Round 2 – Trip 12 – Melbourne

Itineraries

September 2019

Yes, I know Melbourne features three times in #12tripsin12months Round 2, but they were all to different areas of Melbourne! Trip 2 was staying in the city of Melbourne, Trip 5 was a road trip to the Yarra Valley and Trip 12 was staying in St Kilda for a wedding. Look, it’s my challenge and I made the rules ok…

I’ve visited St Kilda before and done the usual touristy trip to the beach and Luna Park. This trip was quite jam packed with wedding festivities, so I didn’t explore St Kilda much, but because I had a hire car I ventured around a bit instead.

Day 1 – Sydney to St Kilda

Sydney to Melbourne Flight – Virgin – Depart 2pm Friday, Arrive 3:35pm (booked using Velocity points).

Picked up hire car from Alamo Car Rental (serviced by Enterprise) from terminal. Booked compact, given Holden Astra. 48hr booking, $49.95 excluding insurance and fuel which ended up costing $10.

Drive to Royce Hotel, 1hr drive in Friday peak hour traffic. Check in to Signature Queen Suite, $625 for two nights.

Attend pre-wedding dinner and drinks at hotel bar.

Day 2 – St Kilda to Frankston and back

Drive 45mins south to meet Melbourne local friend and visit the Kath & Kim Open House charity fundraiser.

Jump in friend’s 1959 Porsche 356 convertible and drive to Frankston in unusually sunny Melbourne conditions.

Lunch at Southside Social for Burger Lunch ($30ish each with a cider).

Visit Frankston pier. Conduct impromptu photo shoot of car…

Return to hotel for wedding ceremony.

Day 3 – St Kilda to Sydney

Check out of hotel 11am.

Drive 30 mins to Lune Croissant in Fitzroy. Wait 40 mins in queue for takeaway coffee and croissants ($24 including two croissants). Worth queue.

Drive 20 mins to Rude Boy Burger in Brunswick West ($25 including cider).

Drive 20 mins to airport.

Flight delayed due to storm, spend 2hrs in Virgin lounge.

Melbourne to Sydney Flight – Virgin – Depart 4:30pm Sunday, Arrive 6pm (booked using Velocity points).

Robert Stein Vineyard, Mudgee

Round 2 – Trip 6 – Mudgee

Itineraries

November 2018

This was just a quick one night weekend road trip with a girlfriend. Being about a three and a half hour drive from Sydney it can easily be done as a one night trip, but it certainly would have been nicer to stay an extra night and explore more wineries if we had the time.

Day 1 – Sydney to Mudgee

Depart Sydney at 8:30am. Drive 90 mins.

Breakfast at Synonymous Cafe in Medlow Bath.

Depart 11am. Drive 2 hours. Arrive in Mudgee.

Lunch at the Zin House, 5 course set menu for $95.

Visit the Lowe Wines Cellar Door on the way our to purchase wines sampled at lunch.

Check into motel at 4:30pm. Stay at the Wanderlight Motor Inn in a ‘Large Delux Ground Floor’ room with a queen bed and single bed for $176.

Short walk for light dinner and drinks at Roth’s Wine Bar with live music.

Day 2 – Mudgee to Sydney

Breakfast at Pipeclay Pumphouse at 8:30am.

Visit the Robert Stein cellar door on site with Pipeclay (open from 10am).

Visit the Pieter van Gent cellar door.

Visit the Moothi Estate winery for a tasting and light lunch.

Visit the Logan Wines cellar door.

Drive back to Sydney – 3.5 hours.

Round 2 – Trip 4 – Townsville & Magnetic Island

Itineraries

November 2018

This was a really enjoyable 3 night getaway for some R&R. Townsville is a big regional town, but the main street was quite quiet when I was there. Possibly due to it being the cusp of the hot, humid and rainy season, but Uber drivers also spoke of them going through an economic downturn. 1 night felt plenty to cover Townsville.

Magnetic Island can be done as a day trip and it’s a very small island, but really beautiful. There were lots of longer hikes that I didn’t do and bays that can be accessed only by 4WD which I didn’t have, but I felt like I covered it quite well. 2 nights would be the max I’d want to stay there, particularly as the food really wasn’t that good.

Day 1 – Sydney to Townsville

Sydney to Townsville Flight – Virgin – Depart 10:30am Friday, Arrive 12:15pm (2hr 45min fight time, but gained an hour due to no daylight savings in QLD, $390 return).

Received complimentary upgrade to an exit row.

Taxi from Airport to the Ville Casino Resort ($24). Check in to Executive King Ocean Room for one night ($193).

Walk into town (1.7kms) for graffiti street art self-guided walking tour.

Light lunch at Shaw & Co Char & Bar at City Lane on Flinders St in the centre of town.

Uber back to hotel ($9)

Afternoon at the hotel pool, with swim up bar…

Dinner at Seasoned Restaurant on Palmer St. Uber there and back ($10 each way).

Day 2 – Townsville to Magnetic Island

Uber to Palmer St ($8) for Breakfast at Jam.

Walk back to hotel, check out and walk to wharf.

Ferry to Magnetic Island ($33 return) Depart 8:45am, 25min journey https://www.sealinkqld.com.au/timetables/magnetic-island.

Drop bags at hotel – Peppers Blue on Blue in Nelly Bay. ‘Superior Hotel’ room $328 on offer from Hotels.com for 2 nights.

Pick up hire car from Tropical Topless Car Rental in Nelly Bay. Barbie Car $90 per 24 hour rental.

Drive around island exploring.

Lunch at Picnic Bay Hotel.

Visit IGA for snacks.

Swim in Hotel Lagoon Pool.

Dinner at hotel restaurant, Boardwalk.

Day 3 – Magnetic Island

Early start to arrive at the Forts Walk at 7am as apparently the Koalas are most active early morning and at dusk….but only see one Koala sleeping.

Return to hotel for buffet breakfast.

Return Barbie Car. Hire Mini Moke ($120 for 24 hours).

Explore island in Moke.

Get gelato from Adele’s cafe. I think 2 very generous scoops in a waffle cone was $9.

Return to Hotel for swim in smaller hotel pool.

Drive to Horseshoe Bay for swim protected by stinger nets (stinger season is Nov to April).

Fish & chips on the beach from Horseshoe Bay Fish & Chips.

Return to hotel for a night swim in smaller pool (open until 10:30pm).

Day 4 – Magnetic Island to Townsville, to Sydney

Breakfast by the beach at The Early Bird.

Returned Moke.

10:15am Ferry back to Townsville.

Taxi to airport ($20).

Townsville to Sydney Flight – Virgin – Depart 12:35pm Monday, Arrive 4:15pm (2hr 40min flight time, but lost an hour due to daylight savings in NSW).

Received complimentary upgrade to EconomyX (premium economy).

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!!