Australia is one of my favorite places to travel. It’s one of those places that I could actually see myself living. I’ve been lucky enough to visit three times, and during my last trip I found yet another city to love – Melbourne.
Melbourne has a colorful love of street art. You can’t walk in the city’s central business district without seeing street art. Spots like Hosier Lane, Degraves Street, and AC/DC Lane are the best-known stretches, but it’s everywhere. The art is constantly being painted over and changed, so there’s always something new to see. If you’re a hard core fan, Localing Tours has an option where you can visit a working artist’s studio.
It’s a long flight for most travelers, so odds are good you’ll have some jetlag. Pick a day to sleep in, skip breakfast, and eat your way through Queen Victoria Market. This isn’t a tourist driven attraction. It officially opened in 1878, but it was unofficially operating before then.
As a visitor, you’re not shopping from the butcher or the seafood markets, but when you’re accustomed to a supermarket, it’s fun to get a glimpse of the bustle. The prepared foods, on the other hand, are fair game. Offerings come from around the globe, everything from pasta, to kangaroo, fine cheeses, and chocolates. There’s also stall after stall of fresh produce.
It’s a huge space, and if the thought of exploring seems a little overwhelming you can take a guided Queen Vic Market Foodie Tour. About two hours long, you’ll meet sellers, get buying tips, and of course eat!
With good food, typically comes good wine. The Yarra Valley is Melbourne’s equivalent to Northern California’s Napa and Sonoma. It’s less than an hour drive from Melbourne.
One of the best ways to get the lay of the land is from above, in a hot air balloon. The landscape isn’t just vines, agriculture of all sorts are strong here. It’s an early morning, up at 4:30am and on move by 5am, but you just magically seem to forget all about it. I stayed at Chateau Yering Hotel where staff stays in constant contact with pilots, so they only wake guests up if the weather is clear, and everything’s a go.
Phillip Island is a must for animal lovers. About 90 minutes from Melbourne, Phillip Island Nature Parks are not-for-profit; the boat rides to Seal Rocks is just one example of the types of tours they offer. This is home to Australia’s largest fur seal colony, about 30,000 of them.
The day I visited, five to eight-thousand were hanging out. In addition to the close-up wildlife views, the coastline is pretty spectacular. When the boat is moving, everyone has to be seated, with seat belts, because every now and then the captain likes to have some fun, zig zagging around, atop the sea.
For animal packed day, visit the seals in the afternoon, then spend your evening with penguins. The Summerland Peninsula, in the southwest area of Phillip Island, is home to a colony of little penguins – about 32,000 of them. The little penguins spend a great deal of time at sea, but every night at sunset many make the trip back to land, scurrying up the beach under the moonlight.
Dana’s trip was hosted by Tourism Victoria, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.