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Merry Christmas – enjoy the holidays!

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Hi all,

 

We’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year… and what a year it’s been!

 

We started 2015 in Cairns, where we stayed until May, working and biding our time until we had to fly home for two weddings.

 

Australia Day 2015 Cairns

 

Once we were on the road again, our task was fairly simple – explore the east coast of Australia.  After a magical visit at Paronella Park, we passed through Townsville and Mackay before heading inland to the beautiful Lake Elphinstone.

 

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We cruised through the Central Highlands before returning to the coast. We ate beef in Rockhampton, drank rum in Bundaberg, then caught a ferry to Fraser Island. We gave the Troopy a 4WD workout at Landcruiser Mountain Park and watched the rain clouds come in on the Sunshine Coast.

 

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We spent about three weeks in Brisbane because Dave needed some medical attention, but it was great to spend time with friends in that beautiful city.  As we approached the Gold Coast, the dark clouds returned and by the time we got to the Best Of All Lookouts, we couldn’t see a thing!

 

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We crossed the border into New South Wales and bee-lined straight to Byron Bay for a few days in the easternmost town of Australia. We were lucky to get a few days of sun but the drizzle returned as we made our way to Coffs Harbour.  Finally, with some sun, we got to enjoy the beautiful coastline from Port Macquarie to Newcastle.

 

 

We enjoyed a tipple in the Hunter Valley before spending a week on the Central Coast, helping out a family with their household duties while Juz scored some work with a school holiday program in Gosford.

 

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Arriving in Sydney was a little surreal. It’s the biggest city in Australia and we spent a lot of time walking around the city getting exhausted. We also have a few friends in Sydney so it was great to catch up and spend time with them.

 

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We headed inland to the Blue Mountains and Central West just in time for a freakish cold front to sweep through the area. We had the pleasure of experiencing subzero temperatures and snow, as well as seeing the Dish in Parkes and exotic animals at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.

 

 

With a few more friendly visits in Kiama and Milton, and a stop at the Big Merino in Goulburn, we finally visited our country’s capital. We called in at the War Memorial and National Mint and even saw our old travel buddies Tom and Bella.

 

 

Once we returned to the coast, the wet weather reappeared and we reached the Victorian border within a day or two. From then on, there was no point stuffing around – we were 4 hours from home.  On Sunday the 2nd of August, we rolled in unannounced and enjoyed a hot shower and warm bed.

 

Since our return to Melbourne, we’ve been busy.  We got jobs, reconnected with friends, and started making plans for the future.

 

We’re going to take a few weeks off to enjoy the silly season and spend time with our family and friends. We’ll see you all in the new year with more posts about the last leg of our lap around Australia, as well as our run down of Tassie later in the year.

 

Thanks for all your support,

 

Dave & Juz

 

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Wildlife : Taronga Western Plains Zoo

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo is located in Dubbo and features a beautiful range of animals, including many native to Africa.  You might wonder whether the climate in Dubbo is the same to that in Africa, and we certainly wondered that when we visited the zoo on a cold July day.  It turns out that the climate at the zoo is similar to where the animals would usually live, except our winters are a little longer.  To make the animals as comfortable as possible during the cooler months, the zoo has heaters installed in the enclosures to keep the animals warm. How lovely!

 

The Zoo

Opened in 1977, Taronga Western Plains Zoo was the first open plain zoo in Australia and started out with only 35 animals.  Over the years, the zoo has expanded to house over 1000 animals and is renowned for its breeding programs and conservation efforts. In fact, Taronga is not only a fantastic tourist attraction but a non-profit organisation!

 

The Taronga Western Plains Zoo covers three square kilometres of land and the 6km loop that weaves throughout the zoo can be explored on foot or in your car, but you can also hire bikes or electric carts.  It’s a unique setup – the fenceless enclosures and open plains make it seem more natural.

 

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The Animals

There are approximately 800 animals living at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.  There’s a strong focus on African animals, especially in breeding and conserving them, especially endangered ones.  There are various talks and feedings throughout the day, and they’re a great opportunity to learn about these beautiful animals.

