Posted on: November 20th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
Ever wondered what Australians eat Down Under?
Though Australian cuisine is blended with many Asian and Mediterranean dishes, truly traditional Australian food lies in bush tucker, fresh seafood and something to soak up the ale.
Not to mention the delectable pastries and sweets you’ll wish you knew about your whole life!
Here are 24 Australian foods you have to try to eat like an Australian.
You were probably expecting to see Vegemite listed 24 times in this article, but there’s more to Australian food than this controversial spread.
But what exactly is Vegemite? It’s a dark brown spread made from vegetables, spices and yeast extract, making it more savory rather than sweet.
The most popular way to eat Vegemite is on toast. It tastes extremely salty – just small amount will do. Even less than what you’re thinking. But who knows – you might be one of the lucky ones to fall in love with Vegemite the moment it graces your tongue.
There’s probably nothing more heavenly than the sweet lamington. This small, rectangular sponge cake is lighter than a feather and more airy than a fluffy cloud. It really is a dream wrapped in a perfect cube of chocolate covered cake and rolled in coconut.
This Australian dessert is a favorite with coffee or tea, and the pride of any baker.
3. Meat Pies
Photo: David McLeish
Pair a meat pie with a beer, at a sporting event or in the morning after a night out. This Australian favorite is made up of flaky pastry filled with minced meat and gravy, sometimes mixed with a variety of vegetables. It’s basically the Australian food equivalent of a chicken pot pie.
This filling snack is perfect on the go or at a pub, and is quintessentially Australian.
4. Tim Tams
These sweet biscuits (the Australian way to say cookies) have become a favorite on our side of the pond for their chocolatey goodness.
Never had one before? A Tim Tam is basically two chocolate-malted cookies with a layer of creamy chocolate filling sandwiched in between, all coated in melted chocolate.
Walk into any Coles or Woolworths (supermarkets) and you’ll find huge displays of Tim Tams in a variety of flavors. Overwhelmed with options like mint chocolate, iced coffee, white chocolate, chewy caramel and more, you might have a hard time choosing. The most popular choice is the original, but you might like to play the Tim Tam challenge and try them all!
Biting into one of these is like entering a chocolatey heaven. But for a truly transcendental experience, you’ve got to try the Tim Tam Slam. Bite the corners of the diagonal corners off the cookie and use it as a straw to sip on coffee or hot chocolate.
5. Moreton Bay Bug
Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland
Don’t worry – this isn’t an actual bug. Moreton Bay Bugs are more like lobster, and are often said to taste even better.
You’ll find Moreton Bay Bugs featured in seafood dishes all over Australia. They are usually cut in half, drizzled in butter, oil, lemon or other seasonings and often grilled or barbecued.
After one bite of these “bugs,” lobster won’t compare ever again.
6. Witchetty Grub
Do worry – this IS an actual bug.
This small, white larva is found in the deserts of the Outback and has featured in traditional Aboriginal bush tucker for thousands of years.
If you’re brave enough to give it a try, you’ll find it tastes like chicken. It also packs a powerful amount of protein – more than an entire steak. Witchetty Grubs are traditionally eaten raw, but they are also served barbecued as an appetizer.
Photo: Maksym Kozlenko
People like to joke and ask if you can eat kangaroo, and the truth is yes, you can totally eat kangaroo. In fact, it’s quite normal. Kangaroos are essentially like deer in the U.S. – they turn up on quiet plots of land, they like to jump out in front of your car, and they are quite tasty.
Kangaroo meat is low in fat, often grilled on a barbecue to a rare to medium finish. Eat it on its own or in a burger – it’s not often you can say you’ve tried kangaroo!
You could almost start a war between Australia and New Zealand over who first invented the Pavlova.
It is said the desert was created in honor of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova during her tour of Australia and New Zealand in the 1920’s, with both countries laying claim to its creation.
This meringue based cake has a delicate, crispy outer shell and a fluffy, marshmallow-y center, topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit such as kiwi, strawberries and blueberries.
9. Fairy Bread
This simple treat is a nostalgic favorite from Australian kids’ birthday parties. It’s simply slices of white bread cut into triangles, spread with butter and covered in hundreds and thousands (the Australian term for sprinkles).
You likely won’t find fairy bread in stores or bakeries, probably because it’s so easy to make.
10. Dim Sim
This is the Australian food equivalent of dim sum, differing mostly in its tendency to come fried rather than steamed.
These large dumplings are generally half the size of a fist and filled with minced meat and vegetables. Perfect as a bite-sized snack on the go.
11. Chiko Roll
Chiko rolls are Australia’s take on egg rolls. They’re more doughy than the flaky egg roll, deep-fried and filled with beef and a variety of vegetables.
These are often eaten as snacks on the go, found in local fish ‘n chip shops or by snack vendors at popular venues.
12. Fish ‘N Chips
Fresh fish lightly fried to crispy goodness paired with thick-cut chips (french fries to us on this side of the pond) is a must for those sunny Australian beach days.
Wrapped in paper and seasoned with a bit of salt and lemon adds an undeniably satisfying touch to this classic Australian food.
You’ll find fish ‘n chips in just about any pub or in a waterfront shop by the beach.
This traditional soda bread was an Australian food staple of working class Aussies in the past.
Its simple recipe lends itself to a quick preparation almost anywhere. It’s made up of wheat flour, water and salt, sometimes with baking soda, baked in the ashes of a campfire.
