Higher Ground Melbourne Dining Room

Higher Ground Melbourne

Foodie Finds

Where: Higher Ground Melbourne, Melbourne City

When: August 2018

Meal: Brunch

Cost: Approx $30

Higher Ground was recommended to me by a friend who is a new Melbourne local. She described it as a place that would be ‘great for your instagram’. Sold!

When I arrived at Higher Ground about 11am on a Sunday morning there was a queue out the door. I went to put my name down, but when I told them I was a party of just one, they said they would be able to find me a seat immediately.

I was shown to a communal table with three other pairs already eating and ordered a coffee. Whilst waiting for the waitress to return I took in the beautiful surroundings of the building. At first I thought it looked like quite a hipster type place, but it actually feels very historical and just had a nice vibe.

I ordered the ‘avocado seed cracker, macadamia feta, mojo verde, poached eggs, toasted and fresh seaweed’ ($17.50) with a side of Berkshire Bacon ($6.50).

It was delicious. High quality ingredients, cooked perfectly. My only complaint was that it needed a little salt. There was salt on the table, but it was the type in a little dish that you would normally grab a pinch of. Not ideal on a communal table! I asked the waitress for my own little dish for hygiene and thankfully she didn’t seem to think I was a fussy nightmare….well not to my face anyway!

Would I go back? For sure. The food was tasty and the ambience was lovely.

Would I recommend it to you? Definitely. It will be great for your instagram haha! But, I wouldn’t recommend the Ricotta Hotcakes. They look so pretty and I didn’t try them myself, but three people on my communal table left theirs half eaten.

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Hotel foyer, Adelphi Hotel, Melbourne

Adelphi Hotel

Accommodation

Where: Adelphi Hotel, Melbourne City, VIC

When: August 2018

Duration: Two night stay

Room Type: Comfy King Room

Cost: $780

I first learned of the Adelphi Hotel when someone I follow on Instagram posted about their stay at the hotel and the fact they had a dessert restaurant piqued my interest!

I also liked that the hotel had really quirky cool decor. Upon looking up it’s location on Flinders Lane I realised it was pretty central to many of the highlights of Melbourne, so it was my first choice to stay when an opportunity came up to combine a work trip with a weekend in the city.

Upon check in on the Friday afternoon I was offered a complimentary beverage to relax in the lounge whilst my check in was completed. This included alcohol, so I chose a glass of sparkling wine.

Soon after, I was escorted to my room by the check-in assistant who wheeled my luggage for me. She then showed me around the ammenities of my room, including the complimentary mini-bar which included chips, nuts, jerky, chocolate and lollies with bottled water, juice and flavoured mineral waters in the fridge (no alcohol). Look, I know I paid for these things in the cost of the room, but still it’s a nice luxe touch.

The room was on the 8th floor, which is the top accomodation floor underneath the rooftop bar and pool. The view from the room was underwhelming as it faced what looked to be converted warehouse apartments, but the view inside was very cool. Bold colours and patterns everywhere.

The bathroom was very, well lets say industrial. The endless stainless steel and one mirrored wall seemed a little more Orange is the New Black than trendy chic.

The rooftop pool was heated and had a glass bottom portion at the end that overlooked the laneway, but I didn’t get around to swimming unfortunately.

Would I stay there again? Perhaps. I enjoyed the stay, but I do feel it’s overpriced at almost $400 a night. Sure the location is convenient, but when I’m paying that much per night I at least like to have a view, or a bath tub!

Would I recommend it to you? Only if you are the type that considers spending $400 a night at a hotel a pleasant indulgence.

The Om Nom Choc Nut Bomb, Peanut Butter Parfair at Om Nom Kitchen, Melbourne

Om Nom, Melbourne

Foodie Finds

Where: Om Nom Restaurant, Adelphi Hotel, Melbourne City.

When: August 2018

Meal: Dessert

Cost: $51 (including alcohol)

I had already eaten a big dinner when I arrived at Om Nom for dessert, but there was no way a reasonably full tummy would stop me from trying their desserts. The fact the Adelphi Hotel has a dessert restaurant was one of the key drivers of me booking my accomodation in the quirky hotel.

I ordered a glass of the Besserat de Bellefon Brut Champagne ($23) whilst I tried to decide what to order by evaluating the dishes being served to my fellow diners.

Eventually I settled on the Om Nom Choc Nut Bomb ($28). Described on the menu as “peanut butter parfait, peanut butter powder, chocolate coated rice bubbles, raspberry fluid gel, dehydrated chocolate mousse” I knew I was in for some decadence!

