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White Night Melbourne 2017: Everything you need to know

White Night Melbourne 2017

White Night Melbourne 2017 is tonight, and I’ll be there for UrbanDuniya bringing the action to the world, live on Facebook. So what can you expect?

White Night Melbourne state library

 

What is a White Night?

White Night is an international series of all-night cultural events, featuring art, music, dancing, light and community. St Petersburg, Russia originally held arts and music festivals on the shortest night of the year, but it wasn’t until Paris held its first Nuit Blanche in 2001 that the concept began to spread worldwide. Nuit Blanche is French for an “all-nighter”, but the words literally mean “white night”.

Melbourne held Australia’s first White Night in 2013, and has held it annually since.

White Night Melbourne

 

What’s it like?

Big, beautiful and crowded. Between 7pm and 7am the city is alive with throngs of people taking in public art, music and dance. The first one attracted about 300,000 visitors in a twelve-hour period. Numbers have been hovering at around 500,000 in years since.

Attractions in past years have included light projections on Flinders Street Station, a giant glowing lotus floating down the Yarra, galactic images on the dome of the State Library, indigenous dance at sunset, opera in St Paul’s cathedral, a roaming Cuban salsa troupe, tours of the Old Melbourne Gaol at midnight, Bollywood dance lessons in Federation Square, and group yoga by the river at sunrise.

Click here to see my photography from previous years; 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.

White Night Melbourne church

What’s on where?

The White Night Melbourne website is your friend – click here to see the programme and map for this year’s event. There are 81 attractions spread across 10 city blocks, as well as the Carlton Gardens precinct, and south of the river.

Still Here at NGV International

How can I take part?

The best way is to go to the city! If you can’t make it to Melbourne for White Night, you can view the action online with my live video updates from the main attractions! Log on to facebook.com/urbanduniya and “like” my page to receive notifications when I go live!

Live coverage will be at the following times;

  • Sydney: 7pm – 7am
  • Pakistan: 1pm – 1am
  • India: 1:30pm- 1:30am
  • Perth: 4pm- 4am
  • Dubai: 12noon – 12midnight
  • Tokyo: 5pm – 5am
  • Central Europe: 9am – 9pm
  • London: 8am – 8pm
  • Bangkok: 3pm – 3am
  • Sao Paulo: 6am – 6pm

Videos will be saved on the page, so if you miss any you can always catch up later.

Welcome to Country at Royal Exhibition Building

 

Tips if you go to the city

Wear comfortable shoes, carry something warm to wear, and pack lightly. There’s a lot of walking involved.

Take a refillable bottle of water, your phone charger, and a camera.

Use public transport if possible – there are extra services running until the morning for many parts of the city (details below).

Be flexible with your night, and don’t be too disappointed if you “miss out” on something – it’s a popular event, and some venues (like the Matt Irwin Gallery) can only accommodate 25 people at a time.

The evening kicks off at 7pm, but the lighting effects really only work after sunset at 8:30. 8pm – 11pm is the busiest period, as most visitors arrive at this time, and it’s ideal for families, so if you want to avoid the crowds you could consider arriving after midnight. Alternatively you can arrive early, visit a gallery or exhibition before midnight, then head to the more popular projections (like Flinders Street) after midnight.

White Night Melbourne foam

 

How do I get there (and home)?

Public Transport Victoria have released pamphlets about the transport arrangements on the night. Images of these pamphlets are below;

White Night 2017 public transport

White Night 2017 Melbourne public transport map

Click for larger image

For more information, go to ptv.vic.gov.au.

Have you attended a White Night festival somewhere? What was it like? Comment below!

Surprisingly classy: the new Qantas inflight safety video

The new Qantas inflight safety video

This week, I’ve been a little bit obsessed with the new Qantas inflight safety demonstration video. It is, in a word, beautiful. For me, Qantas’ new inflight video is more than just a safety demonstration, or even a clever tourism campaign.

Frequent readers of this page will know that I’m not a huge fan of the country in which I was born. The cultural trajectory of Australia in my lifetime seems to have swerved in a direction that I don’t identify with; one where the unquestioningly patriotic, mindlessly crass, drunk alpha male is held up as the quintessential “Aussie larrikin” – and therefore something to aspire to.

(Image: David Jackmanson, Wikimedia Commons)

(Image: David Jackmanson, Wikimedia Commons)

And occasionally Australia gets it right, and when they do, it’s incredible. One excellent example of this, in my opinion, was the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Love or hate the Olympics, the opening ceremony was culturally rich and for the times, spectacular beyond words. It didn’t shy away from “iconic Australia”, while glossing over the parochial stuff that we could really do without. Those crap inflatable kangaroos from the Atlanta Olympics closing ceremony only made a brief, self-deprecating appearance in 2000 – long enough to be endearingly laughable, but not too long to make us cringe.