14. Vanilla Slice
Photo: George Seguin
This pastry is said to originate in France, but its exact origin is unknown. In French it’s called the mille-feuille, translating to “thousand sheets.” In English it’s known as the vanilla slice, a delicate dessert with layers of puff pastry and pastry cream or custard, glazed with powdered sugar or icing.
Variations of the vanilla slice are found all over the world, but Australians lay claim to this sweet pastry. With an annual competition for the best vanilla slice baker held in the state of Victoria, the Australians’ passion for the vanilla slice definitely deserves them its ownership.
Ready to slip some shrimp on the barbie?
Well first off, Australians don’t call it shrimp – it’s prawns, mate. And whether you get them at a restaurant or grilled up at a barbecue, you can’t go wrong with prawns. With the freshest seafood found along Australia’s shores, you’re sure to get tasty prawns no matter where you try them.
Emu meat is lean, low in cholesterol and high in iron and vitamin C. It’s a meat-lover’s dream, yet many people can’t get past the thought of eating this flightless bird.
It’s commonly featured in Australian food, usually in burgers, meat pies and even as a pizza topping.
Telling your friends you’ve tried emu is probably more bewildering than trying kangaroo, so don’t miss out on this tasty bird when you’re visiting Australia!
This native Australian white fish is desirable for its delicate taste, succulent flesh, moderate fat content and rich nutrients. It even has less calories than salmon yet still packed with healthy fatty acids.
The rest of the world is slowly catching on to this holy grail fish, but for now you’ll mostly find it served in restaurants across Australia.
18. Chicken Parmigiana
Simply referred to as a “parma,” this staple is a favorite on the pub specials menu. A parma is basically a schnitzel, or chicken fried in breadcrumbs, topped with tomato sauce and melted cheese.
The best way to eat a parma is at a pub parma night, where you can grab a parma and beer for a decent price.
Aussies love to add beetroot to their burgers, sandwiches and salads. You’ll definitely find this vegetable featured throughout many menus across Australia.
Its nutty, earthy taste pairs well with sweet and strong flavors, adding a flair of creativity to any dish. Be sure to try a beetroot burger after trying kangaroo and emu burgers!
20. Bush Dust
Tasmanian Gourmet Online
Get a taste of Australian herbs and spices with bush dust.
This mixture of Tasmanian native pepper, macadamia nuts, bush tomatoes, herbs and spices is perfect for bread dipped in olive oil or simply as a seasoning. Its deep red color is deceiving – this blend of spices has a mild, nutty taste, rather than hot or spicy.
Try it on fish, chicken, potatoes or vegetables. Really it pairs well with almost any dish.
Weet-Bix is similar to a granola bar made up of whole-grain wheat. High in fiber and low in sugar, it’s a favorite breakfast item so iconic it’s garnered a catchphrase in two countries: “Aussie Kids are Weet-Bix kids,” and “Kiwi Kids are Weet-Bix kids.”
22. Anzac Biscuits
These cookies have a history rooted in WWI. They were once made by the wives of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) and delivered to their men at war.
Now these cookies are made in commemoration of ANZAC Day, April 25th, honoring those who gave their lives to the war.
The delicious cookies are essentially oatmeal cookies made with golden syrup and desiccated coconut.
23. Violet Crumble
This is arguably Australia’s greatest contribution to cuisine. At least, anybody with a sweet tooth will think so.
Violet Crumble is one Australia’s most popular chocolate bars, with a crumbly honeycomb toffee center coated in chocolate.
The texture of the honeycomb toffee is similar to malt candy, though much softer and delicate. It almost has a cotton-candy consistency once you bite into it.
You’ll find Violet Crumble at just about any supermarket. Try it in ice cream to send your taste buds to heaven.
24. Flat White
Alright, so this isn’t food per se, but Australians are passionate about their coffee and are strong contenders for the best coffee in the world.
One sip of their coffee and you’ll never be able to go back to Folgers.
Even taking a barista course is an unspoken requirement before getting a coffee gig in Australia.
Locals will proudly say you can’t find a better flat white anywhere else in the world, and they might be right. Stop into a local coffee shop (you’ll find dozens of local coffee shops in any city – locals tend to avoid Starbucks like the plague) and grab yourself a flat white.
Australian Foods You Have to Try
One of the highlights of experiencing a foreign land is trying its culinary delights.
From snack foods to strange meats, give Australian food a try on your next trip to Australia.
Need help planning your trip? That’s our full time job. Contact our Destination Specialists to begin your journey today. Ask us about our favorite Australian food!
Posted on: June 4th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
Rich in history, incredible food, creative locals and smooth whiskies to warm you from the chill of mountain air – this is Hobart.
It’s the capital of Tasmania, Australia’s island state, located about one hour’s flight away from Melbourne.
Its blend of strong heritage and waterfront charm make it popular for travelers looking for a laid-back destination that has it all.
From one-of-a-kind museums to great hikes, native wildlife and haunting historic sites, Hobart has something for everyone.
Here’s our list of 9 amazing things to do in Hobart for the best vacation in Tasmania.
Stroll Through Salamanca Market
Get ready for a reawakened passion for food. At Salamanca Market, a simple stroll is impossible without the urge to taste your way through its stalls.
You’ll find wallaby burritos, salmon sausage and fresh scallop pies among other gourmet artisan food. Sample local honey, sip on locally distilled gin or whisky, and admire leather goods – every stall boasts finely made products with an emphasis on local.
Another favorite stop is at the wood work stalls, where you’ll find an array of impressive crafts made from Tasmanian timber. Along with the bustle of local musicians lending their talents to the crowd, the inviting atmosphere alone makes Salamanca Market worth it.
