A Penchant for Travelling

Just sharing travel experiences……


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My Carefree Tasmania & Melbourne Holidays

Just thought of summarising my free & easy 11-days Tasmania and Melbourne holidays, now that I am done with the blogging. I hope the posts are useful and you enjoy reading them. :) Below is a recap of my trip and some afterthoughts that I did not write in the previous posts:

Day 1: Arrived at Launceston airport via transit at Melbourne airport. Checked in to Balmoral on York hotel for 3 nights and explore Launceston city for few hours. Joined the Low Head Penguin Tour in the late afternoon;

Day 2: Breakfast at Stillwater Restaurant & Cafe, followed by a Tamar Valley Half Day Wine Tour then a visit to the Cataract Gorge in the late afternoon;

Day 3: Joined the Cradle Mountain Day Tour which took us to the little towns enroute to Cradle Mountain in the morning, followed by hiking in the beautiful Cradle Mountain National Park in the afternoon;

Day 4: Proceeded to Hobart City by Tassielink bus from Launceston city. Checked in to Hotel Collins for the next 3 nights. Explored Hobart city and dinner by the waterfront at Fish Frenzy;

Day 5: Went for the Bruny Island Full Day Tour, which I posted in detail in Part I and Part II;

Day 6: Joined the Port Arthur Day Tour covering Richmond, Tasman National Park and Port Arthur Historic Site all in a day, which I detailed in Part I, Part II and Part III;

Day 7: Time for Salamanca Market – one of Australian’s largest and most vibrant outdoor markets open only on Saturdays. In the late afternoon it was time to say goodbye to Tasmania as I flew to Melbourne for the last leg of my holidays and checked in to Fraser Place Melbourne for the last 4 nights;

Day 8: Another day for markets. ;) Visited Queen Victoria Market – the largest open air market in the southern hemisphere followed by Arts Centre Melbourne Sunday Market;

Day 9: Enjoyed myself at Melbourne’s Little Italy – Lygon Street, before heading to the suburb St Kilda after that for the famous beach, Fitzroy Street and pier till after sunset;

Day 10: Took the awesome Great Ocean Road Tour where we focused on the beach and coastline scenery in the morning half of the tour, then proceeded inland for some rainforest walk and the Port Campbell National Park with the famous Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge and London Bridge sights in the afternoon half of the tour;

Day 11: After checking out of the serviced apartment, I had brunch at the nearby Flipboard Cafe, then some last minute shopping in the city as well as Harbourtown factory outlets. Bought some chips from a popular Aussie burger joint called Grill’d as I was a little hungry after all the walking :P

The Famous Grill'd Chips snack size at A$3.80 (S$4.50)

The Famous Grill’d Chips snack size at A$3.80 (S$4.50)

I liked the chips as they were thick-cut with herb mix taste. The snack size is like our regular size found in fastfood restaurants here, filling for me! They pride themselves for their “most delicious and healthy burgers with grass-fed beef”, frankly the burgers looked good too, but too big for me I guess.

After the snack, took the SkyBus to Melbourne airport for my flight back home that evening.

Just some comments about the airport shuttle service I experienced at 3 airports – Launceston, Hobart and Melbourne. I would say the service at Launceston and Hobart were great. Both provide door-to-door service, in fact no reservations required for the service at Launceston, I just hopped on to the mini bus outside the airport when I arrived. For the Hobart service, the hotel helped me to book my seat 1 day in advance and I only paid cash to the driver when he picked me up, very convenient. Both shuttle buses were spacious and comfortable, with the luggages stowed in a carton trailing behind the bus. I regretted buying the SkyBus return tickets when I landed at Melbourne airport, because it is like our SMRT bendy buses in Singapore, and everyone had to lug and park their own luggages up the bus luggage compartment. Furthermore, the SkyBus drops everyone off at Southern Cross Station, then you will need to transfer to their complimentary hotel shuttle service to get to the hotels, and they do not stop at all hotels. Only when I arrived at my accommodation – Fraser Place Melbourne, that I realised that they partner with StarBus to provide door-to-door service at similar pricing like SkyBus. Even the bellboys at Marriott Hotel told me that StarBus is more value-for-money, when I was waiting outside the hotel for my complimentary hotel shuttle to the airport. Too late for me! :(

Another useful tip I gathered from this trip was that it was worthwhile purchasing a Telstra Pre-paid $30 SIM card as it includes 400MB of bundled data and $30 credit for calls and SMS within Australia. Particularly helpful if you are on a free & easy trip and need some directions on the Google map or some travel advice while on-the-road.

