Drury Family Tour of Australia Part 1
Yippee its finally here, our summer holidays! I am writing this blog for our tour of Australia so my friends and family can see what we are up to, but also as a bit of a travel guide for those looking to visit some of these places.
We are visiting Melbourne, Hobart, Gold Coast, Cairns, Sydney and Uluru. Each location will be its own separate post, If you are planning a trip and have any questions about places to eat or things to do please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will be happy to help if I am able.
I hope you enjoy the blog, feedback is most welcome!
18/07/2019 – First Impressions
We checked into the IBIS Central Melbourne Hotel but unfortunately they couldn’t get us rooms together as we requested, to make it up to us they upgraded one of our rooms for free, or to be specific, our room, sorry Matthew! The Ibis is in a great location in the middle of the Central Business District (CBD), the rooms are small but really good – for a budget hotel I was really impressed with the facilities for example built in Chrome-cast streaming etc. I would certainly recommend it.
We dropped our gear and went on a mission for food – a quick look on trip adviser pointed us to Hardware Street just around the corner from the hotel which was full of restaurants. We settled on the Israeli place called Miznon the setting was nice and the food was interesting, including a whole baked cauliflower and a paper bag full of beans, the schnitzel was really good.
On the way back to the hotel I found an amazing gaming shop which was full of stuff, my master plan of using backpacks for mobility to stop Gill buying a load of crap has already backfired as I didn’t have room for all the goodies I wanted.
We stopped in a local supermarket to get some supplies and were a bit confused when everything in there was the same as what’s in Shanghai – how disappointing, we were expecting cool Australian stuff. After passing a load of dumpling and noodle places and another Asian supermarket we realised I had managed to book us accommodation into the edge of Chinatown – Doh! We just travelled 14 hours to get a change from China.
It’s amazing how your outlook changes with experience, before we lived in Shanghai, Chinatown would be one of our first stops when in any major city, now it’s the last place we want to be as we get it every day!
First impressions of Melbourne are its a cool multi-cultural city with a funky vibe and every type of food you could ever want. I think we will have a good time here.
19/07/2019 – Little Penguins
We started the day with an amazing breakfast at Trunk Diner – I can’t recommend this place enough, a nice atmosphere and top quality food.
We then went to meet our walking tour guide Hugo from Walks 101 Hugo was a friendly fella who kept us entertained as we walked through the major sights of Melbourne. This was a great way to start our time here, the tour lasted 2.5 hours and gave us a taste of the city and lay of the land, we made mental notes of places to return to tomorrow for a look in more detail.
We saw loads of cool stuff like AC/DC lane (named of course to honor the band), and one of the city founders was a guy called John Batman, i’m sorry but the child in me had to chuckle every time I saw a reference to him – surly Batman Avenue should be in Gotham City!
Melbourne emits a cool hip vibe – even the crossing signals are 50/50 genders, you can only cross when the little green “person” flashes (it might be a man or a woman)
I totally recommend the tour as its totally risk free, you don’t pay anything up front, can leave at any time and then at the end you pay what you think it is worth. It’s a great system ensuring a quality experience – We were very happy with it. The tour ended at the Old Gaol where Hugo told us all about Ned Kelly and then took us to the pub for a pint where he was held before his hanging – perfect end to a fab tour!
Melbourne has the worlds biggest tram system, its brilliant, they run frequently everywhere and travel within the CBD is completely free! – we took a tram to St Kilda on the coast, about 30 minutes out from the CBD, had a lovely walk on the beach and then visited the pier for a very special experience.
The pier was build as a huge wave break for the marina, but what they didn’t intend was for it to be colonised by 1,300 little penguins, they go out to sea during the day for food and return to the rookery at sunset. Watching the sun go down in such a picturesque place was brilliant but it because really special when one by one the little penguins appeared in front of us on the rocks, totally ignoring us and going about their business they walked inches from our feet to their preferred spots.
Of course I had a little pat of one which was a real highlight for me, anyone who knows me knows the lengths I go to get get physical contact with different animals. I don’t know why I do it, I just get a massive thrill from contacting with nature. My wife refers to it as “poking animals” which I am not so thrilled about, in fact Gill also refers to my model gaming hobby as “playing with little men” I dread to think what an outsider thinks I do in my spare time listening to the descriptions by Gill.