Located near at historic Salamanca Place next to the Hobart waterfront, the market is only open on Saturdays from 8:30am to 3pm.
Get Your Culture Fill at the Museum of Old and New Art
Some liken MONA to Vegemite – you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it. But one thing is for sure about this controversial museum – you’ll never forget it.
The museum itself is considered an interactive piece. With artful architecture and winding staircases jutting out in every direction, the setting is perfect to lose yourself in a world of conceptual art and ideas.
Here, owner David Walsh displays his extensive private collection of modern art and antiquities. You’ll find pieces ranging from a waterfall installation cascading words to confronting exhibits on human anatomy.
MONA invites you to form your own opinion with its ‘O’ device. Provided to all visitors, the O offers artist interviews, self-proclaimed ramblings from David Walsh, and information on each exhibit as they are encountered.
On the ‘O’ you’ll see an option to either “Love” or “Hate” each piece, letting you know how many other people agree with you after submitting your answer. At MONA, there are no wrong opinions.
Many warn that this museum is not for the faint of heart, but all you really need is an open mind.
Indeed, that’s often the source of the most rewarding experiences.
No, that’s not a typo – the official name of Mount Wellington incorporates its Palawa kani name from the languages of Aboriginal Tasmanians, using no capital letters.
As part of Wellington Park, the many walking tracks, mountain biking trails and even rock climbing easily make for a whole day exploring the mountain.
Climb to the summit and take a break from the wind in the Pinnacle observation shelter. With tall glass walls overlooking Hobart, the expansive view will leave you breathless.
Get an even closer look on the Pinnacle boardwalk observation deck and take in the inspiring view with the breeze of cool, mountain air.
Make a stop at the Lost Freight Cafe on the way down. This charming cafe fitted out of a shipping container serves up some of the best coffee in all of Hobart, along with a savory rosemary lamb pie and other hearty treats.
See Her Story at Cascades Female Factory
As Australia’s second oldest capital city after Sydney, Hobart is full of historic sites with turbulent pasts. One of the city’s most significant sites is Cascades Female Factory, lying in the shadow of kunanyi / Mount Wellington.
This historic purpose-built institution incarcerated thousands of children and female convicts of yesteryear.
Plaques detailing the history of this site hang along the walls of the restored ruins. Tours are also available, led by knowledgeable and passionate guides.
A must-do experience, however, is the “Her Story” dramatization of the Female Factory’s past. You’ll relive the history as you follow the story of one woman’s experience in the institute, complete with transparent depictions of the harsh treatment endured by these women.
Taste Pure Tasmanian Beer at Cascade Brewery
Crafted with pure Tasmanian water sourced straight from kunanyi / Mount Wellington and Tasmanian-grown hops, Cascade Brewery does beer best.
Established in 1824 and still in regular operation to this day, this is Australia’s oldest working brewery.
Not even a fire can bring this Tasmanian icon down – after a great bushfire devastated southern Tasmania and Cascade in 1967, the people of Hobart joined together to rebuild the brewery. The result is not only a flagship of rich Tasmanian beer but also a testament to the resilience of Tasmania’s people.
Get a taste of the Cascade Pale Ale, the oldest continuously brewed beer in the country. The smooth and rich Cascade Stout is sure to hit the spot for stout drinkers. Or try a brew available only in Tasmania – the Cascade Lager.
The ornate gothic facade of the brewery and its splendid gardens are inviting enough to spend a day out on the grounds. Grab lunch at the onsite restaurant with a generous menu featuring locally sourced produce.
Opt for a tour of the brewery for a timeline of Cascade’s history along with a look behind the scenes of the brewing process. Just be sure to wear pants and closed-toe shoes!
Visit Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary
Bonorong prides itself as a small business with a huge heart. As a 24/7 wildlife rescue service, we’re inclined to agree.
The sanctuary’s aim is to nurse animals back to health and into the wild. Run by volunteers and housing species extinct everywhere in the world but Tasmania, Bonorong is truly special.
Here you’ll meet native wildlife such as kangaroos, koalas and wombats along with the Tassie favorite – Tasmanian devils.
From feeding frenzies to personal encounters, the wildlife experiences are intimate, fun and unforgettable.
Get up close with Tassie devils and have a “tug of war” with them for their dinner. Hand-feed adorable Eastern quolls, tawny frogmouth owls and sugar gliders.
Want to see it all? Join a sanctuary tour, where you’ll receive a bag of kangaroo food to hand-feed the kangaroos roaming freely on the grounds.
Located just about half an hour from Hobart’s city center, Bonorong makes for a great day trip.
Though not large, you’ll easily find yourself lost within the rich stories and history behind the exhibits.
Marvel at ancient Tasmanian artifacts and early settlement relics. Learn about the poignant Black War of the 1820s and Aboriginal culture with dedicated galleries. You’ll also find a fabulous coin collection and fine Australian paintings.
Crowd favorites include the Tasmanian devil exhibit with an extensive history of the animal. You’ll even learn how it came to feature as a character on the Bugs Bunny cartoon!
The museum star, however, is its thylacine exhibit, showcasing this infamously extinct animal. Not one to shy from Tasmania’s turbulent history, the objective portrayals this museum employs is truly a refreshing experience.
Tour through the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
Established in 1818, these are Australia’s second-oldest gardens – another historic landmark for Hobart.
Stroll through cheerful fruit and vegetable patches, charming succulents and other interesting native plants.
Explore the secretive nooks and crannies, enshrouded in flowering plants and blooms.
Make your way to the Japanese Garden for true serenity, complete with a tranquil brook under a bright red bridge.