It is arguably one of the best showcases of what can be contributed to the canon of “Australian culture”, a notion that so many people used to (and still do) snigger at. Qantas’ new inflight safety video, I believe, falls into the same category. If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is;

A multiethnic cast of otherwise “ordinary” Australians going about their daily lives, creative reimaginings of otherwise banal safety procedures, a modern-yet-classic-sounding backing track and the stunning natural beauty of Australia on show for the world. This is a refreshing approach to the vision of Australian identity; varied, warm and articulate, with no Lara Bingle, racist redneck or drunken yobbo in sight. The idea is not completely new, as it’s actually an upgrade to the Qantas inflight safety video from last year which had a similar theme. There’s something about the new video however which, in my opinion, takes it to another level – I just can’t quite put my finger on what it is.

Creative, warm, diverse, refined but free-spirited. Isn’t this another (potential) narrative of Australian culture?

What do you think of the new video? Do you like it? Comment below!

Australia: is anti-social behaviour the norm?

Australia: is anti-social behaviour the norm?

This post is not anti-Australian, and nor is it seeking to lay blame. It is simply wondering out loud about the direction of society after a horrific incident which terrorised the nation’s second largest city on Friday afternoon.

Melbourne car incident Jimmy Gargasoulas

I had finished work and was walking home when I was stopped at the intersection of Flinders and Swanston Streets by a crazed man doing burnouts in his car. It was clear that he was not in his senses – whether he was high on drugs or mentally disturbed was not clear, although we would later find out it was probably both. Groups of thugs roamed around the intersection, some in the roadway, some among the crowds, goading both the driver and the police for fun. At least one woman was apprehended at the scene for obstructing the police operation – standing in the middle of the street screaming at the police, and then finally telling a police officer to “suck my cock”. The woman in question can be seen cavorting in the intersection in a blue top at the 0.43 mark of the video below.

The crowd which had gathered wondered aloud if it was a drug deal that had gone wrong, but then mostly began to go back about their regular business. Later, we would find out that the deranged driver had ploughed his car into Bourke Street Mall, the city’s premier pedestrian street, killing three and maiming many more. Two more would die in hospital.

The front pages of Melbourne's most popular newspapers the day after the attack. (Source: Twitter)

The front pages of Melbourne’s most popular newspapers the day after the attack. (Source: Twitter)

Then it emerged that the massacre was the culmination of a string of anti-social and violent behaviour that had begun almost a week earlier. The perpetrator had been released on bail the previous Saturday after being charged with violent offences. In the week that followed he;

It appears that only after the stabbing incident did the police begin to pursue him again. My question in all of this is; is so much of what else happened considered normal? Consider that until he began driving over people in the mall;

  • the assault and car theft was thought of as a routine crime incident
  • smashing the tables of patrons at a bar was the typical “loutish” behaviour you might see at pubs
  • displays of erratic behaviour by the perpetrator on live television was written off as the normal idiotic stuff you might see whenever a news camera is rolling;
  • anti-social behaviour by bystanders at Flinders Street Station, baiting both the perpetrator and police and interfering with the ongoing police operation was “the usual stuff you see going on in that part of the city” and
  • the rest of the crowd at Flinders Street Station largely went back to their usual business, thinking that they had just seen “a drug deal gone wrong”.

When did such disturbed, anti-social behaviour become so normalised? Why was all of this not just normal, but common enough not to raise the attention of society? Indeed, when I saw the burnouts at Flinders Street Station I figured the situation was a notch above, but not completely out-of-character for that part of the city; I witness drunken violence, street side intimidation and/or public assaults on an almost daily basis, and life goes on because, well, what else are you supposed to do?

And it’s not just Melbourne. I’ve been assaulted twice in Sydney, and both times the general reaction from the police and wider society was more casual than I would have liked – “getting rolled” is not unusual, I was told. I don’t know what the solution to this is, because clearly alcohol, other drug use, psychological issues and family violence are so deeply ingrained in the national culture that Australia is clearly never going to become Japan or Singapore (where these people might be a danger to themselves, but social mores mostly keep their troubles from being played out in public – and that’s certainly not to downplay the tragedy of suicide and other mental issues). Nor is Australia about to become Iran or Saudi Arabia, where the law prohibits the consumption of alcohol and drugs such that anti-social behaviour would raise the eyebrows of not just passersby, but also the law.

Whether it should or shouldn’t, Australia will never become one of those countries, because it is Australia – that’s what makes it what it is. So the question how to fix a society which considers domestic violence, and loutish, anti-social behaviour normal.

