Street.

 

Leederville

With so many eateries and cafes packed into such a small area, the centre of Leederville bustles with energy, especially during lunchtime and when the sun goes down.

 

 

Juz went there for a quick work lunch and thought it was a really funky little space.  Zambrero was the food of choice – a Subway-style outlet that dishes out Mexican food with heaps of flavour.  As you move along the assembly line, you pick your ‘style’ which is either a burrito, taco, quesadilla or in Juz’s case – a bowl.  Then you pick you filling of slow cooked, tender meat, salsa and sauce and before you know it, you’re eating a tasty meal that is relatively fresh and healthy.

 

 

Afterwards, we went to a popular coffee shop called Greens & Co.  Bright, colourful and breezy, this cute little café is filled with colourful couches, laminated paper globes and artsy types who probably spend most of their time here reading the paper and playing board games.  There is a cabinet filled with enormous cakes and they know how to pump out the coffee, even though they’re a little confused about what a long macchiato is…

 

Information & Accommodation

Western Australian Visitor Centre – 55 William Street – 9483 1111

Fremantle Visitor Centre – Fremantle Town Hall, William Street – 08 431 7878

 

Perth City YHA300 Wellington Street, 08 9287 3333.  Check out our post on the Perth City YHA.

 

Getting Around

Transperth provides public transport to the Perth metropolitan area and includes buses, trains and ferries.  As with most public transport systems, you are going to need a ticket to ride, and a valid Transperth ticket can be used on all modes of transport.

 

The public transport is divided into 9 zones and your fare is calculated by how many zones you travel through. Also, depending on how many zones you travel through, your single ticket can be valid for two or three hours.  2-Section Tickets are also available for short trips of up to 3.2km but you can’t transfer between services with these tickets.

 

 

There are two types of ticketing systems in Perth:

  • SmartRider is the electronic ticketing system.  The SmartRider cards can be purchased for $10 from any Transperth InfoCentre or at various newsagencies around the city.  Once you have the card, you need to add a minimum of $10 before you can use it to travel.
  • Cash Tickets can be purchased from the driver of buses and ferries or at Ticket Vending Machines at train stations.  A DayRider ticket costs $11.

 

There is also a Free Transit Zone for CAT buses and a SmartRider Free Transit Zone for trains within the Perth city boundaries. We found the CAT busses to be extra useful for travelling into the city from the outskirts of town.

 

For more information, visit the Transperth website.

 

 

Fremantle street art

City Profile : Fremantle

We hit Fremantle before checking out the Perth CBD for a few reasons.  A – we were staying only 6km away, B – we weren’t ready to brave the innards of the city just yet, and C – we heard there were great places for coffee!

 

 

Sure, Fremantle is home to a plethora of cafés and the Cappuccino Strip, but it also has microbreweries, pubs and restaurants, heaps of shopping and Western Australia’s largest collection of heritage listed buildings.  There is even a bus dressed up like a tram offering ‘tram’ tours (LOL), which is the only reminder of when Fremantle had trams between 1905 and the 1952.

 

Affectionately called ‘Freo’, it was named after Charles Fremantle, a British naval officer who took formal possession of the mouth of the Swan River in the name of His Majesty King George in 1829.  Over 180 years later, the area is now a city with a vibrant, youthful culture with a love of beer, live music and festivals.

 

Araluen Chilli Festival

As soon as Juz heard about the Chilli Festival coming to Fremantle, she was keen on finding her own space coyote.  There was live music and pie making competitions, spicy jams, sauces, preserves, oils, beer and tonnes of food stalls serving up jumbos, paellas, seafood jambalayas and chilli con carne.  You could even get chilli ice cream!  Juz went with a bowl of creole chicken and chilli beef stew before wandering around the festival with swollen lips and a fire burning deep down inside.

 

 

Entry to the festival was $15 for adults and you got a few vouchers on entry, like a free tasting paddle at the Monk Brewery – SCORE!

 

 

PLACES OF INTEREST

Fremantle Markets

Established in 1897, the Fremantle Market Hall is a busy and colourful place to stroll around on a Saturday morning.  There are heaps of stalls displaying all sorts of fantastic stuff like fresh, local produce, nuts, cheese, knick knacks, clothes, free trade stuff, coffee, lollies and souvenirs.  Street performers and buskers are usually out and about on the weekend, and this is where the great John Butler started out before forming his trio in 1998.

 

The E-Sheds down near the harbour had a completely different atmosphere; sterile, quiet, almost forgotten.  We checked out the CY O’Connor statue and purchased a new picnic bag and cutlery case for $4 but that’s about it.

 

 

Round House

This is the oldest permanent building in Western Australia.  It was opened in 1831 and acted as the first prison for colonial and aboriginal prisoners until 1886 when the Convict Establishment (Fremantle Prison) started accept inhabitants other than convicts.  The Round House was then used as a police lock up until about 1900.  Since then, it has been the home for the chief constable and his family, as well as a port storeroom.

 

Every day at 1pm, they shoot a canon, which is also known as the Time Ball, and mariners, locals and tourists can set their watch to the daily blast.