Stop by the Sub Antarctic Plant House for one of the gardens’ most exciting and unusual collections. Here you’ll find plants from Sub Antarctic islands in a climate-controlled complex complete with chilly fogs and mists.
A popular day trip from Hobart, Bruny Island lies less than two hours away from the city. That’s a small journey for some of Tasmania’s most delectable treats.
Every stop on your journey is a course on your menu for the day. You’ll taste savory artisan cheeses from Bruny Island Cheese Company, freshly caught oysters at Get Shucked Oysters, hand-crafted spirits at Bruny Island House of Whisky and much more.
More of a sweet tooth? You’ll also get a taste of sweet berry treats, premium chocolate and honey throughout your journey.
Our tip is to skip dinner the night before the tour!
Looking for More Things to Do in Hobart?
Hobart appears a tranquil refuge at distance, but a closer look reveals a city rich in history, culture and experiences.
As experts in Australia travel, we’ll give you the best tips and sightseeing recommendations for your stay in Hobart.
Want to include Hobart on your next Australia vacation? Let’s start planning your journey today!
Posted on: February 26th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
As Australia’s second largest city and capital for all things food, music and fun, the list of things to do in Melbourne is endless.
From its vibrant local music and arts scene to diverse food and incredible coffee culture, ticking off the essential Melbourne experiences in just a few days may seem impossible.
That’s why we’ve made it easy for you.
Here are 19 free things to do in Melbourne.
See the Main Sights on the City Circle Tram
What better way to see the city sights than for free? How about surrounded in the charm of a vintage cable car? And the best part – you can hop off and explore on your own, whenever you like.
Running through the city’s central business district (CBD), the City Circle Tram is undoubtedly one of the best ways to see Melbourne’s main landmarks and attractions.
You’ll catch sight of the Melbourne Museum, Federation Square, Melbourne Aquarium and much more. The accompanying commentary will give you a rundown of each landmark and its history.
Stroll the Queen Victoria Market
Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market is worth exploring just for the sights alone. The range of fresh produce and handmade products include everything from fruits and vegetables to hand-made pasta and top grade Wagyu beef.
For something sweet you’ll find fluffy bubble waffle cones loaded with ice cream and Melbourne’s best American-style jam doughnuts. Forgot to pack enough clothes for your trip? Find a new favorite outfit within the racks of threads ranging from fine merino wool knits to neon yellow safety jackets.
You’ll also discover unique treasures such as 1970’s comic books and vintage records – there’s something for every taste!
Wander among impressionist masterpieces from Monet and antiquities from all parts of the world. Immerse yourself in the vibrant colors and thought-provoking pieces of its contemporary art collection. You could spend your whole day exploring the treasures within – and still feel like it’s not enough time!
Walk Through the Labyrinth of Street Art in Melbourne’s Laneways
Melbourne’s inner-city grid lends itself to many hidden laneways that are easy to miss. But exploring these eclectic laneways in the CBD is one of the best things to do in Melbourne. You’ll find cozy coffee shops, warm cafes and bars where the soup of the day is gin. But the true gems will be the vibrant street art decorating the walls of these lanes.
Take a walk down Hosier Lane to see some of the city’s best street art. You’ll see colorful graffiti masterpieces and artists working on new pieces. This iconic laneway is part of the heart and soul of Melbourne’s urban subculture – you’ll feel like one of the cool kids as you walk down the street.
With less foot traffic, AC/DC Lane and Duckboard Place are also popular spots full of highly skilled street art. You’ll find a rock ‘n roll theme throughout AC/DC Lane, with murals of AC/DC band members (how the lane got its name) and other popular rock bands. Duckboard Place has a more gritty, urban aura with some hidden gems worth a look – easier to do with the least amount of crowds compared to other lanes.
Have a Laugh at a Comedy Night
Melbourne loves its stand-up comedy nights. If you’re looking for something a little different on a night out, catch a stand-up comedy night for a round of laughs to go with your drinks.
Spleen Bar on Bourke Street is a local favorite for its free comedy nights on Monday.
Lido Cinemas offers free comedy nights on Tuesdays, featuring some of the best rising stars of Aussie comedy. Perhaps the free popcorn makes the audience a bit more sympathetic as well!
For great vibes, cheap pints and one of the best comedy nights within the CBD, wander into Crab Lab on a Wednesday night. Grab some free popcorn and settle in for a great evening.
George’s Bar – If you’re a fan of Seinfeld, you’ll love this George Costanza-themed bar in the Fitzroy district. You’ll love their free Thursday comedy nights even more.
Learn About Australian Art at the Ian Potter Centre
For the culture vultures lacking a little in the Australian art department, this gallery is a must. Part of the National Gallery of Victoria, the Ian Potter Centre focuses exclusively on Australian and indigenous art.
You’ll see a representation of Australia’s history through artworks from aboriginal cultures as well as noted contemporary artists. Join a free guided tour to enjoy an expert’s insight into the exhibitions on display.
Their Screen Worlds exhibition is a fabulous collection of interactive displays, history of cinema, video games and more. Here you can create your very own flip book or try your hand at editing film. Unwind with one of many educational yet fun video games and favorites including Mario Kart or immerse yourself in a virtual reality experience.
The nostalgia and wonder will wash over you as your inner kid takes over.
Take in the Gorgeous City Vistas
The Eureka Skydeck is one of the best ways to see Melbourne from incredible heights, however you can catch some amazing views of the city from rooftop bars for free. Though you may be obligated to order a drink, what better way to see the city lights as the sun sets than sipping on your favorite cocktail?
