Australia, week one: Melbourne

We spent a whirlwind three days in and around Melbourne, Australia.

“…there never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them.” This should probably be my theme song for travel. We fell in love with Melbourne. I want to go back for the Australian Open Tennis Tournament. Attending the Australian Open had been on my bucket list. I thought for sure if I ever went to Australia, or certainly Melbourne, it would include tickets to tennis. As things turned out, our travel didn’t take us anywhere near Melbourne in January. Melbourne at the end of March ended up working out okay. Of course we totally wished we had had more time there.

We arrived our hotel mid afternoon on Friday. The boutique hotel our travel agent booked was really fun and we could actually see the tennis stadiums from the hotel. Great location near the CBD (central business district).

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Hotel Lindrum (photo credit: hotellindrum.com.au)

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Hotel Lindrum Lobby

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Hotel Lindrum Lobby Bar

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Our room was beautiful (photo credit: hotellindrum.com.au)

We ventured out to find something to eat and got caught up in all the amazing street art that graces the laneways (alleys) of Melbourne. Amazing art, legally presented, down the alleys of the Melbourne CBD.

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This is a collage of street art photos found within a few blocks of our hotel. The art on the left is the first we spotted, in the alley behind our hotel.

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One entire side of AC/DC Lane is currently dedicated to Prince.

It was a really busy Friday night in downtown Melbourne with lots going on including the Grand Prix just outside the CBD. We found a fun underground tapas restaurant and feasted on wonderful ceviche.

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Saturday morning we were up and out for our scheduled walking tour of Melbourne’s Arcades and Laneways. But first, our hotel came with an amazing breakfast assortment. I have had avocado toast numerous times in the U.S. and in fact make it all the time for myself at home, but it is not often offered on American breakfast menus. I am here to say it is quite popular down under. Avocado toast everywhere!!! I opted for it every chance I got.

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The Lindrum’s Avocado toast was especially delicious as they kicked it up a notch with feta cheese mixed in with the avocado.

We loved our walking tour. We met up with the guide at Federation Square, across from the famous Flinders Street Railway Station.

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Flinders Street Station

Flinders Station is an icon of Melbourne and a popular meeting place, under the clocks. Our guide told us lots of stories about the station, there’s a ballroom inside, but possibly the most interesting is that during the 1956 Olympics held in Melbourne, the Soviet Union Coaches were so concerned about their track & field athletes training along side other countries (fear of defection) that a running track was installed on top of Flinders Station for their private training.

Our tour took us mostly inside the shopping arcades and down the more interesting and popular laneways. Although most of the arcades and laneways have been around since the mid to late 1800’s, it has really been during the past 25 years or so that Melbourne has set itself apart from other Australian cities by allowing urban art to proliferate in the central business district and embracing a creative and unique culture. Melbourne also boasts a good number of amazing chefs and restaurants.

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Degraves Street

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Block Arcade Shopping

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A much needed snack half way through our walking tour.

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The original Melbourne downtown post office is now a clothing store.

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Another trip down AC/DC Lane. We found out that the week after Prince passed away, artists came together and dedicated one side of AC/DC laneway to Prince. Artists are allowed to paint over another artist’s work if they think theirs will be better. No one has painted over this homage to Prince.

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Even the dedicated recycling alleys are beautiful.

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A Famous Tea Room Inside Block Arcade

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St. Paul’s Cathedral across from Federation Square, Melbourne.

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Our tour ended with lunch at a tapas restaurant in this alley. We ate a lot of tapas in Melbourne. 🙂

After lunch and a bit more walking around on our own, we headed back to Degraves Street for dessert.

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Doughnut Time had great donuts and their names and flavors were very creative.

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Sunday, our last day in the Melbourne area, was spent on a wonderful tour outside the city. This would be our first glimpse at some of the unique marsupials found in Australia and a good opportunity to see and hear birds. Australia has A LOT of bird varieties.

