The City, The Culture

A year has flown by so quickly.  We have left Melbourne and are going back to our lives in the States.

I thought I’d finish out this year by sharing some photos that are very illustrative of Melbourne and our experience there.

We had the best time and absolutely loved the city.


Thank you, Australia.

Thank you, Melbourne.

Until next time.


Thank you all for following this blog and our Australian adventure!!


A Final Meals in Melbourne

The City, The Cuisine

It has been a wonderful year of delicious food!  We’ve tried tons on various ethnic foods and lots of traditional Australian cuisine, as well as enjoyed the fantastic cafe culture in Melbourne.

Without further ado, the (lengthy) final meals in Melbourne post!


Brunetti is an iconic Melbourne location.  The displays are just jaw-dropping when you walk in– metres upon metres of counters displaying every type of pastry you can imagine.  Every single thing we tried from there was delicious (which is not something the can be said of every Melbourne bakery).


Raspberry Pastry Twist


Pain au chocolat


Custard Croissant


White coffee, hot chocolate, chai latte, and mocha (clockwise)


Glazed/sugared Donut + hot chocolate = heaven


And to take home…

Cannoli & Lemon Tarts


Grey and Bliss

Chai Latte-Vanilla


Flat White


English Breakfast Tea


Breakfast Burrito

w/ bacon, fried egg, avocado, cheese, spicy tomato salsa, hot sauce



Ricotta hotcakes w/ whipped mascarpone, molasses poached pear, fresh berries, mint & crushed hazelnut 



Free range eggs anyway on toast

Poached, which they do fantastically here



Bliss benedict w/ toasted brioche, smashed avo, pomegranate, poached eggs, hollandaise & smoked salmon


New York Minute

Chocolate Ripple Milkshake


Coney Island Schnitzel Burger

A NYC carnival classic! Free range and hand-crumbed juicy chicken breast, smoked bacon, premium grade Swiss cheese, fresh tomato and spinach topped off with sweet chilli and mayo.


Plus fries, duh.


The Exchange Hotel

The Exchange Parmigiana

chicken schnitzel, ham, Napoli, mozzarella, chips & house salad

Seriously the best parma in Melbourne, if not Victoria, if not Australia.  We love the Exchange Hotel!


Fish and Chips

Beer battered fish, beef fat potatoes, pea puree, beer pickled onions, grilled lemon & tartare


The Lux Foundry

Chamellia Chai Latte


Flat White


Toasted Fruit Loaf

w/ citrus ricotta


Brioche French Toast

w/ espresso mascarpone, dark chocolate crumb, poached spiced pear, fresh berries, salted toffee


Muharam Cafe

Golden Gaytime Milkshake

A Golden Gaytime is an ice cream bar of vanilla, toffee, honeycomb, and chocolate.  This milkshake based off of that incorporated all off those flavours, plus delicious golden syrup.

Another Freakshake cafe checked off of my list!  This one rates pretty highly: a thin milkshake, inventive toppings, and a wow factor (an entire ice-cream cone!).




Beef Vindaloo

w/ Basmati rice, roti, and mint yoghurt

One of the best curries to be had in Melbourne!  Even though it was from a non-Indian restaurant…


Sidewinder Beer Battered Chips

w/ honey mustard mayo



This is a go-to restaurant for many in the Greek Precinct of Melbourne.  With a memorable stalactite ceiling, it is known for it’s souvlaki and home-style Greek cooking.


Home Baked Bread



Baked layers of macaroni, beef, and cheese, topped with béchamel cream sauce



oven baked lamb pieces and kritharaki (rice-shaped pasta) in a light tomato sauce


Homemade Moussaka

Greek traditional dish of baked layers of potatoes, minced beef & eggplant topped
with bechamel cream sauce


Mixed Giro

marinated boneless chicken and lamb from the spit, served with Greek salad & chips


Dessert Platter: (clockwise) galaktoboureko, vanilla ice cream, baklava, creme caramel

The galaktoboureko was interesting.  A thick, almost gelatinous, custard between flaky sheets of filo.  I, personally, didn’t love the textures.

However, everything else was simply amazing.  One of the best baklavas I’ve eaten.