News reports are retrospectively calling Dimitrious ‘Jimmy’ Gargasoulas’ actions before the carnage as “ominous” and “chilling”. These actions didn’t make news before the attack, and there are many more people out there who continue to behave in exactly the same way today. Should we be concerned about them too?

Postscript: an article published a few hours after this piece went online describes the “failure of mental health services” as responsible for the Bourke Street carnage. As it is in a similar vein to my article, I have decided to include a link to it here.

For the love of the beach…

For the love of the beach…

The beach has always been a part of my life, and living in other cities and countries has made me realise just how much of my heart it holds. It’s not that I’ve ever really been a “beach bum”, or even particularly taken by “beach culture“, the gamut of everything from bleached surfer hairstyles to distressed-wood home decor that seems to sweep Australian society from decade to decade. But it has just always been there, in summer, in winter, with friends or alone. One of my favourite bloggers, Renuka from Voyager for Life, recently wrote about why a beach holiday is always a winner – and she’s right! People go to the beach to swim, sunbake, hang out with friends, have a picnic, do exercise, swim at ocean baths (in some places), play cricket or volleyball, or simply bliss out on the sand and listen to their favourite RnB tunes while forgetting that the rest of the world exists. Or is that just me?

A typical day at the beach for me...

What my ideal summer afternoon looks like…

As I sit in Melbourne and write this on a 38 degree summers day, contemplating whether to go to the beach instead of simply writing about it, it dawns on me that I was lucky to have grown up in Sydney where beaches are beautiful and accessible. Beaches in Melbourne have recently been closed due to “unacceptably high levels of bacteria” as a result of storm water draining out into Port Phillip Bay. In plain words, shit – both proverbial and the real stuff (and most concerningly, the human variety) has been not floating, but actually dissolved into the water that beachgoers so look forward to. Gross.

Sunset over one of Melbourne's beaches. See, they're not always that bad!

Sunset over one of Melbourne’s beaches. See, they’re not always that bad!

It’s not just that the water at Melbourne’s beaches can be a bit dirty, it’s that they’re just not that inviting when compared to Sydney’s stunning golden crescents of sand. And perhaps as a result, most of the Melburnians I have met simply don’t get as excited (or even remotely as interested) as Sydneysiders do about going to the beach on a hot day – in fact most Melburnians I know start moaning about how prohibitively hot the weather is as soon as the mercury climbs over 25 degrees. It’s as if there’s no joy to be had in the warm weather!

It's easy to see why Sydney is in love with its beaches - look at Whale Beach!

It’s easy to see why Sydney is in love with its beaches – look at Whale Beach!

When I moved to Lahore, this was taken a step further; an entire city (if not country) that craves winter and the cold weather! It took me a while to really appreciate Lahore’s obsession with thanda mausum (chilly weather), but it’s all encompassing – people even have particular diets which they follow in a kind of celebration of the cold weather! Conversely, most Lahoris dislike the summer intensely – because they say you “can’t do anything in the summer”. Having lived in Melbourne already I began to understand this, but in Lahore it’s taken a step further because of the problem of loadshedding; rolling blackouts caused by a shortage in the power supply. Oh, and the nearest beach is at least 1,200 kilometres away. Apart from mangoes, what kind of joy could summer bring?

With chotta bhai at a Lahore tube well (good) and at Sunhera Beach (better!)

With chotta bhai at a Lahore tube well (good) and at Sunhera Beach (better!)

Of course, not all happiness is derived from the beach – but it was only in Melbourne and Lahore that I realised my love of summer, my whole idea of a “sunny summer disposition” – is so inextricably linked to having beautiful, tree-fringed lines of sand and refreshing, crystal clear ocean at close proximity. My chotta bhai (little bro) in Lahore thought it was simply hilarious that I actually looked forward to summer and the hot weather, despite subsisting with tube wells while in Lahore. A few months ago we travelled to Karachi, and took a trip out to Charna Island, cooling off from the intense heat of the Pakistani coastline in the turquoise waters of the Arabian Sea. We got out of the water, lay back on the boat’s deck and let the sun’s warm rays soak into our skin; it was almost energy-giving. “Ok, now I get it…” he said, turning to me with his eyes closed, temporarily blinded by the beautiful sun, sand and salt, “and we’re coming back again next summer.”

Do you love the beach? What do you do there? Comment below!

Melbourne’s Best Gelato

Melbourne’s Best Gelato

Along with the Boxing Day test match, the Australian Open, hot weather and White Night, a Melbourne summer simply isn’t complete without gelato. At the start of the Australian winter earlier this year I shared my suggestions for Melbourne’s best coffee spots, and with temperatures on the rise it’s time to see where you can find Melbourne’s best gelato!

