Tag Archive: Australia



Initially, I booked the Wilderness Cruise in Bruny Island. Later changed our booking for the Bruny Traveller Package with Pennicott  Journeys. It’s really a choice between a wild cruising adventure and a Tasmanian Gastronomic Experience. Care to guess why we’ve had a change of heart? I’ve seen them seals in a seal colony near Cape Town. Also, them penguins. So I’m good without those. But Tasmanian salmon, cheese, wine, malt whiskey, chocolate? Can’t miss those. All made in (why do all signs say MADE ON?)  Bruny Island. 



Nick’s Bruny Island Cheese Company



We started early with a 7:30 am hotel pick up. Just 10 of us like-minded foodies and wine and cheese enthusiasts. The brief ferry ride to Bruny Island was blessed with good weather. Temps at low 12 to a high 18C. So pleasant. Our guide and driver Tim was a talking and driving machine. His strong OZ accent was understood by all (mostly Aussies from Adelaide) but me who struggled 😭. No worries though, as Tim was such a wholesome, funny guide guy and he made sure I got more (like chocolate squares) than the others. 😊 



Meet Tim of Pennicott Wilderness Journeys


Our Travel Group


Getting Ready for the Oysters in Great Bay


We stopped for cheese and beer, then oysters (Oh, brother ), honey tasting, blueberry muffin and hot chocolate, before a proper lunch and wine tasting.  Then, more chocolates and a choice between Tasmania’s excellent single malt whiskeys and gin. Between these food stops,  we climbed up “The Neck” to view 2 bodies of water, a beach area, a Berry farm populated with wallabies, including albino wallabies. 


Get Shucked!


Blueberry Muffin With A View


Tasmanian Honey


By mid-afternoon, we nearly shied away from the gin and whiskey. Those enzymes were still busy digesting our lunch of salmon and lamb — while I’m looking at a plate of pork sausages ordered by someone next to me. Tsk Tsk. I ordered another glass of Pinot Noir to keep me from drooling over those sausages, until my travel buddy and I switched plates so each of us get to taste the salmon and the lamb. Lunch over and back to the whiskey and gin, I’m glad I didn’t refuse to try these Tasmanian goodies. By day’s end, everyone in our group looked happy. 



Salmon at Bernice and Richard’s Bruny Island Premium Wines


Lamb paired with Polenta & Tasmanian Apple Cider


Pork Sausages with Pinot Noir?


Bruny Island House of Whiskey


Till next time, Bruny Island!


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I certainly didn’t plan to be here. Well, at least NOT this soon. Tasmania hovers in my mind but my idea was to be here in summer to avoid the chilly breeze from the Tasman Sea. But it’s nearly winter Down Under, and I’m right here down Down Under. Took the noontime flight from Sydney to meet up with a friend from Melbourne who’s also itching to visit this island south of Mainland Australia.





First off, we decided on our hotel right in the heart of Hobart’s CBD. Just a hop and a skip from the Waterfront. A few minutes from the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Garden, Salamanca Market, Battery Point and Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. Those attractions should keep us busy for at least a day, not to mention the interesting shops and row of restaurants flanking the wharf. List in hand and checking on the weather forecast, we ticked off a couple of day tours to commence our Tasmanian Holiday. Sounds like a plan?





I must confess I have not done much research on Tassie, as Tasmania is fondly called. But I do remember how my nephew and his young family raved about their holiday here. Unfortunately, I am not confident to drive on the other side of the road so that restricts our mobility here. But there are day tours north and south of Hobart — colonial town of Richmond, breathtaking Bruny Island, historic Port Arthur — and prebooking them was a breeze. In fact, I enjoyed communicating with these tour operators. We emailed each other like we were long-lost friends! And I’m reminded of my nephew’s story about this Tassie driver of the tour bus his young family was on some years ago. You see, my nephew and niece-in-law didn’t pack extra nappies for their young son. Asking the driver if they could possibly stop at a convenience store to buy the stuff, the Tassie driver took one look at the boy and told my nephew he’d take care of it. As it turned out, this kind man had a son of same age, called his wife and asked her to put a couple of nappies in some mailbox along the road they took towards their destination. Voila, in a few minutes he stopped by the designated mailbox to retrieve the nappies and gave them to my nephew. He didn’t even charge for the nappies.  How cool is that?