Grey and Bliss



Bliss benedict w/ toasted brioche, smashed avo, pomegranate, poached eggs & hollandaise


Wasabi crusted calamari w/ Vietnamese style slaw salad & lemon/parsley mayo


100% Wagyu beef burger w/ fresh tomato, cos lettuce, pickle, panko onion ring, cheddar, & secret sauce


Cauliflower soup w/ a hint of pernod, Italian style breadcrumbs, lemon, parsley, & a side of bread


Sweet corn, zucchini & sweet potato fritters w/ pear chutney, lemon goat curd, smash avocado, apple glaze, poached eggs & smoked salmon


Queen Victoria Market

Spicy Lamb Borek

Boreks are a traditional Turkish food.  The ones at the market are completely authentic, steaming hot, and the right price.


Spinach and Cheese Borek


Rock Salt Caramel and Old English Toffee Gelato


Brown Sugar

Espresso Martini

These are always referred to as “cheeky” in Australia.


Chicken and Mushroom Risotto


Penne Bolognese 


Ham and Cheese Toastie


Field Mushrooms w/ Toast and Egg




Sticky Date Pudding


Cafe Lafayette

Chocolate and Pretzel Milkshake


Black Sesame Milkshake


Fried eggs with mushrooms, potatoes, bacon, and vegetables


Berry and Yakult Milkshake


Rock, Paper, Scissors

Chai Latte




Rosti Breakfast with Smoked Salmon and Bacon


Corn Fritters


Toast with Avo and Bacon


Pancakes with Grilled Banana, Hazelnuts, and Cream


Open House Melbourne

The City

Open House Melbourne is a city-wide event that allows access into buildings not regularly accessible for a weekend.  This year was the tenth anniversary of the event.

We hadn’t really heard of it until soon before the weekend, but some people plan their weekend way in advance.  It was a great chance for us to enter some buildings we had seen the outside of countless times!!

First up was the Melbourne City Baths.  This building is magnificent from the outside, but since it operates as a regular gym now, you normally can’t get in without a membership.

The main pool room features an Olympic-length pool with a track running around the top of the room for spectators.  There are tons of historical documents relating to the pool hanging on display around the balcony.  The baths were opened in 1860 for hygienic purposes, but soon turned recreational.  Mixed bathing was first allowed in 1947 and bikinis in 1955 (scandalous!).

17 Casselden Place was an address I’d never heard of before until browsing the open houses.  It is the only remaining house from a terrace of six brick two-roomed cottages on a laneway off of Little Londsdale Street.

“Little Lon,” as the area was known, was famous for being the underbelly of the city in the days of Marvellous Melbourne.  This cottage was home to some of the ladies working for nearby Madame Brussels Brothel.

Nowadays it is surrounded by modern glass and metal skyscrapers and is situated next to Madame Brussels Cafe.

Next up: Gordon Place.  This lodging house provided public housing accommodation for struggling families until 1904.  Then, it became YMCA-type housing for single men.

The weathering on the original floors here is amazing.  You can just imagine clotheslines strung back and forth across the courtyard…

Today, Gordon Place is a Quest Hotel, a great use of the layout of this historical building.

The Athenaeum Theatre was added to the already existing Athenaeum Library building in 1872.

Performers such as Dame Nellie Melba, Sir Laurence Olivier, and Barry Humphries have graced the Athenaeum stage as well as lecturers like Mark Twain and Sir Redmond Barry.

And, then, in the movie era, the very first feature film, The History of the Kelly Gang, was premiered here.  In addition, the first “talkie,” The Jazz Singer was played early on here.

Along Collins Street we popped into two churches that happened to be open.

The first was the Scots’ Church.  It had a beautiful aqua and purple stained glass window and a famous stained glass interpretation of the Last Supper.  My favourite thing about this Open House was the ongoing concert given by the organ player there!

The second church along Collins St. was St. Michael’s Church.  It was completed in 1867 starting its life out as a Congregationalist church.  Today, it is part of the Uniting Church in Australia.

This church is interesting in the circular interior designed based on theatrical architecture.  It also has some modern stained glass panels installed in 1988 which celebrate the 150th anniversary of the church.

South Melbourne Town Hall was built in 1880 on top of Emerald Hill.  The building is a true representation of the wealth in the area at the time.  The main hall is amazing–lined with windows, with tall, airy ceilings, and lots of wall sconces and moulding.  The council chamber seen here was done in 1930.  All the famous architecture/design features of Melbourne are rolled into one building here.