And it did not disappoint. It took me a good while to finish it as it was quite a large dessert which would be easy to share, but it was also very rich and sweet as expected. However I eventually completed it and almost rolled back to my room!

Would I go back? In a heartbeat. The hotel foyer and restaurant has a really cool vibe and the desserts are spectacular.

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, pop in for a dessert or cocktail. The restaurant also serves ‘normal’ meals, but why would you not go there to experience their specialties?

Check out the droolworthy pics of their desserts here http://omnom.kitchen.

Historic Flinders Street Station in the heart of Melbourne City

Round 2 – Trip 2 – Melbourne

Itineraries

August 2018

This was part work trip with a day in the Melbourne office on Friday, followed by a weekend spent exploring the city.

Day 1 – Sydney to Melbourne

Sydney to Melbourne Flight – Jetstar – Depart 5:25pm Thursday night, Arrive 7:00pm.

Cab to Glen Waverley Novotel. Perfect for business travel, modern and clean.

Day 2 – Work then City

Uber from office to the city. Check in at the Adelphi Hotel on Flinders Lane.

Visit Betty’s Burgers on Elizabeth St for dinner. 30min queue even at 6pm.

Visit NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) to see the NGV Friday Nights exhibit that promised “late-night access to MoMA at NGV: 130 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art”. I resisted buying tickets online as I considered the $4.50 ‘transaction fee’ on a $31 ticket extortion, but it was sold out when I arrived at 7:30pm (it opened at 6pm).

Walked around Southbank. The Yarra River looks a lot less brown at night funnily enough.

Returned to the hotel to have dessert at Om Nom. When I arrived about 8:30pm they were full, so I popped up to my room until they called to advise a table was ready just after 9pm.

Day 3 – City

Lazy morning sleep in.

Visit Hosier Lane to check out some of the street art on the graffiti lined laneway.

Visit ‘Wonderland’, Alice in Wonderland exhibition on at the ACMI (Australia Centre for the Moving Image) at Federation Square. The exhibit is now closed, but it looks like there is always something new to do there https://www.acmi.net.au/museum/.

Visit AC/DC Lane for more graffiti art.

Eat lunch at the Meatball & Wine Bar.

Night out with friends who are Melb locals. We attempted to visit the Milk the Cow wine and cheese bar in St Kilda, but without a booking we were left with only outdoor seating and rain looked imminent so we moved on. If you’re planning a visit here, firstly book and secondly be prepared for rude teenagers running the show who noticeably choose to ignore you.

To be honest the rest of the night was bar hopping and I can’t remember the names, nor any venue of note, so let’s just move on…

Day 4 – Melbourne to Sydney

Another lazy morning sleep in with late check out of 11am.

Visit Higher Ground Melbourne for brunch. There was a queue out the door, but as I was by myself I was seated immediately at a communal table with three other pairs.

Return to the NGV to see the MoMA exhibition, which is now closed. Like the ACMI it appears there is always a new exhibit to look at https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/current/.

Visit Federation Square and enjoyed some rare sunshine sitting on the stairs whilst listening to some live music.

Uber to the airport.

Flight – Virgin – Depart 5:00pm Sunday Night, Arrive 6:25pm.

My Hyundai ASX rental at a lookout with Freycinet in view across the water

Round 2 – Trip 3 – Tasmania

Itineraries

September 2018

Day 1 – Sydney to Hobart

Sydney to Hobart Flight – Qantas – Depart 10am, Arrive 12pm

Pick up Hire Car for 3 days rental – Budget – Mitsubishi ASX

Drive to hotel in Hobart, Henry Jones Art Hotel.

Walk around city of Hobart.

Visit Post Street Social bar looking out to Hobart Wharf for a Tasmanian Apple Cider.

Visit Sammy the Seal in the marina. He’s often found around the floating fish and chip shops!

Stock up on more Tasmanian Apple Cider from 9/11 Bottleshop around the corner from hotel.

Visit the IXL Long Bar in hotel foyer for Tasmanian Pear Cider (for variety).

Have fancy Fish & Chips at Mures Upper Deck for dinner.

Drink Apple Cider in spa bath at hotel before bed.

Day 2 – Hobart to Freycinet

Leave hotel around 9am to start journey up East Coast to Freycinet, which is a 200km and 2 hour 40min drive without stops.

Stop along the way to take photos of various vantage points as Freycinet comes into view across the water.

