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Category: attractions

Events and Public Holidays in Melbourne


In Melbourne there are quite a few events and public holidays that we all adhere to. On the public holidays most shops and offices are closed. Some of them have limited opening hours.

http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/AboutMelbourne/ArtsandEvents/Pages/EventsCalendar.aspx

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Visit the country


During your time in Melbourne you might like to visit the country. Here are some of the places that people visit. You can either do a day trip or spend a few days in the country. You can take the country (Vline) train from Melbourne to these places. Check out: http://www.vline.com.au.

1) Ballarat: http://www.visitballarat.com.au/food-wine/cafes-restaurants-pubs.aspx. Come here to visit Sovereign Hill, one of Victoria’s greatest attractions. http://www.sovereignhill.com.au/

2) Bendigo: http://www.bendigotourism.com/

3) Geelong: http://www.geelongaustralia.com.au/visiting/default.aspx. Visit here for their beautiful beaches

4) Gippsland:http://www.gippslandtourism.com.au/

5) Seymour: it doesn’t have its own website, but feel free to check this one out: http://www.travelvictoria.com.au/seymour/

exploring Gertrude st


Today I went to Gertrude st Fitzroy to explore it. It seemed like a lovely cool place to explore. A lot of students love to go here as there is some student friendly cafes and places just ten minutes by tram from Bourke st. It is in zone 1.
Gertrude st offers some good and affordable places such as De Clieu, Birdman Eating etc.
Two places that I went to:
1) De Clieu
This place attracts a lot of students, food critics, bloggers and the like. I can now see why it is ranked highly on Urbanspoon. Coffee is by Seven seeds. They have public cupping sessions at 3pm each Thursday. Like their big Seven seeds store in Carlton they only offer sandwiches and breakfasts, but they sure do stellar coffees.

They have an open kitchen as well as a fireplace.
I bought a vegetable pide ($11.50) and a mocha ($3.80)
The vegetable pide although nice, was a little bit too overpowering for me. They put too much sauce on there and I couldn’t taste much of the vegetables.
I can see why Adriennely, Eat and be merry for tomorrow we diet etc like this place.
2) Arcardia
They do coffees too and they were recommended by The Age good cafe guide. But I bought a ristretto from them as well as a portugese tart from them for $8. The ristretto was lukewarm, but was acidic and it did take a while to come out. (They were busy this morning). The portugese tart came out first.
Whilst I was waiting for the coffee I had a chance to take pictures and take information on Fitzroy and Collingwood.

The tart although nice could have been a bit warmer.
They do have a nice homely atmosphere and a lovely courtyard, like the some of the other Gertrude st cafes.
Some other sights I saw

De Clieu on Urbanspoon
Arcadia on Urbanspoon

Melbourne Winter festival


Today I went to the Melbourne Winter festival to check it out and will return a few times during the week. It is outside the Royal exhibition building and is open for this week from 12pm-10pm each day. You can get there by the number 86 and 96 trams as well as the free city circle tram. The closest train station is Parliament.  It was such a cold day that it is good to enjoy some of the spectacular winter sights and scenes here. I had great fun watching the ice skating in the Lipton Chai lodge. Here it is really warm and cosy.

Sorry this looks really bad, but my camera doesn’t take pictures in the dim light very well

I tried the free chais that was on offer.
I also tried, proffetjies for $5. These are little dutch pancakes which are mainly sweet. Here you can choose many toppings. The lady there was lovely.
There’s also crepes, sausages, pasta, pizzas, hot chocolate, alcohol, French wine, ice creams etc for you to try. Everything here is priced between $4-$10.
I didn’t walk away empty handed. Instead I got heaps free chai sachets thanks to Lipton.
Its free entry but to ice skate costs extra.

Lunch and crepes on and near hardware lane


I finally bought a new ENTERTAINMENT BOOK!!!! Yay! So at least I can have one year’s worth of discount offers. This time the book is much better; it has more solo dining offers. It also has offers on McDonalds, McCafe, Mrs Fields, Pie face ( I can’t wait to try the Lt Collins st store), Chillipadi (and Chilli India), Campari house and some other places. I can also use my membership to purchase tickets, magazines and other stuff online.
 I felt like sushi for lunch. So I consulted my list or places and Urbanspoon. I decided that I wanted to go close by and that I wanted to explore Hardware lane. I have read many good things about this lane.
1) Sushi deli
This place mainly does sushi, but by 1:30pm most of the sushi was all gone. However I did get to try the egg sushi ( about $2 perhaps)and the unagi don ($10.80).