We set out early, before the day got too hot as I think kangaroos spend a good deal of the day hidden in the shade on warmer days. We drove to Serendip Sanctuary where we saw  a mob of kangaroos in their natural habitat. It was really difficult to get a good photo with my iPhone. There were others on the small tour who had fancy cameras and huge lenses and tripods and all that. One was a photographer for a magazine. We just snapped a few candids and enjoyed watching these amazing animals.

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Serendip Sanctuary. Apparently kangaroos like grassy areas with bush nearby, like this. They are very cautious.

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The iPhone zoomed in all the way on a pair of adult roos with a Joey hanging out of mama’s pouch. It is difficult to see in the photo, but it was so so cute watching these babies just hanging there looking at us. There were quite a few babies in the group. So sweet.

We drove around Serendip for a while spotting all kinds of birds and quite a few Emu. At one point our driver stopped, backed up, pulled over and let everyone out of the van. He had spotted a Tawny Frogmouth up in a tree. What the what?

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On the left is what the bird looks like. On the right is the tree in which our guy spotted the bird from the dirt road. Yeah, I know right where the thing is and I have a difficult time seeing it, in a zoomed in photo from right under the tree. I guess that is why he is a nature guide and I am not!

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A sample of a few of the birds we saw at the sanctuary… top left, Willie Wagtail (he wags his tail when he walks), top right Eastern rosella, bottom right, Magpie, bottom left, Kookaburra, and middle left, crested pigeon.

Australia has the most amazing selection of birds. We also saw gorgeous fairy wren at a billabong (isolated pond) in the sanctuary, but photographing birds is no joke. I don’t know how people get these shots. I guess really expensive equipment and whole lot of patience?

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Fairy Wren.

We also saw gobs and gobs of cockatoos, which I used to think were exotic. Well, not anymore. They are loud, obnoxious birds that act like a common crow. Obviously they are prettier, but not very well mannered.

After Serendip Sanctuary, we headed to the You Yangs Regional Park in search of Koala. We walked through miles of bush. This area of forest is monitored closely by the Koala Clancy Foundation in an effort to improve habitat and save koalas from extinction. The koalas are tracked and identified by their unique nose patterns, located on maps using a GPS system and reported. The research is compiled into reports for study. Some of the koalas located in this area were injured, nursed to health and reintroduced back to the You Yangs. The purpose of this foundation in this specific area is for education, and improvement of habitat through invasive plant removal and tree planting. Over the years, the koala habitats have been significantly adversely affected by humans.

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Sugar gum eucalyptus forest

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This is Mara and her baby is above her, mostly hidden by branches and leaves.

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This is Becky. She was hit by a car, nursed back to health, and reintroduced to the forest last year.

We also saw a big, old male, but I was unable to get a good photo of him.

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I was enamored with this dead tree in the You Yangs Park. I still think it is pretty cool.

That ends our quick trip to the Melbourne area of Victoria, Australia.

On the ride back into town, our driver asked everyone where they were headed next. A couple of us were headed up to the rainforest near Port Douglas in North Queensland. He warned us of a cyclone heading that way and suggested we contact our travel agents, which we attempted to do when we got back to our hotel.

A lot more on that in my next and last Down Under travel post.

6 thoughts on “Australia, week one: Melbourne

  1. Melbourne is my favourite city. I haven’t been in years. But a friend relocated there about two years ago, and I am definitely going!

    Love the dead tree pic, too. Must synchronise our ‘watches’ and meet there during the tennis in the next year or two xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oooh, yes please. I loved Melbourne and totally want to go back. What a fun and funky city. Every laneway was chock full of great looking restaurants, and so much going on! I can see why it is your favorite. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • We loved our time in Australia. I almost ordered the OH MY LORDE donut (in honor of just having been in NZ) which was Vanilla & Passionfruit Glaze, topped with meringue, freeze dried strawberries, raspberry powder & party curls. Very fun donut shop, and city! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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