AUSTRALIA DAY 10 – MELBOURNE

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Today is our last full day in Melbourne! It was nice to be back in the city again after being on day trips for the last two days. We started off the day with a delicious French breakfast at Roule Galette. The restaurant is split up in two locations – the dining area on one side and the kitchen on the other. We ordered the chicken avocado and truffle salmon galettes as well as the maple syrup crepe.

My aunt ordered the flat white and I had the organic apple cider. Food and drinks here were amazing! You know the food is authentic when it is served by staff with French accents!  The galettes and crepe were cooked just right and were piled with fresh ingredients. The service was also excellent. I highly recommend this café!

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After a delicious breakfast, we visited the infamous Hoiser Lane. I can’t emphasize this enough…come early during the day so you can get pictures without being photo bombed!

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We got here around 10 a.m. so it was not too bad. We were able to take our time to look at all the artwork and get some nice pictures with it. There was a musk coming from the garbage cans as there are quite a few here but it was still bearable.

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Hoiser lane is an area where artists can legally do graffiti art on the street. Each time you come here, the artwork you see will be unique as new ones would have been drawn over old ones.

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Later on in the free walking tour, we found out that there’s an artwork here drawn by a famous Australian artist of a native boy. In one of his eyes, you will see a reflection of his past while in the other eye, a reflection of his future which is to signify the change experienced by the first nations in the country throughout time. We spent a good 45 minutes here taking photos before we headed off to our next destination, the Queen Victoria Market.

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The Queen Victoria Market is only open on select days and time so make sure you check the hours before visiting. This was probably my favourite shopping stop on this entire trip so I highly recommend a visit here. I allocated two hours for the market but we ended up spending three hours here and still not getting through the whole thing! This market was way larger than I expected and there was way more to see so I would say three hours is a safe amount of time to allocate here. They only have paid parking here so I would recommend catching a Uber here to save a few dollars.

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The market is divided into three areas – souvenirs, cooked food and produce. We spent three hours alone in the souvenir section! There were at least six rows of souvenir shops which stretched for three blocks.

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Although some shops sold similar souvenir items like the boomerangs or koala plush toys, we did see some unique items such as rugs made from Australian wool, Ugg lookalikes, and handmade leather wallets. The prices are very reasonable here and unfortunately, we were only able to bargain at one stall! If you need to pick up some souvenirs, this market is a one-stop shop.

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I bought two pairs of Ugg lookalikes here for $69.99 each which was really good quality and the designs were very unique. They also had a large selection of sizes and colour to choose from. They also accept credit card so you don’t have to worry about running out of cash! I also purchased a customized leather wallet here which I absolutely love! They have many different styles and colour to choose from as well. They also have various embellishments you can add to customize it to your liking and they will engrave your name for free. My wallet came up to $45 which is a steal for the quality and the customization!

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Since we went overtime at the market, we had to forgo our fancy lunch and we had to grab something quick to eat before our free walking tour. We grabbed some dim sum at a small Chinese stand across the street and the food actually turned out to be pretty delicious. Melbourne definitely lives up to their name as the city with the best food in Australia! We sat and ate our lunch as we waited for others to arrive for the free tour. We had a large group that day so we were split off into two groups. The walking tour was approximately 2.5 hours long and you got to see a glimpse of the different areas in Melbourne while learning about the history of its development. I felt the tour is a good way to get a general understanding of each area but you will have to come back to it on your own time to truly see everything. No reservation is required for the tour. You simply show up at the State Library of Victoria and look for the tour guide wearing the free walking tour t-shirt. Since the tour is free, a tip is highly recommended at the end based on what you think the tour is worth. We paid $50 for the three of us.

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We first started outside of the Old Melbourne Gaol to learn about how the city started as a prison for British Convict. We learned about the infamous Australian bushranger, Ned Kelly, who was sent to the gaol and later hanged for murder. The 2003 movie Ned Kelly was based on this true story. We then walked over to Chinatown where our tour guide told us a little about the history of Chinese immigrants in Australia and where was the best place to grab steamed dumplings in town.

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From Chinatown we headed over to Pellegrini’s which serves Melbourne’s best coffee for the last 60 years. It is an Espresso bar which serves cheap but delicious Italian food and they have no menus with prices!

