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Good Route

Attention Aussies! Or anyone who’s ever been to Australia! I’m trying to figure out what to do during our Oz trip in October. Aside from watching Gareth’s eyes glaze over as he’s introduced to yet another family member, that is. If he’s not completely overwhelmed by that and/or the dazzling sunshine, I’m determined to show off our fair country as much as possible.

Due to time and budget constraints we’re limited to the east coast, specifically Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney and a good chunk of rural NSW where my family live. The only definite plans we have are a trip to Australia Zoo (Gareth is an ardent admirer of Steve Irwin and wants to see some crocs and snakes and other DANGEROUS creatures) near Brisbane, and the Philip Island MotoGP on October 16. We’re heading back to the UK from Melbourne right after that.

I admit my knowledge of these cities is utterly rubbish. I’ve never been to Brisbane, twice briefly to Melbourne and only to Sydney for specific events like concerts. So if anyone out there could chuck a few ideas our way that would be good. Things to do, places to eat and drink, and accommodation that won’t break the bank.

Gareth is very easy to please. He’s never been to Oz before so just wants get a feel for the place and see the iconic sights. Neither of us are real museum-y type of people, but we usually try to go to at least one per trip so we can sound learned to our friends. Instead Gareth has a soft spot for things that are quite, well… crap and cheesy. Like the Big Merino and Big Potato are high on our list of things to see.

As for me, I want to know where’s good for breakfast. What’s a good bakery? Where’s the best place for hot chocolate? And sushi? And ice cream? Okay, I know it sounds like I’m a total lardarse, but I have been eating cucumbers that come wrapped in two layers of plastic for the past 2.5 years and I cannae wait to get my mitts on some Aussie grub!

I’m also thinking maybe driving from Canberra to Melbourne for the last week of the trip so we can wander through the countryside, which is pretty much how we like to travel here in Scotland except it will be brown instead of green. Any ideas on a good route to take? Coastal or inland?

I know I’m way oot of touch as to what’s hip-hop-happening at home, so any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Failing that I will just harrass my mates then sit on The Mothership’s couch and eat Mint Slices til I spew.

Thanks 🙂

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About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m an author, copywriter and old school blogger. I love telling stories about life and helping my clients to tell theirs. Find out more about me and how we can work together.


74 thoughts on “Good Route

  1. To the left of the big spud as you’re facing it from the road there’s a cafe that has a fireplace and will serve you the bestest breakkie ever. I had the Mountain Woman (smaller than the mountain man, natch, but still a huge and declicious feed) and Mattay had the biggest ham cheese mato foccacia ever. Two birds, one stone.

    Porno cafe in Fyshwick. My shout.

  2. Somewhere outside Melbourne, or on the first day’s drive heading north from Melbourne at least…is the MARBLE MASTERPIECE.

    It’s a big palace/temple/thingy (model) made out of marble by some dude in a small town. Pretty trippy. It might be in the town of Ballarat, or maybe Gundegai, but it might be that those are just two random Aussie town names I remember from being there when I was 9. I think Ballarat is actually an old gold mining town where you can attempt to pan for your own gold. That was pretty fun.

    Also, just outside the village/town that houses the MARBLE MASTERPIECE was s sign advertising a troupe of “twenty performing sheep”. I wanted to know if the performed a baaaa-let.

  3. i might be gone by the time you come, but here’s an idea for food and stuff, since i’m in canberra

    for trips wise, there isn’t much going on here. but it should also be time for floriade at that point, so if you’re lucky, you get to see flowers in exhibition.

    there’s the telstra tower to climb up and have a look at canberra from an aerial view. quite breathtaking at sun set.

    museum is near the base of telstra and ANU campus, as well as lake burley griffin should you want to wander that way.

    food wise: one of the better italian stuff, bordering on pricey though, would be belucci’s in belconnen (it’s slightly better than it’s branch at dickson, don’t ask me why).

    there’s a neat little restaurant in the residential area of o’connor called flirty gorgeous. they don’t exactly have the usual stuff in restaurants, but they have like braised duck with wine or something. it’s a small menu, but they are heaps great. o’connor shops.

    sushi – 2 places. budget wise – sizzle bento they have sushi trains, but it’s all crafted by koreans.

    if you can fork out more – iori. both are in civic.

    breakfast wise, on weekends i often turn to flirty gorgeous too, because i live just beside it. most places have breakfast only on weekends i think, except for pancake parlour. they aren’t extremely good though, just all right.

    Gus cafe though, has a nice range of drinks. hot chocolate, latte, chocolate milkshake, the works. and sinful cakes.

    accommodation wise, at the moment i can’t think. there’s a motel near civic that charges about 100 per night or something. if the campus have some free beds, i think they wont mind letting some rooms out to visitors too, ANU i mean. but i know for sure at least 2 on campus units are full. i will try the of campus one which is 20 mins away from civic if i were you. that’s fenner hall i think. the rooms are kinda like small, old londonish rooms or something, and shared bathrooms.

    there’s also some small attractions that are on the edges of canberra, like some miniature cities and what not that you can visit too. will probably tell you more when i lay my hands on the exact websites to show you.

  4. For Gareth – on the way from Melbourne to Phillip Island you can attend the GIANT EARTHWORM, complete with earthworm museum and other cool stuff.

    Good coffee and food to be often had on Brunswick Street and Lygon Street.