 

Shipwreck Museum

This is a fantastic place to learn about all the shipwrecks that happened along the western coast of Australia and is an archaeological goldmine.  The galleries exhibit original timbers from the infamous Batavia, a 17th century Dutch ship which sank in 1629. Also on show are various kinds of booty that were left behind, including silver coins, pieces of furniture, crockery, glassware and even intact food jars and bottles with the original foodstuffs inside!

 

The Shipwreck Galleries are open daily from 9:30am and entry is by gold coin donation.  There is a great gift shop at the entrance where you can purchase replicas of coins found at the wreck sites.

 

 

Fremantle Prison

The Fremantle Prison was originally known as the Convict Establishment and was built by convicts in the 1850s.  It was used as a prison until 1991 and is now open to visitors.  The best way to experience the Fremantle Prison is with a tour, and there are four to choose from.

 

It truly is a must see, must do attraction when visiting Fremantle.  The site is drenched in history and fascinating stories. Check out our post on the Fremantle Prison.

 

Didgeridoo Breath

If you’re interested in learning the didgeridoo, check this place out.  The atmosphere is super-welcoming, they have a huge selection of instruments and they offer free didge lessons!  Check out our post on Didgeridoo Breath.

 

 

Galati & Sons

Fresh food doesn’t come cheap in Perth so we thought ourselves super lucky to find this place.  Cheap fruit and vegetables, cheese, Italian groceries and spices, as well as cannoli, tarts and pre-made meals.  WIN!

 

FOOD & DRINK

Little Creatures

Fremantle’s #1 tourist destination – check out our post on the Little Creatures Brewery!

 

Cappuccino Strip

If you’re looking for a place to hang out on a Saturday afternoon, the Cappuccino Strip would be the best place.  Pick a café or restaurant and sit outside while you sip on your coffee, enjoy a meal and read the paper.  If you have a hot car, this is the place to cut laps and show off your sick stereo.

 

We sat down at Gino’s and had a coffee while we watched masses of people walk past – youngsters with bare midriffs, couples walking their dog, sight seers, tourists, quirky locals – it is truly a mixed bag in Freo.

 

 

 

Grumpy Sailor

This was the first place we went to for coffee while in the Perth area.  The recommendation demanded that we have coffee and a bagel, so we had to comply.  We entered the relaxed bookshop with the embedded café, approached the counter and advised the bearded barista that we were sent for coffee and bagel.  He recommended the cream cheese and Nutella bagel, with the promise that it will “change our day”.

 

The coffee and bagel were enjoyed outside on the terrace right amongst the chilled out atmosphere.  The coffee was delicious – smooth and creamy without any hint of bitterness.  We can’t say that the bagel changed our day, but it was definitely divine – chewy and moist with a great combination of cream cheese tartness and sweet Nutella. YUM!

 

Blink Espresso Bar

Quite possibly the smallest shop in Fremantle, this was another strong recommendation that we had the opportunity to fulfil.  Forget about going into the place – there isn’t enough room!  All there is between the colourful walls is one energetic man and his tools to make you a fabulous cup of coffee.

 

Monk Brewery

Located towards the end of the Cappuccino Strip, The Monk Brewery is a popular stop to hang out with mates while drinking pints of craft beer.  There was a bit of a line to go in and we found that they use the scents of an outdoor kitchen cooking seafood paella to lure hungry patrons in.

 

 

They have a tasting paddle with eight beers, including a seasonal one, and all their beers are paired with menu items.  We were lucky enough to score a voucher from Juz’s entry to the Chilli Festival and got a free tasting paddle.

 

  • Mild – 3.5% a bright golden lager with mild hops and a crisp clean taste.
  • Kolsch – 4.9% fruity, sweet entry with a slightly hoppy taste and subtle bubbles.
  • Wheat – 6.0% a cloudy beer that’s fruity and yeasty without too many bubbles.
  • Pale – 6.0% a deep golden colour with yeast and smooth, lingering bitterness that comes from 100% Australian hops.
  • Chief – 6.3% voted the best ale at the 2012 Perth Royal Beer Show, this tropical, full flavoured beer was smoky and had plenty of hoppy bitterness.
  • Rauch – 5.3% a deep orange colour with strong smoky characteristics and fruity flavours with toffee.
  • Porter – 4.7% a rich, dark ale full of roasted coffee, chocolate and caramel, with mild bitterness and carbonation.

 

Sail & Anchor Hotel

Opposite the Monk Brewery is a great little microbrewery pub brimming with beer love.  They have their own selection of beers, like Monkey’s Fist Pale Ale, Cat’s Shank Kolsch and Lark’s Foot Golden Ale, but they also make Brass Monkey Stout and have a variety of other local beers on tap.  The walls are covered in beer propaganda and you could spend hours in there looking at them all and having a giggle.

 

 

We went in for their $15 lunch specials and sat down to a steak sandwich and seafood basket. While we were disappointed that the parma wasn’t included in the lunch special that day, we were thoroughly impressed with the tenderness of Dave’s steak and the juicy freshness of Juz’s calamari rings.  Their chips were also great – fluffy and crisp with no icky bits.  The Sail and Anchor also do weekly food specials like Parmagedon Mondays, Hump Day Pizzas and Nice Rump Thursdays.

