After nearly a year without seeing them, I couldn’t wait to spend some time with my Mum and Dad (Dee and Rob), and show them around some of Australia, during their two week holiday at the end of March. Their trip began in Melbourne, and after giving them a few days to recover from the flight, Rachael and I flew down to spend a long weekend with them, and show them around the city.
We arrived in Melbourne on Saturday morning, and arranged to meet at ACDC lane, which was officially renamed as a tribute to the Australian band in 2004. A dirty, graffiti covered alleyway wasn’t exactly what I had imagined for our initial meeting, but that is part of the charm of Melbourne I guess. Dee and Rob had just finished a laneways tour, and already seemed to know more about the city than we did – so much for showing them around!
We continued our much needed catch up, as we took a relaxing walk through Federation Square and along the Southbank promenade. Rather than continuing our walk along the banks of the Yarra River, we instead decided to embark on a river cruise, with this allowing us to see much more of the city.
The one hour cruise took us down river, through the CBD, and towards the Docklands area, which has undergone extensive regeneration in recent years, including some very expensive looking riverside apartments. The cruise continued to Bolte Bridge, which is the longest bridge in Australia (although definitely not the most famous), before beginning the journey back into the city.
Back on dry ground, we joined the crowds at Riverland Bar, one of the many popular bars and restaurants that line the river, and found a great spot in the large beer garden to enjoy some drinks.
Next on the itinerary was the Eureka Skydeck, which at 285m is the highest viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere. We took the 38 second elevator trip to the top, and spent some time enjoying the 360 degree views of Melbourne. We had timed our visit with sunset, and it was great to watch how the city began to light up once the daylight faded.
Our day finished with dinner at the very popular Hochi Mama restaurant, which offers an interesting variety of Vietnamese fusion dishes. Not everyone was as keen on the spicier dishes, but with a lovely bottle of Shiraz to wash it down with, there wasn’t too many complaints.
The following day we decided to hire a car and take Dee and Rob out of the city, to try what is probably one of our favourite Australian pastimes – wine tasting! Starting early, we made the short drive to Yarra Valley which is located around 90km to the east of the city.
We started our day at the vast Yering Station, which dates back to 1838, making it Victoria’s first vineyard. The thick clouds had looked ominous all morning, and we arrived just in time for a short but torrential downpour. Fortunately there was a covered farmers market, so we took a look at the local produce on offer, making sure to get as many free samples as possible.
The day soon brightened up, and we decided to continue to our next stop at the Tarawarra Estate. After taking time to admire the stunning location, we made our way to the cellar door to sample the wines on offer. We tried a variety of white and reds, with all of us agreeing that the Pinot Noir was our favourite.
The Estate is also home to a privately funded Museum of Art, which displays Australian artwork from the past 50 years. We had a brief look around, although the view from the windows was equally, if not more impressive than the artwork.
By this point, it was time for some lunch, so we stopped at Innocent Bystander for a great taster board of local meats and cheeses, all washed down with local beer and cider.
After several further stops, including some cheese and chocolate tasting, we finished our tour of the Yarra Valley with yet another drink at Coldstream Brewery. At this point, I would like to thank our designated driver for the day – Rachael!
We finished the weekend back in Melbourne, with a lovely meal at one of the many Italian restaurants in the suburb of Carlton. The pizzas we chose were great, and made a perfect accompaniment to the bottle of Pinot Noir we had purchased earlier in the day from the Tarrawarra Estate.
With no more time off work, we flew back to Sydney the following day, while Rob and Dee picked up their rental car before heading out of Melbourne and on their way to explore the Great Ocean Road.