My parents’ trip to Melbourne

After 2 years living down under my parents decided it was time they plan a trip down to Melbourne to visit me. Since I had previously decided I couldn’t afford a trip home for Christmas this year they decided to stay with me in my apartment over the Christmas holidays (summer break in Australia!).

After their flight out of Vancouver was cancelled and delayed several times due to snow (whats wrong yvr, can’t handle a little powder?) they landed in Melb on a sunny December 20th afternoon. Our first stop was a tour of my apartment and then I took them to Laksa King. Laksa King is my roommate and I’s favorite restaurant in Melb. It just happened to be one of the first places we stumbled upon and then was close to both places we’ve lived. Its been our tradition to stop in for laksa after we get in from the airport.

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Laksa’s new biggest fans!

On the next day, I took my parents to see a large variety of places in the city. First stop was the University of Melbourne (vet building and main campus), my job, and then into the CBD. We had lunch at Hash cafe, one of my favourite hippy cafes for amazing coffee and cool vibes. Next we wandered through Flinders, Federation Square, along the Yarra River, Collins Street, Bourke and Little Bourke Street, Swanston Street and Christmas Square, Melbourne Central, the State Library, the Shrine of Remembrance, etc. To end the night off we went to the Summer Night Market at Queen Victoria Market for some dinner and then over to Lygon street for dessert! I can’t believe I managed to show my parents so many things in one day! But when you have a limited amount of time- you do what you gotta do!

The next morning, my friend from Canada who has been living and working in Wagga Wagga for the past few months came down to Melbourne to spend Christmas with our family. All 4 of us set out on the Great Ocean Road. This was my 3rd time doing the road trip and I still love it! The sights are so beautiful!

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Enjoying the sunshine at Loch Ard Gorge

December 23rd we hopped in the car again and drove out to the Yarra Valley for some exploring. Our first stop was the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery— all I can say is it lived up to its name! We all left there completely stuffed… and we may or may not have eaten a massive helping of dessert for lunch. We stopped in at a few wineries for tastings. We found it a bit odd that most wineries in the regions didn’t allow self tours or for guests to walk the vineyards; that is very common at wineries in Canada. We also stopped in at the Yarra Valley Dairy and wandered through the cute shops in Healesville before heading back to the city for an awesome dinner at one of my best friend’s house with his family. Thank you so much!!! My parents loved meeting his family and trying out new food. On the way home we stopped at The Boulevard in Ivanhoe— supposed to be one of the best places in Melbourne to see Christmas lights. While the streets were full of hoards of people, we couldn’t help but be underwhelmed… Christmas just isn’t the same without snow.

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Wine tasting at Yarrawood Estates

By Christmas Eve we needed a more chill morning, so after hanging out at home we drove in the the city to do some grocery shopping at Queen Victoria Market. Over the past 2 years, this is probably one of my most favorite places in Melb. It is almost always busy and bustling with activity. I love listening to the people yell their prices out and trying to find the cheapest fruits and veggies. In the evening we went to the Christmas Eve service at my church — Hilsong Melbourne. It was a great service and my parents and friend loved it! We had wanted to see the Christmas light show in the city, but since it was summer the sun hadn’t gone down yet. We stopped at Degraves St. for dinner and coffee until the sun dimmed. Then we wandered Fed Square and down the Yarra River to Southbank to see all the decorations, lights, musicians, and street performers.

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Christmas decorations by the Yarra River

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More Christmas decorations along the Yarra River

On Christmas morning we watched my favourite Christmas movie–Christmas with the Kranks while we prepared food for an Aussie Chrissie. We went to the park across from my apartment and had a BBQ in the blistering sun…. 36 degrees Celsius! Lunch was prawns, swordfish, steak, corn, pasta salad, fruit mince pies, and ice tea. We ended the day at Sandringham Beach in the sun!

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Family photo! Like my tree?

Boxing day was my parents’ last day in Melbourne and we had tickets to a test match (cricket!). Since none of us knew anything about cricket we watched an extremely informative YouTube video to prepare…. thank you internet! The game was at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds (MCG) and we had a lot of fun watching the game and trying to figure out what was going on…. I think I might stick with hockey and football though. Since test matches can apparently go on for days and days (!!!!) we left early and headed out on our road trip….. (blog post to follow).

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Watching cricket at the ‘G!

The week was jam-packed and I didn’t even get to show my parents everything I had wanted too…I think we bit off a good chunk of it though. It was a lot of fun to introduce my parents to my second home and I can’t wait for my next visitor!

 

 

 

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Weekend in Sydney!

When in Australia… must travel! My last adventure was a few months ago when I road tripped the Great Ocean Road. So I bought a plane ticket to Sydney! Last weekend, me and 2 other friends headed out for a fun weekend after a few weeks of studying/cramming. I had so much fun exploring in Sydney–its a beautiful city (don’t hate on me Melb people, I still LOVE Melbourne). After finding our hostel in Kings Cross we ventured out to find some place to eat. We ended up on this cute little lane way with lots of different shops and restaurants and made sure to peek in all the windows before settling in for some Malaysian food.