Salamanca Market caught our interest. Suckers for mercados, we can’t pass up this chance to see, feel, smell and taste the soul of Hobart, Tasmania. But it’s scheduled only on Saturdays so that had to wait. We did trace Kelly’s Steps towards Battery Point and from the top of stairs, looked back to see the old warehouses of Salamanca Place. I was expecting some magnificent mountains (Tasmania is Australia’s most mountainous state), breathtaking forest parks (half of the area is protected as national parks), beautiful waterfronts and seascape (it’s an island, after all!), but I wasn’t expecting it’s packed with so much history. The historic village in Battery Point is teeming with old houses and well-restored colonial buildings. We also found St. George Anglican Church, built in 1838. Standing on the highest spot in Battery Point, it seeks attention among rows of interesting old cottages with tiny rose gardens. 






We’ve been here only a few hours and glad we wasted no time sampling their food and checking the sites. It was a very leisurely walk from our hotel and we decided to head back as soon as the sun has set. Weather was pleasant for walking, but we’ve had a long day and an early call tomorrow. Watch this page! 





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It was a clear, sunny morning for walking. But a rainy afternoon. We made good. Set out early enough, had a good lunch in the area near the Museum, and got promptly back in the car, heading home, when it started raining. 





Too bad the Museum was closed when we visited. But it was quite a sight , both from a distance and from its porch. Housed in a former cable station building, you can view the La Perouse Monument and the coast from the Museum porch.  This commanding view is a fitting tribute to  the French explorer Comte de Lapérouse who allegedly arrived in Botany Bay in 1787-1788 before his expedition mysteriously vanished. The Atlas of the Voyage of La Perouse is housed in this Museum.  Right outside of this Museum area, you can spot a row of restaurants and cafe bars including Danny’s where many chose to lunch on its famous fish and chips. 




We first rounded up the tower and crossed the bridge before a piccolo break and the walk along the coast. Being ANZAC DAY, there were many who had the same idea as ours. Young families with strollers, a group of scuba divers, a pair doing their pre-nuptial pictorial in the rocky coast, some fishermen-hobbyists, a crowd of tourists, hikers and a few nudists in a quiet corner of the beach. (Oooops…. )





There is a sign that 4 people have died in this rocky coast, a prompt reminder never to turn your back against the waters. Then again, I thought of the peril of bringing young children to play among the rocks.  But this morning, the water was calm and unthreatening. Still….. I thought the water must be cold for swimming but you’d never know that watching how these folks take to water. 





These Australians are extremely lucky to be blessed with such a natural landscape and seascape.  I can only envy those with easy access to the beach, maybe sharing lunch with seagulls, playing beach ball by the shore, and to a few (nudies), having a complete and even body tan! Congwong Bay Beach, Little Congwong Beach, and the beach at Frenchman’s Bay —– these swimming areas in Botany Bay are only 14 kilometers southeast of the Sydney CBD.  






A delight to walk around this area. Lots of activities going on, fine sand, a Museum (!), a nudist corner (!!), rock formations, pockets of scuba diving and fishing spots, an old bridge, a row of cafe bars and dining options. Your day’s complete! 








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Why not?  Yeah, it’s cold but NOT “sufferingly cold”. And for Cebu Pacific’s basic return fare (Manila-Sydney-Manila) of only PhP13,000, how can you go wrong? Even inclusive of those add-ons (food, baggage allowance, seat assignment, etc), it’s still a steal at US$350 or so! Again, why not? 

 




Check out these links for the winter time I spent visiting family in Australia:


Of Roadtrips, Train Journeys & Flights

Back In The City (Sydney)

Househunting: Katoomba

A 3rd Visit to Watson’s Bay

Sydney’s Barracks Museum

Lake Conjola Weekend

Flaneur On The Loose

Bushwalking in Lake Parramatta

Mayfield Garden

Coastal Walk from Bondi to Coogee

Gold Coast 


Food Trips

The Grounds of Alexandria

Salt Meats Cheese

Dining: Cupitt’s Winery & Restaurant

Tandoori King

Donto Sapporo


Enjoy, mate!