Stop at Spikey’s Bridge, a convict made bridge that looks quite sinister, followed by Spikey’s Beach which has some beautiful orange rocks and great views of Freycinet (15 mins each).

Eat lunch at Saltshaker restaurant in Swansea which has a beautiful view across the water and good food.

Stop at Milton Winery for a tasting.

Arrive at Freycinet National Park, buy 24 hour park pass. Do Wineglass Bay lookout walk. Lots of steep uphill and stairs, only 3km but average duration is 1.5 hours.

Arrive at Freycinet Lodge for the night.

Visit hotel’s ‘Meet the Maker’ wine tasting event in their conference room.

Have burger (very average burger) in hotel bar whilst planning the next day itinerary.

Relax drinking cider in hotel spa bath before bed.

Day 3 – Freycinent to Bay of Fires, to Launceston

Up early to head to Honeymoon Bay in Freycinet National Park, just a few minutes from the hotel. Too cold to swim, stay only 10-15 mins.

Still in Freycinet, visit Cape Tourville Lighthouse. Do seaside walk up to Lighthouse. Cannot go up Lighthouse. Took about 20mins.

Drive to Bicheno – 40kms, 40mins. Visit Blue Edge Bakery for croissant and coffee.

Visit Bicheno Blowhole. Lots of beautiful red rocks to explore. Blowhole is not huge, but occasionally gives a powerful burst so worth seeing. Stay 30mins. Sadly could not stay overnight to see the penguins.

Drive to Bay of Fires – 100kms, 1 hour 20 mins. Climb over all the rocks out to the water. STUNNING! Stayed about an hour.

Drive to Launceston – 160kms, 1 hour 50 mins. Lots of farms along the drive, not many food options so eat before leaving the town near Bay of Fires.

Arrive at Peppers Seaport Hotel for the night. Relax in room after all that driving.

Dinner at Brisbane St Bistro. Fancy, but pretentious. Ate entree and main.

Dessert at Mudbar at hotel. Spectacular.

Day 4 – Launceston to Tamar Valley, to Melbourne to Sydney

Up early to head for a drive through the Tamar Valley. It’s raining, but still beautifully scenic.

Stop at Beaconsfield and look at the mine museum from the outside. Not open to tour inside at that time.

Visit Moon Lily Kitchen and Cakes for coffee and a Nutella Scroll. Highly recommended!

Continue on to Beauty Point, which turns out to not be that beautiful. Don’t recommend.

Turn around and head back to the Tamar wine region and visit Tamar River vineyard. Stunning view of the river from their location high on a hill. I bought the Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.

Head back to Launceston and visit Cataract Gorge. Rode the chair lift across the gorge and did the short walk to the bridge. It’s really just fast running brown water. Fun to visit only if you have time.

Then off to lunch at Josef Chromy winery. This is a MUST DO. The best food I had in Tasmania. Definitely have lunch there. Beautiful setting looking out to the vineyard, plus their Rose is amazing.

Drive to Launceston airport, return hire car. Take 5pm Virgin flight to Melbourne, then 6:30pm connecting flight home to Sydney.

Note you cannot get a direct flight from Launceston to Sydney in the afternoon on Sundays (maybe other days too). Last one leaves at 10am, but then you would waste all your day back home when you could be exploring Tas still and drinking wine. Cheers!!

Main meal of Linguine at Saltshaker Restaurant in Swansea, Tasmania

Saltshaker Swansea

Foodie Finds

Where: Saltshaker Restaurant, Swansea, Tasmania.

When: September 2018

Meal: Weekday Lunch

Cost: Approx $50 for one (including alcohol)

On my journey up the East Coast of Tasmania I stopped in the cute little town of Swansea do lunch. There looked to be a few a old school pubs in the area, but Saltshaker looked out over the water and it was a beautiful sunny day, so I headed inside.

Being still pretty much the off season, there were very few people inside and I was able to take my pic of tables with water views. The waitress was very attentive and when I selected the Prawn & Scallop Linguini – pan fried scallops and prawns with lemon chilli garlic butter ($29.90) as my main, she said it was their most popular dish. I understand why. It was plentiful and the garlic butter was decadent, but not too heavy, especially considering it was only lunchtime.

I also had the Shaker Bread – ciabatta bread with garlic butter and caramelised balsamic oil ($6.50) for entree (4 pieces) which was good, but not a must have, and enjoyed a Pagan’s Pear Cider on ice (approx $10).

Would I go back? Definitely. That pasta was beautiful.