    Go and see the Apostles on the Great Ocean Road before they all fall over.

    Scrumptious fish and chip shop hamburgers are available from a cruddy little fish and chip shop in McCrae on the Mornington Peninsula, opposite the McCrae light house. Looks like a dive with the signage saying only “Hamburger” but great food.

  5. I think you can see everything in Sydney, all at once, from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. So if your time is limited, and you’re not scared of heights, just climb that thing. Note: no cameras or anything loose and hangy allowed.

  6. For a unique MotoGP experience why not volunteer as a race offical.

    Its great fun, although the orange overalls are a bit much.

  7. The best places to eat! My my… what a question. Well, I can’t personally vouch for the hot chocolates at the Lindt Concept store yet, but by the end of Winter I hope to have visited – so keep an eye out for the post.

    If you are after some real foodie nosh, I suggest visiting a farmers market. There are heaps on at Pyrmont, Northside and Fox Studios. Give me a bell, and perhaps we can organise something if you are up for it.

    For ice cream I suggest Passionflower, as they have the traditional straw, choc and vanilaa flavours – but also green tea, black sesame and taro flavours too. If you want to see pics, let me know and I’ll send you the links.

    All these places are based in Sydney as well.

  8. If you’re in Melbourne you have to take a walk down Acland Street in St Kilda. The BEST cakes you could possibly imagine!

    Try Puffing Billy for a fun day out in the Dandenongs, or visit the Observation Deck in the heart of the City – 53rd floor with great views of Melbourne.

    And you must wander through David Jones food hall in the Bourke St Mall. Also jump on the Circle Tram. It’s free and takes you round the outside of the town with lots of commentary about Melbourne.

    Then jump on one of the guided bus tours of the wineries in the Yarra Valley (where I live). A great boozy day out!

    Hope you have a fantastic time.

  9. Hey Shauna, long-time lurker, first-time poster.

    While in Melbourne, for something a little offbeat, take the No12 tram from central Melbourne to St Kilda. Views of the Bay, fabbo Federation style houses in Albert Park and fabbo St Kilda at the end – all for a $3 tram ticket. Just don’t do it during peak hour though.

    Also, the Great Ocean Road. A must.

  10. Have a surf around on http://wikitravel.org/

    Sydney and surrounds:
    1. ferry ride from either Circular Quay to Manly, or Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo
    2. Bridge Climb: it’s costly though
    3. If you do Luna Park in Sydney, walk around along the harbour foreshore in both directions
    4. Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains, walking across the top of them is quite nice and it’s only a half hour walk

  11. Also, for some kind guilty-treat meals (ie nice but not foodie) in Sydney, try these:
    1. Gourmet Pizza Kitchen
    2. Genghis Khan Mongolian BBQ

    For cheap and spicy, just walk along King Street in Newtown and go eat whatever takes your fancy!

  12. A must for in Melbourne is the Block arcade, you’ll find the (some of) the best, nice chocolate, delicious focaccias, and a rather grungy back alley with bright graffiti. St Kilda is a must.

  13. Try thatsmelbourne dot com dot au – excellent site to find out all about Melbourne, from eateries to walks to events, etc.

  14. as for canberra to melbs, if you come the inland way via albury i’m sure graham and i (and my other half cameron) can show you our little bit of countryside. at least we have a decent food and winery district to eat and drink your way around for a day.

    (and i’m sure we can manage free accommodation and designated drivers too).

    you could even head over from here through shepparton and bendigo and do the great ocean road drive back to melbourne – that would fill in a few days, and include both country and sea!

    but if you go over the coast you can go to the bega cheese factory! woo.

  15. melbourne
    1) verge, spring street. australia’s best maitre’d
    2) european, spring street. best breakfasts in 50’s styling
    3) iddibiddi cafe, brunswick. nothing remarkable but reliable

    sydney
    1) bills, darlinghurst – best breakfasts ever
    2) opera bar (at the opera house) – best views
    3) sydney zoo – best views of sydney
    4) north bondi RSL – get there before the sun goes down to honour our diggers
    5) walk from bondi to bronte
    6) the malaya, king st wharf – one of their set menus

    outside sydney / melbourne:
    1) great barrier reef
    2) byron bay
    3) hunter valley – esca at bimbadgen estate. get a table on the verandah overlooking the vineyards
    4) byron bay – still good even if overrun by tourists
    5) sublime point, blue mountains – best view of 3 sisters and relatively unknown
    6) the vulcan in blackheath. make sure you book. amazing food.

  16. Hi Shauna,

    I couldn’t find the post where you mentioned it but I thought you might want to know Woolies don’t havethe “pick’n’mix” lettuce bins anymore :o(

    Vicky 😛

  17. Brisbane (commonly known as Brizvegas, which if you utter in my hearing will result in GBH to yourself)

    A bridge climb thingy is opening here soon but if you do Sydney one, don’t bother.

    Try the Citycat ferry & do a round trip – will see lot of Brissie for little money.

    A slightly different museum is the Police one at the Roma st headquarters. this has historical stuff from past trials etc.

    If venturing out at night then Valley is the only place to go (I mean only, as centre of town is the only other place but that is full of Irish & sports bars) Brunswick st in Valley has plenty of clubs, bars, restaurants on or near.

    Down the road a little is the Emporium development where Mecca Bah (Morroccan) is located – just have lots of small dishes.

