Adventures in Melbourne, Victoria

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A few weeks ago Julia and I travelled to Melbourne for a five night stay to tour the city and also venture further out to get a taste of what regional Victoria has to offer.  At 18 years of age I moved to Melbourne from Auckland to live for 3 years and had not been back since, so I was excited to return with Julia and show her the places I love and explore what was new in the city.  A lot has changed in the 6 years I had been in Melbourne - new restaurants, cafes, green spaces, apartments.  Melbourne has the most restaurants and cafes per capita in the world so it is forever changing which makes it an exciting city.  It is easy to see why in 2015 Melbourne was voted the most liveable city in the world!  There is something for everyone!

Our trip was short but sweet with lots of food consumed, alley ways walked, cocktails drunk, photos taken and people watching.  We will share with you our highlights and "must do's" for when you travel to this vibrant city!

Yarn Bombing in Melbourne City Square
Yarn Bombing in Melbourne City Square
Fresh Fruit Stall on Swanson Street
Fresh Fruit Stall on Swanson Street
On our way to dinner
On our way to dinner

The Press Club The Press Club was founded by Master Chef star, George Colombaris. The Press Club is situated in the old Herald building, which is how the restaurant got its name.  With only 30 seats in the restaurant your dining experience is very intimate, the interior has a luxe feel with curved leather booths and gold surfaces. We were lucky enough to dine at The Press Club Projects, a small experimental kitchen that seats up to 14 people. The chef cooks all the meals in front of you so you can learn, ask questions and then enjoy your meal.  We had 8 courses that were specially prepared by Colombaris' research and development Chef. The Press Club was the highlight of our trip and a foodies dream!

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Chin Chin Chin Chin is Asian Fusion at its best! A fun and modern take on Thai food with a shared plate emphasis. Chin Chin won number 1 spot in a list of 100 top places to eat in Australia and after dining here we can see why. Chin chin is known for its flavoursome spicy curries, duck salad, banana leaf grilled salmon and pork belly. All the meals were refreshing and special in their own way. Chin Chin has an extensive wine and cocktail list and an out of this world dessert menu. It has a no reservation policy so there can be a wait for a table, but it's worth it!

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Dinner by Heston Dinner by Heston is a top restaurant created by Heston Blumenthal, British Celebrity Chef. When we arrived at the restaurant we walked up a dark hallway thinking we had reached a dead end, only for a sliding door to let us in. It felt like we had entered a secret restaurant and had an Alice In Wonderland type feel.  The restaurant itself looks over Southbank and every hour, on the hour, you can watch the fire display. The service is what you would expect in such an exclusive restaurant and the food is exceptional! Each dish has a story behind it, based on 600 year old British recipes that have been adapted to make them more modern. The signature dish, meat fruit (pictured) is a must try, a creamy and sweet chicken liver parfait that has been moulded inside mandarin jelly. I ordered the lamb and was so impressed by the flavours. If you have a sweet tooth you must try the post dessert treat of ice cream that is hand made in front of you on a trolley using nitrogen gas. A restaurant more on the expensive side but worth it for a special occasion or just to treat yourself. Be warned, the waiting list for a reservation can be up to 6 months!

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Padre CoffeeGood coffee isn't hard to find in Melbourne, there are cafes EVERYWHERE. One of our favourite coffee spots is Padre Coffee, a quirky cafe situated at Shop 48, Royal Arcade, Elizabeth Street.

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Hidden Secrets Tour of MelbourneAfter spending three years living in Melbourne I thought I had seen all of the sights, turns out I hadn't even scratched the surface! The Hidden Secrets Tour of Melbourne is a 3 hour walking tour of some of the laneways, arcades and cafes.  Our tour guide knew Melbourne like the back of his hand and we got taken to places you would not think to venture.

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Doughnut Time We love to treat ourselves every now and then and we found a cute doughnut store on Degraves Lane called Doughnut Time. Some of the flavours include: 'Zero Chill', Butterscotch glaze topped with Hershey's kisses and crushed Oreos.  'The Mugatu', Cream glaze topped with pecan and white chocolate pieces and 'The Cookie Monster', Cream and chocolate glaze, marshmallow & chocolate biscuit filling and topped with an Oreo.  Degraves Lane is known for its bluestone cobbles, cafes and boutique shops.

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Crown Metropol While in Melbourne City we stayed at Crown Metropol. Only a short walking distance or tram ride to Flinders Street and Federation Square.

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Yarra Valley Yarra Valley is located 50 minutes from Melbourne City Centre. A short drive and you feel like you are miles away from the city as there are so many open spaces and long winding roads.  Yarra Valley is not short on things to do - vineyard tours, wine tasting, hot air ballooning, garden tours, an animal sanctuary, Tarrawarra Museum, afternoon tea and antique shopping.

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Hot Air Ballooning We woke in the early hours of the morning to meet our hot air balloon pilot for an hour long flight over the Yarra Valley.  Views of vineyards, green valleys and rivers - it was picture perfect! We watched the sunrise and were given a tour from above of the vineyards, estates, listened to stories of marriage proposals and had plenty of photo opportunities.  This is a must do in Yarra Valley!

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Coombe Estate Once the home of world famous opera singer Dame Nellie Melba and now a winery, garden, restaurant and wedding venue. Our jaws were on the floor when we toured Coombe Estate, it is truly beautiful and our photos do this place no justice.  If you are Melbourne based and are looking for wedding venue, THIS IS THE PLACE!

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Mornington PeninsulaAfter Yarra Valley we moved onto beautiful Mornington Peninsula for a night stay. Mornington Peninsula is well known for its food and wine culture including many vineyard tours, beaches and hot springs. During our stay we went on a day tour with Elite Day Tours where we were taken for lunch to Green Olive, visited a winery to learn about the wine making process, had one of Mornington's famous vanilla slices, visited the Portsea Beach boat shed and bathing boxes and soaked in the natural hot tubs at Peninsula Hot Springs.

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Port Phillip Estate Our accommodation for the night was at Port Phillip Estate. It sits on a picturesque vineyard and it is well known for its sculptural design, large restaurant and its accommodation wing which is hidden from the public view. It was one of the most luxurious places we have ever stayed and is worth visiting, even just for a wine tasting.

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Victoria, thank you for having us, we most definitely will be back!