Melbourne

Flinders Street Station

Perhaps the best way to describe the two & a half weeks I spent in Melbourne is by highlighting some of the many wonderful things I packed into such a short visit . . .

Melbourne Beaches . . . & Cakes 😀

Before I arrived in Melbourne, I had heard about the beach at St. Kilda & (even more important) the strip of cake shops along Acland Street . . . yum!

One of the many cake shops along Acland Street in St. Kilda

Hazelnut, white chocolate & orange cake from another Acland Street cake shop, Monarch Bakery

Believe it or not, I only ate at one cake shop on Acland Street!  Had I known in the beginning how little time I would spend in Melbourne, perhaps I would have gone back a second time.  Oh well, we know there are plenty of sweets to sample around Sydney!! 😉

Ironically, I have no pictures of the beach at St. Kilda . . . I guess I was too busy drooling over all those cakes!  Quite honestly, I wasn’t all that impressed with Melbourne’s beaches (Sydney Harbour was calling to me, & both of the Sydney beaches I had been to previously – Bondi & Manly – made anything I saw in Melbourne pale in comparison, not to mention the gorgeous beaches of Western Australia).  I did have fun trying to spot the penguins at St. Kilda Pier, but seeing as how it was dusk & we were told not to use the flash on our cameras, the one picture that didn’t come out completely black is still not much to look at!

Penguin at St. Kilda - if you strain your eyes you can kinda pick him out amongst the rocks - look for the thin strip of white on his belly in the middle of the photo! (the pic is of his profile)

I also enjoyed my visit to Brighton Beach – again, not so much for the beach itself, but for the famous “Brighton Bathing Boxes.”

A colorful array of bathing boxes at Brighton Beach

I love the playfulness & peacefulness, respectively, of these two designs

Melbourne Museums

Museums aren’t usually the first thing on my holiday to-do list, but believe it or not I actually made it to two in Melbourne – the Immigration Museum as well as the Melbourne Museum to see the King Tut Exhibition.  I find ancient Egyptian culture intriguing (seriously, how did they build those pyramids?!) & couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see this.  It goes without saying that the artifacts were amazing, but I also enjoyed the video & description of archaeologist Howard Carter’s discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922.  It was pretty cool to be able to watch a part of history & imagine the emotions he must have felt upon finding such treasures.

The Immigration Museum also did not disappoint.  During my time abroad, it has been interesting to compare & contrast Australian & American culture, & immigration has been an important factor in the development & growth of both countries.  I especially enjoyed the interactive features of the museum, such as the replica ship – each room transports you to a different time period in order to offer a glimpse of the varying travel conditions experienced by immigrants from the 1840s to the 1950s.  In addition, it was quite interesting to play along with the interactive video that allows patrons to take on the role of immigration officer & decide the fate of immigrants from various backgrounds throughout different periods in Australia’s history.  I quickly learned that it would be difficult for someone like me to make the cut by today’s standards (not that I’m seriously considering the idea . . . just curious!)  So – what makes it so difficult for me to become a permanent resident of Oz?  Well, I’m not a refugee, I don’t have any job skills that are in need in Australia & I’m not married to an Australian citizen.

Many of those considered illegal immigrants in Oz include people who have overstayed their visas from the UK & the US!!

Melbourne Food

Often referred to as the culinary capital of Australia, any description of Melbourne would not be complete without mention of the food.  Lucky for us, Adam introduced Heather & I to an amazing little cafe in the suburb of Abbotsford called Three Bags Full.  I had several great meals there, but if I had to pick a favorite I’d probably go with this:

Pumpkin & sage fritters with grilled haloumi, creamed feta, crisp proscuitto, tomato & rocket

OK, I have to laugh at this, but I just googled “rocket lettuce” to try to figure out the best way to describe “rocket” to you & I learned that it is also known as arugula – why does it always take me so long to figure these things out?!  This whole time I thought Australia grew some mysterious type of lettuce that didn’t exist in the States – hahaha!  Yeah, but you have to agree that rocket sounds way cooler – I mean, try getting your 5-year-old (or me, for that matter) to eat something called arugula! 😉  Anyway, rocket is sort of like pumpkin in that you will find both on menus all over Australia!

Well, on with the food!  It just so happens that another favorite dish was a similar concoction from another Melbourne cafe I frequented on more than one occasion, Stuzzichino in Carlton, Melbourne’s Little Italy.  And look – our two most familiar ingredients are back again – pumpkin & rocket/roquette (I’ve seen both spellings & tend to jot down ingredients exactly as they’re listed on the menu.  Same goes for the spelling of feta/fetta).

Savoury pancakes filled with roast pumpkin & Greek fetta, topped with diced tomato, red onions, roquette salad & shaved parmesan

Melbourne Sports

The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a big sports fan, but it seemed I couldn’t truly experience Melbourne without seeing a “footy” game at The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).  What exactly is footy (a.k.a. Australian Rules Football, or simply Aussie Rules)? . . . Well, that’s the question, isn’t it . . . & since I never quite understood all the rules myself, I’ll let you read about the sport here.  What I can tell you is that footy is a fast-paced, crazy, anything goes kind of sport.  Well, OK, it’s not really anything goes, but it sure seemed like it to me at the time!

My first footy game!

First of all, the players use just about every part of their bodies to move the ball.  The only thing I think they’re not allowed to do is throw the ball – what sometimes looked to me like a throw was actually a “punch” (known as handballing), a bit like one might use to serve in volleyball.  Players can run with the ball, sort of like in American football, but they have to periodically bounce the ball, kind of like in basketball – you see what I mean?  Strange!  And footy is definitely a contact sport, but you won’t find any helmets here – yikes!