1. Brunetti; 380 Lygon Street, Carlton; other locations including City Square

brunettis

This place divides the critics, but its iconically Melbourne. The concrete tables and steels chairs aren’t that comfortable, so take a seat in the square. The chocolate flavour here is pretty intense.

2. Nitro Lab; 188 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Tiramisu The Lab

This is not gelato in the strictest sense of the word, but it’s certainly fun watching the team of ‘scientists’ inject your black forest gelato cup with a syringe of cherry sauce. So much so that I’ve already reviewed Nitro Lab here.

3. Casa del Gelato; 163 Lygon Street, Carlton

casa del gelato

Boasting up to 60 flavours and an old world ambience, this is where it apparently all started – come here to taste the same gelato that has been served up to adoring Melburnians since 1980.

4. Jocks Ice Creams and Sorbet; 43 Victoria Avenue, Albert Park

jocks ice cream

What this place lacks in glamour, it makes up for in panache. Date flavoured ice cream anyone? Violet Crumble, or Lamington specials on Australia Day? There’s even an Obama-inspired ice cream; peanut butter and jelly!

5. Gelato Messina; 237 Smith Street, Fitzroy; several other locations

gelato messina

This one is a Sydney-based import but it has been adopted by Melburnians with gusto. A seemingly endless rotating menu of creative, often off-the-wall flavours – some are so good, they fall into the “food porn” category. I’ve also reviewed this place before, it has been voted Australia’s best gelato, and the queues are testament to that fact.

6. Gelateria Primavera; 157 Spring Street, Melbourne

gelateria primavera melbourne

This inner city spot doesn’t offer the extensive range of Gelato Messina or Casa del Gelato, but it’s a worthy mention for its quality – the pistachio flavour in particular might just change your life.

7. Movenpick; QV Shopping Centre, corner of Lonsdale and Swanston Streets, Melbourne; other locations

movenpick blueberry cheesecake QV Square

Yep, it’s an international chain, but it’s one of the best. The blueberry cheesecake flavour is everything you had hoped it would be, and the waffle cones are pretty good too. The only downside is the price – it’s not a place to come on a budget.

8. Trampoline; Southgate Shopping Centre, Southbank

trampoline southbank

Vibrant colours, screaming kids – this really is a family joint. But don’t be put off – take your cone over to the riverside and take in the city skyline with the Yarra lazing its way past. While the flavours are quality but mostly run-of-the-mill, there are a few interesting exceptions – caramel pear sorbet, anyone?

What’s your favourite gelato place? Have I missed anything? Comment below!

Nocturn: The Prisma Collection

Nocturn: The Prisma Collection

Nocturn Prisma ad

Over the past year I have been posting my favourite shots of my cities at night; Chennai, Melbourne, Sydney and finally Lahore. I’m quite proud of how the pictures turned out – I captured light trails, curious customs and spectacular scenes after sunset to show a side of these places that people often miss.

But what’s better than these photographs is turning them into works of art by running them through the Prisma app. Prisma is a phone application that allows you to turn regular photographs into artworks in the style of Van Gogh, Picasso and many more.

See the best of Chennai, Melbourne, Sydney and Lahore after dark, and as works of art, with the Nocturn: The Prisma Collection.

Pak Traveller banners final

Have you used the Prisma app before? What do you think of it? Comment below!

Beat Hayfever! A guide from Melbourne

Beat Hayfever! A guide from Melbourne

Flinders Street Station, Eureka Tower and a Melbourne Tram

Spring has sprung, and while some of us look forward to longer days and warmer weather, others dread the curse of hayfever that comes along with it.

For anyone who doesn’t suffer with it, imagine feeling like you have a really bad cold for a few weeks, or even months – runny nose, uncontrollable sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, sore throat, sinus headache and generally feeling unwell. Add to this all the extra, peripheral stuff – like feeling irritable, tired and anti-social – and it’s easy to see why hayfever is simply the pits.

Melbourne is said to be one of Australia’s worst cities for hayfever sufferers, a result of a dry and windy climate, and this year is predicted to be one of the worst. As someone who has suffered from hayfever for years, I’ve tried almost every trick in the book, to varying degrees of success. And here is what I recommend – and before we continue, I should mention that this article cannot replace qualified medical advice, it is simply my story of a lifetime of sneezing.

 

Environment

Plane trees in Melbourne (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Plane trees in Melbourne (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

If you can fix your environment, do. Melbourne’s plane trees bring a European-style ambiance to the streets, but are notorious for being hayfever triggers. If you’re moving house, look at which trees are lining your street. If you’ve got one outside your house, don’t open the window in the morning, especially on a windy day. Additionally, check the pollen count each day, and arm yourself with any of the below solutions before you head out for the day.