    South Bank (located on the south bank of the river across from the centre of Brissie which is therefore on the north bank – very imaginative up here) has a beach! Mostly used by little kids to wee in but still a beach!

    If using a car to get to Australia Zoo then also go through Montville, Maleny etc – very pretty & generally always green.

    Bundaberg is 4 hours north by car & that is the southern most part of Great Barrier reef.

    Homer Hudson ice cream is now back on the market.

  18. A couple of ideas for Sydney…
    It might seem weird, but you should take Gareth to experience Yum Cha for brunch on a Sunday. Depending on where you’re staying Kam Fook in Bondi or the City is good (and Gareth can giggle about the name)!
    Also – a well kept drinking secret. Go to the Glenmore Hotel in the Rocks and take the stairs up to the roof for glorious views over the Harbour and drinks at a fraction of the price of the more trendy bars nearby.
    If Gareth is interested then you should also take him to an AFL or NRL game. Even if he is not a sporty person, these are cornerstones of Australian life.
    The ferry from Circular Quay to Manly is good.
    I think someone else mentioned Bondi to Bronte walk – but well worth extending it to Clovelly (where I live!!) so you can wander through Waverly Cemetary.
    You can’t go wrong guys!
    Have a ball!

  19. Whilst at Phillip Island for the GP, you must go to the Penguin Parade one night. You camp out on the beach after dark, and watch all the penguins come waddling up the sand after a day’s fishing. Haven’t done it since I was about 10, but very, very cute

  20. Dracula’s theatre restaraunt on the Gold Coast. They try to finish you off by making you die laughing. Loved it. You both will.

  21. On way to sunny Melbourne stop by the Beechworth Bakery – bestest bakery in the world.

    Can’t say much for Albury-Wodonga, lived there for 15 years and there just isn’t anything there. Rutherglen area is fabbo though.

  22. I have to ditto the comment about the Lindt concept store. The best chocolate, and the very very best hot chocolate ever made in the entire history of human existance. They even give you all these little cups and you mix it yourself.

    Lindt Concept Store, Martin Place, Sydney. Go!

  23. Ok. One thing you MUST do when in Canberra is SEE ME!! I would love to see you again hon!

    Anyway, everywhere I was going to mention in Canberra and Brisbane has been mentioned… well most of them.

    Dinner in Canberra – take your other half up Telstra Tower to their revolving restaurant. That way he can see all of Canberra in 80 minutes whilst enjoying a lovely meal. Costs a bit but worth it.

    And in QLD there is always Dreamworld, Seaworld, Movie World and Wet’n’Wild. Typical touristy kind of places 🙂

    Oh man, I just realised I won’t be in Canberra for the first week in October… how long you going to be here for? I’m back in town on 8 October. I’ll be in Brisbane that week… I guess if it works out we can meet up there? 🙂

  24. Righto Shauny and gareth, as a 7 year resident of St.Kilda I have ony four words.

    GREASY JOE’s A place so good I was recommended it by three people on the plane to Australia. Best brekkie, best Bloody Maries, best coffee and a total St.Kilda institution.
    Ask for Duncan and say hello from Pol from Scotland.

    And once you have sunned yourself under the big palm tree and scoffed the big brekkie and got the jitters after 3 long blacks now is the ideal time for

    LUNA PARK

    A down at heel amusement park, you walk in through the mouth of Mr Moon and shit your pants on the wooden (yes wooden) rollercoaster.

    It lets you know you are alive.

    And then Acland Street for the BEST CAKES IN THE WORLD.

    Hooray for eastern european jewish bakers.

    MEDIC

  25. Free/cheap things to do in Brisbane:

    Mt Cootha – gives you the panoramic view of Brisbane. Skip the overprices cafes there.

    South bank – as previously mentioned, but it does also have nifty pseudo rainforests and markets on the weekend (which if you go to, make sure to buy a chocolate filled banana – yum)

    If you drive up to Australia Zoo, you will pass The Big Pineapple. Part of the ‘big’ collection…

    Also while on the Sunshine coast, the Eumundi markets are worth visiting. Or so I’ve been told.

    You can also take the train to the Gold Coast. Surfer’s paradise is and will always be the home of tacky and tasteless and meter maids.

    Food in Brisbane…hmm.

    Depends on what you want. The Valley aka Fortitude Valley is the best for Asian. West End (near south bank) has great Indian. Milton/Paddington have some awesome desert places.

    Accommodation – really depends on your price bracket.

  26. While you’re panning for gold at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat, stop long enough to have your photos taken in period costume! It’s cheesy, but will be a great addition to your Flickr photosets.

    If you were coming to Adelaide my ideas would have been better. Honest. I’m rusty on the eastern states.

  27. Big Merino and Big Potato and not see the original … the Big Banana??? Of course I could be biased, living in Coffs Harbour as I do 🙂

  28. hey shauny

    i spent a year out there – it’s a shame you can’t get to the west coast (northwest was best) but if you’re limited to the east, here are a few highlights of my trip..

    Melbourne – St Kilda. Ackland Street has THE. BEST. CAKE. SHOPS. EVER. Seriously.