Sushi Deli on Urbanspoon

My unfinished rice suggests that this is pretty bad.

The place is small and dingy and the posters looked a bit worn. Also most of the furnishings looked really old.
This place is run by Chinese, which warning bells sounded in my head, but it was too late… I already have ordered. I could see them microwave my meal…. which is also another bad sign. I dislike food that is microwaved as it does not taste fresh.
The sushi was not too bad, but it did almost fall apart towards the end
The Unagi don was worse. I forced myself to eat the fish and vegetables which were not fresh and the rice was microwaved and done really badly. Most Chinese restaurants use the cheap imported rice. I can think of much better places than this. The dish had too much msg.
Lets just say that they are only really good at making sushi. Avoid this place at all costs.

2) Creperie Le Triskel
After a rather disappointing lunch, I went exploring on Hardware lane and found Creperie Le triskel. Creperie Le Triskel is known to be a really great French creperie place. By then it was raining.

Creperie le Triskel on Urbanspoon
The place was very warm and friendly, unlike the other place. In here you can study with the French music playing in the background. I also liked the books as it suggests a quiet study place.
The waiter was rather friendly and unlike the other place he was really French.
I ordered a strawberry pancake with ice cream ($7.50 + $0.35 in tips). The pancake was really yummy and authentic. It was very filling.
The strawberries were fresh and sweet.
The crepe was freshly done. You can see them doing your crepe as you sit and wait for it.
Next time when I come I should try the savoury and sweet crepes. Also they are encouraged have an offer in the Entertainment book as it will be well recceived.

a visit to south Melbourne and the exam venue


Today I decided to do a dry run through to the exam venue (which by the way is Melbourne Sports and Aquatics centre in Albert park not at RMIT). I decided to do this test run to know how long it takes for me to get to the venue and where it is. And parking there is not cheap as I found out last time when I helped the Student Union with their exam support stall out there. I also wanted to know if there were any nearby shops and cafes around. I don’t want to eat at the Aquatics Centre, because the food there tastes really bad and like a dogs breakfast. When I was there last time I had a disgusting egg sandwich. Besides they don’t stock any healthy foods. And even if they do it would be expensive.

Melbourne Sports and Aquatics centre
It took me around 20-25 mins to get there by tram number 96 from the city. On the way I passed South Melbourne Market. The exam venue is located in zone 1. I got off at Wright st station and it was right in front of the station.

South Melbourne Market
On the way to Melbourne Sports and Aquatics centre last time I passed the South Melbourne Market and some of the South Melbourne cafes. I went in a car with Student Union.
This time I was eager to see what the South Melbourne Market had and how much meals were there. South Melbourne Market is about 5-10 mins by tram or by car from the exam venue and is in zone 1. There is free two hour parking there. But the only problem is that they are only open from 8am-4pm Wednesday through to Sunday. The people there are really lovely. I got one of South Melbourne’s famous Dim Sims (or Dimmies as they call them) for $1.60. They were really good, not like the ones at the local takeaway shops. They were really flavoursome and juicy, not dry like the ones that you get in the takeaway shops.

The flower shop

The fruit stalls

South Melbourne Market Dim Sims on Urbanspoon

There are also $5 Vietnamese Bread rolls and loads of good salads. There’s also a few coffee shops that brew their own coffee beans. The coffees there are always really freshly made. I didn’t get the chance to try these as I was full from my Dim Sim. There’s two or three organic places there that sell fresh food and groceries. There lots of cheap grocery places as well as lots of fresh food. I got two juicy mandarins for $0.50 altogether.
I got to try out one of the cheese there and found it to be really creamy.