 

Medication

hayfever medications in Priceline

So. Much. Medicine. I think Australia’s pharmaceutical industry could thrive off my antihistamine intake alone. I don’t like filling my body with medicine, but it does help a lot. Note that my comments on these are not prescriptive, as different people find different medicines more or less useful. Always use these according to the instructions in the packet, or a doctor’s advice.

Tablets – I use Telfast 180, but they also come in weaker “60” and “120” versions. They are the best I’ve found. Zyrtec is not bad, Aerius didn’t do much, and I found Claratyne to be a waste of money. But other people swear by it.

Eye dropsPolytears don’t stop the itching, but they do lubricate and immediately “flush” your eye of any dust particles – I always keep a bottle with me. Livostin are a good first-line anti-allergy option, and Zaditen is also good. When my eyes got out of control (like, weeping from irritation) my doctor proscribed my Patanol – it’s strong, and to remain effective it should be used sparingly, but it works. Stay away from Naphcon-A – initially it works really well, but eyes seem to become dependent on it, making them more itchy when you stop using it. To really soothe your eyes, keep your eye drops in the fridge!

Nasal sprays – All the major brands like Telfast and Zyrtec produce nasal sprays, as do Nasonex, Beconase and Flixonase, but I’ve has the most success with Rhinocort. It’s a preventative measure – it needs to be used regularly (like a therapy, not a treatment), but it seems to stop the worst of the sneezing.

 

Non-medical treatment

There’s a whole host of things you can do to help your hayfever without turning to medicine – some of them reduce the symptoms, while others simply provide welcome comfort.

Johar Joshanda – This Pakistani miracle herbal mix soothes the throat and clears the sinuses – add one sachet to a cup of hot tea and sip away! Find it in good Pakistani or Indian grocery stores.

Johar Joshanda (Image: Qarshi)

Johar Joshanda (Image: Qarshi)

Peppermint tea – It won’t take away the irritation, but it’s soothing and aromatic – heaven when you’re stuck with the sniffles.

Soy milk coffee -They say you shouldn’t have dairy while you’re streaming mucous from your nose – and that may or may not be wise – but a hot soy latte perks you up and feels somehow more palatable than cow’s milk when you’re all blocked up.

Cool compress – When my eyes are irritated, they almost feel like they’re burning. Slouch down into a sofa, rest your head back, close your eyes and place moist compress over your eyes and brow and let your mind wander elsewhere for 10 minutes – it’s bliss.

Jal neti – This one is a bit hardcore, but if you’re game, it might just work. Another wonder from the subcontinent, Jal Neti is a traditional yogic technique to clear the sinuses. A small ‘neti pot’ with a spout is filled with lukewarm, slightly salty water. Breathe through your mouth, place the spout in your left nostril and lean your head slightly to the right and front. Gently tip the pot up and adjust the angle of your head until the water flows out of the pot, into your sinuses, then drains out of the opposite nostril! Repeat on the other side. Yes, it’s gross, but it sounds worse than it feels, and the relief you feel afterwards is remarkable. Neti pots are available from good health food, yoga and homeopathic stores, and the technique can be researched online and refined – it takes practice. And needless to say, do it in the shower where you can wash away the contents of your sinuses once your done.

My neti pot!

My neti pot!

General comfort

Stay cool – It’s not called hay”fever” for nothing – all that itching and irritation can make you feel hot and bothered. Wear cool, comfortable clothes, especially if it’s warm.

Wear sunglasses – When there’s pollen in the air, sunglasses will deflect at least some of it.

Wash your face regularly – Especially if you are in a dusty or pollen-laden environment, keep your face clean to avoid the risk of rubbing dust into your eyes or nose.

Do you suffer from hayfever? Do you have any tips to beat hayfever this spring? Comment below!

14 best day trips from Melbourne

14 best day trips from Melbourne

Melbourne is blessed with an abundance of interesting, varied and unique destinations within a short drive of the city centre (“CBD”). When I’m in Melbourne, I often get a couple of friends together and head out to one of the these spots for a day or two. With winter upon us, there’s never been a better time to escape the big smoke, so here, in no particular order, are my nominations for the 14 best day trips from Melbourne! (Times given are all one way, and assume the shortest route is taken and in average traffic).

1. Mornington Peninsula – 1 hour from CBD

Sorrento Beach, Mornington Peninsula (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Sorrento Beach, Mornington Peninsula (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

My favourite one-day trip from Melbourne – hot springs, a hedge maze, Foxey’s Hangout winery, strawberry picking and fish and chips on Sorrento beach, followed by an award-winning vanilla slice!