Noted for its regal neoclassical architecture, the library contains six floors with a wonderful dome viewing balcony at the very top.
Levels 4 and 5 are dedicated gallery and exhibition spaces, housing significant collections of Victorian artwork, writings and artifacts. You’ll find rare treasures such as a 4000-year-old Sumerian cuneiform tax receipt and the bullet-dented armor of Ned Kelly, Australia’s own Jesse James.
Take a free tour to discover everything this iconic library has to offer. And enjoy the free WiFi, too – another great perk!
Taste Melbourne’s Famous Coffee
If there’s just one thing to take away from your visit to Melbourne, it’s the city’s incredible coffee scene. You won’t settle for regular drip coffee after a cup of joe from one of Melbourne’s sensational cafes.
The best way to get a taste of Melbourne’s greatest coffee is at Proud Mary, considered as one of the city’s finest coffee establishments. On Saturday mornings they have a free cupping event where all are welcome to meet their crew and taste new and favorite house blends.
Wander Through the Royal Botanic Gardens
Enjoy a tranquil afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of the city at the Royal Botanic Gardens. The gardens sprawl across 94 acres of grassy hills, native and exotic plants, scenic walking trails and a creek, all surrounding a lake in the center.
Free guided tours can help you get started exploring the vast gardens, or simply pack a picnic and relax by the lake. You’re very likely to spot native wildlife roaming around, especially the curious purple swamphen!
Visit the Fitzroy Gardens
Besides the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne is blessed with many more beautiful gardens and parklands. At the top of the list is Fitzroy Gardens, a quiet retreat on the edge of the CBD. The lush trees, flowers and fountains give way to historic gems throughout the gardens.
In the center of the grounds you’ll see a tiny Tudor village, like something out of a fairytale. Right next to it is Fairies’ Tree, a centuries old tree stump embellished with carvings of fairies, pixies, kangaroos and emus.
Another gem is Cook’s Cottage, the historic home of Captain James Cook, the British explorer who first voyaged to Australia and the South Pacific. Though there is a fee to enter the cottage-turned-museum, seeing the cottage alone is undeniably cool.
See Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance
This historic landmark is a war memorial originally honoring the men and women of the state of Victoria who served in World War I. Now it honors all Australians who have served in war.
A walk up the steps of the Shrine of Remembrance is a moving experience in itself. The shrine is designed in a classical style, inspired by the architecture of Athens’ Parthenon.
What makes this memorial a special architectural gem is the planned, uninterrupted vista of the city from the top deck of the shrine. Its beautifully manicured grounds and outdoor memorials surround the shrine creating an aerial shape of a poppy – the symbolic flower commemorating the fallen of WWI.
Explore the galleries and exhibitions within the shrine, set in a cathedral-like underground chamber. You’ll see photographs, uniforms, artworks and memorabilia of Australia’s military history. Don’t miss the Eternal Flame, a permanent gas flame representing eternal life.
Learn About the Aboriginal Koorie People at the Koorie Heritage Trust
Escape the hustle and bustle of Federation Square and stop by Koorie Heritage Trust. Located in the Yarra Building in Federation Square, this non-profit center offers Melbourne’s deepest insight into the indigenous Koorie people through immersive galleries and exhibitions. Here you’ll find artifacts, artworks, photos and oral history and video recordings preserving the Koorie cultural heritage of Victoria.
See their temporary exhibits on the ground floor gallery or explore their permanent collections on the top floor. If you’re lucky, you might catch one of their fascinating and educational events, hosted throughout the year.
Watch the St. Kilda Penguins Waddle Back Home
Take a short half hour tram ride from the CBD to St. Kilda, a popular day trip destination for bay side fun.
Noted for its beach and Coney Island-like theme parks, stay until sunset to view the St. Kilda fairy penguins return to their homes on the shore.
The best way to view these tiny penguins is on the St. Kilda Pier, and don’t worry about what time of year to visit – you’ll see them year round.
Snap a Pic of the Brighton Beach Boxes
Further down the coast from St. Kilda is Brighton Beach, home of the iconic Brighton Beach Boxes. First built over a century ago, these historic bathing boxes remain unchanged. Their bright colors and uniform proportions create an undeniable sense of satisfaction – your eyes are just naturally drawn to them!
Though the ride to Brighton Beach is not free, buying a one-day unlimited explorer pass is more than worth it. You’ll get to spend a sunny afternoon out on the gorgeous beach with discounts to other top Melbourne attractions.
Experience Melbourne’s Countless Festivals
It doesn’t matter what time of the year you visit Melbourne – you’re bound to come across a festival! As Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne loves to celebrate its diversity with celebrations of music, food and culture. Step into Federation Square or the Queen Victoria Markets – where most of Melbourne’s festivals are held – and join in the fun.
See the night come to life in a spectacle of color and light during White Night in February, the most attended event of its kind in Australia. Moomba Festival in March is a flurry of color and spirit centered on the Yarra River with live music, parades, fireworks and carnivals.
Music lovers can plan on dozens of festivals throughout the year. Melbourne Festival is a bucket list item, featuring major international artists. St. Kilda Festival, Australia’s largest free music festival, is also a popular favorite, bringing in some of the country’s top musical talents.
Explore the City with These Free Things to Do in Melbourne
Ready to live it up in the city? Whether you’re looking for a quiet afternoon getting lost in a museum or seeking a fun night out, the best thing about Melbourne is there’s always a way to do it for free. Fill your free days with these fantastic things to do in Melbourne and make your stay an unforgettable one.
Want to add Melbourne to your Australia vacation? Let’s start planning your perfect vacation package – we’ll include time for you to truly get the most out of Melbourne.