 

Moondyne Joe’s Bar & Café

Named after the notorious jail-breaking bushranger, this great pub is tucked away at the end of Wray Street and has a traditional, relaxing atmosphere with some old school charm. The Governor’s Bar is the perfect place to chill out with a pint and a meal, or have a lively evening while keeping up with the footy in the sports bar.

 

 

If you’re budget conscious, check out their $12 Steak Night on Tuesdays – a big, juicy scotch fillet steak cooked how you want with your choice of sauce and a side of chips and salad.  We say YES to hot beef injections!

 

Clancy’s Fish Pub

If you want to steer away from the pub scene and find something a little more open and artistic, check out Clancy’s Fish Pub.  Great for after work drinks with mates on the veranda or a day with the kids playing on the lawn out the back, there is something for everyone at Clancy’s.  They have a great selection of beers on tap, including White Rabbit White Ale, and the menu features all the pub classics and then some.

 

 

Information & Accommodation

Fremantle Visitor Centre8 William Street, 08 9431 7878

Woodman Point Holiday Park – 132 Cockburn Road, Munster, 08 9434 1433

 

Fremantle CAT Buses

There are two free bus services that circulate around Fremantle – the Blue and Red CAT buses.  They run every 10-15 minutes and go past major attractions like the train station, Arts Centre, E-Shed Markets, the Cappuccino Strip and the Shipwreck Galleries.

 
 

 
 

The Palace

Drink : Pub Crawl in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, WA

It was our first city in Western Australia and after the long drive across the Nullarbor, we were thirsty.  When we saw how many pubs were in town, the first night was appropriately put aside for a pub crawl.

 

Palace Hotel

This bar was one of the venues at the intersection of the main streets, so this was where we decided to meet Tom and Bella for the first round.   We got there early and spoke to the bouncers about where to get the best feed in town and they were kind enough to teach us two things – Paddy’s across the road was having their $15 Schnitzel Night and that the Palace Hotel was a Skimpy Bar.

 

We forgot to tell the latter piece of learning to Tom and Bella, so when we walked through the deserted front bar to get to the busy back bar, Bella was googly eyed!  “Is tonight a special occasion?” she asked on that balmy Tuesday night.  The scantily clad bar bitch with her white lacy suspenders and DD breasts didn’t understand so Juz quietly filled her in, “this is a skimpy bar!”

 

We ordered three beers and a white wine for Bella and went out the back to the beer garden, which felt like an exercise yard – brick wall all the way around.  While there was a dance floor and pool table inside, the atmosphere was negligible so we drank and left soon after.

 

 

The Criterion

We didn’t even enter the place – it smelt like a toilet and looked like a stale TAB gambling bar so we turned around and went to the next pub.

 

The Exchange Hotel

Another bar with skimpies!  Bella and Juz tried to get the attention of the girls, any girl, but they all only had eyes for the men.  We were eventually served by a fully clothed foreign girl who had no idea how to work behind a bar.

 

The positives – the music was alright, the saloon style décor added atmosphere, and they had Little Creatures Pale Ale on tap.  Four pints thanks!

 

Paddy’s Ale House

It was dinner time so we sauntered next door for some $15 schnitzel action.

 

Dave ordered a beef parmigiana while Juz went with a chicken schnitzel topped with creamy garlic sauce.  Both were amazing – thick, juicy schnitzels with well seasoned chips.  Dave’s parma miraculously had ham while Juz’s sauce was creamy and morish. The salad was crisp but the steamed vegetables were wrinkly.  Juz daned her plate and the waitress who cleared the table admired the cleanliness of the dish.

 

 

Drinks were cheap too – Beez Neez stubbies were only $3 while a pint of James Squire was $5.

Paddy's Ale House Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

 

York Hotel

This pub was beautiful, even during the external refurbishments that concealed the façade of the old building.  Inside was spacious and grand with high ceilings and the long walls were filled with AFL memorabilia.

 

We sat in the foyer on gorgeous leather couches next to a beautiful staircase and upright piano and enjoyed the fabulous setting and conversation.  Juz tickled the ivories on the piano with the tune from Titanic. Dave and Tom went upstairs to check out the balcony overlooking the street while Juz and Bella chatted downstairs.

 

 

With even more pubs nearby, we could have kept going but needed to consider where we were going to sleep.  After the York, we called it a night and headed to Centennial Park for sleep.

 

A souvenir shop selling funny aprons

Town Profile : Hahndorf

This beautiful little town with its pretty, tree-lined streets is the oldest non-British settlement in South Australia.  Its history is heavily soaked in German spirit, which is evident in the old buildings, old street lamps and the businesses that start or end in HAUS.  The main street is filled with cafes, restaurants, and ice creameries, as well as other quirky places like a German Bread and Cake shop with its restaurant walls covered with cuckoo clocks and painted plates, a traditional German toy shop with magnificently carved bric-a-brac, and a pub that offers a great range of imported beer.