    Melbourne – don’t pay out on a swanky hotel. The hostel I stayed in was in the centre of town and I really liked it, you can get double rooms and it was really clean, a bit like a Travel Inn. Really convenient and a lot cheaper than a hotel.
    http://www.friendlygroup.com.au/greenhouse_home.asp

    Melbourne – go to Birrarung Marr, the park just by Flinders St Station. Great views of the MCG from the distance, really pretty park.

    Nr Melbourne – Wilsons Prom. Amazingly beautiful, great walks and excellent camping.
    http://www.promcountrytourism.com.au/
    I went with a backpackers tour (High Spirit) which was great fun, not like the ‘normal’ tours you can get (those 18-30 type tours, ergh). If you want I can send you a link to my diary entry for that trip, but I reckon it’s better to go with no preconceptions – it is beautiful. If you go by yourself, they don’t allow campfires (just campstoves) but points to visit are Whisky Bay, Squeaky Beach, and the sunset at Norman Bay. Walk up Mt Bishop for the view over the beaches.

    (can you tell I really liked that place? Best thing is you only need a couple of days to enjoy it as it’s smaller scale than normal Oz places!)

    The Grampians/Gt Ocean Rd – again an amazing trip, we had an amazing time. A real variety of scenery and experiences. May be in the ‘wrong direction’ for you considering your spec but it is worth it.

    Both the above; High Spirit Outdoor Adventures

    Victoria, Australia
    Toll Free Phone: 1800 21 20 20
    Phone: 041 22 33 888
    Phone International: +61 41 22 33 888
    highspiritadventures@hotmail.com
    http://highspirit.com.au/ (nb dodgy connxn)

    Blue Mountains – you must go! We stayed in Katoomba and although it’s a bit touristy ,the walks are just stunning and nothing like you will see anywhere else. Great little drives too. Take a jumper – it always seems to be colder than everywhere else!

    Well that should at least give you a couple of ideas. Have a FANTASTIC time and remember to let us know when the photos are up!

  29. ps almost forgot – Sydney Zoo. Gotta, GOTTA be done.. if only for the ferry ride over from Circular Quay, and the view that the giraffes share with you of the majority of Sydney Harbour and the Opera House/Bridge. A great zoo, too. The Aquarium is pretty groovy (they have platypi!) and you can nip in for a good chinese takeaway nearby.

    (pps re Wilsons Prom above – camp in Tidal River)

  30. OK Shauna, more Sydney info:
    Definitely the Bondi to Bronte walk which a few people have already suggested and is an absolute must;
    After you catch the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly, have lunch/dinner and drinks at the Manly Wharf Hotel, which has a glorious jetty bar.
    Also check out the Water Bar in the W Hotel at Woolloomooloo. Beautiful, good music and cocktails.
    For something posh, frock up and have High Tea at the Victoria Room in Darlinghurst on Sunday afternoons – think scones, dainty biscuits and cucumber sandwiches all washed down with gallons of tea in delicate china cups.
    If you really want to lash out, go to Icebergs in Bondi for dinner – worth it just for the view.
    Check out “sydney eats magazine” which you can pick up at any newsagent for about $15 for more inspiration. Not only info and reviews of bars and restaurants in Sydney, it also covers Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Canberra.
    As for the drive from Canberra to Melbourne: coastal gets my vote, unless you are in a hurry and then it’s hume highway all the way.

  31. Forgot to tell you, did you know they have Mint Slice Cornetto’s in Australia now? Mint Slice, icecream and cone all in one!

  32. October is whale watching time. Book into the accomodation on Gabo Island and you can watch whales from the best loo in the world!

  33. Hey Shauna

    You just HAVE to take Gareth to Harry’s Cafe De Wheels at Wooloomooloo for a pie and peas. It’s a landmark.

    A wonderful experience whilst in Sydney would be to catch a train to Cronulla and then catch the little ferry to Bundeena (in Royal National Park). You can have a paddle at the beautiful beach and have really scrummy fish and chips on the beach or in the park.

    In Canberra – give Questacon a whirl. There is the “gravity free” slide thingy there (don’t know it’s proper name) and that is a bit of a blast.

    Hire an aqua bike and peddle/paddle around Lake Burley Griffin.

    The Kambah Bakery (at Kambah naturally) was just voted Canberra’s Best Bakery on Mix 106.3 FM yesterday. Very good apparently.

    Take the red double decker bus tour of Canberra. Cheap, fun and informative.

    That’s all I can think of ….NO! WAIT! The Ettamoga Pub! Can’t remember exactly where it is (Albury/Wadonga maybe). Cheesy and good for a laugh.

  34. Well, I’ve never been to Australia, so should really stay out of the comments, but I have to say Squeaky Beach (as suggested by Jen) is the best placename I have heard for ages.

    It doesn’t _quite_ beat Lucky Slap (near Arbroath in Scotland) but it’s close…

  35. Sydney: Harbourside, Harrys Cafe de Wheels, Ferry over to Manly (used to live there, it’s beautiful), lunch in Icebergs in Bondi, Bridge Climb.

    Brisbane: Get in, go up Mount Cootha and then leave as it’s fairly crappy (used to live there as well). If you have to spend a night, go out in the Valley. Tie in the trip to ‘Stralia Zoo with going to Noosa which is lovely. You could even go as far north as Bundaberg and get some sweet sweet rum!

    Canberra: You need about 2/3 days there to see everything. Make sure you don’t miss the parliament(s) and the War Museum. Very interesting. The rest of it looks a bit like Basingstoke.

