Brunetti’s – 98 Faraday St, Carlton

Situated opposite Cinema Nova, Brunetti’s is a wonderland of chocolates, cakes and icecreams. Marvel at profiterole cakes over a foot high and at the mind boggling ways these maestros shape chocolate. But beware, temptation lurks everywhere and you may have to be rolled out. www.brunetti.com.au

 

On Safari: tram routes 1 or 8.

 

Young and Jackson (Princes Bridge Hotel) - Corner Swanston and Flinders Sts, City;

Ingénue, nymph, and celebrity, walk upstairs and view the famous nude painting of Chloe, mascot for the HMAS Melbourne and a fine piece of art. She has graced the walls of the Young and Jackson Hotel since 1909. www.youngandjacksons.com.au

 

Polly Woodside – Melbourne Docklands

(next to Melbourne Exhibition Centre), City

She may sound like a harlot, but mention Polly Woodside’s name to most Melbournians and it’ll rekindle childhood memories. Having spent the last four years getting a touch up, Melbourne’s favourite tall ship is back in a specially built dry dock. Visitors can watch a film about Polly’s 1914 globe-crossing exploits and also visit a museum which tracks her 140-year history. There are also interactive displays and exhibits.  www.pollywoodside.com.au

 

On Safari: Tram routes 96, 109 and 112 run along Clarendon St. Get off when you see Crown Casino and head to the MEC on the other side of the road. You’ll find Polly at the back of MEC.

Safari Pete’s Melbourne Icons

 

With its rich, gold rush history and status today as Australia's European-style capital, Melbourne boasts some impressive erections. Following are a few of my recommendations on how to see the city in a classic light:

 

Melbourne City Baths – 420 Swanston St

Much more than swimming baths, the Edwardian baroque exterior of this building gives it a real sense of history. If you visit you may see me shaking my toosh in a belly dancing class. www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/melbournecitybaths/Pages/MCB.aspx

 

On Safari: Any tram heading northwest up Swanston St.

 

St Patrick’s Cathedral – Corner Gisborne St & Cathedral Pl, East Melbourne

Don’t let the gargoyles put you off, for when the sun shines through the cathedral windows the inside is bathed in gold. Built in the shape of a cross, it took workers 80 years to finish this masterpiece. www.stpatrickscathedral.org.au

 

On Safari: tram routes 31, 109 or 112.

 

Abbotsford Convent – 1 St Heliers St, Abbotsford

The nuns have long gone and in their absence this atmospheric convent has been

transformed into an artistic and cultural precinct. Walk around lush gardens, visit the bakery and browse through an art gallery. Lentil as Anything has a vegetarian restaurant here.

www.abbotsfordconvent.com.au

 

On Safari: Catch a train to Victoria Park Station (Epping or Hurstbridge lines) and walk south to Johnson St. Head east, walking away from Hoddle St, until you reach Clarke St on your right. St Heliers St is the first left.

 

Royal Exhibition Building – Nicholson St, Carlton

Melbourne’s premier exhibition space, this grand old hall – built in 1880 for the Great Exhibition – hosts everything from bridal shows to hot rod extravaganzas. I also hang out here each February when the travel expo comes to town. Come say hello!

www.museumvictoria.com.au/reb

 

On Safari: tram route 96.

 

Como House – Corner Williams Rd & Lechdale Ave, South Yarra

This colonial mansion is the perfect place to unwind in the surrounds of flower-filled gardens with shady trees. Sketch, drink wine, have a picnic or curl up for a snooze. www.comohouse.com.au

 

On Safari: tram route 8, getting off at Williams Rd and walking north. Lechdale Ave is the first left.

 

Parliament House – Spring St, City

Symbolic of the gold rush this is an impressive building well worth a visit. Free half-hour tours are held when parliament is in recess. Weekdays, they go at 10am, 11am, 2pm, 3pm and 3.45pm. Book by visiting the website: www.parliament.vic.gov.au

 

On Safari: Any trams running along Bourke and Collins Sts.

 

Rippon Lea House and Estate – 192 Hotham St, Elsternwick

National Heritage–listed, this place is a classic window for peering at how cashed-up Aussies used to live. The posh and historic 19th Century house is certainly worth a look, but it’s the beautiful gardens that really nail it. Pop a bottle of bubby and scoff a picnic on the lawn, go scrumping in the orchards or get all romantic on a rowing boat on the lake. www.ripponleaestate.com.au

 

On Safari: Take a train on the Sandringham line to Ripponlea Station, from where the estate is signposted.

 

 

On Yer Bike

 

Melbourne has a plethora of bike tracks both in the city and in the outer

suburbs. The most popular urban track is the Main Yarra Trail, off which stems the Merri Creek, Outer Circle and Maribyrnong River trails. Visit Bike Victoria’s website (www.bv.com.au) or the information centre at Fed Square for route maps. Further afield, there’s a great bike ride between Lilydale and Warburton (40km one way) which runs along an old railway line. It’s flat and picturesque and easily reached from the city. Simply catch the Lilydale train from Flinders St Station.