Today it houses the Australian National Academy of Music and mainly serves as a performance space.

The Portable Iron Houses along Coventry St. in South Melbourne are some of the only ones left in the world.  Patterson House (facing the road) is the only one in its original location.  There are two more (Abercrombie House and Bell House) in the lot behind it that were moved from the inner city so that they could all be displayed together.

During the Gold Rush, lots of housing was needed quickly for all the migrants.  These houses were prefabricated in Britain and then shipped in pieces to Australia, where you could buy one and assemble it quite easily.  The lining/insulation of the house came from the crates the pieces were shipped in.

We were surprised at how spacious the houses actually were.  Patterson House had four good-sized rooms on the ground floor and two smaller, loft-like rooms on the first floor.  One of the other houses on the lot even had a verandah!

The High Court of Australia is the top level for any judiciary matter and serves as the interpreter of the Australian Constitution.  This building housed the High Court from 1928 and 1982.  The main feature in the building is the Art Deco stylings.

This building is now used for settling commercial disputes at the Supreme Court level (one level below the High Court).

The Mission to Seamen building is one we’ve seen often when traversing the city.  They have been up and running in Victoria since 1857.  Inside there is a gorgeous little chapel with maritime-themed stained glass on one half and a clubhouse/entertainment area on the other half.

Finally, our curiosity could be stemmed about what was inside some of these iconic Melbourne buildings, thanks to Open House Melbourne!

Hosier Lane

The City

Melbourne is known for its laneways, usually filled with cute cafes, delicious bakeries, and local shops.  However, one of Melbourne’s most popular laneways doesn’t have any shopping at all.

Hosier Lane is known for its street art.

We saw some people tagging and adding to the art, as well as lots and lots of other onlookers exploring the area.

There are other even smaller laneways off of Hosier Lane and tons of nooks and crannies that are all decorated (including the dumpsters for local restaurants!).

There are countless layers of paint on these walls, but that’s the best thing about it: it’s always changing and evolving and is never the same!



Footy at the ‘G

The City, The Culture

The Melbourne Cricket Ground was originally built in 1853.  It has obviously had some expansion and remodelling since then, but is still a history piece in Melbourne (it’s on the Victorian Heritage Register!).  The G (as it is colloquially known) has hosted the 1956 summer Olympics, 2006 Commonwealth Games, and countless Australian cricket matches (including the ever-popular Boxing Day Test).  It also houses the National Sports Museum which tells the great history of Australian sport.

The MCG is privately owned by the Melbourne Cricket Club, which was founded in 1838.  Various sections of the stadium (about 20% in total) are reserved for MCC members during any sporting event held there.

Cricket is a summer sport, so during the winter, the MCG turns into the main Australian Rules Football stadium.

Australians are absolutely crazy about footy.  The national organisation is the AFL (Australian Football League) and everyone has a team they go for (usually based on geography).  There is a team for each major city in Australia, but because the AFL was created from the VFL (Victorian Football League) half of the teams are from Melbourne and surrounds.  So in Melbourne, especially, it is important who you barrack for.

The totally capacity of the stadium is 100,024.  At the game we attended, however, it was only 63,537—minuscule, right?

The stadium regularly sells out for the AFL Grand Final.


The classic meal at a footy game is a pie and chips.  Both help keep you warm in the chilly temperatures.

One of my favourite traditions regarding footy are the team songs.  Most of them were written in the 1800’s, so they have a very vintage vibe to them.  Also, most are to the tune of famous songs written around that time, such as “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “The Marine’s Hymn,” “Keep Your Sunny Side Up,” “The Yankee Doodle Boy,” and “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

As each team is running in through their banner, their song plays and, of course, the fans sing along.  And then, which ever team wins, their song is played on repeat after the game throughout the stadium and the guys sing it in a huddle back in the locker room.  After a long losing streak, teams are so excited to finally be able to sing their song again after a win!


There are 18 guys on each team on the field at a time, so we wanted to have a large-scope view of the game (which we don’t get watching it on TV).  So, we elected to get seats on the top-most level of the MCG, but near the front of the railings.

Heading up the escalators to the fourth level in the MCG, the surrounding walls are painted with the manuscript of the original rules of footy, written in 1859.  There were only ten rules; pretty much anything else was allowed, which is still somewhat true.  Footy was one of the first sports to be officially codified (even before soccer or rugby).