The old paper shop deli
After South Melbourne Market I then ventured out on to Claredon st to see what good places I can find for coffee and lunch. There are heaps of them. There is even a Coles there. Claredon st is about 15-20 mins by tram 112 from Collins st in the city. And it is also about 5-10 mins from Melbourne Sports and Aquatics centre by car or by the 112 tram going to the city. The Max Brenners there looked really quiet. Maybe they were just really bad or maybe closed?
The place that really interested me the most is the Old paper shop deli. I loved the name of the shop. It reminded me of the good old times and it also implied that the food is fresh and homecooked. I was not wrong. I read that they have been around for 20 years. I thought that this is a proper bakery, but it is a cake shop that serves lunch and breakfast. Many students hang out here because it is affordable.
Here I had a huge hot chocolate ($3.80) and a vegetable sandwich with a mushroom salad ($15). The serves here are big. This is big enough to feed two people with small appetites. Although they used fresh vegetables I was not a fan of the salad. They have used waay too much chilli sauce and I could not taste the flavours of the vegetables. A bottom half of my sandwich was soaked in the dressing. I did like the sandwich though. It was really nice, but I think that they could have put a little less cheese in it.

The Old Paper Shop Deli on Urbanspoon

What I had for lunch

All in all it was a great experience and I would love to visit there again. Students if you are going to Melbourne Sports and Aquatics centre to do your exams, I suggest coming to South Melbourne for lunch. It is much cheaper and healthier and your body will thank you for it!

City library visit and Afternoon tea @ Journal cafe


Today was very busy in the RMIT library at Swanston st and I found it really hard to study. So I took a tram down to Collins st and walked a bit further up and turned right into Flinders lane and went to the City library and Journal Cafe
1) City library
The city library is next to the Centre for Adult Education. Here the library was really cosy and quiet, unlike Swanston library. I was able to get some work done. You can use the computers here for free provided that you book them. It is run by the City of Melbourne and open to the public.
To make you feel at ease there are free to read Vietnamese, Chinese, and other language magazines and books. But you can’t take the magazines out of the library. You can also learn English here.
There are fictional and non fictional books of every kind and subject. Unlike RMIT, there are also DVD movies and music that you can borrow for free. There is also a photocopy area, but I’m not sure how much it is to photocopy here.
There is a quiet study space upstairs and unlike RMIT it is actually very quiet.
Membership is free for everyone provided that you live in Victoria. You need to sign up online and bring in your ID and address into the library for it to be activated.

2) Journal Cafe.
The Journal Cafe is just outside the library entrance. This place specialises in chai tea and I have read really good reviews on urbanspoon.com. They only take cash only. The decor here is lively and I loved the music. You can study here with a good pot of chai tea. Here you can relax with a pot of chai latte ($4 for a big pot) and $10 for a big bowl of soup.
Today I had the pot of chai ($4), a Portuguese tart ($3) and a friand ($2). Both the friand and Portuguese tart were overprieced. The friand was really sweet and tasted like shortbread. It was so little that I worked out the price to be $0.50. WRONG!!! It was $2. The portuguese tart had too much pastry and not enough egg filling in it. And it was too cold. But the chai was done perfectly with the perfect blend of spice. You can add your own honey and milk in it. The pot of chai is enough for two people.

Journal Canteen on Urbanspoon

This is big enough for two people

This looks burnt but its actually the brown sugar

I would come back here for the chai and maybe to try out the soup and some other hot dishes.

Key on the wall restaurant and Lygon st, Carlton


Last night for dinner I went to Key on the Wall restaurant in Lygon st, Carlton with my library group. There was about twenty people in all. The place was a little bit hard to find, because Lygon st has many Italian restaraunts.

Lygon st
It is the Italian precinct of Melbourne. Here you will find many Italian food places such as Brunettis, Il Gambero and other Italian places. Here you can get authentic Italian food. Some of the Italian places are known for their “great espresso”. Brunetti’s is one such place. There are also many authentic Italian delis and shops. There is also a German spice shop here.
There are a few gelati places around where you can buy cheap desserts. There is also a famous bakehouse here, but I have not been yet.
There is also a little cinema that shows world movies known as Nova. Here there are great student specials.
There is also Borders and Readings bookshops where you can sit and read books. Inside Borders there is a Gloria Jeans coffee shop, where you can sit and read books for hours.
At nighttime the place can be a bit scary, with people hoon driving. There have been a few muggings and drunken people, especially after 9pm. Don’t walk to the tram stop alone at night (its about a few blocks away from Lygon st in Swanston st), walk to the bus stop instead. There are a few bus stops in Lygon st, where you can catch the bus to go back to the city. There are times posted at the bus stop, check them out during the daytime.