Telstra prepaid 30 multifit sim

At first I was worried if 400MB would be sufficient for 11 days, but it seemed just nice for me as I just used slightly over 300MB for the entire trip. Maybe staying in hotels with free wifi connection helped to save my data usage too. :P The Telstra network coverage was also very strong, it only failed in a small part of the Cradle Mountain, but so did the other networks that my tour mates were using. When other networks failed, my Telstra network was still working, woohoo!

Last but not least, this was really a carefree and happy holiday with many highlights throughout the 11 days. The first highlight was the Low Head Penguin tour, the second was the Cradle Mountain, then Bruny Island, Salamanca Market and of course the Great Ocean Road, which was like the grand finale to round up my trip. :) This has become one of my best holiday so far, and I will definitely love to visit Australia, especially Tasmania again! ^-^


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Flipboard Cafe (Melbourne)

Flipboard Cafe is a tiny “hole-in-the-wall” cafe that I often walked past throughout my stay in Melbourne. In fact I did not even realise that it was a cafe till I was looking for food options nearby the serviced apartment where I stayed using the Urbanspoon app! :P

The quaint Flipboard Cafe at 141 La Trobe Street

The quaint Flipboard Cafe at 141 La Trobe Street

Before realising it was a cafe, I often wondered what does this weird-looking shop do as I kept seeing people sitting in the 3 cubby holes, sometimes drinking coffee or smoking (like the guy you see in the photo above). It is actually a niche cafe nestled in the shop-front window of Brolly Studios and Benetts Lane Jazz Club, operating across 3 levels. Since the food reviews seemed good from Urbanspoon app, I decided to check it out on my last morning in Melbourne.

Apparently, Flipboard Cafe was only opened in September 2013, after the owners decided to renovate a 20-year-old unused shop-front window, with the central staircase as an obvious feature, helping to shift the paradigm of coffee shops from the horizontal to the vertical. The design of the tiny cafe of 20 square metres is indeed quite unique as each level is narrow with only a few seats but it extends to 3 levels, as well as 3 tables outdoors next to the cyclist track and car park.

At around 11am, I was unable to get a seat in the cafe and had to sit outside after ordering a Cappuccino and a pastry stuffed with spinach and topped with a sunny side up (A$9=S$10.60).

Beautiful coffee art

Beautiful coffee art

There is good reason why the cafe is popular with Melbournians, I like the coffee art on my aromatic and flavourful cappuccino! However I didn’t think my pastry was worth spending on though. It was not warm at all, so I thought the pastry was a bit hard and the sunny side up also felt tough, although the filling was quite tasty. Guess that’s the result of not having any oven in the cafe, they have no way to heat up the food…

Overall, this cool niche cafe is worth checking out for a cup of good coffee if you are in Melbourne city, but perhaps you can skip the food given its limited and only-room-temperature options. Or maybe I ordered the “wrong food”… *shrug*


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Great Ocean Road Tour Part II

After a heavy lunch at Apollo Bay Hotel, it was time to walk off those calories at Maits Rest Rainforest Trail, located 15 min west of Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road. It is an easy self-guided circuit walk about 800m through the ancient and cool temperate rainforest, part of the Great Otway National Park. A wooden boardwalk has been built over the tree-fern gullies and moss covered roots, providing a unique view of the forest.

Doug (left) giving us info on the gigantic trees here

Doug (left) giving us info on the gigantic trees here

The ancient Myrtle Beech trees here can live over 300 years

The ancient Myrtle Beech trees here can live over 300 years

It was gloomy weather the whole day, but we were fortunate that the rain only became heavier towards the end of our walk, else it would have been slippery on the boardwalk. There was also a gigantic tree in which we all took photos with it, where its roots were much taller than me and I could walk right in!

Next up on the itinerary was going down the Gibson steps onto the beach to get a close-up view of the 2 offshore stacks. The name Gibson Steps refers to the staircase leading down to a long stretch of beach. It is believed the steps were first carved into the cliff possibly by the original Kirrae Whurrong inhabitants and later maintained by a local settler, Hugh Gibson. The many steps on the staircase can prove to be a challenge on the climb back up but the view on the beach is really breathtaking, so it was worth climbing! :)

I counted the total number of steps to get to the beach and I got 83. Lucky I was not too far off from the actual number of 86 steps as indicated online hehe. Apparently the 2 offshore stacks seen here are not part of the 12 Apostles, they are known locally as Gog and Magog.

