We finally made it to Australia!
This was our mostly unplanned itinerary for our recent trip to Melbourne and Sydney, as our main aim was to visit our friends in the 2 cities.
Each day, we would google for what looked interesting. Some days, a spur-of-the-moment thought or a sudden craving might make us decide to walk 30 minutes to go in search of it.
We were blessed with nice weather in Melbourne throughout our stay and there wasn’t any raining while we were there, save for the slight drizzle while we were on the Great Ocean Road.
The hyperlinks below will lead to the review posts.
- Day 1 (8 Aug 2016 Mon) – Arrived in Melbourne with SQ237 at 9am. Cleared customs after declaring our shrimp popiahs, took Skybus to Southern Cross Station and shuttle bus to Airbnb. Checked into the apartment, met the girls for lunch at The Pancake Parlour, joined the free walking tour, dinner at Movida Bar de Tapas, star gazing at Mornington Peninsula.
- Day 2 (9 Aug 2016 Tue) – Great Ocean Road Day Tour with A Tour With A Difference.
- Day 3 (10 Aug 2016 Wed) – Brunch at Hardware Société, visited The State Library, coffee break at Manchester Press, checked out street art, visited Queen Victoria Winter Night Market, dinner at Minamishima.
- Day 4 (11 Aug 2016 Thu) – Breakfast at Hopetoun Tea Rooms, a half-day trip to Brighton Beach, late lunch at Seasons Provedore, coffee break at Brunetti, more coffee break at New York Chocolate Bar, watched Matilda musical at Princess Theatre, dinner at Stalactites.
- Day 5 (12 Aug 2016 Fri) – Breakfast at The Quarter, visited National Gallery Victoria, South Melbourne Market and lunch, shopping at DFO, dinner at BangPop, watched winter fireworks at Docklands, supper at Roule Galette.
- Day 6 (13 Aug 2016 Sat) – Breakfast at Top Paddock, watched Pelican feeding en route to Philip Island, Hot Chocolate at Paddy’s chocolate factory, lunch at The Cape Restaurant, took the boardwalk at the beaches, tea break, watched Penguin Parade, dinner at Kimchi Grandma Restaurant.
- Day 7 (14 Aug 2016 Sun) – Slept in, coffee at Brother Baba Budan, donut from Shortstop, checked out Queen Victoria Market (weisswurst from Bratwurst Company & Co, Soy Chai Tea from Original Chai Co. food truck, donuts from American Doughnut Kitchen, coffee at Market Lane Coffee), lunch at Universal Italian Restaurant, nua and dinner at XY & JJ place.
- Day 8 (15 Aug 2016 Mon) – Breakfast at The Grain Store, watched Olympics, lunch at Paperboy Kitchen, roamed around to find street art, coffee at Patricia Coffee Brewers, nua at Crown Casino, dinner at Hakata Gentsuke Ramen, checked out night view at No. 35, drinks at San Churro Chocolateria.
- Day 9 (16 Aug 2016 Tue) – Breakfast at Cherry & Twigs, flight from Melbourne to Sydney.
- If you are holding a Singapore passport or one of the countries with e-passport, use the Smartgates instead during entry into Melbourne. After getting off the plane at T2 in Melbourne, keep a lookout for a pair of kiosks near an L-shape corridor nearby. The queue was the shortest here to get the ticket to use the e-gates. As you continue, you will see 2 lanes, the left lane is to queue for the e-kiosk to get the tickets, and the right lane is for those using the normal custom lanes, or for those who already had gotten the tickets. Move right on, and near the Smartgates, there will be another opportunity to get the tickets from the kiosk. Move past the chaotic queues and head straight for the queues at the row of Smartgates. Remember to keep your tickets till you clear the final checks, where they will take your declaration forms.
- The telco queues at Melbourne Airport are horrendous, and we had queued only because there was an Airbnb offer with Optus, which was only valid at the airport. Turned out that Optus had run out of the SIM cards with the offer, so we had to get the normal ones. Felt a bit cheated!
- If you take the Skybus from the airport to Melbourne city, they also offer free shuttle service to selected hotels from the Skybus terminal at Southern Cross Station. Just pick the one nearest to your hotel. Coming back, you can call them to check for pick up points and timings. Alternatively, you can take the free tram rides within Zone 1. You will need to purchase a myki card if you are travelling outside of Zone 1, and there is a non-refundable A$6 cost for the card. Top-ups can be done in multiples of A$5 at train stations or convenience stores.
- It is a complicated process requiring an Australian bank account number for a refund for both myki (used in Melbourne) and Opal (used in Sydney) cards. So plan your trips carefully to minimise the amount of stored value at the end of the trip. Or you can try to sell/give them to the other travellers at the end of your trip.
- Try to do the free walking tours as early as possible, for they give a great overview, and help you get yourself familiarise with the cities and history. We did 1 in Melbourne, and 2 different ones in Sydney by the same company. We would make return trips to certain places that we found interesting, but did not have sufficient time to look at them in details or take photos during the tours. They work on tips basis, so do remember to tip them at the end of the trip.
- Drinks seem to be more expensive in Melbourne, with coffee usually costing at least A$4 in cafes, while coffee in Sydney cafes starts from around A$3.50. There were a lot of good coffee places in Melbourne, and they usually sell chocolate and chai tea drinks as well, while we found that there were more non-coffee alternatives in Sydney. All places that we went to, serve tap water free of charge.
- Pelican feeding is a free activity that was pretty fun! You can also tip or purchase badges to show support.
- At Phillip Island, it was high tide when we were waiting for the cute penguins to return home, so there was a very short runway for us to catch the penguins. You will probably see more of them during low tide. We bought the standard tickets and were seated somewhere in the middle. It was also a bit annoying initially with people of all nationalities trying to take pictures / standing up and blocking everyone’s view. Thankfully, they also started to move off shortly after. It was a tough job trying to do crowd control! We basically kept shifting forward as the people started to depart, so we got to watch some penguins make their way home. Do remember to check out the boardwalk to see more of them!