 

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One of our favourite animals at the zoo were the hippopotamuses, especially the mother-daughter team.  The little calf was so cute following her mum around.  We also enjoyed the playful meerkats, friendly camels, jousting Barbary sheep, majestic elephants and fearsome tigers.  On an exclusive tour of the zoo, we also got to meet the fastest animal on the planet, the cheetah.  They can go from 0-100km in three seconds and the fastest speed recorded is 117km.  The cheetahs at Taronga were very playful and curious, but perhaps a little too big and wild to take home.

 

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Rhinos

We learnt a lot about rhinos at Taronga.  Rhinos are poached for their horns, because it’s believed that the horns have medicinal properties.  If only the poachers knew that scientific tests show that there are no health benefits within the horns.  The main component of the horn is the keratin, which is the same stuff that our hair and nails are made of.  Unfortunately, a few species of rhino have already been made extinct, including the western black rhino in 2011.

 

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Another interesting fact about rhinos is how they use their poo.  Rhinos create dung piles, or middens, not to be clean and tidy but to send messages.  The smell of their own poop can communicate age, sex, whether they’re ready to have babies or if they already have a bun in the oven, and it can also mark territory.  Visiting rhinos will sniff and shuffle through the poo before adding their own message to the pile.  Pee-yew!

 

The zoo has both black rhinos and white rhinos – black rhinos are solitary animals with a pointier mouth, while white rhinos are bigger, enjoy social interaction and have square lips.  They even have a gorgeous black rhino calf on display.  Dafari is his name and he was born in April 2015.

 

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While Taronga has only three black rhinos on display, altogether there are nine onsite for breeding purposes.  Taronga Zoo is set up to breed for several generations and any rhinos that arrive at the zoo are conditioned and trained so that animals don’t get spooked by the guests and various noises of the zoo.

 

Bongo

The bongo is one of the largest species of antelope and has been categorised as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  They’re auburn or chestnut brown in colour, and when they get wet, the oily pigment of their coat seems to run.  When they were hunted for their meat, if the hunter found that they were covered in this oily residue, they believed they’d get leprosy.  While this isn’t true, it’s not exactly advertised because bongos are near threatened and if this myth keeps them alive, then so be it.

 

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The Accommodation

Did you know that you can stay at Taronga Western Plains Zoo?  There is a great selection of accommodation options, from camping, cabins and luxury safari lodges that overlook the savannah.

 

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The Billabong Camp is great for large groups and school excursions.  The bush camping experience includes a night in a canvas tent, meals and refreshments, admission to the Zoo for two days and a range of animal encounters and tours.

 

Zoofari Lodges started in 1995 and consist of 15 luxury tented lodges.  The Animal View lodges look out over the African Savannah and have an African-inspired décor.  Each lodge has an ensuite and mini bar facilities and exclusive tours of the zoo are included in the experience.  Guests also have access to a main house that features an African style restaurant, full bar with local and African wine, as well as a lounge and TV room.

 

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The Savannah Cabins are perfect for families.  All fifteen self-contained cabins can sleep up to 6 people and have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, air conditioning, a full kitchen, BBQs on the deck, free WiFi and Foxtel.

 

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The Essentials

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is open from 9am to 4pm daily and entry includes two consecutive days to explore the zoo.  The Zoo Shop stocks some great souvenirs, from plush toys to stylish knick knacks for the home.  While you can bring in your own picnic lunch or BBQ gear, you can buy food at Bakhita’s Café at the Savannah Visitor Plaza and the Midway Kiosk (only on weekends).

 

If you would like a closer encounter with the animals, why not book yourself in for a tour.  Go for a guided morning walk behind the scenes or get a photo of yourself feeding the giraffes.  Bookings are essential.

 

Visit the zoo at Obley Rd in Dubbo, a five hour drive from Sydney.  Flights from Sydney to Dubbo are available through Qantas and Rex.  For more information about the zoo, please call 02 6881 1400 or visit their website.

 

You can also support their conservation efforts by making a donation at this website.