Spotting the 1st rock stack while climbing down Gibson Steps

Spotting the 1st rock stack while climbing down Gibson Steps

Midway down the Gibson Steps to the beach

Midway down the Gibson Steps to the beach

Wonderful view on the beach

Wonderful view of Gog & Magog on the beach

A short distance away from Gibson Steps is Port Campbell National Park – world famous for its extraordinary collection of wave-sculpted rock formations and the Twelve Apostles. Loch Ard Gorge, site of a 19th century shipwreck ‘Loch Ard’, as well as the Island Archway and London Bridge are other highlights. The Island Archway collapsed in 2009, highlighting the fragile and ever-changing nature of Victoria’s coastline.

Actually no matter how you count, you won’t get to see 12 apostles here at Port Campbell National Park, because there are only 7 rock stacks that comprise the Twelve Apostles – 6 are on display in the classic view enjoyed by millions of people over the years, with the 7th located several metres away from the corner of the main viewing platform. Originally there were 8 rock stacks when the Twelve Apostles were named, however, 1 of the stacks collapsed dramatically in July 2005. The remains can be seen from the main viewing platform, not sure if I can account for all 7 correctly or not. :P Let me know if you are confident of your count of the 7 famed rock stacks. ;)

Fish-eye view of the Twelve Apostles

Fish-eye view of the Twelve Apostles

12 Apostles 2

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12 Apostles 3

The Loch Ard Gorge, about 3 min drive west of the Twelve Apostles, is a visible example of the erosion process in action. It is steeped with history from the night of 31 May 1878. This location saw the dramatic survival of only two young people, Eva Carmichael as a passenger and Tom Pearce as crew. They were on a 90-day-journey ship from England to Melbourne when it struck an outer reef. Sadly over 47 perished in The Wreck of the Loch Ard with only 4 bodies being retrieved and buried.

Panoramic view of the Loch Ard Gorge

Panoramic view of the Loch Ard Gorge

The treacherous 'Shipwreck Coast'

The treacherous ‘Shipwreck Coast’

A short walk away from the main viewing platform of the Loch Ard Gorge is the remains of the Island Arch. In June 2009, a large section of the iconic rock formation on Victoria’s west coast, had succumbed to the elements and crumbled into the sea. All that remains following the collapse are the 2 rocks that previously supported the arch, as seen in my photo below. It is sad that the Island Arch collapsed, but in a way it is also amazing that’s the way nature works…

The remains of Island Arch after the collapse in 2009

The remains of Island Arch in the centre after the collapse in 2009

I must have missed taking photos of the stunning Razorback rock formation at Loch Ard Gorge, probably due to the frequent showers throughout the day. What a pity! Probably a good excuse to visit Great Ocean Road again in the future hahaha… Anyway the last amazing rock formation for the day was the London Bridge. On the evening of 15 January 1990, the main arch connecting London Bridge to the mainland cracked and fell into the sea. Fortunately no one was injured, but according to Doug, the 2 people – 1 guy 1 lady rescued on the new island rescued hours later by helicopter hit the headlines. Why? Because they were married, but not to each other, yet they were found together on that arch. ;)

The London Bridge

The London Bridge

It was almost 5pm by the time we finished all the sights at Great Ocean Road. A bit too early for dinner but no choice, our dinner was at a little restaurant at Port Campbell before we headed back to Melbourne city. Thus I followed Doug’s suggestion to order a cheese pie with salad for dinner as it sounded light compared to the other main courses like burger and steak, since I was still full from the heavy lunch earlier on. The pie was quite small, but too cheesy for my liking. Fortunately the hot chocolate saved the meal. Nonetheless it was a good time to get to know my tour mates better as Doug gave us more time to relax in the restaurant, since we were ahead of time. We left the restaurant around 6pm and arrived in Melbourne city 8+pm. A long day of more than 12 hours!

Overall, I would recommend joining this Great Ocean Road tour by ATWAD as it is really value for money with inclusion of 2 full meals and having a smaller tour group allowed us to keep to the time better. Most other tour operators only provide lunch, or worse, just water and biscuits for the long day at similar price. It was also more flexible with a smaller group and we could also move around easier in a small tour bus. If the pre-tour service could be improved, it would definitely be a perfect tour!