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We then sat outside the steps of Melbourne’s Town Hall where our tour guide told us about its history and talked about the history of performing arts in the city.

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She told us that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be playing in Melbourne in 2019 so if you are a Harry Potter fan, you must go to check it out!

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We stopped for a bathroom break at Collin’s Place before heading over to the AC/DC Lane. This lane was dedicated to Malcolm Young, a member of the Australian hard rock band, AC/DC when he passed away in 2017. The artwork in this lane is very well done! We also stopped by the Hoiser Lane but it was a very brief stop. There were many people gathered at the lane now so it was a good thing that we came for pictures earlier!

While we passed by the posters, our tour guide told us that the Melbourne International Comedy Festival was coming up soon and it is one of the biggest Comedy Festivals in the world. How I wish we were in town for that! We walked across the Princes Bridge to our final stop, the Hamer Hall, which is the art center for Melbourne.

Our tour guide told us that Sydney Opera House has the best physical structure but the Hamer Hall has the best sound system in Australia.  I can’t really comment on that as I did not watch any performances in the Hamer Hall.

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From the Hamer Hall, we took an Uber to Brighton Beach, which was about a 45-minute drive away during rush hour. After seeing pictures of the colourful bathing boxes, I knew that we had to make a stop here.

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Brighton is an affluent coastal suburb of Melbourne and there are 85 bathing boxes here which date back to the 1900s.

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Brighton Beach is one of the most popular beach destination in the state of Victoria.  We spent about an hour here walking from the first bath box all the way to the last one and then back. Each bath box was unique so it was a great deal of fun checking out each one.

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We stayed at the beach after sunset so we got some stunning pictures of the bath boxes both before and after the sunset.

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We had an interesting ride back to the city as we chatted away with our Uber driver who had moved to Melbourne about a year ago from Dubai. It was sad to hear that he still had to work as a Uber driver after his full time job in the office in order to support his family in Melbourne. Melbourne housing prices are equally as bad as Vancouver’s! He dropped us off for dinner at Ezard where we had made dinner reservations. We wanted to have a fancy dinner for our last dinner in Melbourne so I picked this place based on online reviews. With any fancy restaurants, you would of course expect a pricier menu. We were able to get away with only a $300 damage after tips and full bellies which is not too bad. For drinks, my aunt ordered the flat white (her favourite drink this trip) and I ordered this non-alcoholic drink called The rise of rose. My drink was pretty good, bubbly with a strong rose scent. For appetizers, we shared two oyster shooters, scallop dumpling and the Western Australian marron. The oyster shooters were served in ponzu sauce and Japanese sake.They were very fresh and the Japanese sake gave it a nice, sweet kick.

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The steamed scallop dumplings were served in a broth with white fungi and basil. It tasted a little like the shrimp dumplings you have in dim sum!

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The marron was fresh and it was paired with interesting ingredients such as granola and nasturtium. The dish came in a tomato-coloured casing which was also really neat.

20180327_212629.jpgThe restaurant also served us a free appetizer which was some sort of pickled cucumber with masago.

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For entrees, we had the barramundi, Ora salmon and the Chinese style duck. We shared the three dishes so we could try each one.

All three dishes were fresh, flavourful and well presented but my favourite was the barramundi. The chef did an excellent job to ensure the fish meat was succulent while giving the skin a nice crisp finish.

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We also got an order of Crème Royale potatoes with miso and wasabi butter to share.

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Overall, the food was amazing and each dish was so well thought out by the chef. The pairing of each dish was so unique. Who would have thought that Western-Japanese fusion dishes would taste so delicious! The only complaint I have about our dining experience at Ezard was the service. Our server disappeared half the time and towards the end, we were assigned a new server without any notification beforehand. I would have given this restaurant a 9 but decided to knock it down to 7.5 due to the service!

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After a delicious meal, it was time to head back to our hotel to get packing for our last stop, Sydney! Melbourne is a lovely city and I wish we had spent a little more time here! Food was amazing, the city was bustling but not overly crowded and there were so many things to do! I was joking with my fiancé that we should move to Melbourne and live here for a while…. Melbourne and Vancouver are quite similar in many ways. Who knows! Maybe one day we will!