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This is a sequel to last year’s blog summary (IN AND OUT OF SYDNEY). Some favorite sites were revisited and explored further, and unlike the earlier blog, I’ve thrown in a list of food trips (including some from 2013 archives)  for you to consider. Have a good trip, mate!

 

 

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Bondi Beach

 

 

 

Day Trips From Sydney

 

A Weekend in Lake Conjola


PARAGON CAFE: Oldest Cafe in Australia


BERRY As Pitstop On Way to Jervis Bay

 

Blue Mountains’ Many Walks and Lookouts

 

Leura and Katoomba in the Blue Mountains

 

 

 

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Darling Harbour

 

 

In And Around The City

A Few Good Spots Around Sydney

 

Sydney Harbour Bridge 24/7

 

Bondi On The Pacific


Watsons Bay


Powerhouse Museum

 

 

The Friendly Inn at Kangaroo Valley

The Friendly Inn at Kangaroo Valley

 

Food Trips

 

Leura Gourmet Cafe

 

Heritage Bakery


NANDO’s Peri Peri Chicken

 

How About Some Burgers from Charlie?

 

WatervieW in Sydney’s Olympic Park

 

SUSHIRO In North Sydney

 

Two Skinny Cooks from Berrima (2013)

 

The Old Bakery Cottage In Berrima

 

Mira Japanese Resto In Manly Beach

 

Lindt’s At Cockle Bay Wharf

 

Nick’s At Darling Harbour

 

That Famous Robertson Pie

 

The Friendly Inn @Kangaroo Valley

 

 


 One thing I love about Australia is its many hamlets. Small, quaint, charming, enchanting villages either in the mountains or by the coast. I remember the first time I visited Katoomba. Took the train aiming to spend a whole morning viewing the magnificent gorges of the Blue Mountains and doing some bushwalking. I did. But I remember more that one afternoon I walked aimlessly along the streets of Katoomba. No Maccas (McDo) or KFC food chains here. Instead, I found tiny cafes, charming bookstores, arts and crafts stores, and food and delishops.

 

 

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Echo Point

 

My Katoomba Bookstore

My Katoomba Bookstore

 

 

Back in 1999, I stayed in an artist’s home. It’s quite a walk from the Katoomba Train Station, and it didn’t help that there was no heating around the house. Next day’s bushwalking was a struggle that I kept wishing I was on the cablecar with glass floor that kept passing us above the bush. When I had the afternoon to myself, I mechanically walked towards this bookstore that has seen better times. Old, unpretentious, but oozing with that old world charm. At the time, there was a baby grand piano in the center where someone (I assumed he was the owner) was playing some classical tunes. He offered me a cuppa and encouraged me to browse around lugging my cup of my favorite brew. What a relaxing afternoon.

 

 

Cablecar takes you right to Katoomba's iconic landmark -- The Three Sisters in Echo Point.

Cablecar takes you right to Katoomba’s iconic landmark — The Three Sisters in Echo Point.

Bookstore in Katoomba

Bookstore in Katoomba

 

 

Katoomba is truly an artist’s haven.  The oldest cafe in Australia is also to be found here, so lovingly restored and preserved. They even hold movie nights here! And in neighboring Leura, one is encouraged to simply walk around and appreciate the local architecture and gardens. There are bushwalking options leading all the way to Echo Point or to Leura Falls, if that suits your fancy. Or maybe you would like to just stay around Leura Mall and enjoy the flowering cherry trees. Amazing how they have preserved this historic street to include the Leura Post Office which now houses a news agency. Have a meal in one of the restos and coffee shops before checking out the many antique and gift boutiques.

 

 

We had a fantastic lunch here!

We had a fantastic lunch here!

 

 

 

 

Paragon Cafe is the oldest cafe in Australia.

Paragon Cafe is the oldest cafe in Australia.

You'd love dog-friendly Leura!

You’d love dog-friendly Leura!