Great Ocean Road is really an attraction not to be missed should you visit Victoria, Australia. It is an amazing road journey to witness and marvel at the way nature works to create all the breathtaking views we get to see!


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Great Ocean Road Tour Part I

The Great Ocean Road is an important tourist attraction in Victoria, Australia. It is an Australian National Heritage listed 243 km stretch of road along the southeastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford. Built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I, the road is the world’s largest war memorial.

There are many tour operators running the Great Ocean Road tour from Melbourne daily, so after doing some research online and checking with friends, I decided to sign up for the tour with “A Tour With A Difference” (ATWAD), for it seemed to be more value for money at A$130 (S$153.35), promising small tour groups of maximum 10 passengers with more meals provided and more stops than other tour operators.

As they did not reply to my email queries before my Australia tour, I called them up when I was in Tasmania to check if they have a suitable tour date that I could join. Frankly, the pre-tour service, or rather lack-of, was quite bad. I requested for a Monday tour date but they only had a confirmed tour on Tuesday, so the staff Grace told me that she would register me for Tuesday tour first and to indicate my preference for Monday tour, so she would call me on Sunday to confirm whether there would be enough passengers for Monday tour or I would have to join on Tuesday. By Sunday afternoon, no one from ATWAD called me so I called them back, only to get a reply “oh yes you are booked for Tuesday”. I then asked about the pick-up point and time, and was again told to wait till Monday for them to call me to confirm as they had to sort out the route. I guess you know what happened next, they still did not call me back by Monday evening and I had to make the call again. :( This pre-tour service really made me wonder if I actually made the right choice in joining them. So I could only keep my fingers crossed that it would be a good tour eventually.

The next morning, I realised I was the first passenger to be picked up at about 7.15am. It was a small but comfortable 11-seater green bus. My tour guide was Doug, who suggested we made a simple introduction to one another after all 10 of us were on-board. After the short introduction, he gave us an idea of our itinerary for the day:

  • Pass through Geelong, Victoria’s second largest city
  • Stop for morning tea along the way near the beach
  • Visit Bells Beach, famous for its international surfing competition and its feature in the movie, Point Break
  • Stop for photo-taking at the Memorial Arch
  • Travel along the Great Ocean Road and see the impressive coastal scenery
  • Find wildlife koalas and colourful local birds at Kennett River
  • Lunch at Apollo Bay
  • Temperate rainforest walk at Maits Rest
  • Go down the Gibson Steps onto the beach and get a close-up view of the apostles-lookalike
  • Marvel at the limestone stacks of the Twelve Apostles at Port Campbell National Park
  • Explore Loch Ard Gorge and view the remains of London Bridge, Island Arch and the Razorback
  • Dinner in a restaurant at Port Campbell before returning to Melbourne

Without further delay, below are photos and description of the great journey that morning for your viewing pleasure. :)

Panoramic view of Bells Beach (stitched 2 photos up)

Panoramic view of Bells Beach (photo-stitch)

Bells Beach is a famous surf beach, on the Great Ocean Road near the towns of Torquay and Jan Juc. The beach is the home of the world’s longest-running surfing competition – the Rip Curl Pro Surf & Music Festival, held since January 1961 annually during Easter.

As soon as our Aussie style morning tea with Vegemite, Crackers and traditional Lamington Cakes was set up in a sheltered area near the beach, it started to drizzle. Lamington cakes are actually squares of sponge cake coated first in a layer of chocolate sauce, then in desiccated coconut, a sweet Australian dessert. The Vegemite is a dark brown Australian food paste made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract with various vegetable and spice additives, tasted just like the Marmite Singapore kids ate when young. Not too bad when spread on the crackers. It was an experience to be sipping hot tea and eating traditional Australian food in beautiful nature. :)

On our way to the Memorial Arch, we stopped by a vast green field where there were a lot of wild kangaroos, finally I saw them!

Wild kangaroos feeding on the grass

Wild kangaroos feeding on the grass

The Memorial Arch & coastline

The Memorial Arch & coastline

The Memorial Arch was built as a tribute to the soldiers from the First World War who were engaged in the construction of the Great Ocean Road, started as a project to create work for WWI returned servicemen.

