A weekend in Melbourne – day 1

Melbourne, Australia. A city that lays claim to many accolades – the cultural capital of Australia, a culinary hotspot, first-class shopping; not to mention having been voted the world’s most liveable city on more than one occasion.

Let me tell you  – the praise is well deserved.

If you’re following my blog then you’ll know I travelled with my husband to Melbourne for the Easter weekend. I consider myself to be a well-travelled person but surprised myself at how excited I was to be “crossing the ditch” (which is how we Kiwis refer to making the short trip from New Zealand to Australia).

In fact the flight to Melbourne is around 3½ hours, but considering it takes so long to get anywhere else in the world from New Zealand 3½ hours is about as quick as it gets if you want to travel abroad. And it goes right up to 24 hours to London!

Despite the fact we were only in Melbourne for three nights I can honestly say it was one of the best times I’ve ever had. Everything about the weekend was perfect – perfect!

So where did it all go right?

I would say that it’s not so much what we did but more the fact that everything we did do turned out exactly as I’d planned, if not better. Like I said, I’ve travelled a lot in my lifetime and I’ve always struggled between whether to plan, plan, plan or to fly by the seat of my pants and take the holiday as it comes. Although the latter sounds glamorous and conjures images of your free-spirited self gliding through the days, the lack of planning doesn’t always come off. You can waste so much time deciding what to do and how to do it, or how to get there, or whatever, that by the end of the holiday you feel as though you’ve missed out.

I’ve found that there is indeed a middle ground between these two approaches to a holiday and it worked a treat for Melbourne. It helped that we were staying in an apartment offered to us by friends – recommendations from a local is always a good starting point.

My lovely friend Karen picked us up from the airport – always nice to start a holiday by being chauffeur driven to your accommodation. The apartment where we were staying was in St Kilda Road, the Southbank area of Melbourne. We had the most stunning view of the Royal Botanic Gardens from our living room.

It’s a great area of Melbourne to base yourself. Trams run into the city centre and the Southbank Promenade and Southgate precinct is only a short walk. Set on the southern bank of the Yarra River, Southgate is a major entertainment precinct of Melbourne, constantly bustling and offers plenty in the way of shops, restaurants and bars.

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We headed out as soon as we’d left our luggage to make this short walk. Before reaching the river and Princes Bridge we passed the National Gallery of Victoria. I was so excited to see they had a Van Gogh Exhibition – an absolute must, I thought. Until we realised it didn’t begin until the end of April. Bitterly disappointing.

We then passed the Melbourne Arts Centre, a famous landmark that is at the centre of Melbourne’s arts precinct.

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From there it’s a lovely walk across Princes Bridge at which point you’ll reach Flinders Street Station. Another famous landmark. A stunning piece of architecture it dominates a whole block and sits beautifully among Melbourne’s more modern structures.

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Directly opposite is St Paul’s Cathedral, which is yet another of Melbourne’s stunning landmarks.

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We walked on to Federation Square, where we were having lunch with our friends. This is a key area of central Melbourne. In fact it is probably considered to be at the very heart of modern Melbourne. It’s a lively area, home to many cultural attractions, events and an array of bars, restaurants and shops. A great place to spend some time and to use as a base from where you can catch transport and explore the rest of Melbourne.

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We lunched Italian and then moved on for coffee and drinks. Take your pick – there’s plenty of choice here.

After a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon we headed back to our apartment to unpack, rest up and garner plenty of energy for dinner that evening.

I’m very pleased to be able to save the best for last because dinner was one of those meals that will hold in my memory for quite some time. The restaurant was a choice of mine – Bistro Vue in Little Collins Street. Traditional French technique meets contemporary European style is how the cuisine is described. The combination made for the most incredible food. In fact, the entire eating experience was a complete delight. Service was impeccable and the decor and ambience made you feel as though you were sitting in a bistro in the heart of France.

We started the night with drinks in the Oyster Bar – a must.

Then came the food. Oysters and smoked ocean trout kicked things off. My husband then had what he claims is perhaps the best steak he’s ever eaten. My beef cheeks were beyond delicious with meat so incredibly tender every mouthful sent me to food heaven.

Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better we ordered Tarte Tatin for dessert. It was delivered to our table still pastry side up and then flipped in front of us. It’s a wonderful moment when the caramel and apples are unveiled.

What a treat and what a way to end my first Melbourne post. It was the high point of the day and I felt confident it was only the beginning of many great food experiences to be enjoyed in Melbourne.

Stay tuned – next week I’ll share with you the second instalment of my visit to this fantastic city.

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12 Comments

  1. annika says:

    Glad to see that you had an amazing first day! You are indeed so lucky to be just a hop away. I’ve never been to this part of the globe but I do hope I can visit at least once in my lifetime! If I am lucky enough to visit Melbourne, I will just follow your itinerary! Looking forward to day 2!

    Liked by 1 person

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