    As for ‘Big Things’, I saw quite a few of the cool ones. There are positions on the map on my website: http://www.jamesweb.me.uk/travel/OZ2/OZ.HTM

  36. Definitely try to drive through the High Country from Canberra to Melbourne – it’s real Man From Snowy River scenery – all green forests, mountains and men in Drizabones riding big snorty horses. It takes you through the Australian Alps down to Gippsland, which is full of rolling green hills – then you head west, through winery country to Melbourne. Gorgeous.
    In comparison, the trip down the Hume is $hit boring, brown, straight and about second on the list of most boring highways in Australia (the road from Adelaide to Perth being No 1, or so I’m told).
    In Melbourne you can’t go wrong with food; pretty much everything is good. Just avoid places that *look* touristy and tacky. We do great ‘ethnic’ food (do I sound about 80??), and excellent Mod-Oz stuff, that isn’t priced to skin your wallet. I’m an inner-north girl, so I love Brunswick St, Rathdowne St, Lygon St, Smith St, St George’s Rd etc. They’re all a bit left-wing acaddemic, opposed to the places on the other side of the city (boo-hiss!) like Chapel St, Greville St, Acland St – which are more ‘look at me! look at me!’ Sydney style, but still worth a visit (esp Acland St and the beach).
    Brisbane, I’m sorry to say, just isn’t worth it. My sincere apologies to those who like the place, but I went with an open and eager mind…and was so disappointed. Not a good sign when the restaurants close at 8.30 and there’s not a soul on the streets after 9. It has a long way to go. Adelaide on the other hand is gorgeous, friendly and foody-friendly. Great wine areas nearby, too.
    I love Melbourne, and I’m sure you will too. You might be there during the Mebourne Festival, in which case, make a bee-line for Federation Square, which always has all kinds of fun stuff going on.
    Much more to say, but feel free to email me if you want any more info. My bf used to live in Canberra, and grew up in Adelaide, so I have easy access to info about those places too.

  37. Bazillion? GAreth, aren’t you some form of Scientist? edumacate this mathematical ruffian.

    Bazillion indeed.

    North Melbourne

    THE PUBLIC BAR by Victoria Market.

    One of the best pubs in the world.

    that it stays open til 8am may have biased my opinion somewhat.

  38. Melbourne:

    I say skip St. Kilda…the beach is CRAP and the only good thing, unless you want to see lotssss of junkies and prostitutes, is the cake shops on Acland st, which you can get on Lygon St or the city anyway!! *spits at St. Kilda*…its the most overrated place in all of Melbourne (and the Luna Park is CRAP and small)!

    Instead, go to Brunswick St, Smith St, Lygon St, Rathdowne Village and Sydney Rd (cheapest food known to man, including a restaurant called Lentil as Anything which has no fixed prices but a ‘pay as you feel’ policy (also in St. Kilda but you dont need to go there!)). Bridge Rd for cheap shopping, Victoria St for incredible and CHEAP Vietnamese (go to Thanh Thanh)…in fact all of Richmond is great.

    But…above all…you MUST drive along the Great Ocean Road….it starts at Torquay, which is only about an hour and a half from Melbourne…I reccommend making it to at least Lorne, but Warrnambool is beautiful too (though a long drive). On the way back through, check out Packington St in Geelong!

  39. Fraser Island, which is a couple hours north of Brisbane, is definitely worth a visit. I’d skip Brisbane and go straight there. Also go to Noosa for some nice beaches and a chilled village. If you go to Noosa, try Sails restaurant, kinda spenny but really good location and food is divine. If you stay in Brisbane, try the Brekky Creek Hotel for excellent steak (I always go there when I go back), or go to Scarborough for some Moreton Bay bugs at the seafood restaurants there (Sam’s, I think). You can also catch a ferry across to Moreton Island for the day. Park Road is the cafe precinct, which is a bit wanky, but they do have a miniature Eiffel Tower. But for real tourist cheese, if you’re all outta places, there’s always the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary…

  40. I you do come over to manly on the ferry, which is a splendid idea, you can pop over to Curl Curl and have a coffe at the nicest and most (looks furtively over shoulder) unknown cafe ever. It’s like being in the surf,except that you can drink your cappucino.
    Then a dip in the azure surf and a wander round the rock platform.
    If you need somewhere to stay you are more than welcome to come to Casa Fifi, except that I have 2 very horrid offspring that scream at each other while they beat each other up with hockey sticks, and that may not provide the restful ambience you desire onn the holiday. On the upside, you can see the whales pass by, and the cats are quite well behaved.
    I would recommend going to a few nice galleries like Stills Gallery, Blender Gallery, and the Australian centre for photography,(all in Paddington and Darlinghurst) all of which exhibit good contemporary Photographers.
    I also recommend a couple of laps in North Sydney Olympic Pool, you get a cracking view of all aspects of the Harbour including the opera House & Bridge & Luna Park…Looovely.
    I am happy to cart you around to any of the places mentioned above.
    Fifi.

  41. Jebus: The beechworth bakery is nice if you like sweet things (and now we have a syndicated version of the beechworth bakery in albury), but for all others the yackandandah bakery is much nicer (and about 10-15 minutes closer! ). .

    Linda H: The ettamogah pub sure is in Albury (or, just out of). If Gareth likes big cheesy things he will love it.