 

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City Profile : Bundaberg

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Our first thought when we entered Bundaberg was, “for the love of pizza and ice cream, where can we get a shower around here?”  After a quick visit to the Information Centre, we had two options – hot showers down the road at $5 a pop or free cold showers by the beach at Bargara.  With the sun shining and the anticipation of a free hot shower in the days to come, we made our way to Bargara…

 

Once we were refreshed, we did a quick drive around town.  We ducked into a Lifeline Superstore and were delighted to find a book Dave had been looking for since Christmas – the sixth instalment of Jean M Auel’s Earth’s Children series for only $1.  His day was made even more with all the Aussie and American muscle cars cruising around town – there were lots of vintage cars and hot rods to drool over.

 

The traditional owners of the region are the Kalki people, and the first white man they ever saw was actually a convict who had escaped from the Moreton Bay penal settlement in 1830.  It wasn’t established as a settlement until 1867, and the first industries were timber and sugar.  The settlement steadily grew and eventually became a town in 1902, and a city by 1913.  As you drive around town, it’s hard to miss all the beautiful buildings, many with arches and columns and colourful art deco façades.

 

Things to See and Do

Bundaberg Distillery Company

Ever since Juz tried spiced rum in Darwin, she’s been hooked so a visit to the Bundaberg Distillery was compulsory.  It was great to see where the Aussie icon is made, and the tour was a really insightful way to learn about how rum is made.

 

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The Bundaberg Barrel

Both a ‘Big Thing’ and an educational experience about the origins of ginger beer, the Bundaberg Barrel is the home of Bundaberg brewed soft drinks, which are a brazilian times better than regular crappy soft drinks.

 

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Schmeider’s Cooperage

Named after Dave Schmieder, who had just left school when he was offered a coopering apprenticeship at the Bundaberg Distillery in the 1970s.  He started the business in 1982 just as the demand for coopers was declining, but he is still on call with the Distillery to maintain their massive timber vats.

 

You can visit the Cooperage for free, browse the gift shop, watch barrels being made and even try your skill at putting a barrel together yourself in the interactive video room.

 

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Alexandra Park & Zoo

This is a great place to have a picnic or BBQ before checking out the free zoo – complete with playful monkeys, chilled out dingoes, kooky quolls and emus that omit a sound that sounds like a beating drum or a hollow PVC pipe being hit by a stick.

 

 

Bundaberg Waterworks Water Tower

Considered to be a structure of technical and aesthetic bricklaying excellence, construction of this water tower commenced in 1902 and was completed in 1905. It holds 40,000 gallons of water in a tank that is just over 32 metres high, and it is still in service today.

 

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Childers

This old-fashioned town is adorned with ornate buildings, heritage pubs and the Old Pharmacy, a brilliantly preserved display of what an olden day apothecary would have looked liked.  Well worth a drop in.

 

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Sharon Nature Park and Gorge

This is a free rest area about 15 km west of Bundaberg.  There’s a picnic area that precedes a short walk through Sharon Gorge to a lookout over Burnett River.  We ventured out shortly after sunrise and marvelled at the calls of the whip birds before being somewhat disappointed by the lack of view at the end of the path.

 

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City Profile : Rockhampton

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We had the pleasure of having nearly two days to spend in Rockhampton.  Located along the Fitzroy River in the Capricorn Coast region, Rockhampton has a laid back atmosphere, friendly hospitality and gorgeous buildings.  It has a moderate population of around 120,000 people and gets approximately 300 days of sunshine a year.

 

Our first stop was a book exchange, where we dumped a bunch of books that we had finished reading, and exchanged them for new ones.  We then strolled around town to see the sights.

 

History

The Rockhampton region was discovered by the Archer Brothers, Charles and William, who were out looking for grazing lands in 1853.  Two years later, a settlement grew alongside the Fitzroy River, which was used to ship in supplies.  Further up the river was a rock bar that prevented further exploration of the river, and that’s how Rockhampton got its name.