Posted on: July 27th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
Very rarely does a city’s list of must-see attractions include “the alley behind Chinatown”.
Or “the dead-end street covered in graffiti”.
But Melbourne isn’t your usual city and you aren’t looking for the usual destinations.
If your idea of travel involves “doing as the locals do”, then head to Melbourne’s laneways and arcades and learn to love the city from the inside out.
What Are Laneways and Arcades?
Melbourne’s laneways (small, tucked away alleys) and arcades (covered shopping plazas) boast a diverse array of hidden, locally owned cafés, boutiques, shops, restaurants and bars. This cosmopolitan heart of the city is the true definition of a “hidden gem”.
In fact, much of the magic of the city is found in Melbourne laneways and arcades. We’ve pointed out some highlights, but while you’re in Melbourne there’s nothing like a walking tour with a local guide to show you around and chat you up in person.
See Amazing Street Art
One of the first things you’ll notice in Melbourne’s laneways is the large amount of street art lining the walls. Not even the dumpsters and trash cans are immune to being beautified by local artists. Here are some of the best places to see colorful works in person.
You may not even notice the entrance to Hosier Lane tucked between a handful of non-descript offices and apartment buildings on the south-east end. But once you enter the innocuous alley, you’re confronted by walls of bright, colorful artwork.
Photo: Roberto Seba
Hardly a single square inch of brick or stone is left unpainted. Much of the art on Hosier Lane has been commissioned and permitted, but the rest exists in a legal grey-area. You may even see an artist at work adorning the wall with a new piece. Regardless, we think you’ll find it a beautiful place to begin your laneways and arcades tour.
Photo: Roberto Seba
AC/DC Lane / Duckboard Place
These two laneways circle around a cluster of restaurants and the infamous Cherry bar. The walls on Duckboard Place are covered in great art, but the standouts are the larger than life pieces that adorn the western and eastern corners.
Photo: Robert Blackburn
Once you turn on to AC/DC lane, you can’t miss the mural of Angus Young from the Australian rock and roll band for which the lane was named.
This barely-there laneway is almost narrow enough to touch both sides with your arms outstretched. The wall to wall covering of paint makes this laneway one of the most covered in the city. At any time of day, you’re likely to encounter artists making their own mark.
Parts of the wall are covered in so much paint that you can press down with your fingertip without ever touching the brick behind it!
Shop Local Boutiques
Melbourne is a chic Aussie city. As such, they take their fashion and shopping very seriously. You’ll find some chain fashion brands, but Melbourne is best known for its boutiques and one-off shops.
Impressive arcades and tucked away lanes house some of Melbourne’s best boutiques to find unique clothing and other gifts. Check out local clothiers and artisan fashion shops to get decked out like a fashionable local.
Photo: Rob Blackburn
This shopping plaza is aptly named for its architecture that looks like it was pulled straight from Victorian royalty. The building itself is a true Victorian antiquity. It was constructed in 1870 and stands to this day as the oldest shopping arcade in Melbourne. Shopping at the Royal Arcade feels like you’ve stepped back in time.
Natural daylight fills the inviting space from overhead skylights supported by intricate arch-work. At the Royal Arcade you’ll find everything from bespoke clothing and tailors, jewelers, game shops and more.
In the past, this thoroughfare laneway served as Melbourne’s textiles manufacturing center for more than 100 years. These days, Flinders Lane continues its fashion tradition as the home of some of Melbourne’s best fashion boutiques.
Nearly 20 one-off shops are clustered on Flinders between Russell St and Elizabeth St alone. You’re sure to pick up a fantastic find from a local clothier.
Take a quick turn on to this laneway for high fashion finds. Somerset Place is home to high-end menswear staple Comme des Garcons. Just a few doors down, Belmore Australia is a local bootmaker that specializes in timeless design and craftsmanship. It’s rare to find a local shoemaker, but Belmore’s entire manufacturing process is done right in Melbourne.
While you’re trawling the laneways for local art and goods, grab a pick me up from one of the local, independent coffee shops that line the streets. There are so many cafes in Melbourne that you’re never far from a great cup of coffee. After all, this is the city that lays claim to inventing the flat-white! The latte like beverage recently rose to international fame when Starbucks began offering it at it’s locations worldwide.
Cafe culture in Melbourne is world-renowned and each space offers a unique and distinct local experience.
These hidden laneway cafés are easily missed and they like it that way. When you happen upon a good one, you’ll feel like a true “in-the-know” local. Skip the Starbucks this time and try a local brew from one of these cafes:
Good 2 Go: Blink and you might miss this endearing hole-in-the-wall, surrounded by and covered in Hosier Lane’s swath of spray paint.
Krimper: Look up “rustic charm” in the dictionary and you’ll find Krimper. A café where the clientele is as hip as the decor
Manchester Press: A small door opens in to an airy space in this tucked-away café. Manchester Press focuses on coffee at its purest, with featured single origin blends and no frills.
Have a Drink and a Bite
Melbourne holds the distinction of having the highest concentration of restuarants and cafés per capita than anywhere in the world. The large, multi-cultural population is represented by more than 140 nations. This means that Melbourne’s food scene is eclectic, diverse and never dull. Whatever you’re in the mood for, you’ll find it in Melbourne.
MoVida: A hip, Spanish-tapas bar just off Hosier Lane with a street-art covered façade – pure Melbourne.
Rice Paper Scissors: Other than the fact that we love the name of this Southeast Asian-fusion spot, the street-food inspired tasting menu is perfect for both a quick lunch or a date night.