 

 

Hahndorf was established in 1839 by Lutheran refugees who were escaping religious persecution for refusing to join King Freidrich Wilheim III’s Calvinistic state church.  The refugees arrived on the Zebra, the third ship of Lutheran immigrants to arrive in South Australia in 1838.  The vessel’s captain, Dirk Hahn, negotiated for some land near Mount Barker for his passengers to settle and managed to score a piece of land about 35km southeast of Adelaide.  The people walked to the hills from Port Adelaide and settled in the area that was originally inhabited by Aboriginal people, who called it Bukatilla, which means ‘deep pool’ or ‘wash place’.  They named their town Hahndorf, in honour of their kind and dutiful captain.

 

As Hahndorf grew, tents were replaced with cottages and Germanic houses and the population expanded to include British families who established an Anglican church.  Hans Heysen, the famous painter, would often come to Hahndorf for artistic inspiration and ended up making it his home in 1908, where he lived until he died in 1968.  There is a museum in town that exhibits his beautiful work that depicts the beauty of the Australian landscape.

 

As we walked the main street and drove around town, we got a feeling that Hahndorf was past its prime.  We reckon that about 10 years ago, its charm and Bavarian tradition wouldn’t have been tainted by the flashy, modern restaurants and commercialism.

 

Points of Interest

Café Assiette

Reputedly the best coffee in town, we had to go and try it for ourselves.  It was in fact the best coffee we’ve had since entering South Australia, and they use Mahalia beans.  We sipped our creamy lattes and thanked the chick who made them for us before we left.

 

 

Pioneer Women’s Trail

This is a walking trail that is about 22km long and follows the trail of the early settlers who walked from Hahndorf to Adelaide every week to sell their fresh produce.  The women and daughters of the settlement would carry baskets of vegetables and dairy and walk for 35km to Adelaide.  They would leave at midnight and rest along the way, washing their weary feet by streams and camping by the river.  Their return trip would include goods from Adelaide, like sugar, tea, tobacco, and perhaps a brick or two so they could finish building their church. They did this until the late 1850s.

 

Udder Delights

A small café at the edge of town, they offer cheese tasting and have a wide variety of gourmet and local cheeses.  We got to taste six cheeses and each one was unique and wonderful:

 

  • Goats Curd – low in saturated fat and cholesterol, the cheese was tart but still sweet and creamy.
  • Camembert – pale due to the goat’s milk, nutty and smooth without any chalky bits at all.
  • Chebris – sheep and goats milk used to make a soft, melt in your mouth cheese with a harder rind.
  • Goats Brie – soft mould cheese that is buttery and salty with a mould aftertaste.
  • Tarago River Shadows of Blue – soft and creamy without the overpowering blue, but there was a mild touch of pepper and spice.
  • Divine Dairy Blue – wow – salty cheese with a kick similar to vintage cheddar that had a blue tang through it and a sweet finish.

 

 

 

Hahndorf Hill Winery

Located a short drive northwest of town, this winery has a spectacular cellar door and a variety of wines to suit all occasions and climates. It was rated as one of the top 10 cellar doors in Australia and has been inducted into the Tourism Hall of Fame.  They offer wine matching with chocolate called Chocovino – the menu is huge with a variety of set ‘menus’ that allow you to choose the chocolate variety you want.

 

We sampled a small selection of their wines, two of which stood out the most:

 

  • 2012 Rosé – a beautiful pink colour with hints of amber, it has a floral smell with citrus and spice.  The entry was smooth and juicy before twisting towards a tart cherry finish.  Perfect for a spicy meal.
  • 2012 Chardonnay – a light straw colour with a floral and honey scent that was also tropical with mango and coconut.  It was subtly oaky with a rounded, buttery finish.

 

Nepenthe

Just around the corner from Hahndorf Hill Winery is Nepenthe, a winery that began in 1994 and has grown in popularity over the years, hitting the international market and featuring in James Halliday’s Top 100, The UK Times Top 100, and The Advertiser Top 100.

 

As we drove along the driveway, Juz was getting the impression of mythical allure and temptation, as if there was an ancient or biblical presence about the winery.  While we tasted the wine, we mentioned this to our host and she said that Nepenthe is an Egyptian herbal drink that comes from Greek mythology and was mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey.  It was a drug for forgetfulness, an anti-depressant elixir that “chases away sorrow”.

Of the tastings, there were three wines that were worth a mention:

 

  • 2011 Ithaca Chardonnay – peaches, white nectarine and cream on the nose with a slight oak tinge before a creamy, buttery finish.
  • 2012 Zinfandel Rosé – floral tones with rose and honey but fresh and crisp with a sherbet edge and sweet but spicy finish.
  • 2010 Late Harvest Riesling – a light wine that smells and tastes of ripe mandarin, it is light and clean without any sickly sweetness.

 

 

The Obelisk

Town Profile : Robe

We rolled into Robe at around lunchtime and realised it was quite a hospitable town.  Victoria Street is full of restaurants, cafes and pubs so we promised ourselves to stick around and sample the local fare.