The game we attended was Collingwood Magpies vs. Essendon Bombers.  Both are suburbs of Melbourne; Essendon is near the airport, hence ‘Bombers.’  The captain of Collingwood actually lives in our suburb and we’ve seen him shopping at our supermarket (!).  Collingwood has classic black and white vertical striped jerseys and Essendon has black with a red sash.  Football jerseys were originally made from wool, but are now regular sports fabric.  However, they have maintained the integrity of the design.

There is no in-stadium commentary during play.  This silence seems to invite more people to add their own take on the game more vigorously.  Also, as not diehard fans, it was difficult to tell who had the ball or who was kicking the goal.

At halftime, kids in the AusKick program (AFL for kids) get to come out onto the field and play on the MCG!  They are dressed in miniature versions of the teams jumpers and then they get to meet the team they are dressed to represent.  They’re so adorable!

After the game, the lawn outside is covered with families playing kick-to-kick and the train/tram stations are absolutely packed with people trying to get home…

Footy is all in the history, the allegiances, and the athleticism.  We’ve really enjoyed adopting footy as our go-to sport!!

St. Kilda Pier Penguins

The City, The Culture, The Sights

The St. Kilda fairy penguins are like a preview to the Phillip Island fairy penguin population, but St. Kilda is much, much closer and more easily accessible.

After being out in the water all day, the penguins come home at dusk to their nests within the rocks on the St. Kilda Pier breakwater.

In the summer, apparently, there are tons of penguins, but the sunsets can be as late as 9 pm, where complete darkness won’t fall until 10 pm.  We wanted to see the penguins earlier, so we waited until winter.  However, fewer penguins live here/make the daily trek in winter, so it wasn’t the event we thought it might be.

While we were sitting on an (uncomfrotably pointy) rock waiting for the action to begin, I noticed some movement in the rocks behind us.  Lo and behold, it was a penguin!

This one must not have travelled out that day and was cozied up in his little nest underneath rocks.  The fairy penguins are almost blue in tone and have a small yellow patch on the front of their neck.

At first, we were the only people who knew he was there because we were sitting with him.  However, once someone else saw, word got out quickly and the penguin (and us) were instantly surrounded by tons of people and cameras.

Finally, another tiny penguin emerged on the rocks above the water a bit later.

The people in fluorescent yellow jackets were the penguin patrol.  They controlled the crowds, reminded people not to use flash, and created a safe radius around the penguins.  Their job wasn’t too hard this night, but I’m sure it could get frantic in the summer.

Probably most beautiful of all were the amazing views of the sunset; the gradient looked like a rainbow!

Kata Tjuta

Northern Territory

Pronounced “kata juta” this rock formation is the second main event in the national park.

Kata Tjuta takes up a bigger area, but as it is not one enormous rock, it is not as popular.  There are two walks through the rocks speckled over the landscape.

First up was the more challenging Valley of the Winds walk.  Getting up to the first stopping point, the Karu Lookout wasn’t hard at all (the same grade as the Uluru Base Walk).

However, the next segment was marked as only one grade higher (but felt like more).  No longer was there a clear marked path, but spray painted arrows over rocks heading down a steep hill.  I felt a bit like a billy goat leaping from rock to rock.

The views, especially after scrambling up a tall, sheer-ish rock face, were magnificent.  The land all around for kilometres and kilometres is completely flat and these rocks (plus Uluru!) are the only thing rising out of the landscape.  Simply incredible.

Kata Tjuta, especially the second half of this walk, has more health warnings than Uluru as the walks are more stoney, rugged, and isolated.


Walpa Gorge walk is easier, and a bit of a respite after the morning at the Valley of the Winds.  But just like all of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, it’s beautiful.

This trail travels right between two long thin rocks separated by erosion.  It had the most standing water and greenery seen in the Outback because of the water concentrated into a small area by the gorge.

Kata Tjuta, like Uluru, is best seen from a bit of a distance to capture the scope and shape of the rock formations.

Uluru can be seen on the horizon from Kata Tjuta looking over the outback scrub land and unusual (read: not as water dependant) plant life.

To me, Uluru is one of the great wonders of the natural world and Kata Tjuta just adds to the amazement.  This outback adventure was spectacular.