ShanDong MaMa Mini: Located on the infamous Centre Place (one of the most photographed spots in Melbourne!), this dumpling bar is a Melbourne staple.
Lustre Bar: Right across from ShanDong MaMa mini on Centre Place, this chic cocktail bar is perfect for after-dinner drinks. The crimson, plush interior is like if David Lynch opened a cocktail bar. Upstairs location provides prime people watching to the street below.
Laneway Greens: A health-foodie’s paradise featuring salads, juices, smoothies, acai and grain bowls and more.
See Melbourne Laneways and Arcades
Want to learn more about Melbourne’s hidden gems? Let one of our Destination Specialists give you the low-down on more unique Melbourne finds. We’ll make you feel like a local and ensure you don’t miss out on any off-the-beaten-path sights.
Posted on: May 18th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
There’s simply no better way to spend a relaxing morning than a farmer’s market. Interacting with local farmers and artisans. Letting your culinary creativity run wild as you browse fresh, local, inspiring produce. Or just spending some time searching for the perfect, unique gift to take back home.
Photo: Queen Victoria Market
For that perfect farmer’s market experience in Melbourne, look no further than Queen Victoria Market. Since the 19th century, this market has been Melbourne’s go to street market for produce, meat, home goods, gifts and more.
So grab a cup of coffee from a local cart, dive in to some amazing street food and walk with us as we peruse Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne.
Queen Victoria Market spans nearly 20 acres. This makes it the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere, a record you probably didn’t even know existed. Victoria Market is huge, on par with other great markets in the world like the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, the Fish Market in Tokyo and Pike Place Market in Seattle.
Photo: Queen Victoria Market
Photo: Roberto Seba / Tourism Australia
With over 600 vendors selling their wares five days a week, this is not your average farmer’s market.
Queen Victoria Market is divided in to sections called “precincts”. Looking for great produce and natural products? Start things off in the “Organics Precinct”. There you’ll find local farmers and co-ops selling organic produce and meat. You’ll also find healthy, sustainable products created by health-conscious artisans. The largest and most diverse array of organic produce in the entire city is found right at this market.
Craving a bite to eat? Head to the Market Place Food Court. World-class chefs and family run establishments alike compete for your taste buds at the food court. For a real round-the-world lunch, grab a few small plates from different vendors for a sample of Melbourne’s eclectic cuisine.
Where else can you sip Chinese tea, snack on Japanese sushi, dine on curry from Sri Lanka and finish it off with Tiramisu from Italy?
Photo: Queen Victoria Market
Tip: Even though you’re all the way over in Australia, stop by the American Doughnut Kitchen. These confection-experts set up shop in a 1950’s travel van where they prepare world-famous “hot jam doughnuts”.
After you’re fueled up on amazing eats, you’ll have the energy to comb the “General Merchandise Sheds”. This precinct is a sort-of flea market meets farmer’s market, with vendors selling an immense variety of goods, gifts and kitsch. From clothing jewelry and handcrafts, to cell phones, electronics and movies. Spend enough time in this precinct of the market and you’ll find anything you could ever need and somethings you probably don’t. You can even buy a stuffed Alpaca made of Alpaca wool. We’ll let you decide whether you need that or not.
The Vic Market’s newest section is String Bean Alley, where vendors set up shop in rows of re-purposed shipping containers. Upscale, handcrafted arts and crafts by local artists are for sale in this boutique section of the market. Photographers, painters and other visual artists also have galleries set up in String Bean Alley offering paintings and prints.
Photo: Queen Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market is open Tuesday and Thursday – Sunday. During certain seasons, the market opens its doors on Wednesdays for the Night Market. Street performers, musicians and other live entertainment join vendors for a great night time destination event. The Night Market is a festive event that attracts thousands for a night out in Melbourne.
Make sure you carve some time out in Melbourne for the Queen Victoria Market. It’s the perfect spot to pick up some local veggies, shop for a unique gift, or simply for a lunch out in downtown Melbourne.
Posted on: March 7th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
Photos: Tourism Australia, Peter Dunphy and Ewen Bell
For the sixth consecutive year, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia has been named the world’s number one most livable city. This is according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), who each year compile a list of the most liveable cities. Not only that, Melbourne has taken a spot in at least the top 3 since the list began in 2002. So what makes a city “most livable” and what has given Melbourne an edge above in its six-year reign at the top of the list? It turns out that the answer may also make Melbourne the best city to visit in Australia.
Photo: Josie Withers Photography
No coincidence or luck of the draw, Melbourne’s spot at the top is based on real numbers and data. The EIU combine together metrics like culture and environment, education, infrastructure, stability, and healthcare to get a specific picture of what life is like for the average Melbourne citizen. Despite Melbourne’s perfect scores in things like education and healthcare effecting locals more directly, there is an overall benefit to the city in terms of tourism as well, making it one of the most visited cities in Australia.
Melbourne is the capital of the Australian state of Victoria and is the second most populated city in the country. Though it may not have the immediate name recognition of Aussie staples like Sydney, with its eponymous Opera House, Melbourne has consistently been recognized as a true global city. With a unique, rich cultural environment and renowned infrastructure and parks, Melbourne is not only a great place to live for locals, but the best city to visit in Australia for your next travel destination.
Culture – Sights and Sounds
Melbourne received a perfect 100 in the EIU’s “culture and environment” score, securing its place as a culturally rich destination. Melbourne is also recognized as the “cultural and sporting capital” of Australia – and for several years was named as the “World’s Ultimate Sports City”. Lending to this distinction is a diverse array of cultural institutions and a large number of museums, sporting facilities, festivals, street art and music venues. In fact, with a larger number of music venues per capita, Melbourne has actually surpassed Austin, TX, current reigning “live music capital of the world”. Nearly 500 venues dot the landscape of Melbourne, making live music a more than $1 billion industry.