2. Dandenong Ranges – 1 hour from CBD

Mt Dandenong

Mt Dandenong

Visible from much of Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, visit the giant’s chair at Mt Dandenong, watch the sun set over the city, drop by art galleries, ride Puffing Billy and have tea and scones at Miss Marple’s Tearoom.

3. Yarra Valley – 1 hour from CBD

The Yarra Valley

The Yarra Valley near Healesville

Lunch at the Innocent Bystander, native animals at Healesville Sanctuary and cheese and fresh produce at the Yarra Valley Dairy, plus lots of wineries if that’s your thing.

4. Mount Macedon and Hanging Rock – 1 hour from CBD

The view from the top of Hanging Rock

The view from the top of Hanging Rock

Autumn leaves, private gardens, views of the city and the setting for the 1975 film Picnic at Hanging Rock.

5. Phillip Island – 2 hours from CBD

Fairy Penguin on Phillip Island

Fairy Penguin on Phillip Island

Lunch in Cowes, stop in at the chocolate factory, see the seals on the rocks, pat a kangaroo at the wildlife park and watch the fairy penguins come ashore at nightfall.

6. Bellarine Peninsula – 1.5 hours from CBD

Sunset at Jan Juc, near Torquay (ImageL Alex Proimos, Wikimedia Commons)

Sunset at Jan Juc, near Torquay (ImageL Alex Proimos, Wikimedia Commons)

Go surfing at Point Lonsdale, ride the slides at Adventure Park in Geelong and have fish and chips at Torquay before hitting the surf coast.

7. Ballarat and Daylesford – 1.5 hours from CBD

Sovereign Hill (Image: Maksym Kozlenko, Wikimedia Commons)

Sovereign Hill (Image: Maksym Kozlenko, Wikimedia Commons)

The historic gold-mining town of Ballarat boasts Sovereign Hill, a replica gold rush town, while Daylesford and Hepburn Springs invite you to splash out at cushy day spas and artisan shops and markets.

 

Further afield…

These spots really deserve at least a night or two spent to soak in the surroundings and enjoy the attractions, but at a stretch, can be done in a day.

8. Wilson’s Promontory – 2.5 hours from CBD

A beach at Wilson's Promontory

A beach at Wilson’s Promontory

Stunning beaches, extensive national park and hiking at the southernmost point of mainland Australia

9. Great Ocean Road and the Otways – 8 hour round trip from CBD, not including sightseeing time

The Twelve Apostles (left) and Otway Fly Treetop Walk (right)

The Twelve Apostles (left) and Otway Fly Treetop Walk (right)

Ideally done over two days, the iconic Great Ocean Road can be fitted into one long day. Leave early and head via Geelong towards Apollo Bay, then on to the Otway Fly at Great Otway National Park. Continue past the 12 Apostles, then finish at London Bridge near Port Campbell, before heading back via the Princes Highway.

10. Mount Buller – 3.5 hours from CBD

Mt Buller in winter

Mt Buller in winter

Melbourne’s nearest ski resort – learn to ski, have a snowball fight, hire a toboggan or cosy up inside with a hot coffee.

11. Noojee – 2 hours from CBD

Noojee's trestle bridge (Image: Mattinbgn, Wikimedia Commons)

Noojee’s trestle bridge (Image: Mattinbgn, Wikimedia Commons)

Stand on the edge of wilderness at this old mining town; dense forest, a river, waterfall and hiking.

12. The Grampians – 3 hours from CBD

The Grampians from The Pinnacle (left) and MacKenzie Falls (right)

The Grampians from The Pinnacle (left) and MacKenzie Falls (right)

This rugged national park, like the Great Ocean Road, is best visited over two or three days, but if you leave early enough you can still have enough time to hike up to the Pinnacle or see MacKenzie Falls, the highest waterfall in Victoria.

13. The Australian Pyrenees – 2 hours from CBD

Cellar door in the Australian Pyrenees

Cellar door in the Australian Pyrenees

Taking its name from the French mountain range, this hilly district is all about the wine and quality food. Eat at the Avoca Hotel, Home Made Cafe in Beaufort, or St Ignatius Winery to sample the local produce.

14. Glenrowan – 2.5 hours from CBD

Glenrowan (Image: Mattinbgn, Wikimedia Commons)

Glenrowan (Image: Mattinbgn, Wikimedia Commons)

The scene of Australian outlaw Ned Kelly’s last stand is home to a giant Ned Kelly statue, a Ned Kelly museum (part of “Kate’s Cottage”), the nostalgically authentic Linda’s Billy Tea Rooms, and you can walk around the site of the siege which saw Kelly captured.