 

 

And not to forget, take home some of those gourmet jams, dips, marmalades and tea concoctions. You don’t know how a simple jar can “extend one’s holiday”.

 

 

The old Post Office now houses a news agency.

The old Post Office now houses a news agency.

Grab a table at the Solitary Cafe. Just beware your coffee easily turns cold.] Grab a table at the Solitary Cafe. Just beware your coffee easily turns cold.


Power up at the Powerhouse Museum! Sydney, NSW.

Power up at the Powerhouse Museum! Sydney, NSW.

A Day In The City: Well spent in the Powerhouse Museum.  Just $35 for the 3 of us. 2 adults+1 kid.

A Day In The City: Well spent in the Powerhouse Museum. Just $35 for the 3 of us. 2 adults+1 kid.

Today, we let the teens rule. We’ve been doing the beach and mountain destinations lately and the teens so badly need a break. Maybe a technology break? Nothing some retail therapy and a day out in the city won’t fix. And this is what they chose as activity for the day in the city.

 

 

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Teens In The City. Powerhouse Museum. Sydney.

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Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia.

 

 

Just next door to the Darling Harbour, it can be found along Harris Street in the Pyrmont area. Kids and teens would certainly love this arts and design museum. Fun, interactive and yes, a strong wifi too! We took the train to Town Hall and walked along George Street, turning right in Hay Street, and naturally not missing Paddy’s Market. 🙂

 

 

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A permanent exhibit of Sydney public transport is so well-curated.

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Oh yeah, that’s Martin’s Place! Powerhouse Museum. Sydney.

 

 

Known for its use of technology to educate the masses, the Powerhouse Museum displays a diverse collection of science and decorative arts. Truly a center for learning and innovation. There is an impressive exhibit of Sydney’s public transport, evolution of fashion, complete with observational and hands-on experimentation and play areas.  Wiggles, anyone?

 

 

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Powerhouse Museum. Sydney.

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Very well-organized and curated this Museum. After 3 hours, we grew tired and found the Museum well-appointed for weary visitors. We claimed a leather sofa by a corner to re-energize 😉 The strong wifi was a bonus. Then we moved to the interactive play area that even I couldn’t resist.

 

 

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Choo Choo at the Powerhouse Museum. Just a stonesthrow from Darling Harbour.

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Not the kind you’d use on Syney’s many bike lanes. Powerhouse Museum.

 

 

Blame it on The Wiggles. This Australian children’s music group formed in Sydney, New South Wales in 1991 is a byword among OZ kids. And today’s adults “grew up” with them. Think Hoop Dee Doo, Yummy Yummy, and more! There is a sizable area dedicated to sapping children’s energy. It sapped mine too 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tired, after 3 hours. Who wouldn't be? Powerhouse Museum. Sydney.

Tired, after 3 hours. Who wouldn’t be? Powerhouse Museum. Sydney.

Never Too Old for The Wiggles! Powerhouse Museum.

Never Too Old for The Wiggles! Powerhouse Museum.


While there are ferries to take you from Circular Quay to this charming bay, we drove. I had a most authentic OZ experience here the last time I visited. Picnic mat, a bottle of shiraz, fresh seafood on the foreshore and a view to die for. This visit, we found ourselves back for some “unfinished business”.

 

 

 

 

 

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Watsons Bay

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Pelicans Off Watsons Bay

 

 

Sun’s shining and we just had a blast in nearby Bondi Beach. Skipped Coogee Beach and decided a better lunch could be had in this oldest fishing village of Australia. Of course it’s now far from being considered a fishing village. This area across Sydney Harbour Bridge is the perfect destination for a relaxing lunch with many activity options after.

 

 

 

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Doyles On The Beach. Watsons Bay.

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Doyles for fresh seafood!


But let’s deal with the first order of the day. LUNCH. A famous harbourside restaurant has been serving fresh seafood here for ages. DOYLES ON THE BEACH offers both fine dining and takeouts to lay on any of the beach tables or on a picnic mat. Calamari, fish and chips, oysters, salads. Doyles is an institution here and for good reasons. Spell that Y.U.M.

 

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Yummy Seafood lunch from Doyles!