 

The town sits on Guichen Bay and was founded in 1846 by the South Australian Government.  It ended up being the place where thousands of Chinese hopefuls looking for their fortune landed to prepare for their pilgrimage to the Victorian Goldfields in the 1850s.

 

The beach and view of the bay was stunning, and the clouds seem to be different compared to those in Victoria.


 

PLACES OF INTEREST

Robe Visitor Centre & Library

The lovely people at the visitor centre are more than happy to provide a plethora of information about the local attractions and excellent fishing spots.  You can pick up maps, tide guides and brochures that give you an indication of allowed fish sizes and quantities, as well as hire bikes for free so you can tour around town at your own pace.

 

The visitor centre is also the library and offers free wifi in a quiet and air-conditioned atmosphere.  Across the road is a public toilet block with cold showers, just in case you need to de-funkify yourself.
 
 

The Obelisk

This 40ft tall structure was built in 1855 and was originally all white.  The seamen complained that it was difficult to see while out on the ocean because the limestone cliffs were also lightly coloured.  The red stripes were introduced in 1862 to make it more visible and the Obelisk is now visible from 20km away on a clear day.
 
The Obelisk

 

Mahalia Coffee

A boutique roasting house and espresso bar just on the outskirts of town that sells coffee beans, tea, coffee percolators, plungers and grinders.  Mahalia Layzell started roasting her own coffee in 1999 and since then, her empire has grown to supply selected outlets around Australia.

 

Check out our exclusive post about mahalia coffee.

 

Attic House

This quaint little outlet was built over 100 years ago and was originally used as a tailor’s workshop.  The cellar door for Waterhouse Range Vineyard is located here, which was established in 1995 on terra rossa soil about 15km east of Robe.  They create a variety called Governor Robe Selections, and while their Chardonnay was fresh and fruity with flavours of nectarine and peach, the 2006 Merlot won us over.  It was light and juicy with a gorgeous garnet colour; perfect for the warm weather.  The 2005 Shiraz had a little more body and spice with lots of dark fruit flavours, but was a little rich for the 30 degree heat.
 

“We wish you health, wealth and happiness”

 

Wine tasting at the Attic House

 

ACTIVITIES

Fishing

Robe is a huge fishing town with a variety of locations to drop a line.  There are lakes and beaches, jetties and breakwaters or rugged cliffs where you can catch bream, flathead, flounder, whiting, salmon trout and a bunch of other good ‘uns.

 

We gave the lakes a go – Lake Nunan in particular – with the hope of catching some bream, but because our fishing schedule was out of sync with the tides, we had no luck.

 

Bike Riding

The information centre has free bike hire!  Make a booking and take the bikes for a spin around town.  Check out Lake Butler, the Obelisk and Old Gaol before cruising down Victoria Street.  It’s a healthy and environmentally friendly way to explore the town.

 

FOOD & ACCOMMODATION

Union Cafe

This is the one café in Robe that is supplied by mahalia coffee, and they sure know how to brew a cup!  We stopped in briefly for a caffeine fix and found ourselves enjoying a smooth, creamy and tasty latte, compliments of mahalia coffee.
 


 

VICStreetPIZZA

Pizza time!  We shared a medium pizza, half capricciosa and half Amazon.

The Capriciossa was topped with mushroom and fresh anchovies, not the super-salty ones out of the jar.  They were fresh little suckers and absolutely divine to bite into.

The Amazon pizza was topped with both fresh and semi-dried tomato, goats cheese, olive and basil. Apart from being very tomato-y, the cheese provided a tart but creamy dimension and the basil was a fresh relief.
 
 

Caledonian Inn

The oldest pub in town, the ‘Cally’ was established in 1859 and built from the wood of two shipwrecks that crashed upon Robe shores.  The insides have a truly traditional feel, with timber struts and support beams, old wooden floors and rustic limestone walls.

We ate dinner here – Dave ordered the fisherman’s basket while Juz got the ‘parmi’.  They came out quick and looked incredible!
 


 
Both plates had standard cut chips that were well seasoned with a salad that included mushrooms, cucumber and tomato.  Dave’s plate was full of deep-fried goodies like calamari, scallops, prawns and fish, while Juz’s ‘parmi’ was a little different from a Melbourne ‘parma’.  It was topped with a sauce that was more like roasted capsicum than Napoli sauce, and there was no ham.  Regardless, our dinners were delicious and were washed down with some liquid gold.

 

 

Discovery Holiday Parks

70 – 80 Esplanade, Robe – 08 8768 2237

 

Us and the Lads

Drink : Pub Crawl in Mount Gambier, SA

It was our first night in Mount Gambier and we were thirsty.

 

The truck was parked, the tent was pitched and there were pubs to visit, so we put our walking shoes on and bee lined towards town. We were aware that it was a Sunday night so our chances of having a disorderly night were unlikely, but there is no harm in giving it a go.

 

We started off at the South Aussie Hotel and devised a crawling route through town that covered five pubs.