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, the view is spectacular and the pasta worth stopping in for.

https://www.saltshakerrestaurant.com.au/menus

P3 Car Park, Sydney Airport

Airport Parking – Sydney

Travel Hacks

Where: Sydney Airport

When: November 2018

Duration: Four days, Friday to Monday

Cost: $79, prebooked online.

How do you get to the airport?

If you live on a train line you may use the Airport Link service that delivers you underground at either the Domestic or International Terminal without much trouble, but potentially with a lot of cost if there are a few of you travelling. Depending on where you live, it could be almost $20 per person, per leg of the journey.

I don’t live on a train line unfortunately and getting my luggage on a bus to get to the city, to then catch a train is just too much effort for me.

I live not too far out of the city, but a cab or Uber to the airport costs $60-$70 each way. Plus, the taxi rank queue when I’ve returned to Sydney Airport can seem never ending and erode all the R&R that I’ve just enjoyed on my holiday.

I always check out the parking offers on the Sydney Airport website https://prebook.sydneyairport.com.au/en/ before I decide how I will travel to the airport. There is always some form of discount available when you prebook and often you’ll save more when you book further in advance.

I do a lot of long weekend trips so I’ve booked the $79 Weekender offer available Fri-Mon many times. It’s only slightly more than one way to the airport in a cab for me and it’s handy that I can walk out of the airport and jump straight into my car (after a short walk) without having to wait.

Full disclosure, I used to work at Sydney Airport, but I still use this product now by choice.

Would I use it again? Yes, I’ve already booked parking for my next two trips.

Would I recommend it to you? Sure, but it might not be suited to your personal circumstances. If you live close to the airport it may be cheaper to cab. Or, if you’re travelling for an extended period, you may feel more comfort with your car locked away at home, but having said that, I feel it’s very safe.

A cloudy, yet beautiful day by the pool in Hamilton Island

12 Trips in 12 Months – Round 2

About, Itineraries

I came up with the idea of #12tripsin12months on my birthday in March 2017. I realised that I hadn’t travelled enough and that I really wanted to make it a priority.

In talking to friends and colleagues I also realised that most Australians don’t see all that much of Australia unless they do a caravanning round trip, but who has the time to do that before you’re old and grey?

Despite having so much beauty close to home, it’s often preferred to take a quick trip overseas to tropical resorts in Bali, Fiji or Thailand. With good reason too, as it’s sometimes cheaper to fly overseas to a resort than to your neighbouring state.

But to achieve my goal of 12 trips in just 12 months I needed to make the most of short trips and long weekends with a few longer stays along the way.

I loved the feeling of getting back to work and knowing that my next holiday was only three, four, or maybe five weeks away. I even enjoyed the planning process and the constant watch for sales and hotel offers.

I loved it so much, that when I concluded my 12 trips with the grand finale in Hawaii (yes I know what I said about Australia above, but it wasn’t specifically #12australiantripsin12months) I was left itching to go on holiday again.

So, #12tripsin12monthsround2 was created. Here’s how it’s playing out:

Trip 1 – May 2018 – Hamilton Island QLD

Trip 2 – August 2018 – Melbourne VIC

Trip 3 – September 2018 – Tasmania (East Coast)

Trip 4 – November 2018 – Townsville & Magnetic Island QLD

Trip 5 – November 2018 – Yarra Valley VIC

Trip 6 – November 2018 – Mudgee NSW

Trip 7 – TBC

Trip 8 – TBC

Trip 9 – TBC

Trip 10 – TBC

Trip 11 – April 2019 – Port Lincoln SA

Trip 12 – April 2019 – Kangaroo Island SA

If you have any suggestions for my TBC trips, please get in touch!

Paint & Sip Pop-Up Art Class

Adventure

Where: Night Noodle Markets, Hyde Park, Sydney. Australia.

When: October 2018

Duration: 2 hour class

Cost: $60, which included a glass of wine, canapés from the market stalls and all art supplies

For a while now I’ve been seeing my Facebook friends doing art classes with wine. I didn’t really expect that I would be good at painting, but pretty much anything is better with wine right, so why not?!

When I saw an article on these pop-up classes at the Sydney Night Noodle markets it seemed like the right time to try it out it. On a beautiful warm night the Night Noodle Markets in Hyde Park are really fun. You grab some food, you find a table or a spot on the lawn and you listen to music underneath both the city lights and fairy lights, and soak up the atmosphere.