  42. Thought of some more.

    Try Healesville Sanctuary, which is full of Australian Wildlife. You can feed the kangaroos too.

    Southbank in the evening is great. They have these pillars which light up with huge flames on the hour. You can sit in the Sportsmans bar at the casino and look out over them….oh yeah, try the casino, if not for the tables or machines, just for the ambiance.
    Then take a walk down to the end of the Casino where there’s an atrium where they have music play every half an hour and the lights on the ceiling light up in tune with the music.

    If you’re here for Melbourne Cup (1st Tuesday in November) then you must go, even if it’s just to sit in the car park with your picnic!

  43. i just typed u a big long detailed (but concise and a very enjoyabe read :p) commentary on things to do and see in and around sydney and i encountered an error while trying to post it!!! what the deal, yo?

  44. i feel it is my duty as a sydneysider (though now i am a washingtonian) to try once again at giving u my 2cents on this topic…especially since you are my favourtie aussie expat blogger!!

    i totally recommend the following for gettting the best of sydney…

    FOR ICE CREAM:
    – “cold rock” ice cream (church st, parramatta). brace yourself, for here u can design your own ice cream!! get your choice of chockies or lollies (i.e. MINT SLICES, TIM TAMS, smarties or mars bars) mashed into your fave ice cream flavour… its all done on an ice cold slab so dont worry, its texture is great. not mushy or melted at all!- if parramatta’s not exactly a destination for you, i hear there’s one in manly but i’ve never been there so i dont know where exactly it is.
    – new zealand ice cream is also a good bet for a convenient, easy to find ice cream joint.
    – gelatissimo on circular quay has awesome gelato and so do most places around norton st, leichardt (little italy).

    FOR CHOCOLATE:
    – i second and third the notion for the lindt concept store in martin place. gooooood stuff. but dont let us hype it up too much. hehe.

    FOR FOOD:
    – for asian – make a trip to cabramatta or even bankstown! not only will u get a taste of sydney’s infamous south west, but u’ll feel like uv stepped onto the streets of somewhere in south-east asia! hehe.. good cultural experience, great authentic food (esp PHO).
    – if u make it to bankstown, make sure u get some HABIB’s chicken. lebanese chicken with all the glory of their famous garlic sauce. *drool*.

    MUST-SEE SYDNEY SIGHTS:
    so much has been said here already…but if ur strapped for time make sure u at least squeeze these two in:
    – take a ferry. anywhere. the circular quay to manly always goes down well with the great view of the harbour from all angles and then some time at the beach where there are shops and more places to eat (thought very touristy).
    – do the bronte to bondi walk. u havent REALLY been to sydney if u dont come here. ’nuff said.

    BIG THINGS IN “OSTRAYA”:
    – there is a BIG PRAWN in ballina! u cant get more aussie or kitsch than that!

    COASTAL OR INLAND?
    – COASTAL!!! great ocean road all the way!!!! takes abit longer but well worth taking in the sights of the pacific and the 12 apostles!
    – speaking of coastal, the sunshine coast (3hrs north of brisbane) is beautiful. noosa is pretty touristy but noosa national park is GORGEOUS. great piece of australiana and u can even spot koalas in the trees!!…lots of great beaches there.

    good on ya for taking ur hubby to the GREAT SOUTHLAND! u must be soo excited. hav fun, stay safe and hav a lovely third (?) wedding! hehe..

    glad to hear u are taking ur hubby to the GREAT SOUTHLAND!!

  45. There’s an excellent little place to stay in The Rocks, cheap and cheerful and right in the centre of it all.

    I always take my new lovers there.

    I’ll e-mail you.

  46. Best sushi in the WORLD can be had in Sydney at the Sushi Train within the Greater Union movie complex on George Street. The Grand Sushi Master of the Universe works there, tirelessly creating a staggering variety of delectable sushi goodness. Trust me, I eat there at least three times a week!

    Mmm…. soooshi!

  47. Isn’t that reenactment of the shotout at Glenrowan somewhere between Canberra and Melbourne? If you want crappy and cheesy tourist stuff then that’s the bullseye. I remember going there on a school trip…they even have their own Ned Kelly song.

    Anything BIG is a winner.

    Give the cake shops on Acland Street a miss – they always seem really unhygienic to me. There is an icecream shop called 7 apples that is the best (if it is still there – things close down on Acland Street overnight).

    It is rather nice to catch the ferry from St Kilda to the Historic Seaport of Williamstown which is very picturesque as well as being an Historic Seaport.

  48. cold rock ice cream AND gelatissimo when you get off the manly ferry.

    Good suggestion about the koalas…even I, who detests Noosa, still squeal with delight at the sight of the koalas in the trees.

    REAL koalas in REAL trees even!

  49. I haven’t read through all of these MANY comments, but I wanted to say that I recently went to Melbourne (my first time) and we stopped at Glenrowan (by way of Albury) and had an awesome Devonshire Tea.

    AND if Gareth likes cheezy, there’s always the HUGE Ned Kelly statue near the post office in Glenrowan and you can even drive a bit down the road and see the creepy totem poles with bike reflector eyes representing Ned Kelly and his tin can brothers.

    There’s also the Ettamogah pub if you’re in the mood.

    For great hotel deals try http://www.wotif.com.au. We stayed in a very nice room in St Kilda at the Bayview on the Fark for like, $100 a night.

