We certainly hit the ground running in Melbourne, stopping briefly to admire the incredible city views from our suite at the Crown Metropol before jumping on a tram and heading to the incredible Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. With meat disguised as fruit and a wine list as thick as a novel, it was like nothing we had experienced before.
Walking tours to uncover Melbourne's best
More wining and dining followed the next day when we joined 1,600 other people for a unique, delicious lunch in the middle of the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix race track for the World’s Longest Lunch, as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. That evening we took a walking tour of some of Melbourne’s coolest bars.
Walking tours are a great way to really experience what this beautiful city is all about. We followed up our night walking tour the following day with a Hidden Secrets walking tour, which took us to some of Melbourne's many laneways, cafes, and beautiful old buildings.
From the city to a coastal icon
It was time to swap the city for the Great Ocean Road, a three-hour coastal drive through quaint seaside towns to the 12 Apostles. We buckled ourselves into a helicopter and flew over the spectacular towering limestone structures. Back in the car, we continued along the Great Ocean Road to the historic town of Port Fairy. We wished we had more than one night in this beautiful, historic little town.
The following morning we were up early and off to Warrnambool (possibly the most Australian sounding place in Victoria) to visit an island where a pair of dogs guard a penguin colony from foxes. It sounds like something out of a movie, right? Well, they actually did make a movie about it in 2015 – called Oddball.
Getting to know the local characters
We then headed off to the Great Ocean Eco Lodge, where we saw koalas, kangaroos and the endangered tiger quoll. The amazing researchers at the Eco Lodge are trying to find solutions to help some of Australia’s native wildlife survive.
We loved spending time with Australia’s native wildlife, so we ventured to Lake Elizabeth in search of some platypuses. The lake is a15-minute hike through bush, and we Kiwis spent the majority of the time looking out for snakes. At dusk we started paddling our canoe around the lake in silence, and sure enough, out came the platypuses – funny little furry critters with wide bills, unlike anything else on the planet. It was a beautiful end to what was an unbelievably Australian day.
A (fashionable) last hurrah in the city
It was back to the city for our final day. We donned our most fashionable attire for the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival runway show. This was a side of Melbourne that we hadn't seen, and it sure lived up to expectation – sitting alongside the bautiful people in an elegant ballroom and watching more beautiful people (although slightly skinnier) walk and flaunt. We felt slightly out of place but excited to feel part of this world for 30 minutes.
We watched the sun go down and gave a toast Melbourne from the Qantas first class lounge. That in itself was an experience – being treated like kings and enjoying a delicious three-course meal before boarding our plane back home. Thanks Melbourne, you’re awesome.