Lorne - a very popular beach tourist resort town

Lorne – a very popular beach tourist resort town

Koala & colourful local birds spotted by the Kennett River

Koala & colourful local birds spotted by the Kennett River

Cape Patton lookout - spectacular views of the coastline stretching to Apollo Bay

Cape Patton lookout – 1 of the highest lookouts of the coastline stretching to Apollo Bay

I was definitely wow-ed over by the picturesque coastline scenery of the Great Ocean Road the whole morning. Good times really flew by quickly and it was time for lunch at the Apollo Bay Hotel. Doug had already passed us the menu for our selection of our main courses and called the restaurant to prepare before we reached the hotel. Thus shortly after we arrived, our food was served.

Sumptuous Beer Battered Fish & Chips lunch @Apollo Bay Hotel Restaurant

Sumptuous Beer Battered Fish & Chips lunch @Apollo Bay Hotel Bistro

Doug’s recommendation for lunch was great – the beer batter was crispy and tasty while still maintaining the freshness of the fish. I was surprised I managed to finish the huge portion of fish, only some chips were left over as I was really so full. The thick and fat chips were also quite well done. Oh, almost forgot to mention that complimentary cold drink and hot tea or coffee were included in the lunch too. There was a special cold drink being served here, can’t remember the exact name but it tasted a bit like bitter lemon, I loved it!

Up till this point, this tour by ATWAD had not disappointed me as I enjoyed myself very much, and so I looked forward to the second half of the tour after lunch. Watch out for my next post on the rest of the tour! :)


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St Kilda, Melbourne

St Kilda is a suburb of Melbourne, located 6 km southeast of Melbourne’s city centre. Its local government area is the City of Port Phillip. St Kilda’s population as at 2011 census was 17,795. It is renowned for its expansive view of Port Phillip, safe sandy beach, palm-lined boardwalk, huge range of beach activities, big skies, gorgeous sunsets, lovely park and gardens, great restaurants, bars and cafés, incredible historic buildings, and its long history as an artistic centre of Melbourne.

Being keen to explore the suburb, I visited the Melbourne Visitor Centre at Federation Square to check out how to get there as well as what I could do for half a day. A very friendly and helpful staff suggested that I visit the St Kilda beach, Melbourne’s most famous beach and visit Fitzroy Street Precinct for some good dining. In fact if I could leave St Kilda after dusk, I could take a stroll at St Kilda pier, where a colony of about 1,000 Little Penguins call home there since 1974. Wow, sounds wonderful!

Without further ado, I bought myself a Myki card from the visitor centre, a smart card essential for travel on Melbourne’s trains, trams and buses, V/Line commuter train services and buses in Seymour, Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, the Latrobe Valley and Warragul. The card costs A$6 and for a daily full fare travel in zone 1, it costs A$7.16 (total A$13.20 = S$15.50), not cheap for a day of travel, unless I keep taking Melbourne’s public transport throughout the day just to “get my money worth”! Not much of a choice since only Myki card is allowed…

Within 25 min from taking tram #16 opposite Federation Square, I arrived at the tail end of Fitzroy Street Precinct, lined by great restaurants, cafes and bars on both sides of the street. I took a long stroll along the famous St Kilda beach, soaking in beautiful sights of the sandy beach and clear blue skies while watching joggers ran and cyclists zoomed past me.

The starting point of my leisure stroll by the beach - Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron

The starting point of my leisure stroll by the beach – Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron in the background

St Kilda West Beach

St Kilda West Beach

A pristine beach

A pristine beach

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Carefree kid playing on the beach

Carefree kid playing on the beach

As I wanted to hang around at St Kilda Beach till after sunset to catch the Little Penguins returning to their burrows, I headed back to Fitzroy Street to check out the dining options there since there was still another hour or so before sunset. Perhaps it was still early, the street was still pretty quiet at 5+pm. I was not very hungry given that I had a heavy lunch at Brunetti Carlton earlier in the day so I did not want to dine at the restaurants, knowing the serving would be huge for me again. In the end I decided to try the jam doughnut from Aussie and French bakery at 5/63-73 Fitzroy Street.

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The bakery shop front did not look impressive or too appealing. However, do not judge the quality of the confectionery it sells by the shop front hehe. The jam doughnut was quite big at A$3.30 (S$3.90), fluffy on the outside and sweet with generous filling of the delicious jam. I liked it a lot, thanks to recommendation from Australia’s dining app – Urbanspoon, as I used it to search for good eats in the vicinity. A filling and yummy snack!

