Fancy a city break across the ditch? Newstalk ZB's Heather du Plessis-Allan thinks Melbourne is the place to be — and thanks to some well-placed family in the heart of the city, she knows all the best spots to see in Melbourne and beyond.
Finally, the long-awaited trans-Tasman bubble has arrived and I for one am looking forward to catching up with rellies across the ditch. First stop has to be Melbourne. It's the city that has it all: little hidden bars tucked away behind secret doors, excellent eateries, shopping, plus beaches, sleepy surfer towns and the unmissable Great Ocean Road right on its doorstep.
You can't help but stumble over great places to eat, drink and be merry in Melbourne, but it does help to have some insider knowledge. That said, here are my top tips — gleaned from the locals — to help you plan a memorable visit.
First things fi rst, I recommend starting your day at a local institution: the South Melbourne Markets. Grab a coffee and a buttery pastry to go from Agathé Patisserie. This little slice of Paris serves up croissants and custard hearts straight from the oven and they are out of this world.
From there, spend the morning exploring the nearby National Gallery of Victoria or get a cultural fi x at ACMI (formerly Australian Centre for the Moving Image). If that's not your style, head down the road to Patient Wolf Distilling Co. for a gin tasting with a twist, or across to Melbourne's East End theatre district — I hear Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the hot ticket in town.
By night, you're spoilt for choice. We've got some hospo folks in the family who took us to Naked for Satan — a rooftop bar with a great vibe and great food. Or, try Farmer's Daughters. It's one of newest spots for dinner, and is another rooftop, giving you great views across the city.
Otherwise, get a cab to Lygon Street. I'm a big sucker for history so I love the little Italy vibe of the street, simply because it's a living monument to a migrant community. Try Carlton Wine Room or King and Godfree, but you can't really go wrong — there are great restaurants all over the show and eating al fresco is brilliant, so you can soak up all the movement and vibe.
If you can pull yourself out of bed, catch the 9.15am Port Philip Ferry from Docklands. Ninety minutes later you'll be in Geelong — full of old-world charm and plenty to soak up (and eat!). Pay a visit to the Geelong Gallery, which always seems to host new, immersive installations for a cheap entry fee.
Stick around and explore the Heritage Centre and take a walk around the City Hall and Old Post Office which lend an air of history and grandeur to the place. And don't hurry back to the city.
By night Little Malop Street, with its laneways fi lled with bars and eateries is the place to be for a few bevvies. Try the Piano Bar, Geelong Cellar Door or 19th Amendment Bar (it's modelled on the speakeasies of New York and Chicago).
GREAT OCEAN ROAD
If you've hired a rental car, do yourself a favour and head even further south for a drive with one hell of a view. There's a very good reason why so many people have the 12 Apostles on their bucket list, but there's also so much more to be discovered in the area.
We took Great Ocean Road all the way down to Apollo Bay, where you'll fi nd rowdy sea colonies, excellent seafood and koalas napping in the trees. It's also where you'll fi nd newly opened Wildlife Wonders to get an up-close experience — all run by the local Conservation Ecology Centre.
It's a must-do drive getting there — a coastal road, with hills rising up on the right, crashing ocean to the left.
Stunning. There's plenty of spots to stop off in. Lorne was one of the bigger towns we had a nosy around and was a defi nite favourite — maybe because of the bar we found right on the beach.
Then, book in for dinner at MoVida Lorne — you won't regret it!