Written by Pamela Kniss
Pamela’s Pick Melbourne
In my opinion, Melbourne is a must see for anyone who loves good food, wants to see the iconic Australian animals in the wild, appreciates a beautiful coastal drive and finds the back streets and boulevards of a vibrant city enticing.
Melbourne has a very diverse ethnic population. As such, ethnic food is an integral part of the foodie scene and can be found in large elegant establishments as well as small intimate family owned restaurants. The best way to sample this wonderful variety is to experience a few restaurants in one evening. Join the Progressive Degustation Walking Tour with Hidden Secrets. With clusters of delicious possibilities within easy walking distance, this tour visits three unique restaurants offering carefully chosen wine tastings and tantalizing savories from their diverse menus. This is a tasty way to discover the city. If wines are not your thing, try the Café Culture Walk which takes you on a tour of Melbourne’s hidden food and café scene. You will visit places you may not have found on your own and get a real taste of the flavor of Melbourne.
Another reason to visit Melbourne is the opportunity to get out into the bush just a short drive from the city. The Great Western Plains is a natural habitat for the animals you most associate with Australia. Koalas and Kangaroos in the Wild with Echidna Walkabout is a small group eco day tour led by an experienced wildlife guide. Walk through natural bushland and meet wild koalas, learn about each one’s history and social life. Did you know that you can identify individual koala by the pattern of pink on the inside of their noses? Join wild mobs of kangaroos, visit the natural environments of parrots and emus, and you might even spot an echidna. Because this is an eco tour, you can make a difference for the animals who live there— remove Boneseed, a noxious weed, record sightings of native wildlife and learn survey techniques that will be useful wherever you go.
Another unique wildlife experience is waiting for you at Phillip Island. Only 90 minutes from Melbourne, Phillip Island provides an opportunity to join a “Waddle on the Wild Side” and witness the fascinating and fun pen- guin parade. At sunset each day, the world’s smallest penguins return home from their ocean travels to one of the largest penguin colonies in Australia. It is difficult to describe just how magical it is to watch these little penguins come ashore and waddle across the beach to their sand dune burrows. They are afraid of the seagulls who stalk them along the beach and coming ashore through the surf is not an easy experience. Once on the beach, the seagulls are there to scare them back into the water and they must try once again to make it out of the water to the safety of their burrows. One way to experience the penguin parade is with the Ultimate Penguin Tour. Designed for groups of up to 10, this eco tour takes visitors to a stunning, secluded beach to view the little penguins with the use of night vision technology. You can drive yourself to Phillip Island, or there are tours from Melbourne. Either way, don’t miss this entertaining natural display.
Jaw-dropping beauty might be one description of the Great Ocean Road. This is a day trip out of Melbourne, although two days and one night on the road will give you more time to soak in the sights. Witness the rugged splendor of the famous 12 Apostles; magnificent rock stacks that rise up majestically from the Southern Ocean. This dramatic coast- line is created by the constant erosion of the limestone cliffs of the mainland. The 12 Apostles are stunning examples of the creative forces of nature. Discover some of Australia’s best rainforest scenery in the Otway Ranges amongst the tall trees, ancient plant life and lush ferns. Walk among giant tree ferns at Maits Rest, see the glow worms at Melba Gully or experience the full beauty of this rainforest on the Otway Fly Treetop Walk. This is another of the iconic experiences from Melbourne that can be accessed by self-drive or by tour.
Melbourne operates the world’s largest tram network that is an efficient transportation system carrying locals and visitors all over the city. You certainly don’t need a car in Melbourne.