 

If you’re up for more than a leisurely leg stretcher then why not try the Round the Bay in a Day ride? This annual bike challenge (Australia’s largest) sees

competitors skirt the circumference of Port Phillip Bay. Choose between 50km, 80km, 100km, 210km and 250km options. This year’s ride takes place in mid-October, with registrations opening in April. Visit www.bv.com.au for more details. And don’t forget to bring a spare crotch.

 

If one day in the saddle isn’t enough, then how about nine? The Great Victorian Bike Ride (Nov 27 - Dec 5) is a communal cycling event (over 8,000 riders

participated last year) and a great opportunity to see some of Victoria’s most scenic countryside. Camp, socialise and have a beer with fellow riders each night. The Age newspaper rated this as ‘arguably the world's greatest one-week cycling holiday’. For more details, log onto www.bv.com.au.

 

Explore Melbourne’s grooviest streets, parks, shops, cafes, hidden laneways and

multicultural neighbourhoods with Rentabike and Real Melbourne Bike Tours. You’ll also sample gourmet treats on this leisurely ride with a local guide. Daily departures from Rentabike @ Federation Square. Tour runs 10am-2pm and includes coffee and cakes in Little Italy and lunch. Bookings essential.

 

If you prefer to ride at your own pace, then Rentabike @ Federation Square is Melbourne's most central bike hire shop, open seven days a week, weather permitting, from 10am-5pm. www.rentabike.net.au . Tour runs 10am-2pm.

Bookings essential.

 

Alternatively the City of Melbourne has introduced a new Bike Share system across the city. Simply stop one of the various Bike Share locations across the city to rent a bike and return it to any of the other convenient locations close to your destination. Helmets should be available with the bike, otherwise make sure to pick up a $5 helmet from one of the many retail outlets listed on their website first, as helmets are mandatory in Victoria. Head to www.melbournebikeshare.com.au.

 

St Kilda Cycles (150 Barkly st St Kilda) have a huge selection of bikes available to buy & rent. With servicing/repair facilities on site, and experienced staff - they are open 7 days a week for all your cycling needs!

 

Melbourne: Around the bay

- Self guided tour

 

You don’t need to travel far from Melbourne before finding yourself in beautiful countryside. This loop around Port Phillip Bay can be done in a day or stretched out over a few.

 

From Melbourne head west around Port Phillip Bay. If you have time, Williamstown is a pleasant detour. Just half an hour from the city, this is one of Melbourne’s oldest suburbs and is home to a number of heritage buildings and historic ships.

Take the Princes Highway (M1) to Geelong and go straight through, following the Geelong–Portarlington Rd around the bay. A left turn onto the C123 at Drysdale will take you to Portarlington (a two-hour drive from Melbourne). In summer this cosy town transforms into a popular holiday destination. Spend an afternoon moseying around the Scotchmans Hill Winery (their cellar door is open daily) or have a wander around the gardens at the Stoneacres Farm. During the summer months the old flourmill is also a popular attraction. There are a couple of great bike tracks that lead around the foreshore to Indented Head and St Leonards.

 

From Portarlington take the C126 south to Queenscliff (around half an hour’s drive).This town is filled with historic grandeur and was often frequented by the Melbourne elite in the late 19th century. Visit the Maritime Museum and the Maritime Discovery Centre, or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, go for a dive or dangle a line and see if the fish are biting. If you’ve always wanted to swim with dolphins, then check out www.dolphinswims.com.au which runs harbour swims. If you fancy some deep sea diving or a snorkelling adventure then check out the Dive Group which does dives from Queenscliff and across the water in Portsea. Check out www.divevictoriagroup.com.au for more information

 

If you’ve always dreamt of swimming with Flipper then Sorrento is a great place to do it, as the surrounding waters are home to many bottlenose dolphins and seals. Check out Moonraker Dolphin Swims www.moonrakercharters.com.au. There are also some great walking and biking tracks through the beautiful bay side bush here. Or, if you’d rather just chill out, take a casual wander down the picturesque main street, past 19th century limestone buildings, and try what is reputed to be Victoria’s best vanilla slice along the main street. From Sorrento it’s an easy and pleasant one-and-a-half hour drive back to Melbourne, following the curvaceous coastline of the bay virtu ally all the way.

 

Queenscliff – Sorrento Car and Passenger Ferries

The only direct link between the Great Ocean Road and the Mornington Peninsula is the ferry between Queenscliff and Sorrento. The view of the coastline from the upper deck are breathtaking in any weather. Departing daily from Queenscliff Harbour and Sorrento Pier, 7 days a week www.searoad.com.au

 

If you’ve got time then you may want to stay overnight in Queenscliff or Sorrento:

 

Queenscliff Inn YHA – 59 Hesse St, Queenscliff; Ph 03 5258 3737

This place has a lounge with an open fire, a reading room, a cafe/restaurant and a games room. www.yha.com.au

 

Sorrento YHA – 3 Miranda St, Sorrento; Ph 03 5984 4323

These guys have an open fireplace, an outdoor deck with BBQ and bikes.

www.yha.com.au