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Thank you, Shelly, for the lunch and for bringing us here! Watsons Bay.

 

 

Watsons Bay is largely a residential area now but as earlier mentioned, a visit here offers many activities and pleasures. Speaking of pleasure, there is a legal nude beach located in nearby Lady Bay. 😉 But I digress. Or maybe not? Seriously though, any visitor can choose many walks including a coastal walk with ocean views of the Gap. The Gap is a well-developed and well-secured ocean cliff with superb views of Manly and the Pacific Ocean.

 

 

 

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Alice Doyles, you’re the best! Doyles on the beach.

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The Gap. Pacific Ocean. Watsons Bay.

 

 

And if you’re done with the harbour view, filled up on Doyles, and felt less guilty after a good walk, how about checking out some of the gelaterias around the corner? Take that cone (or cup) back to the wharf for one last look of this sheltered bay across the bridge. Lovely!

 

 

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An unobstructed view of the city skyline. Watsons Bay.


Don’t drag me to that debate on which is lovelier, more vibrant, more fun between Sydney and Melbourne. Our tour guide in Melbourne started that and don’t ask me why. What’s the fuzz? Both are in Australia, and they’re BOTH lovely. We had our own brand of adventure in both and this piece is a summary of the blogs I’ve posted on Melbourne. Feel free to click on the links (tap the coloured headings) for more details. Share, repost, if you like.

 

 

 

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The Great Ocean Road

 

 

1. THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD

 

 

We booked online via Wildlife Tours. A GroupOn voucher discounted an Au$130-150 tour to only Au$88 for a daytrip starting at 7:30 am, back same day at 9:30pm. Now, before you start saying it’s butt-numbing, do browse through these first 3 blogs. Much adventures in a single day. Def worth every cent and minute of your time! Never mind that it took all of 14 hours. The itinerary is so well-planned with lovely reststops and breaks. Trust me, you’d wish it was longer!

 

 

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2. LONDON BRIDGE NO MORE

 

 

Urban legend or not, I like the story. Or should I say gossip? Now, how many couples would go through an experience like that? Imagine being rescued and airlifted from one of those craggy stone formations because the connecting “bridge” collapsed? Go ahead, click on the link (tap the heading “London Bridge No More) for details.

 

 

Kookaburra

Kookaburra

 

 

3.  MAIT’s RAINFOREST WALK

 

 

Sandwiched among the many beach and oceanview pitstops is this rainforest walk and another site to “meet and greet” koalas and some kookaburra and other colorful birds. Perhaps even a kangaroo or two, if it’s your lucky day. Didn’t think much of this at the outset, but now I say it’s the finest way to stretch those atrophied muscles and breathe in some fresh air on a longgggg day.

 

 

 

Cheapest Hop O n, Hop Off Shuttle. Ever!

Cheapest Hop O n, Hop Off Shuttle. Ever!

 

 

4.   MELBOURNE ON A HOP ON, HOP OFF BUS

Can you beat Au$5 for a 90 minute tour on a shuttle bus around Melbourne’s city sights? There’s a long list that will keep you forever hopping off. You can buy your tickets from machines in designated bus stops or you can drop by the Melbourne Visitor Center for a brochure and that Au$5 ticket!

 

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5.  SHRINE OF REMEMBRANCE:  Lest  We Forget!

This is one of the hop-off sites of the red shuttle bus.  You can save it for last once you get on the bus in front of the Visitor Information Center and Saint Paul Cathedral.  A fitting memorial to the gallant men and women who sacrificed limbs and lives in the name of peace.  We visited just a day before ANZAC DAY so we witnessed a lot of preparations for next day’s dawn service.

ENJOY MELBOURNE!

 

 

 

 

Melbourne For Au$5?


We had a free morning in Melbourne. Done with the Great Ocean Road, we planned on visiting the Shrine of Remembrance a day before ANZAC Day. We weren’t in the mood for visiting vineyards today as we were simply exhausted after yesterday’s long drive. And the city tram is forever hanging with tourists and locals. So what’s best to do without tiring one’s self?

 

 

Flinders Train Station

Flinders Train Station

 

 

The iconic Flinders Station.