Seeing that the sun was setting, I walked down to the St Kilda Pier after that. Seems like the home to 1,000 Little Penguins was not the “best kept secret” afterall as there were several visitors heading to the end of the pier like me after sunset too! ;)

St Kilda Pier - the entrance to the home of 1,000 Little Penguins

St Kilda Pier – the entrance to the home of 1,000 Little Penguins

The St Kilda Pier Kiosk

The St Kilda Pier Kiosk

The historic St Kilda Pier Kiosk was first built in 1904. After a fire destroyed the kiosk on 11 September 2003, it seemed like St Kilda had lost part of its soul, as many people linked special memories with its simple yet elegant form. Original drawings from 1904 were used as the basis for the kiosk’s reconstruction in 2005.

Past this kiosk and one would be able to reach the St Kilda Breakwater – home to the Little Penguins and Rakali (native water rats). I saw and heard numerous Little Penguins return onshore to their burrows at the Breakwater, but did not see the Rakali. Perhaps it was because I had never seen Rakali before so did not recognise them. According to the information board at the Breakwater entrance, Rakali have a thick water repellent coat which is black or brown, with an orange to white belly. Too bad it was too dark at the Breakwater to take photos of the Little Penguins successfully. I considered myself quite lucky to manage to get 2 shots of the cute little one when we saw it swimming towards the burrow as there was still a bit of light at that time! The way it swam was so cute and adorable! :)

Little Penguin just swam onshore, circled in red :)

Little Penguin just swam onshore, circled in red :)

On the left of this pic were many penguins in the rocky burrows, too bad can't see in the dark

On the left of this pic were many penguins in the rocky burrows, too bad can’t see in the dark

It was an exciting time here seeing and hearing so many penguins walking towards us on the wooden platform. In fact I heard a lot of them under the wooden platform where we stood, made me very happy just thinking about that hehe. Best part was visitors do not even need to pay any admission fee to see the Little Penguins and Rakali! :P

Although I did not spend a full day here at St Kilda and miss out on other attractions like Luna Sea, the Esplanade Hotel and popular restaurants, it was still a worthwhile trip made. I will have reasons to visit St Kilda next time should I visit Melbourne again. :)


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Lygon Street, Melbourne

Lygon Street is a street in inner northern Melbourne running through the suburbs of Carlton, Carlton North, Princes Hill and Brunswick East. In this precinct, you can find a mix of Italian restaurants, cafes, bars and traditional shops. No wonder it is called “Little Italy” by the locals, the place where Melbourne’s famous cafe culture was born. I love cafe-hopping, so this precinct was definitely on my itinerary. ;)

From my serviced apartment, it was about a 20-min walk to Melbourne’s Little Italy – turn right into Russell Street from La Trobe Street and just continue walking straight on this street and crossing about 4 traffic lights before reaching the precinct. There will be signboards indicating how far you are from the Lygon Street Precinct as well.

Yes I am just 3 min away from Lygon Street Precinct!

Yes I am just 3 min away from Lygon Street Precinct!

Compared to the city centre, the walk to Lygon Street seemed to be quieter with less tourists / foreigners. Yes I like this feeling, made me feel like I was back in Tasmania! :P Shortly after seeing this sign, I could see the street lined with many Italian restaurants and cafes and yes, Brunetti Carlton on 380 Lygon Street!

Brunetti Carlton @Lygon Court

Brunetti Carlton @Lygon Court

This is the flagship store of Brunetti in Melbourne, which began trading at its Faraday street location in 1985. The founder, Mr Giorgio Angele began his training in Rome when he was just 10 years old and came to Australia at age 23 as a pastry chef. He was then given an opportunity to migrate to Australia after working for a few years. Brunetti became so popular since it started its first store that it decided to open new branches in Melbourne from April 2005 (Melbourne’s City Square). In September 2011, they ventured overseas and decided to open the first international branch in Tanglin Mall, Singapore. I visited the Tanglin Mall branch before I went for my holiday and was WOW-ed over by its wide selection of pastries. :)

The flagship store was HUGE, my above photo collage probably only showed half the size of the store! There was another entrance to the savoury section but I did not take photos. Just trying to decide on what food, drink and/or desserts/ pastries to order was already a time-consuming process because everything, especially the pastries, all looked so good. :P Since it was almost lunchtime, I decided to order an all-day breakfast with a cup of mocha first, before I try some desserts. I guess those who know me well enough would know what I had ordered at the counter ;)

