If you have been following our journey from the start you may have remembered that we attended a wedding in Mumbai,India. The happy couple (and they are still happy today!) Ollie and Neem have since given up the pressure cooker that is ‘New York City’ and donned a pair of backpacks. Luckily for us our good friends, and fellow travel bloggers, would be passing through Australia.
We would be able to convene our long awaited Blogger’s Conference and the host city would be Melbourne.
After a quick Tiger Airways flight down to Tullamarine and a quick check-in to our apartment we walked into town for our rendevous.
Karen did her research and found a really good Asian Restaurant in Melbourne’s CBD – Cookie for the Friday night. (Her and Laura had eaten their back in April!). It was great seeing Ollie and Neem again after so long but it was a week too late to witness Ollie’s beard in all it’s glory. Due to some gentle ribbing from his brother Alan in New Zealand he had shaven the whole thing off.
As we caught our-table became available and with a consensual hunger we worked our way through the Asian Fusion menu. That is except for John who could not get past the Green Chicken Curry on page 1!
We continued that first night in the Berlin Bar. A unique drinking experience in the heart of Melbourne’s Chinatown. It’s actually two bars – “both alike in dignity” – set up to mirror the old East-West divide in Berlin. Feeling a bit gritty we opted for the more fun East-side Bar complete with bathtubs and cocktails called ‘Angela Merkel’ and ‘Luftwaffe Sour’ To name just a few.
The next morning we agreed to start the day enjoying one of Melbourne’s oldest sports – Brunch.
Taking the 96 Tram to St Kilda we got off at Stop 130 at Albert Park (where the Formula 1 is held) and over on Platform 2 was our meeting place – Mart Cafe. This old Tram Station Building has been converted into a serious player in the Melbourne Brunch scene with cracking plates of food and strong coffee. The Staff were also very friendly and kept referring to John by name so much he felt like a regular (he had made the booking!).
It is always good to plan an activity when going to a new city. Something to plan the day around and to look forward to. As we were sneaking into our second year in Australia it was about time we went to see some footy. Before that though we had a few hours to go in and explore Melbourne city, and most importantly, walk off that breakfast.
Our ‘big long walk’ took us from Albert Park up to the Riverside, up to the Laneways around Collins Street and back on down to Federation Square via some cool street art (More Photos Here!) coffee shops and a lunch break.
It was time to head to the game. We would be witness to the ultimate test of fitness as the Hawthorne Hawks battled against Carlton for bragging rights in the MCG – Melbourne Cricket Ground. A local derby in the AFL (Aussie Rules Football)
As we walked towards the MCG Stadium we passed another famous sporting venue nearby. The Rod Laver Arena – the home of Australian Tennis and host to one of the 4 Major Championships played out each year.
Located in Yarra Park, the MCG has many records – the tallest light towers of any other stadium, being the largest stadium in the Southern Hemisphere, 10th Largest Stadium in the World and largest Cricket Stadium in the World.
It is also steeped in history – the first Test Cricket Match was played here in 1877 and it hosted not only two Cricket World Cups (1992 and 2015) and a Commonwealth Games (2006) but was the host stadium for the 1956 Olympics which has many fond memories for Irish people as it was here on Saturday 1st December 1956 where Ron Delaney won Gold in the Men’s 1,500 Metres race – beating the local favourite John Landy and setting a new Olympic Record of 3:41.2.
Other sporting legends are represented in statuesque forms in the Parade of Champions that surrounds the stadium – including Don Bradman,Dennis Lillee and another Irishman in Dubliner Jim Stynes (the only non-Australian recipient of the Brownlow Medal for AFL in 1991)
So much sporting history and we had not even got through the turnstiles yet. We were seated on the top level and got some pretty good seats with a great view of the stadium below us. The game was pretty even until about the mid-point of the third quarter when Hawthorne jumped into another gear and went on to win comfortably. As neutrals we just enjoyed the spectacle, the cacophony of sounds and the kaleidoscope of colours…
After the game and seeing that it was Saturday night, we ventured up to Fitzroy and Collingwood in search of some drinks and dinner. Our first stop was the Rum Diary for some cocktails and bespoke craft beers.
For dinner we went to Veggie Bar on Brunswick Street for some interesting pizzas.
Our last day in Melbourne was the Sunday. Before meeting for breakfast at Kettle Black Karen and I went to the nearby War Memorial to check it out. Covering Australia’s involvement in every war from the Boar War to modern day Afghanistan it was quite the museum.
An hour is never long enough for a history museum and we had to skim through the various galleries. Karen has promised that we can come back to Melbourne and give it some proper loving.
We spent our last few hours having another amazing breakfast,exploring the Melbourne Docklands, Ollie buying new shoes (and changing them on a moving tram!)and having to say goodbye 😦
We would be heading back to Sydney while Ollie and Neem would be flying the next morning to Singapore to continue their own adventure.
It had been a fun weekend swapping old stories and telling new ones – especially about the skills needed to cross international borders and how best to haggle a taxi/tuk-tuk/elephant/motorcycle ride.
If you want to follow Ollie and Neem’s adventure you can do so here (We look forward to reading about their ‘take’ on the Melbourne Weekend in the future!)