After a few days on a rocky boat, we were excited for our next taste of another Australian City. Staying with friends in North Brighton, south of of the city, after the tiny quarters on the boat, we also relished a full-sized bed and warm, spacious shower!
For brunch, our friends recommended Plain Sailing in Elwood and it did not disappoint! Two incredible Middle Eastern fry ups later (one lamb, one cauliflower) – we were already in love with Melbourne! A mooch up and down Elwood High Street with a coffee was just delightful – lots of shops to browse in and endless dining opportunities.
That evening we had booked to see the Penguin Parade at Phillip Island – where the penguins walk up the beach after sunset. A long and quite tedious 2 ½ hour drive ensued, with very few signs of life en route! Arriving at the Phillip Island at about 8pm, we bagged a front row seat on the bandstand. We patiently waited for an hour or so until it got dark – make sure you take lots of clothes as it gets really cold!. After a while, our patience was rewarded and a couple of Little Penguins arrived on the beach! Nervously assessing their surroundings, they were spooked by the seagulls a couple of times but after a while they became braver and headed up the beach. A few more groups of 10-15 penguins followed and it was magical to be so close to them! Walking through the boardwalks afterwards, we were able to see the penguins heading back to their burrows and reuniting with their mates, which was super cute! It was a bit of a pain to get there, but we were both so pleased we’d made the effort and would definitely recommend it! Tickets were about $30 AUD. Top tip – if you’re planning to eat afterwards, take some food with you as there were virtually no restaurants within a couple of hours drive of the Penguin Parade!
Jumping on the train into the city, we arrived at Flinders Street and mooched through the city. Struggled to find somewhere ourselves for brunch, we took our friend’s recommendation again of Higher Ground – and were pleased we had done so! Roast pumpkin was sweet and tasty and accompanied by burrata and a black garlic emulsion, whilst the lamb ribs were extremely moreish. The service however was a bit lacking and quite standoffish, but you can’t win them all!.
Unsure of where to venture next, we walked to Queen Victoria Market and had a little mosey around, before jumping on a jam packed tram towards the river and walking along the South Bank. It was fairly uninspiring, so we crossed the river and walked to Federation Square, grabbing a drink by the river for some people watching.
We stumbled across a couple of graffitied streets and then jumped back on a tram to Naked for Satan – a rooftop bar in Fitzroy, with great views of the city (if you can grab a seat looking in that direction!). Dinner was at Gazi – a modern Greek tapas-style restaurant, where we had the exceptional set menu. Dips and pitta were followed by saganaki cheese, watermelon salad, seared tuna, Greek chips and chicken thighs, finished off with some Greek doughnuts. The restaurant was beautifully decorated, with hundreds of terracotta pots hanging from the ceiling and a great atmosphere. Whilst not cheap, the food was most definitely worth it!
We grabbed a quick drink at the floating Arbory Bar – which is probably a bit more exciting during the day than in the dark of night!
Brunch at St Ali – a shabby chic, industrial warehouse type restaurant, where we had tasty chorizo, eggs and potato rostis. A few minutes’ walk away is South Melbourne Market and a plethora of fresh food and restaurants. If we hadn’t just had a full brunch, we could have whiled a few hours away sampling lots of different dishes!
We spent the afternoon in St Kilda, grabbing a drink overlooking the beach and spotting a couple of penguins hiding in the rocks on the beach!
That evening we headed to Chapel Street, just east of St Kilda. Popping our name on the list for a restaurant, we walked across the road to a sandwich shop – where a cocktail bar, Jungle Boy, is hidden through a fridge! The cocktails were tropical and delicious and we sat in the cute courtyard out the back. Then to Woods of Windsor – an old-fashioned American-style bar – for more tasty cocktails!
Dinner was now calling (literally!) – so we crossed the road to Mr Miyagi for an Asian-fusion feast – salmon tacos, pork belly and chicken bao buns, prawn & pork dumplings, seared salmon sushi, green tea noodle salad and crispy fried chicken with kewpie mayo. YUM. The food was incredible and the night was the perfect end to our time in Melbourne – and Australia!
We loved exploring the different suburbs of Melbourne and were so pleased to have been staying with friends, who could show us around. Ordinarily, if we’d been flying solo, we would have tried to see more of the city, but Melbourne is ALL about the surrounding neighbourhoods, each with their own identity. The little time we did spend in the city was more than enough! If we were visiting Melbourne again, we’d probably choose to stay in a couple of suburbs to get a feel for different neighbourhoods.
Our time in Australia was up! Australia is firmly back on our list for a future holiday – we absolutely loved the people, culture, food, beaches and weather and could’ve easily continued exploring, if time had allowed! However, our next adventure was about to commence – it was time for New Zealand!