But Sydney was going through what felt like a flood. It has been raining for two weeks and Hyde Park was a swamp. Seriously, gumboots would have been the most appropriate outfit choice.

But, myself and two of my gal pals had booked the tickets weeks ago, so on the night we trudged through the park to find the Brands Laira wine marquee to get our creative juices flowing a.k.a get our wine.

Upon arrival we were shown to allocated seats in a very pretty little tent to the side of the Brands Laira tent. It was also a swamp inside, but there wasn’t much that could be done with the weather. Food was circulated as we awaited the full crew to arrive.

When the majority of the guests were there we were introduced to our host, an artist who would show us step by step how to create a specifically selected vineyard scene. She talked us through our equipment and how the session would progress. She also warned us that most people find placing the first bit of paint on the canvas the most nerve racking part. True, very true…

First we started with the sky, then we progressed to the grass, then added shadows where we would soon paint the vineyard trees. The initial stress of worrying about placing the horizon too high or low rapidly dissipated, perhaps aided by the wine, and we were soon relaxing and painting with ease whilst listening to a great retro playlist.

As I looked around the room I noticed that everyone’s work of art looked just a little bit different, including our teacher’s version versus the image we were shown when booking. Some look great, some probably only great at a distance, a far, far distance. But hey, beauty is in the eye of the beholder right?

After filling in the trees, adding a wine barrel and perhaps the most difficult part, painting the delicate wine glasses, we were almost finished. The only thing left to do was to sign our masterpieces.

The 2 hour class went quite quickly, but I felt like we had plenty of time to get the painting done. We were also given tips on how to make sure it dried quick, particularly important on a Friday night class when we were heading off to a bar afterwards. After a quick group photo we were all off on our way.

Cork & Chroma have studios in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane for classes and you can check out the event calendar on their website http://www.corkandchroma.com.au.

Would I do it again? Yes, I’m actually looking forward to visiting their studio in Surry Hills where the lighting will no doubt be better and the wine is BYO!

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, it’s the perfect night out with friends. Relaxing, yet social, with the added advantage of being able to drink wine whilst getting creative.

Freycinet Lodge

Accommodation

Where: Freycinet National Park, Tasmania. Australia.

When: September 2018

Duration: 1 night stay

Room Type: Premier Cabin, Jetted Tub

Cost: $404.10

(Booked whilst Hotels.com had a 10% discount offer on)

Freycinet National Park is simply STUNNING! So why would you choose to stay anywhere else aside from in the park? Well, I mean why would you choose to stay anywhere else besides a hotel in the park. I assume you can camp in there, but I think we’ve established I’m not the tent kinda lady!

I arrived at Freycinet Lodge about 4:30pm after doing the Wineglass Bay lookout walk. It was meant to be an easy walk, but turns out I’m unfit and it was hard AF. I arrived at the hotel quite disheveled, but the clerk on reception gave me a warm welcome.

Check in was fast and I was in my room to enjoy the afternoon sun streaming through my windows. I was pretty impressed with my room/cabin. It was spacious and the spa bath looked incredibly inviting!

After a quick shower and change I headed back to the main building to attend a ‘Meet the Maker’ wine event being held in a conference room off to the side of the main bar and restaurant. Here I was able to try many of the wineries I passed on the way to Freycinet but didn’t have time to stop in.

Having not eaten since early that day, those wines went to my head so I popped out for some air and to see a magnificent sunset off the back deck of the hotel….

I wasn’t overly fussed by the menu at the hotel restaurant, so I instead stayed in the bar and ordered a burger from the bar whilst I planned my itinerary for the following day. There aren’t that many options once you’re in the National Park, but I wouldn’t recommend the bar burger. It was rather half-assed. Perhaps I should have tried the restaurant.

I returned to my room and found that turn down service has been and left me the cutest chocolates with ‘Freycinet Lodge’ printed on them. And because I was travelling alone, I got to eat both whilst drinking wine in that beautiful spa bath! The underfloor tile heating had also been turned on, which would be a welcome surprise in winter I’m sure!!

There was a well equipped mini-bar with lots of local Tassie treats I’ve seen at Salamanca Markets and my favourite thing was complimentary still water. Seriously, it’s such a cheap thing for a hotel to provide, literally cents per bottle, so it really pisses me off when I spent a couple of hundred on a room and it’s not provided.

Would I stay there again? Yes, don’t get me wrong, it’s expensive but I actually felt like I got value for the price considering the high standard of the room and the remote location.

Would I recommend it to you? Absolutely. Go. Now!