  50. I think Canberra to Melbourne should definetely be a mixture of inland/coast. From Canberra to Corryong, via the blue mountains and Young. (Where the local Pet shop also sells porn) and you can see brown paddocks and all the things that foreigners find exciting. My Dutch husband thought it was fantastic to drive on the backroads. From Corryong (or earlier, actually you MUST go to Jingellic and the Pub there, have you ever seen a pub wall covered in cods heads?) head to Omeo through the Mitta Valley (drop dead gorgoeus, eat lots of trout) and take the Omeo Rd (only open in Summer, not suitable for caravans, not sealed) over the mountains, through the High Country and eventually down to the coast at Mallacoota. While up the top stay at the Blue Duck Inn. This is real High Country, bushrangers and cattlemen, man-from-snowy-river type stuff but not desperately touristy about it. My Grandpa grew up there droving with the cattlemen from when he was 11. And Mallacoota is gorgeous, with a great beach, sensational National Park and then you can make your way down to melbourne either on the coast (90 mile beach) or via Gippsland. Could also stop off at Wilsons Prom and Venus Beach on the way. Just before you get to melbourne you could stay a night at Walhalla, the only town that still has no electricity and where the hills are so steep the coffins in the local cemetry have to be buried on their heads. If you want more details then send me an email. I could go on for ever………

  51. Melbourne:
    There’s the big, brassy clock that plays Waltziing Matilda on the hour every bloody hour in Melbourne Central. I say it this way because I work near this clock. It’s pretty cute the first time you see it though.
    Koko Black in the Royal Arcade for good hot chocolate and service in styylish surroundings. Marios on Brunswick Street, Fitzroy for the best cooked breakfast and gernous serves that will keep you going for a late lunch.

  52. For Sydney…..

    Yum Cha – The Regal on Sussex St or Marigold on George St, Haymarket are the business.

    Laksa – My best laksa in town is in The Malaysia House in the basement of QVB in Sydney. Cheap too, and good to keep you going on that big inner city walkabout.

    Thai food – anywhere on King Street in Newtown. You cant walk two feet without bumping into a cheap Thai restaurant.

    Harry’s Cafe de Wheels – get a Pie Floater (pie with mashed peas and gravy) at Wooloomooloo Wharf. Open 24 hours. Now is a bit touristy, but is on those ‘Should be done once…’ lists.

    (Yes, I love my food too!)

    Skip Luna Park – looks well more exciting from the outside than if you go in.
    Do do a ferry from Sydney to Manly.
    And do stop by Glenrownan for a laugh. (Read Bill Brysons book on Australia for a hysterical account of what you will find there!)
    For your cultural fix, prob save it for Canberra, and the art gallery and war memorial there….

    Thats about all I can think of to recommend. Oh, the bridge climb is good, but I think its $150 so a bit pricey if you are on a budget, or pounding it up!

  53. And what’s wrong with travelling halfway around the world just to see two giant concrete homages to cheesiness, might I ask???

  54. You have probably already planned to do this, but go to the Sydney Opera House. There is a ferry ride that ferries you over to the zoo. You pass the Sydney Opera House on your way to it. Great photo ops. And the zoo is great, too. Hope this helped!

  55. Oh yeah, you also should take the tour where you climb on top of the bridge near the Opera House. Sorry, I forget it’s name. But it has breathtaking views. It’s long and high, so don’t do it if you are afraid of heights or have problems walking steep and long ways. 🙂

  56. We live half way between Sydney and Brisbane on a beach acreage which is very peaceful. We have a large, brand new granny flat which you are very welcome to use. There are kangaroos in our back paddock most of the time and lots of birds.

    Near our little piece of paradise, you will find the gorgeous little town of Bellingen, Coffs Harbour and the Big Banana. In October you can whale watch for free from the top of Muttonbird Island or go out on one of the whale watching boats which will cost you about $30 each.

    The view from our beach headland is magnificent. You can see sth to Sth West Rocks and north to Bonville Beach.

    So if you are headed up this way, you know you are both very welcome to stay.

  57. If you and Gareth are dead keen on all the big scary animals at Australia Zoo, you can do an early morning ‘tiger walk’. It’s a special thing and you have to book in advance, and it’s pretty exxy – 495 for a group of no more than four people, but you get to walk with the tigers and pat and cuddle them, and you get a zillion professional photos of the whole thing to keep. A bit cheaper than the Dreamworld equivalent of the same thing.

    As for places to eat in Brisvegas…

    Freestyler in Rosalie is supposed to be great for desserts, Three Monkeys Cafe in West End is quirky, tasty and cheap…then there’s the posher places like Marco Polo in the Casino and Joseph Alexanders… depends what you want I guess…

  58. CANBERRA:

    Food – must go to ‘element’ at Griffith shops for fantastic ‘modern Australian’ cuisine. The chef there is really good with kangaroo and also with seafood. Fantastic wine list, too.

    Great breakfast at ‘Artespresso’ in Kingston, or Belluci’s in Dickson. Really good coffee at either of these establishments.

    Sights – the new National Museum of Australia is a good place to take overseas visitors who want to get a good overall picture of our country, our history… easily digestible information in a scenic location on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.