Benedettino & Mocha for lunch ;)

Benedettino & Mocha for lunch ;)

Haha ya… I have a soft spot for eggs benedict, so just could not resist ordering the Benedettino (which is poached eggs with ham, A$17.50 = S$20.60)! The Benedettino was quite big with generous portion of ham on toasted bread, deliciously filling. The Mocha (A$3.90=S$4.60) was good too. By the time I finished the food and beverage, I was too full for desserts although they were so tempting! So I gave up the idea and thought to myself I would walk around and buy some later to satisfy my craving (but I did not do that in the end).

I continued to wander along Lygon Street to check out the shops, restaurants and cafes after the sumptuous lunch. Perhaps it was daytime so there wasn’t a lot of buzz, but I did see quite a number of people chilling out in some of the restaurants and cafes. Below are some random street views for your viewing pleasure:

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Argyle Square - an Italian-themed park

Argyle Square – an Italian-themed park

Argyle Square is located off Lygon Street in Carlton. It is supposed to have an “Italian” theme, and features a bronze solar clock surrounded by traditional handcrafted paving made from Porphyry stone from the trento region in Italy. The square is pretty small though looks like a great place to relax by the beautiful purple flowers when you get tired from the walking.

I did have some room for desserts after the wandering-around but decided to explore other cafes. Read from one of the big information boards of Lygon Street that the first gelato cafe opened in the precinct was Casa Del Gelato, so I hunted it down, at 163 Lygon Street. Apparently, it is Australia’s first and longest-standing ice-cream boutique, with all 170 flavours of gelato made daily with fresh fruit and natural ingredients since 1980. But too bad it had a sign at the entrance saying that it was closed on Monday… Arrrghhh… Its website said it is opened daily from noon to midnight, not sure why the sign said “closed on Mondays”, I must have been so “lucky”. :(

It was a great 2-hour “tour” of Melbourne’s Little Italy and I did not regret walking all the way here to experience its cafe culture. Being close to the University of Melbourne also meant that there were several wallet-friendly restaurants and cafes for the undergraduates. If my stomach had been more “stretchable” I would definitely have tried out more cafes and spend a longer time here! :)


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Arts Centre Melbourne Sunday Market

Every Sunday from 10am – 4pm, the Arts Centre Melbourne’s lawn is filled with local artists and producers showcasing a variety of unique, handmade goods ranging from arts and crafts to freshly made delicacies. Before I arrived in Melbourne, I did not know about this market. It was a staff at Fraser Place Melbourne who suggested I should visit this after going to Queen Victoria Market, as it is an interesting marketplace that is only open every Sunday.

Since I ended the Queen Vic tour pretty early, I decided to give Arts Centre Melbourne Sunday Market a shot as it is not far from the city centre. According to the staff, it is about a 20-30 min stroll to the Sunday Market from the serviced apartment, just a short walk over the bridge from Federation Square.

The Sunday Market has about 80 stalls spread out on the Arts Centre Melbourne lawn in between Hamer Hall and Theatres Building at 100 St. Kilda’s Road, offering locally handmade products. Although it is not as large scale as Queen Vic, the relaxed feel of the craft market just made me glad that it was not a wasted trip.

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Not sure if not all the stalls open till 4pm, when I reached there around 3pm, it was quite quiet with less visitors already. You can roughly tell from the photos above I guess. ;) Nonetheless, I still spent a good hour exploring the artwork, handmade bags, beauty and leather products. Some of the products they sell here are really quite exquisite, but of course they do not come cheap. In the end, I bought a bunch of magnets from an artist who has migrated to Australia a long time ago, his stall was up the steps behind the lawn. I thought the hand-painted magnets were quite unique as each one shows a significant Australian wildlife or landmark, something different from the usual souvenirs, check it out below:

The friendly artist standing proudly in front of his stall, as requested by me :)

The friendly artist standing proudly in front of his stall, as requested by me :)

The stalls rotate positions regularly, so remember the stallholder instead of the where the stall was when you last visited. ;) Besides art & craft, there are a number of food stalls listed on its website, but somehow I missed most of them, what a waste! Next time I shall open my eyes bigger to check out the food there, especially the poffertjes (mini pancakes) and the lovely cupcakes shown on the website! ^^

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