 

The settlement grew fast and Rockhampton was declared a town in 1858.   One year later, gold was discovered in Canoona and miners rushed over from far and wide to find their fortune.  Once the rush had died down, many people chose to stay in Rockhampton, adding to its already blooming population, and by the 1870s, Rockhampton had become the main port for the central Queensland hinterland.  By 1902, Rockhampton had become a city.  In 1909, a passenger tramway started operating, but because riding steam trams in the tropics was an uncomfortably hot and humid experience, they were replaced with a bus network 30 years later.

 

These days, Rockhampton’s main industry is still grazing, particularly cattle, and it is considered to be the Beef Capital of Australia.  Every three years, Beef Week happens – a major event that brings cowboys in from far and wide to showcase their beef and share ideas.  There are several life-sized bull statues around the city that represent the various breeds that graze in the surrounding area.  The one at the southern entrance of Rockhampton is the Brahman Bull and was erected in 2000.

 

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For people who aren’t as enthusiastic about cattle as the folks wearing cowboy hats, jeans and leather boots – like us – scoring a $5 Thursday special steak at Giddy Goat Bar suits just fine.  You get a 300g scotch fillet steak for $5 plus $1 for sides, which include salad, coleslaw, chips, onion rings or the sauce of your choice.  While it isn’t the most amazing steak you’ll ever eat, we were seriously impressed with this value.

 

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Things to See and Do

Tropic of Capricorn

As you enter Rockhampton from the south, you’ll pass the Spire Visitor Information Centre that sits on the Tropic of Capricorn.  Once you’ve got all your maps and brochures, stand by the big silver spire for a photo.

 

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Rockhampton Zoo

The botanic gardens in Rockhampton are 145 years old and have recently been awarded heritage listing.  Within them is a free zoo full of native and exotic animals.  Apart from wombats, crocodiles and dingoes, we also saw chimpanzees and otters.  The best time to go is at feeding time, which is between 2:45pm and 3:20pm.  You might even get the chance to pat a koala.

 

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While we were at the dingo enclosure, we noticed only one dingo.  A family arrived, mum was pushing a pram and dad was holding his little daughter’s hand.  Suddenly, two more dingos appear from the bushes and they all eagerly come up to the fence at full attention.  Dave says, “Here they come. They must have smelt the baby.”  After a small pause, he added, “Sorry about the inappropriate joke.”  “That’s ok,” says mum with a guffaw, “it was funny.”

 

Capricorn Caves

Just over 20km north of Rockhampton are the Capricorn Caves.  Queensland’s oldest tourist attraction, the limestone caves formed from an ancient coral reef around 400 million years ago. Tours through the caves run regularly throughout the day, but they have a certain twist to them that is unique to the Capricorn Caves.  Go and check them out!

 

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Coastal Drive

This is a drive that will take you to the coastal towns about 40km east of Rockhampton.  Yeppoon is the biggest town along the drive, and when we were there, there was still evidence of Cyclone Marcia, which blew through just three months earlier in February 2015.

 

 

We had a quick stroll along the Esplanade that overlooks Main Beach and poked our heads through the ‘Spirit of Yeppoon’, which is more affectionately known by locals as the Arsehole of Yeppoon.

 

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Rosslyn Bay is south of Yeppoon and is home to one of the largest marinas in Northern Queensland, the Keppel Bay Marina.  Overlooking the marina is Double Head, a volcanic plug formed by lava around 70 million years ago and exposed as the rock around it was worn away over time.  As we cruised along, we crossed the bridge over Causeway Lake, a shallow lake that’s good for fishing and photo opportunities at sunset.

 

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Another great stop is Emu Park.  Go and see the Singing Ship – a commemoration of the explorations of Captain James Cook.  It’s a sculpture that stands on a hill and overlooks the ocean, which is the perfect place for it to be.  As the ocean breezes reach the ship, fluted pipes make pretty sounds.

 

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Information & Accommodation

The Spire Visitor Information Centre is located on the Tropic of Capricorn and is open daily from 9am to 5pm.

 

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Quality budget accommodation is available at Rockhampton YHA.  For more information or to book yourself a bed, visit their website.

 

 

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.