After a couple of hours of penguin watching we went for some proper seaside fish and chips from Pink Flake Fish & Chips We love to sample the amazing local food wherever we travel in the world but I do love proper British fish and chips, and outside of the UK its really hard to find – lots of places do fish and chips, but not many do it properly – this was pretty good!
To finish the evening we found Holey Moley Golf Club a mini golf bar, it was themed on pop culture and a lovely way to end the day, Matt whooped me – I think hes been getting sneaky tips from his Grandad while he has been in the UK!
20/07/2019 – Shoppers Paradise
We started the day by vising Hardware Societe for breakfast this place is billed as the best breakfast in Melbourne, we were lucky to arrive at just the right time and get the last table, as we sat there a queue started to develop. As our breakfast was served there must have been 20 people in the queue. To be honest it was decent, the food looked very appetising and it cost the same as the previous days breakfast but we all agreed that the Trunk Diner was better.
After breakfast we went up to the Victoria Market, had a mooch around, bought some stuff, Matthew needed clothes since his definition of packing for all weather was just bring one pair of trousers to cover everything, all I have heard all week is “Dad can I borrow”. It’s a typical market, a mix of tourist crap, clothes and produce, prices were good so it’s worth a look if you fancy some shopping.
Next we walked back though the CBD for a better look at some of the lanes and arcades we visited on the tour. These are all worth a look, the street art down the lanes is brilliant, in some “practice” lanes its legal for anyone to have a go which is cool – but I didn’t have my crayons with me. Check out the gallery at the bottom of the page to see some of our favorite street art from Melbourne.
Hopetoun Tea Rooms in the Block Arcade was recommended by Hugo yesterday and looked amazing but the queue was far to long for us so we headed instead to the Melbourne cat cafe for a cuppa with the kittys.
After that did some more shopping in the many malls and and headed to Bartronica this really was my kind of place, a cool bar with old video arcades and booths with Nintendo, after a couple of drinks and a huge dose of nostalgia Gill and Matt dragged me out.
We jumped on a tram to the botanical gardens, we are not much into flowers but like a walk and had been told there were wild possums to look for. When we arrived it was sunset (too much time playing arcade machines) so we didn’t get much time to look for critters before the park closed. We took some pictures of the impressive war memorial and walked back toward the CBD.
I would have been gutted that we didn’t see any critters however as we walked back along the river there was an almighty row coming from a tree, and sure enough there were 2 possums having a go at each other, until we got close then one stopped, shot half way down the tree and glared at us. I always thought the cliche was that possums play dead but this guy was staring me down, as I stepped closer he remanded fixed on me just above head height.
I was considering moving closer to touch but to be honest this little guy had me psyched out, I had visions of him launching for my face so I stayed where I was, thinking he would make a break for it first, however he didn’t, he just glared at me. I left with my tail between my legs and he went back, I assume to tell his mate how he just owned a huge human.
The walk down the south bank at night was lovely. There are loads of restaurants, after some food Matt decided he had had enough for the day and went back to the hotel while Gill and I walked onto the casino. It was huge, so much going on. We had a little flutter and had doubled our money at one point but of course it all went back to the house, then our frugal Yorkshire instinct kicked in and we called it a day.
21/07/2019 – Cute Critters
Today we booked a trip to Heaslville animal sanctuary, it’s a zoo that specialises in animals that are only found in Australia, Anyone who knows us will know how much we love getting close to all kinds of critters. The sanctuary is an hours drive from Melbourne and has a shuttle bus from the CBD.
We had a fab day and got some great photos, some highlights were seeing a platypus for the first time, they really are funky creatures and finding out all about Wombats and how they kick their parents out of their home when they mature – we made it very clear to Matthew not to get an ideas!
When we got back to CBD there was a winter festival on which looked interesting so we went for a look, I was impressed that they had a real ice rink in the warm temperature but the rest of it was rubbish so we moved on. Matt decided to head back to the hotel, Gill and I went for a few drinks we hit a brilliant cocktail bar Beneath Driver Lane then had a beer at Hofbrauhaus and grabbed a decent kebab from Hella Good on the way home.