    The National Portrait Gallery in the Old Parliament House has some fantastic pictures (Don Bradman among them) and makes a visit to OPH extra-special. The cafe there is pretty good. Then walk up the hill to (New) Parliament House and be amazed at the architecture. If you’re there during the week it’s interesting to sit in on Question Time. Really.

    Sunday mornings see the opening of the weekly Kingston Bus Depot Markets, a great place to pick up some yummy food, hand-made arts and crafts and some very cute Australian animal hats/mobiles/tea cosies (you get the picture!)

    A great view of Canberra from the top of Mount Ainslie. Then head down into the suburb of Ainslie for a pint and a steak sandwich at Edgar’s Pub, a delicious vegetarian meal at Bernadette’s, or some fresh bread from the Brumbies Bakery. I have to disagree with the above comments regarding ‘Flirty Gorgeous’. Firstly, it’s “Filthy Gorgeous” and a meal I had there the other day was quite disappointing. But ‘All Bar Nun’ next door is a great pub.

    Dozens of kangaroos gather on the driving range at dusk at Gold Creek Country Club, just up the hill from Gold Creek Village (historical, quaint, gift shops and a very good Aboriginal Art Gallery amongst other things), also near Cockington Green, the ‘miniature English village’ mentioned above by someone else.

    Don’t know what you’re looking for accommodation-wise. If you’re back-packing, the YHA in O’Connor has been consistently voted one of the best in the world. There is now a city YHA. Annie’s Bed & Breakfast in Yarralumla is lovely. Olim’s Hotel in Braddon is usually pretty good; we’ve had relatives stay there and they were happy with it.

    The drive from Canberra to Melbourne is lovely. Good idea.

  59. With all these suggestions, will I get any time with you and Gareth? Maybe I can do another letterbox tour or find a big something here around Goulburn (other than the “Big Merino”!!!) I will have to put more thought into this visit. Maybe you could spend extra time in Oz and I will win Lotto! Here’s hoping for both…

  60. Melbourne Food: the Greengrocer in St Georges Rd, North Fitzroy sells organic veg etc and makes the most fantastic breakfast in the world – order the “big breakfast” and you wont need to eat for the rest of the day. Apart from the amazing organic bread they sell there are 4 wondrful bakeries in the area – 2 in scotchmer, and 2 on Nicholson including Natural Tucker.
    Other big value big size big quality food in inner city, check out Gluttony (its a sin!) in Smith St, Collingwood (also the guy with the limp makes the best coffee in melbourne).
    Icecream – Charmaines and Trampoline on Brunswick St, Fitzroy.
    Melbourne Bars: Due to dropping the cost of a liquor licence to next to nothing melbourne city and inner city has the most amazing bars, many strange places. Do a web search and find Honky Tonks, Gin Palace, Supper club (not cheap but amazing for late night tipple)…
    Brisbane: Food/life, best bet inner city West End. If you want to get out of Brissie, stay a night or two on Stradbroke Island, which is accessible by train and ferry. Great Beaches, Whales, snorkelling. Laid back, non resort little place. Or if want to rough it, take a tent to Morton Is next door.
    Sydney. Ditto the bondi-bronte beach walk, and visit the amazing Cemetry on the hill over looking the sea. Manly, or any ferry. Newtown, for inner city cool. I also love to walk around the Botanical gardens and down around the waterfront to chill out.
    Canberra. Hm…Skip it entirely and instead take a plain to Cairns and a bus north to the Daintree Rainforest.

  61. If you do go to the Lindt store during business hours of a weekday let me know!

    I work in the MLC centre in Martin Place and would love a chance to stalk you 🙂

  62. Blockhead is living with Ron McD at the moment. She’s studying nursing, so she can totally hook you up with prescription drugs and prosthetic buttocks. That was what you meant by fun, wasn’t it?

    I wouldn’t fret about Melbourne because Melbourne’s mini Canberra. You’ll be running into us all over the joint.

  63. Mine are food suggestions…
    I only know about Melbourne as we have cousins there and that’s where we always went on holiday. My best friend lives there with her girlfriend now too.
    Someone else said Lygon Street and I definitely second that. Mostly Italian places and so cheap and yummy.
    If you feel like being a bit naughty there is a shop called Gluttony in Brunswick which has the best cakes and good coffee.
    I’m told St Kilda is also known for cake shops but I don’t have any personal suggestions.

  64. This is what my sister said about the Lindt Concept store (she went there today)

    REALLY not worth a trip unless you like to toss money out bus windows and stuff like that. Cake was $9.50. If you wanted some chocolates you could buy them for $14.00 per hundred grams. Or for a real bargain you could pick up a lindt ball for 90c. If that sounds expensive you could get 10 for $9.00, or 20 for $18.00. What savings.

    Really it was just an expensive cafe where you could buy expensive chocolates to take home too. You could pickup a birthday cake for $40 if you liked. The cake was nice but so not worth 9.50 and a special trip for.

  65. Go to the beechworth bakery if you want a good bakery, it’s just near albury-wodonga which is in between sydney and melb. its awesome and there is a really good lolly shop a few doors down from it!

  66. one of the freakiest bars in melbourne is “the croft institute”. is in croft alley, just off market lane in little bourke st chinatown.

    you have to go there. trust its worth the peep. It has the largest collection of privately owned lab equipment in victoria or something like that. on the 2nd floor they have a grass bar. Actual insta turf growing on the bar.

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