 

#1 South Aussie Hotel

The oldest pub in town, it has a very traditional feel. You’ll find the true locals in the front while the back is reserved for TAB. The crowd was quite rowdy, perhaps due to Races that were on during the day, but it wasn’t a crowd that we felt comfortable to penetrate so after one schooner and a round of trivia from the newspaper, we moved on to the next pub.

 

#2 Jen’s Hotel

We had walked past this pub earlier to see that it was full of people enjoying lunch. Unfortunately, the pub was closed when we arrived at around 8pm and the only section open was the Gaming Room, stuffed with pokies but only three people.

 

 

#3 The Mount Gambier Hotel

Located right in the centre of town, this pub was newly refurbished but still had a traditional atmosphere. There were big screens that played music videos, a dance floor at the front and outdoor drinking area with heating.

 

It was at this pub that our night changed course from a simple two-player pub crawl to a ridiculous night of joke sharing, pun telling and senseless drinking.

 

We came across a buck’s party that we sighted earlier in the day. The theme was lads and ladies – except the only ‘lady’ was the buck, dressed in a stunning navy gown with pink bolero jacket and matching heels. By the time we crossed paths with them again at the Mount Gambier Hotel a few hours later, the buck was struggling to remain conscious, and his lads were struggling to peel him off the footpath.

 

We had a giggle as they pushed him into a taxi, and before we knew it, three of the lads invited themselves on our crawl.

 

#4 Mac’s Hotel

This is the closest pub to our accommodation but due to its TAB nature, it isn’t the most attractive drinking hole for us. Unfortunately, by the time our crawl brought us to Mac’s, they were shut so we moved on.

 

#5 Flannagan’s Irish Pub

This venue seems to be the odd one out in the circle of buildings that surround the Cave Gardens, but then again, you could suggest that it is a community facility. Flannagan’s looked closed at first due to the dim inside lighting and lack of patrons, but we entered and called out for service. A young fellow appeared, poured us a round of beers and we settled down for the night.

 

 

Despite the pub being practically empty, it had a good atmosphere. There was no music playing so the bartender let us play some tunes from our smartphone as we chatted over a brew. About an hour later, the rest of the buck’s party (minus the buck) arrived and our group grew from five to ten, giving us enough influence to convince the bartender to keep the place open for another hour. Of course, this influence included one of the lads waving around hundreds of dollars in exchange for a few bottles of red wine.

 

 

We ended up having a great night, chatting, exchanging stories, jokes and sexual re-enactments. The joke of the night was the ‘frog’ joke, and this is how it goes…

 

A frog hops into a bank, goes up to a teller called Paddy Wack and says, “I’d like a loan please.”

Paddy asks the frog for his name and collateral.

The frog replies, “My name is Frog Jagger and I have this porcelain elephant for collateral.”

Paddy says, “That’s a bit odd.”

The frog says, “My dad is Mick Jagger. Speak to the manager; he’s friends with my dad.”

Paddy goes out the back to speak with his manager and says, “There’s a frog out there who wants a loan. He says you are friends with his dad, Mick Jagger. Can he use a porcelain elephant as collateral?”

The manager replies, “Of course! It’s a knick-knack, Paddy Wack. Give the frog a loan! His old man’s a Rolling Stone.”

 

Cheers for an awesome night, lads.

 

 

#Hair of the Dog – The South Eastern Hotel

A pub that was a little outside of walking distance for our pub crawl was the South Eastern Hotel.  Located just near the Lady Nelson Information Centre, this large complex has a huge dining area, front bar and back pokies room.

 

 

We stopped for a beer on our way out of town and it seemed like a great place to spend a Friday night.

 

Sunset over Flinders Street Station

Experience : Touristy things to do in Melbourne

Sunset over Southbank

 

It doesn’t matter what you’re into, there are heaps of things to do in and around Melbourne.

 

Explore St Kilda & Melbourne’s Luna Park

Located about 7km south of Melbourne, St Kilda is a vibrant and active coastal suburb. A haven for young travellers and backpackers, it springs to life in summer with festivals, twilight markets and live music. Go for a walk along the beach, enjoy the view on St Kilda Pier or have a BBQ in Catani Gardens.

 

Melbourne’s Luna Park is the most colourful attraction in St Kilda. It opened in 1912 and is now the oldest theme park in the world and home to the Scenic Railway – the oldest continually running rollercoaster. Grab yourself a cloud of fairy floss and a bag of their awesome beer-batter chips and take a look around – entry is free!

 

While you soak in the sun and the sea air, you could even wander as far as Albert Park Lake, a popular location for jogging, dog walking and various boating activities. The road around the lake is the track for the Melbourne Grand Prix.

 

 

Learn stuff at Melbourne’s various museums

The Melbourne Museum is located just north of the city in the Carlton Gardens. They have various exhibitions on throughout the year and IMAX Cinema is also part of the museum complex.

 

Right next door to the Melbourne Museum is the Royal Exhibition Building, a world heritage landmark that was completed in 1880. It is one of the world’s oldest exhibition pavilions and is the site of various shows and expos.