Key on the Wall Restaurant.
This restaurant is really small and cozy. The bus stop is just a block away from the restaurant. This is great for people like me that don’t like to walk to the tram stop after dark. I got there at 6:30pm. The restaurant was not too busy when I arrived, but later on it did get busy. I liked the authentic Italian decor and the photographs on the wall. When you are in Lygon st and dining in an Italian restaurant this is what you will find. They served wine by the glass. This is also what you will find here in Lygon st.
The waiter was really friendly, although it did take a a while for us to order. He was also really attentive, waiting for everyone to finish before clearing the plates.
The meals range from $15.90 (entree) to $26/$27 (mains). Here there is not a lot of vegetarian meals. There is heaps of seafood meals, as the Italians love their seafood.
I had a fettucine with pesto and pinenuts in an entree size ($15.90). The entree size is big enough to fill you up. It was really cheesy which I liked. The sauce was consistent and the pasta was cooked perfectly.

My dessert looks beautiful

Our free bread- look how small it is!

For dessert I had strawberry crepes ($9.90). Here this was done the French way which I liked. I loved the decorations on the plate and the cream. It was so worth the money.
This restaurant is good for only special occasions such as birthdays and weddings. Because of the price, I wouldn’t go there everyday. If there was something special I would come back
Key on the Wall on Urbanspoon

geelong- the fine food and seafood region


I went to Geelong with my friend yesterday by train. It wasn’t raining. It was a bit cold though, but there were bursts of sunshine throughout the day. We had a great time yesterday and I met my budget of $50 and under. The train trip with the return trip costed me around $13.40. Mind you this is on a full fare ticket. It also included free zone 1 and 2 travel throughout Melbourne. The trip to Geelong from Melbourne takes about 1 hour by train, but there are also buses from other country towns that service Geelong. We can also drive to Geelong for the same amount of time, but neither of us had a car.
1) The Beaches and Scenic Stuff
After we got off the train we went to the Eastern beach and saw some of the scenic stuff. There were so many cute bollards there. There were also lots and lots of fishing boats as well. If you really like seafood, then you should visit Geelong. There was a boat that sells fresh mussels and plates of seafood paella for $10, but I already made a booking elsewhere for lunch. Maybe next time though. There is also a Cunningham Pier where people can go fishing.

The Groove train where they forgot my tea bag

Look how bad this pizza looks

These eggplant chips were great

The chocolate mousse

Groove Train - Geelong on Urbanspoon

The tea (this time my tea bag was remembered)!

We went walking along the beaches; they were nicely laid out and there were some beachside cafes and houses across the road from the beach. I loved seeing the sea and maybe next summer I will come back here for a holiday. It brought back a few fond memories of my childhood with my parents in Melbourne, holidaying in Geelong.
Later on in the day we saw lots and lots of banners advertising the Geelong Football team. In Melbourne during the winter there are a lot of football games, most of which are played at Etihad Stadium or in MCG stadium. If you have a chance you should see the matches. On the train there were a lot of Geelong supporters.
2) Lunch at Groove train
After the beach and the scenic walk we decided to head to the Groove train. I had made a booking, based on my high expectations and people’s good reviews. I was very disappointed. I liked the big space and the friendliness of the staff and the eggplant chips ($13). The pizza ($10 special) was really bad; cold, soggy, too much cheese and not enough varieties of vegetables, nothing to rave about here. Oh yeah, the waitress forgot my tea bag and I had to ask her. I shouldn’t have to do that.
3) Shopping at Westfield
Westfield has many small shops and is a big shopping complex. All the department stores here are really small. Even Sanity and Borders are small, compared to the ones in the city. Borders was having a massive sale, because they are closing down their Geelong store in four days time, but there was nothing that I really needed.
There is a small Coles in Westfield as well as Priceline and a big Chemist warehouse. Here also has a small Hairhouse Warehouse with not much in it.
We also went window shopping in Market Square but we found it to be really boring.
4) Afternoon tea at the Chocolate Room
The Chocolate Room is just a short walk away from the Market Square and the railway station. This store specializes in chocolates and teas, but they also sell lunch. They also sell chocolate items as well as the suckao cup that I saw at Max Brenners in the city. But this one is red, a colour that I normally like. The decor and ambience here is really warm and they even have writing on the wall. They also have tasting plates ($8.50 per plate) and fondue for $9 per person and you get to choose what you want with it. The ones at Max brenners don’t have much variety.  Here we had a triple chocolate mousse ($6.50), a green tea ($3.30 per mug) and a cappuccino (I think that it was also the same price as the green tea). Here was much better than the lunch we had at the Groove train.
The chocolate mousse came with fresh cream and was rich in texture and was very filling. I loved the little chocolate swirl. I also loved that the cream was fresh and not like one of those ones that you get out of a can. This mousse is a little bit better than the one at Max brenners and doesn’t cost as much. Their one is $10 for a small circle.
The lady there was really friendly and she took one picture for us.