Have you visited any of these? Would you like to? Comment below!

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15 best coffee spots in Melbourne!

15 best coffee spots in Melbourne!

One of the best ways to enjoy a cold Melbourne winter is to cosy up inside one of our atmospheric and unique cafes. It’s been a cold and windy end of the week in Melbourne, so there’s no time like the present; here are my 15 favourite places to get caffeinated around Australia’s southern city!

 

1. Grey and Bliss; 197 Bay Street, Port Melbourne

I love Grey and Bliss so much, I used it in one of my UrbanDuniya promotions!

I love Grey and Bliss so much, I used it in one of my UrbanDuniya promotions!

This place is one of my favourite spots in Port Melbourne – they do a full brunch and lunch menu, the coffee is great, but the friands or almond croissants stole my heart years ago 🙂

 

2. Dukes Coffee Roasters; 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne City

dukes coffee roasters

Come for the coffee, stay for the carrot cake! Seriously, there’s not much room to move here, but it’s worth it, and the atmosphere is full of like-minded souls, retreating from the cold.

 

3. Cam’s, Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers Road, Abbotsford

convent cam's abbotsford convent

Wrapping your hands around the bowl-style mugs in this cafe, set in the converted Abbotsford Convent, is an essential Melbourne winter experience – and if you’re really hungry, you can get your fill at Lentil as Anything in the same building!

 

4. Manchester Press; 8 Rankins Lane, Melbourne City

manchester press

Winner of several awards, Manchester Press is one of Melbourne’s best known and loved laneway cafes. The rotating menu of bagels, salads and sweets compliments the hipster-style coffee offerings.

 

5. Entrecote; 131 – 133 Domain Road, South Yarra

entrecote collage

Wake up in Paris with this awesome French bistro. The coffee is delicate and and breakfasts are suitably chic – but you’ll need a booking at weekends.

 

6. Stand Up Coffee; 524 Flinders Street (rear of building), Melbourne City

stand up coffee

No muss, no fuss – this place truly is a “hole in the wall”, and as the name suggests, you will need to stand up at that hole in the wall while you sip your latte. Very Melbourne. (Closed Sundays)

 

7. Famish’d; 385 Bourke Street, Melbourne City (and other locations)

famishd collage

Famish’d might be closed at the weekend, but during the week it serves up some of the best coffee in this part of the city – and everyone leaves with a mini chocolate meringue. Try to visit when the Red Velvet Lamingtons are being dished up – you won’t regret it.

 

8. Patricia Coffee Brewers; Corner of Little Bourke and Little William Streets, Melbourne City

patricia

Like Stand Up Coffee, there’s not much room to hang around here – but at least here you get to stand inside! The coffee is perfect, the staff are fabulous and if you make it back here in the warmer months, try the rich cold-drip iced coffee, served without milk and in a flask. (Closed weekends)

 

9. Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar; 66 Bourke Street, Melbourne City

Pellegrini's coffee

Go back to where it all started – Melbourne’s espresso obsession. Whether it had Melbourne’s first espresso machine or not is a subject of urban legend – but its iconic status can’t be denied. Don’t come here for the cushy service or surroundings – this isn’t glamorous, this is Italian coffee served the traditional way, and they do it very well.

 

10. RMB Cafe Bar; 37 Degraves Street, Melbourne City

RMB Cafe on Degraves Street

RMB Cafe on Degraves Street

RMB is the pick of the lot on Degraves Street (although Andiamo’s runs a close second) – the location on the corner is perfect for people watching, and there’s a small inside section if you can’t stand the cold. Oh, and they have Nutella donuts.

 

11. Cup of Truth, 12 Campbell Arcade, Melbourne City

cup of truth

In the arcade below Flinders Street (which was built for the 1956 Olympics, apparently) sits a hole in the wall spot for commuters. Not just an awesome name, Cup of Truth serves great coffee too, as the hordes of weekday commuters will attest. (Closed weekends)

 

12. Captains of Industry; 1, 2 Somerset Place, Melbourne City

captains of industry

This place is oh-so-Melbourne it makes me want to vomit graffitied trams – and I love it. It’s filled with disused machinery, and also features a barber shop where you can get your hipster beard trimmed. A simple menu, hidden away, but with widows looking over Elizabeth Street, this is the place to take a moment away from the city and let it all sink in.

 

13. Mart 130; 107A Canterbury Road, Middle Park

mart 130 collage

If the last place made me want to vomit trams, this place actually comes with them. On a terraced tram platform, you can watch the world (and the commuters) go by while tucking into good coffee and french toast smothered with berries and cream. We were offered blankets if we wanted to stick around for the novelty factor, but otherwise go inside the old stationmaster’s building where you can keep warm.