 

The Immigration Museum is located on Flinders Street, just west of the station, and focuses on Australia’s multicultural identity. Learn about how and why people came to Australia, and how their culture helped shape Melbourne’s diverse way of life.

 

If you’re dragging rugrats around, tire them out at Scienceworks. Learn about the environment and how the body works. It’s both fun and educational, and parents might even learn something new.

 

General adult entry fees to the Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks and the Immigration Museum are only $10.

 

http://museumvictoria.com.au 

 

 

Connect with nature in the Dandenong Ranges, attempt the 1000 Steps, go SkyHigh, or take a ride on Puffing Billy

The Dandenong Ranges are located on the eastern border of Melbourne, about 50 minutes drive from the city. This mountainous area is home to quaint villages, craft shops and cute tea houses, and there are some stunning forest walks available through Sherbrook Forest and Olinda Falls Reserve.

 

At the foot of the ranges are the 1000 Steps, a Kokoda Memorial Walk dotted with plaques that describe the experiences of Australian solders as they marched along the real Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea. We don’t recommend this walk if you’re not physically up for it as it can be a bit tough…

 

If you want a total railway experience, catch the train to Belgrave from the city and follow the blue line to get to Puffing Billy – a century-old steam train that travels through the Dandenong Ranges from Belgrave to Gembrook. It’s a unique experience to be carted around in a massive steam train with your feet hanging out the windows and the sound of the WOOO WOOO! Adult ticket prices start at $18.50.

 

SkyHigh provides a fabulous view over the entire city and Port Phillip Bay, and on a clear day, you can see the skyscrapers of the city centre. There is also a café and restaurant that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with surrounding gardens and a maze made from native plants. This is a romantic hotspot – get there just before sunset with a hot pizza and your make-out buddy. Entry is $5 per car.

 

 

Have a picnic in the Royal Botanical Gardens

This enormous park just south of the CBD and can be the perfect place to spend the afternoon, sitting on a blanket in the warm sun. It is also home to several Melbourne landmarks, like the Shrine of Remembrance, the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden and the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

 

If the night is balmy enough, check out Moonlight Cinema, an open air cinema that operates during summer and screens all sorts of films, from new releases to cult classics. An adult ticket is $18 but they also have a $33 Gold Grass option that includes a bean bed and premium viewing location.

 

 

Spend the day at the Queen Victoria Markets

Open on Tuesdays and Thursday through to Sunday, the Queen Victoria Markets are 130 years old and is still an active and busy market.

 

Everything is available, from leather belts, clothes and shoes to fresh and organic food and delicious deli meats. In fact, the market is so big, it has precincts, including the meat hall, F Shed Laneway and String Bean Alley.

 

If you’re hungry, you can’t go past the Borek Shop in the Deli Hall. You know you’re in the right place because the crowd out the front at lunchtime is about 4 rows deep. Get one with cheese and spinach, or lamb, or all of them – they’re all $2.50 each.

 

Catch a tram to Fitzroy and go on a pub crawl

A stone’s throw north of the city is Melbourne’s first and smallest suburb – Fitzroy. The culture revolves around street art, live music, good coffee and its plethora of pubs.

 

All pubs are within walking distance of each other so it’s perfect for a pub crawl. Some crawls start from the bottom at the Builders Arms and work their way up towards Palookaville, while other crawls zig zag across Brunswick Street, from the Union Hotel and Little Creatures Dining Hall to the Standard, then back to the Napier and the Rainbow.

 

If the pub scene isn’t your thing, they also have some great cocktail bars like the Alchemist Bar and Polly, and Latin clubs like The Night Cat and Arepa Bar. You will also find some tremendous cafes in the area, such as Atomica Caffé, which roast their own beans, and Sonido! with their exotic South American influence.

 

 

Go for a stroll along Southbank Promenade and try your luck at Crown Casino

Southbank runs along the south side of the Yarra river between St Kilda Road and the Crown Entertainment Complex. Apart from being a great place for a pleasant stroll with a nice view of the city, it also has buskers, pubs, restaurants, and a cool eatery in the middle of the river called Ponyfish Island.

 

The Crown Complex is open 24 hours a day every day of the year except Christmas Day, Good Friday and Anzac Day. They do have a dress code, so if you’re planning to hang out, make sure you dress nice. Inside, there are beauty spas, restaurants, pubs, bars, nightclubs, big brand shopping, cinemas, bowling and a massive arcade area with laser skirmish.

 

The Gas Brigades out the front of Crown expel a huge ball of fire every hour after dark until midnight. Check their website for the fireball schedule.

 

 

Relax at Federation Square and watch the sun set over Flinders Street Station

Federation Square was opened in 2002 as a cultural public square of Melbourne. While it serves as a popular tourist attraction, this could possibly be because of its ambiguous aesthetics. Could it be the ugliest landmark you have ever seen, or is it attractive and artistic in its own way? Who knows?

 

Before the sun goes down, eat a steak at Transport Hotel Bar and soak up the last rays of the day in their sunroom.