The iconic Flinders Station.

 

 

Found this hop on, hop off  shuttle bus going around major tourist sites within the city. Tempting to hop off the bus to do retail therapy at a major factory outlet or to browse around the many souvenir and food stalls in Queen Victoria Market. Cost: $5 all day, children under 10 are free. So why pay more? This is too good to be true.

 

 

Shrine of Remembrance. A Memorial to ANZAC heroes.

Shrine of Remembrance. A Memorial to ANZAC heroes.

 

 

Coffee and Doughnuts To Go!

Coffee and Doughnuts To Go!

 

 

The Au$5 tickets are available from Best of Souvenirs in the Melbourne Visitor Centre at Federation Square or from ticket machines located at each stop. The Visitor Center in Fed Square is just right across the St. Paul Cathedral where the red shuttle bus stops to pick up tourists.

 

 

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Melbourne Visitor Center in Federation Square.

 

 

Culled from their website is this itinerary which lists 13 stops over a 90 minute journey complete with onboard commentary.

 

Stop 1 Arts precinct

Step off here for plays, pictures and performances.

Arts Centre Melbourne
NGV International
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)
Malthouse Theatre
Melbourne Recital Centre
Southbank Theatre

 

Stop 2 Federation Square

Step off here for visitor services, culture and art.

Melbourne Visitor Centre
Federation Square
Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)
Birrarung Marr and William Barrack Bridge
Federation Bells
Flinders Street Station
St Paul’s Cathedral
Hosier Lane

 

Stop 3 Sports precinct

Step off here for stadiums, legends and gardens.

Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
National Sports Museum (in the MCG)
Melbourne, Olympic and AAMI parks
Fitzroy Gardens, Cooks’ Cottage, Fairies Tree, Model Tudor Village and historic Conservatory.
* Note that this stop is not in service on MCG event days.

 

Stop 4 Chinatown precinct

Step off here for shopping, theatre and a Chinese dragon.

Her Majesty’s, Princess, Regent, Athenaeum and Comedy theatres
Chinatown
Collins Street, Greek precinct
State Library of Victoria, Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne’s GPO, Melbourne Central, QV Melbourne

 

Stop 5 Melbourne Museum and Carlton Gardens

Step off here for culture, cinema and city gaol.

Melbourne Museum
IMAX Theatre
Royal Exhibition Building
Carlton Gardens
Old Melbourne Gaol and City Watch House

 

Stop 6 Lygon Street precinct

Step off here for La Dolce Vita and La Mama.

Lygon Street lifestyle
La Mama and Carlton Courthouse theatres
Piazza Italia
Museo Italiano Cultural Centre

 

Stop 7 University of Melbourne

Step off here for museums, music and modern art.

University of Melbourne
Ian Potter Museum of Art
Grainger Museum

 

Stop 8 Queen Victoria Market

Step off here for the market, museum and mint.

Queen Victoria Market
Melbourne Zoo
Flemington Racecourse
Arts House and Errol Street
Hellenic Museum

 

Stop 9 Harbour Town, Docklands

Step off here for shopping, skating and sailing.

Harbour Town
Medibank Icehouse
NewQuay
Tourism Lounge

 

Stop 10 Etihad Stadium and Victoria Harbour

Step off here for arts, parks and sporting events.

Victoria Harbour
Yarra’s Edge
Etihad Stadium
Docklands Park
Fox Classic Car Museum

 

Stop 11 William Street

Step off here for culture, courts and coastal wonders.

Immigration Museum
Koorie Heritage Trust Cultural Centre
Legal precinct
ANZ Banking Museum
Enterprise Wharf
Melbourne Aquarium

Stop 12 Southbank and Yarra River

Step off here for the skydeck, shops and ships.

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
South Wharf Promenade
Crown Entertainment Complex
Southgate
Eureka Skydeck 88
Polly Woodside

 

Stop 13 The Shrine and Royal Botanic Gardens

Step off here for music, a memorial and meandering gardens.

Shrine of Remembrance
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden
Sidney Myer Music Bowl
Government House
La Trobe’s Cottage