Saturday morning we rolled out of bed nice and early and caught a shuttle out to the blue mountains. Our guide was great and kept up a fantastic commentary about Sydney, surrounding area, history and the mountains. The blue mountains only have two ‘big’ towns: Katoomba and Leura; we stopped in Leura for lunch. The town is very cute and full of shops and little sightseeing bits. Next stop on the tour was Scenic World, we decided not to spend the extra money to go on the cable cars and decided to do some bush walking instead.

The cable car goes across the gap and gives riders amazing views of the Three Sisters rock formation in the background

The cable car goes across the gap and gives riders amazing views of the Three Sisters rock formation in the background

Katoomba Falls

Katoomba Falls

This was my absolute favorite part of the day! We hiked up and saw the Katoomba Falls and the Three Sisters from an amazing lookout before going further down the trail for another view. Walking out of the trees and onto the edge of the falls was amazing. There were cockatoos flying over us and an amazing view out into the valley.

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Next stop was an aboriginal carving of a dead male kangaroo. Our guide explained that aboriginals had probably carved the image into the sandstone as a teaching tool for younger hunters in the tribe. The image shows a kangaroo lying down with a spear through the center of it; the kangaroo is also missing his feet. Usually carvings are found in groups, so there is likely more carvings hidden in the trees that haven’t been discovered yet!

Carving of a dead male kangaroo, head is on right side and tail on left

Carving of a dead male kangaroo, head is on right side and tail on left

A quick drive through Olympic park brought us to the dock where we hopped on the FantaSea ferry to take us across the harbor. This was a fantastic end to the tour as we got to see the sun set over the water and then the lights of the harbor turn on.  On a friend’s suggestion we headed out to Surrey Hills to look for some food!

The next morning, food was on the mind again… On our way to grab Pancakes on The Rocks we ran into a photographer who traveled to the mountains with us the day before. The 4 of grabbed some delicious chocolate fuel for the day ahead….

Tastes like heaven

Tastes like heaven

The Rocks Market captured our attention for a few hours. We wandered through all the stalls sampling foods, smelling essential oils/lotions/scrubs, looking at souvenirs, etc.  I ended up talking to a man who had a boomerang stall for quite a while. He explained that not all boomerangs are returning ones-it depends on the way they are made. He told us about the different types of boomerangs and how to throw and catch them properly. A few stalls over a lady detailed the benefits of emu oil to us. UGG stores are everywhere in Australia (obviously), I like looking at all the different styles…. they are oddly becoming more attractive to me.

The Rocks Market

The Rocks Market

Boomerang stall

Boomerang stall

I will take one of each please.

I will take one of each please.

The Rocks Market

The Rocks Market

I wanted to see the Sydney Fish Markets, so that was our next adventure! It was quite busy and full of different produce and fried fish platters. We ordered one platter for 2 people–and couldn’t finish it between the 3 of us!  We had a ton of fun throwing the leftovers to the seagulls and pelicans in the water.

Loading zone for fishermen to drop off their catch

Loading zone for fishermen to drop off their catch

Large variety of fish

Large variety of fish

I am a bird whisperer

I am a bird whisperer

The University of Sydney also has a veterinary school, we wandered on campus until we found the buildings and the vet hospital. A huge and beautiful uni campus!! After a long day of walking a chill evening catching a movie in Broadway Shopping Center was required!

On our last day we conducted our own walking tour down the Butler Stairs, past the marina, and over to a great view of the bridge and opera house. While taking photos we asked a tourist to take our picture, through broken English she insisted we use her selfie stick.

Amazing view and beautiful day!

Amazing view and beautiful day!

Our selfie stick picture

Our selfie stick picture

We kept walking and stumbled on the Royal Botanical Gardens and decided to have a picnic lunch. The weather was so nice and sunny that we abandoned our other plans and caught the bus to Bondi Beach. The water is so blue! And full of surfers waiting for the next wave.

Royal Botanical Gardens

Royal Botanical Gardens

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

This trip to Sydney was a bit of a wake up call– I am really lucky to have to opportunity to live in Australia, if only for a short time. I want to take advantage of it and get to know Melbourne really well and travel the rest of the country. My biggest fear is becoming complacent and not exploring and learning about this country while I am here. I already have a list started of everything I need to see in Sydney next time I’m in town:

-Museums

-Library

-Galleries

-Manly Beach

-Different suburbs

-Walking Tours

Anyone have any suggestions of places to go or things to see and do next time I’m in Sydney?

P.S: The photographer we met on our blue mountains tour and went to breakfast with takes amazing photos!! She has an album of pictures from that weekend in Sydney that are definitely worth checking out!! Here is a link to her Facebook album.