14. Shisha Nights; 255 Swanston Street, Melbourne City

shish nights

If French or Italian coffee is not your style, you might like Shisha Nights, the closest thing the CBD has to an Arabic style coffee-and-hookah bar. It’s smoky, but in a sweetly flavourful way (Anyone who has been to an Arab country would be familiar with the wafting scent of apple tobacco). There’s an espresso machine and a fridge with cold drinks, and unlike other sleek club-like shisha bars in the city, they don’t serve alcohol – the atmosphere is unpretentious and relaxed. (Opens 6pm – 1am)

 

15. Ponyfish Island; Southbank Pedestrian Bridge, Southbank

ponyfish

This might not be Melbourne’s best coffee, and it’s certainly not the cosiest place to sip your drink (especially when the wind is blowing – so, like, always), but the location can’t be beaten. Before it becomes a bar in the afternoon, they serve coffee in the morning, so in winter its a great place to rug up, take a pen and your diary, and watch the light shift across the moody Melbourne skyline.

What are your favourite coffee spots in Melbourne? Have you been to any of these? Comment below!

Interview: Laiza Garcia of Make Fast Mooring

Laiza Garcia of Make Fast Mooring

Laiza Garcia is the customer relationships and marketing manager of Make Fast Mooring. Laiza has been living in Melbourne for many years and has been part of this innovative new company since its inception. Read on to find out what Make Fast Mooring is all about, and why Laiza calls Melbourne home…

Lanza Garcia of Make Fast Mooring

Lanza Garcia of Make Fast Mooring

  • What is Make Fast Mooring?

Make Fast Mooring is a community marketplace to find, rent and share available moorings and berths in sailing locations globally. It is quickly growing into a leading platform connecting mooring owners (marinas, clubs and private owners) with yachting lovers who need a mooring space through an easy-to-use digital platform.

  • How and why did you start Make Fast Mooring?

The idea was born in 2015 when some of our directors (co-founders) were sailing around the Mediterranean and realised that life would be so much easier if they could access mooring and berth rentals from one digital platform. That prompted a ‘lightbulb’ moment – why can’t people easily rent or share moorings in the same way they rent their spare rooms or homes via a platform like Airbnb?

Make Fast Mooring logo

  • What makes Make Fast Mooring special?

That all the co-founders love sailing and share the love of being by the sea. We like to call ourselves sea lovers. Moreover we understand the real need for this service in the sailing community as we understand how difficult is to find a berth or mooring after sailing for a long journey, when you reach shore you just want to find a place to berth before night arrives. Also, the sailing community is big, but there is no channel to join us all around the world to help each other to make our sailing experiences easier. Even from an ecological perspective, we don’t want to affect the marine life by building new moorings or berths, we want to effectively re-use the actual moorings and berths infrastructure.

  • Do you enjoying sailing yourself?

I do! Compared to the rest of my co-founders I’m not an active sailor like them, but I love to sail from the relaxing perspective… my friends know how to sail and I enjoy the ride! Of course I help here and there… and next summer I will start lessons.

A beach in the Mayan Riviera (Image: Noe Gonzalez, Wikimedia Commons)

A beach in the Mayan Riviera (Image: Noe Gonzalez, Wikimedia Commons)

  • What is your favourite travel destination?

The Mayan Riviera; it offers so many places to visit, from scuba diving at one of the biggest reefs around the world (Cozumel) to snorkelling in crystal clear water “cenotes” (natural pits) or just sailing on the turquoise sea water and stopping to swim with the turtles. It’s just heaven on Earth for me, it’s just amazing! And the best Mexican food is also from this area, so its the best combo!

  • Where do you see Make Fast Mooring going in the future?

I see Make Fast Mooring as a trusted community that will help to join sailors around the world by helping them making their sailing experiences more pleasant and by having a big positive impact on the marine life by reducing the need to create more moorings or berths around the world.

Docklands marina, Melbourne

Docklands marina, Melbourne

  • Why did you choose to live in Melbourne?

I think few cities can provide the blessing of providing both landscapes, beaches and gorgeous gardens within walking distance. Either way, if you feel like having a walk on the beach or laying on the grass, being able to relax is a blessing in life – and to add the beautiful food culture that the city offers, it’s amazing!

  • What’s your favourite way to spend a Saturday in Melbourne?

I love to wake up bit late and go to my yoga and meditation class, then walk home for lunch time to catch up with friends. After that, just chill out or do some calls to family and friends. At night just get ready for dinner or movie with my friends.

Make Fast Mooring website

Make Fast Mooring is online and active now! To find out more, go to MakeFastMooring.com! You can also connect on Facebook here.