Photo: Paul Philipson
The value of such a large focus on the music industry encompasses more than just the huge number of jobs and money injected in to the city. It also means that Melbourne is committed to making itself a destination city for arts and entertainment. Local hotels, bars, cafes, and restaurants are all trying to cater to Melbourne tourists. In Melbourne, so much activity happening means you don’t have to wait until the weekend for a night on the town. Even on a Monday, you can catch dinner and a show.
Whether it’s an intimate 50 person affair at The Old Bar in Fitzroy or a 5,000 person packed concert at the Festival Hall, Melbourne’s music scene is a must-see cultural institution. With such a large variety of venues, even a short stay in Melbourne can be enough to intimate yourself with the locals. A live concert allows you to view first-hand the type of cultural experience that makes Melbourne not only the best place to live in the world, but also the best city to visit in Australia.
A sort of unsung hero in the foodie world, Melbourne is home to more than 5,000 cafes and restaurants. In fact, it has one of the highest numbers of restaurants and cafes per capita of any city in the world, more than even New York City. A large multi-cultural population, with residents from more than 140 nations, Melbourne’s food scene represents an eclectic and diverse smorgasbord of cuisine. Melbourne has hosted its own annual Food and Wine Festival since 1993. Each year, a growing number of attendees and chef-celebrities make their way to the city, solidifying its place as the food and wine capital of Australia.
First time visitors to Melbourne may in fact be overwhelmed by the array of options at their disposable. Full on foodies and the food-curious alike will find Melbourne to be the best city to visit in Australia, with no shortage of unique culinary experiences. Famed chefs and up and comers in the fine dining scene alike have found a place in Melbourne among a food landscape brimming with talent and options.
Photo: Josie Withers Photography
For those seeking a slightly more casual approach to dining in Melbourne, Melbourne’s café and coffee culture is also renowned the world over. Australia’s current coffee culture originated in the early 1950’s with an influx of European immigrants from places like Italy, France, and Turkey. Even though coffee has been available since the early 1800’s, it wasn’t until then that Australia and Melbourne in particular found its focus in high quality espresso drinks that were previously largely unavailable. A focus on unique, independent cafes and coffee shops over chains and franchises give each Melbourne café a unique impression of its surrounding neighborhood, giving visitors a proper feel of the local culture of the city.
The Garden City in the Garden State
Melbourne is known as “the garden city” within Victoria, which itself is “the garden state” of Australia. More than 1300 acres of green space are located in the city of Melbourne, nearly 15% of its total land area according to a study done by 202020 Vision. Public parks and gardens, some dating all the way back to 1862, account for a large percentage of green space in the city. Attention to green spaces is a quality of life metric that tends to be an important indicator of satisfaction to residents of cities around the world and Melbourne excels at providing them.
Photo: Josie Withers Photography
Photo: Josie Withers Photography
The internationally renowned Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne is a nearly 100 acre group of gardens on the bank to the south of the Yarra River that runs through center Melbourne. Attracting more than 1,000,000 local and non-local visitors every year, the Botanic Gardens contain over 10,000 species of plant, both native and non-native. Outdoor sculpture gardens that mix green space with art also dot the landscape of Melbourne both within and outside of the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Melbourne has a dense city center, along with an extensive network of public transportation, making its infrastructure some of the best in the world, with a perfect 100 EIU score. Progressive infrastructure and ongoing infrastructure improvements are a big reason Melbourne tops the list year after year. Visitors and locals alike largely prioritize a dense, connected public transit system. Featuring the largest tram network in the world, and an extensive network of regional and metro rail, Melbourne is the best city to visit in Australia especially for car-free touring.
Photo: Mark Chew
Photo: AAT Kings
The EIU also takes in to account more than 700 km of bike lanes and routes that were added in the past few years, with hopes to increase safety for those riding downtown or commuting by bike. While many of Melbourne’s outer suburbs are still car dependent, the city center is easily navigated and commuted by bicycle due to the lane upgrades implemented by the city. On top of the car-side bicycle lanes, there are a large number of cycling trails that go through many of the city’s parks, edging past laneways and hidden cafes.
These bike lane improvements make getting around the city easy for first time visitors, or those who return to Melbourne time and time again. One of the best ways to get around any city is by bicycle, and Melbourne is no exception. With the autonomy of a self-driven stay, the ease of not having to park and drive in an unfamiliar city, and the hop-on, hop-off convenience of a bus tour, both visitors and locals alike can enjoy this positive livability benefit. Melbourne may also just be the best city to visit in Australia by bike.
Best City to Live, Best City to Visit in Australia
It’s clear that Melbourne’s distinction as “most livable city” doesn’t just benefit people who live there already. The city’s diverse culture, progressive infrastructure, and focus on nature and green spaces prove to be important indicators of satisfaction to tourists as well. The best city to visit in Australia is one that combines cultural experiences with progressive transportation convenient for those traveling, and Melbourne has proven consistent at providing it all and more.
Make Melbourne a must-visit destination when you’re planning your next trip. It takes some of the best aspects of other Aussie cities and packages them in to a sort of condensed, greatest hits of Australia. Chances are you don’t have infinite time to spend on your next vacation and Melbourne is a great way to make the most use of the time you do have.
Start creating your memories of Melbourne now by letting us plan a trip for you.