So if you have time you should come and visit Geelong. You should budget around $50-$100 for a day stay and $500-$1000 for a week stay. There is a car rental place near the station, about a minutes walk from it. There are several apartments across the road from the beaches, but I don’t know how much it is to stay per night. People in Geelong are really friendly and are willing to help you out. There are several maps around the cbd, should you ever get lost.

burgers, tea and a visit to the NGV art gallery


Veggie burger and chips

The Tea Room on Urbanspoon
Café Keyif on Urbanspoon

Turkish coffee

Oven vegetables risotto

the tea room

the tea room. Notice how every there is expensive.

Sorry if I accidently took a photo of you. I was trying to take it of the water fountain behind you.

 Today I went to the NGV Art Gallery and lunched with my friend at a new place called CafeKeyIf. This place was just opened recently and is near the Medina hotel. A lot of backpackers come here because the food here is really cheap.
I went in there with my entertainment card thinking that I could get the buy one get one free meal deal and they told me it was for dinner only. WTF? They could have stated it in the offer.
But the meal made up for it. There are quite a few vegetarian dishes on the menu. If you go in there at lunchtime all the meals are $10 each, except for soup which is $6.50. There is a cake and coffee deal there for $6.50 but I was too full to try it. Here’s what we ordered: a veggie burger with chips- $10, hot chocolate- $4, Turkish coffee- $3 and a roast vegetable risotto- $10. They forgot the salad, but the risotto tasted quite nice, quite tomatoey.
With my burger I opted to have egg in it. It was $2.50 extra. The burger tasted quite nice. The veggie pattie was really juicy and moist, not like the ones that you buy outside at a BBQ.
I loved the aroma of the Turkish coffee, this looked like it was nicely done. I didn’t drink it because I can’t drink coffee, but my friend said it was nice.
The NGV Art Gallery
Moving right along….after lunch we decided to head to the NGV Art Gallery by tram. It is about a two minute walk from Flinders St Station. Outside of it are a concert hall and the Yarra Bridge.
This is free for all the public to see the artworks, except of course for some exhibitions. We saw the water fountain on the way in and took some photos of it. There are three levels of artworks with heaps and heaps of free viewing. There was a teapot, European artworks, Asian Collection, Photography and International design exhibitions which were all free. There were lots of people here today. There were two or three school excursions going on.
There are free tours on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, but you need to book it at the information desk, near the souvenir shop.
Some of the paintings were really beautiful to see and there was a changing light ladder artwork. This is where it was in the dark and the colours changed all the time. I loved seeing all the old teapots.
But I wonder why there is only one set of toilets on each level with one toilet in it. We had to line up for ages to get a toilet. There should be more toilets.
I didn’t have a chance to take a picture of the souvenir shop, but there are plenty of good things around. Most of the things are made in China. Everything in the shop is really expensive, but we did pick up a few free postcards on the way.
There are three cafes here, but we only had the chance to visit one of them; The tea room.
You can sign up to be a member for $69 per year. Here you will get discounted entry and the use of the members lounge in all the NGV galleries in Melbourne.
The Tea Room
I was inspired to try this after seeing all the teapots and crockery on display at the museum. It was down on the first floor and we took the lift down. We had to wait to be seated and it wasn’t long until we were. Pots of tea were $7.50 each, but they were so big, that you have to share with two people. We did order a pot of green tea.  The green tea was really strong which I liked. There was also a $45 high tea set for two, but we weren’t hungry. However I did order two macaroons, one orange and the other salty caramel. The salty caramel one was very sweet and the orange one was orangey which I like.
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