 

Before you leave, head towards the river and take the stairs down to Riverland Bar and Café for a relaxing beer. It inhabits the old Federation Wharf vaults, which were built in 1889 and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

 

Flinders Street Railway Station is the epicentre of the Melbourne public transport system and a major icon of the city. It is the oldest railway station in Australia, officially being opened in 1910, even though it was operating as a railway station since 1854! It has 14 platforms and services 16 train lines.

 

The clocks under the main entrance have been dated back to the 1860s and were put into storage after the old station façade was demolished and were installed in the new station building before its opening. The clocks were operated manually until 1983 – now they are computer operated.

 

Go on a mission to find the best coffee and discover the charming and secretive laneways and arcades in the CBD

Melbournians love good coffee and we’re certainly spoilt for choice! There are heaps of tasty brewers around Melbourne who take pride in producing a choice cup.

 

If you need a benchmark to set your standards to, try Seven Seeds in North Melbourne, 65 Degrees in the CBD or Atomica in Fitzroy.  Other popular cafes include St Ali in South Melbourne, Three Bags Full in Richmond, Proud Mary in Collingwood and Patricia Coffee Brewers in the CBD.

 

Have a wander around to see if you can find your own special place and explore Melbourne’s arcades and laneways.

 

Hardware Lane is great for food with Bao Now, Bentoya Japanese, Hardware Societé and Affogato Café, while Degraves Place transports you into another world with its European ambiance. After a stroll past the resident boutique shops, relax with a latte in one of its many cafes and soak up the sounds of a nearby busker.

 

The Royal Arcade was opened in 1870 and is absolutely stunning with its old time charm and stained glass windows. The drawcard for this arcade is Gaunt’s Clock, which chimes every hour. The arcade has a collection of specialty shops selling the most colourful and wonderful stuff, like Russian babushkas, artisan rock candy and magical oddities.

 

If you’re looking for something a little more rock ‘n’ roll, try AC/DC Lane and visit Cherry Bar for some late night head banging. This street used to be called Corporation lane, but was renamed in 2004 as a tribute to the Australian rock band AC/DC.

 

 

Eat a dumpling in Chinatown or have some gelati on Lygon Street

Chinatown is a colourful strip of red and gold, right in the heart of the Melbourne CBD. During the Victorian Gold Rush in 1851, many Chinese immigrants settled in Little Bourke Street, and thus the first Chinese community in Melbourne began.

 

If you love a good dumpling, there are a few places that will definitely impress, including HuTong Dumpling Bar, Nam Loong, Shark Fin and Shanghai Noodle House. Chinatown is also the stage for the Chinese New Year Festivities in February.

 

If you prefer Italian cuisine, wander up to Lygon Street in Carlton. Many Italian immigrants came to Australia after World War II and established Melbourne as the second largest Italian city outside of Italy. Affectionately named the ‘Little Italy’ of Melbourne, Some may argue that this is where Melbourne’s café culture was born.

 

The two must-visit places on Lygon Street are Brunetti for their authentic Italian cakes, and Il Dolce Freddo, an ice cream shop that lives in the heart of nearly every Melbournian. Their ice cream is creamy, delicious and available in a variety of flavours such as Durian, Ferrero Rocher, Tutti Di Bosco and Tiramisu.

 

Don’t expect to stick to diet while you’re in this part of town.

 

 

Check out a game of Aussie rules football

In Victoria, if someone says “football” they mean AFL – grown men in tight shorts chasing an oval ball on an oval field.

 

Invented in 1857 to keep cricketers fit during the winter off-season, footy now plays a huge part in many Melbournians lives. The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) has the capacity to hold 100,000 cheering supporters and tickets to a match during finals season are in high demand.

 

Matches are played on weekends from March to September, so why not pick a team, get rugged up in their colours, and go join in the excitement! Adult ticket prices to a match at the MCG start at $21.30 and vary across the other game venues.

 

Talk to the animals at the Royal Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary, Werribee Zoo or Melbourne Aquarium

Melbourne Zoo is located just north of the city and is home to a variety of animals, from Asian elephants to Sumatran tigers. To get there, you can catch a train to Royal Park Station or jump on the 55 tram from Williams Street.

 

Healesville Sanctuary is about an hour’s drive east of Melbourne and focuses on Australian flora and fauna, as well as protecting endangered species.

 

Werribee Zoo is a 30 minute drive to the west of Melbourne and has a more African feel, as it is home to lions, rhinoceros, zebras, giraffes and African wild dogs. Admission includes a safari tour that buses you around the open range surroundings.

 

All zoological parks are open from 9am – 5pm every day of the year and adult entry is $26.10.

 

http://www.zoo.org.au/

 

If you prefer to keep your head below the water, check out the Melbourne Aquarium. It is located in the Melbourne CBD along the banks of the Yarra River. It is open from 9:30am to 6pm every day and admission for an adult costs $35.

 

 

Give your feet a rest and take a cruise down the Yarra River

You’ve been walking all day, you’re exhausted but you want to see more. Then let Melbourne River Cruises do all the work for you. They have great sightseeing cruises that go for about an hour.

 

Prices for an adult start at $23 and it is a really relaxing way to see Melbourne’s docks and riverside attractions.