A Richmond player greets the crowd after the Tigers win the game

Anyway, I have to say that I enjoyed the game immensely – despite not always understanding what was going on! 0:-)  Fortunately I went with a group of people from my hostel & we had an Australian with us who did a good job of keeping us up to speed.  In the end, the Richmond (suburb of Melbourne) Tigers beat the Fremantle “Freo” (suburb of Perth) Dockers by a score of 148 to 99.  The fact that I had visited both Richmond & Fremantle previously made it difficult for me to choose one team to cheer for over the other, but our Aussie friend was a Freo fan, so we all pretty much just went with that.  You would think the Tigers would have had the homefield advantage, but not necessarily – a number of teams are based in or around Melbourne, including the Melbourne Demons, the North Melbourne Kangaroos, the St. Kilda Saints . . . I could go on, but you get the idea!

Beyond Melbourne – Sovereign Hill

On my last day in Melbourne, I booked a tour to Sovereign Hill in the city of Ballarat, about an hour’s drive away.  Sovereign Hill is a living, outdoor museum telling the story of the goldrush that took place in the state of Victoria beginning in the 1850s.

Panning for gold

One of the things I loved about Sovereign Hill is that it truly transports you back in time.  The buildings, the actors dressed in costumes, everything is as it would have been in Ballarat in the mid-19th century.

The Marching of the 'Redcoat' Soldiers

You can even walk inside various shops & see demonstrations (e.g., candle making) & make purchases (with your modern Australian cash, of course) . . . I bought a wombat-shaped cookie cutter from a tinsmith – can’t wait to make wombat-shaped cookies! 🙂

Candle Shop

They even have a program that allows middle school kids & teachers to experience what it would have been like to attend a goldfields school!

Real kids - not actors! - get a glimpse of life at a 19th century goldfields school

And finally, I had to make time for lunch before I left!  Sovereign Hill’s New York Bakery made my favorite pumpkin soup to date – it was so artfully presented, too! 🙂

Pumpkin soup with cream & chives

So that essentially wraps up my time in Melbourne.  I’m sure I’ve left out a few things & of course there are many things I didn’t get to experience, but all-in-all I’d say I did a pretty good job of exploring what Melbourne has to offer.  In the end, I suppose you know I came to the conclusion that it’s a great place to visit (really!) . . . I just didn’t want to live there.

Melbourne's Federation Square

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rebecca @InsideCuisine
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 23:07:38

    hey thanks for linking to my Acland Street cake post … did you enjoy? @frombecca
    x

    Reply

    • nicoleinoz
      Aug 30, 2011 @ 20:32:04

      Yes, thanks Rebecca! I almost tried Monarch’s famous kugelhoupf but decided to go with the hazelnut cake instead. If I ever get back to the area, I’ll have to try some of the other cake shops you visited! 🙂

      Reply

  2. Camille
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 23:11:13

    You have captured it all in your post on Melbourne – art, culture, history and, as always, food and dessert. Sounds like you were able to experience many things that Melbourne has to offer during your short stay there.

    Love the photo of the Brighton Bathing Boxes – so colorful and artistic. The museums are really interesting and I can see how you would enjoy them.

    The food and dessert photos look yummy (drool). Does being a food critic qualify you to extend your visa? Nevermind – don’t get any ideas!

    Is a penguin cuter than a wombat?

    Miss and love you – MOM

    Reply

    • nicoleinoz
      Aug 30, 2011 @ 20:35:22

      The bathing boxes add so much color to the beach, even on a dreary day.

      Haha – no, I don’t think my ability to eat food is going to enable me to get a visa extension. 😉

      Is a penguin cuter than a wombat?! Of course not! What kind of question is that?! Hahaha 😉

      Miss & love you too. :o*

      Reply

  3. Heather
    Aug 30, 2011 @ 09:18:57

    YES, Sov Hill’s pumpkin soup is goooood! They have the best lamington I’ve ever had too.

    I had NO clue rocket = arugula. Learn something new every day!

    If someone somehow sponsored a visit back to Oz for one week for Macaron Day, I’d have to fly to Melbs for a day just for Three Bags Full.

    Reply

    • nicoleinoz
      Aug 30, 2011 @ 20:39:26

      I wish I’d gotten the lamington from the New York Bakery, but I had a good one from One Five Seven recently. 🙂

      Yeah, I guess I’d never had arugula before – didn’t know what it looked like or really even what it was! Oz is so confusing sometimes. 😉

      I’m still hoping for Zumbo (or anyone!) to sponsor your trip back to Oz – maybe try emailing him (again) – hahaha!

      Reply

  4. Aunt Penny
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 06:11:21

    Hi Niki,

    After all your experiences in Australia, it will be interesting to see what you think of the food, sites, beaches and museums here in the Bay Area when you come visit. I’ve had arugula… never heard it called “rocket” before. They make all the food look so pretty on the plates; glad you’re taking photos before you dig into it. The bathing boxes look so cute on the beach. Love you…

    Reply

    • nicoleinoz
      Aug 31, 2011 @ 20:25:20

      I’m sure I’ll enjoy San Fran – at least I did the first two times I visited! 🙂 It will be fun to go back as an adult & see the sites again.

      Reply

  5. marillynw
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 19:58:55

    All I can say is “wow” – love your stories and pictures. Can’t believe that you have been in Australia over 6 months now! Continue this wonderful blog so those of us who are not so adventurous can at least experience your awesome adventure.

    Love and miss you!!!

    Reply

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WA = Western Australia; NT = Northern Territory; SA = South Australia; QLD = Queensland; NSW = New South Wales; ACT = Australian Capital Territory; VIC = Victoria; TAS = Tasmania

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