Adventure, baby!

Victoria

Places To Visit In Melbourne: Old Melbourne Gaol

Old Melbourne Gaol, Victoria, Australia

Old Melbourne Gaol was built in the mid-1800s, as a place for Melbourne to put its dangerous criminals, petty offenders, homeless and mentally ill.

It’s a stark and confronting place, especially when faced with the gallows that are still hanging inside – between 1842 and 1929, 133 people were hung inside these walls, including Australia’s infamous bushranger, Ned Kelly.

Old Melbourne Gaol, Victoria, Australia

A walk through the goal is a step back in time, where a visitor can meet the goal’s inmates and read about life was like for the poor souls who ended up incarcerated in what would have been an absolute hellhole.

Old Melbourne Gaol, Victoria, Australia

The gaol itself is quite small and tours are self-guided. We did a family activity while we were there that took us all around the goal, in and out of cells, to solve clues and “escape” the goal. The activity was an excellent way to engage kids in history and teach them a bit about what happened here – without freaking them out too much.

Old Melbourne Gaol, Victoria, Australia

A warning for families with sensitive children – there are strong themes of death throughout the goal, with models of people hanging and wax death masks.

Old Melbourne Gaol, Victoria, Australia

I found the stories of the inmates most fascinating, if not gruesome, particularly Ned Kelly’s. There is a lot of information on him to be found at the gaol, making it a site that brings in a lot people on the Kelly and bushranger pilgrimage.

Old Melbourne Gaol, Victoria, Australia

Examining the various artefacts on display, such as old locks and restraints, led to a lot of questions from my daughter on what happened here, why people were here and what they had done to deserve it. It’s definitely a good conversation starter!

Entry to the Old Melbourne Gaol also includes admittance to the Old Magistrates’ Court down the road, where you can stand in the dock, sit in the judge’s chair, or dress up in costumes. Between 1911 and 1994, the Old Magistrate’s Court is the place where criminals stood for committal and bail hearings – including Squizzy Taylor, Julian Knight and Chopper Read.

Interestingly, the Old Magistrate’s Court sits on the site of the original Supreme Court of Victoria, where Ned Kelly was sentanced to death in 1880.

Also part of the gaol experience is the City Watch House. Built in 1909 and used until 1994, the City Watch House is where felons were brought to await trial for their crimes. Nowadays the City Watch House is home to a 40-minute experience where visitors are “arrested” and locked up in dark cells. The experience has timed entry, so take careful note of the times on the map you’re given at the entry to the gaol and walk down the block to the City Watch House about 10 minutes before the experience begins.

Note to parents: children might find this terrifying, so judge for yourself if it’s right for your kids or not.

Old Melbourne Gaol, Victoria, Australia Old Melbourne Gaol, Victoria, Australia Old Melbourne Gaol, Victoria, Australia Old Melbourne Gaol, Victoria, Australia

Old Melbourne Gaol
377 Russell St, Melbourne
oldmelbournegaol.com.au

LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre Melbourne

LEGO-lovers rejoice, there is finally a LEGOLAND in Australia! The LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre in Melbourne is billed as the “ultimate LEGO indoor playground”, which is a great description for the centre and how it differentiates from the other LEGOLANDs around the world.

The LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre can be found in the amazing Chadstone shopping centre, which is a bit of a drive from the Melbourne CBD.

Like the other LEGOLANDs, it’s aimed at younger kids, I would say under 12. It features 2 rides, 10 LEGO build and play zones, a 4D cinema and cafe. For my 6-year-old, it was enough to occupy her for an entire day and have her asking to go back to do it all over again the next day.

LEGOLAND begins with the LEGO Factory Tour, the first room of the centre that visitors are guided into when they enter. The “tour” is virtual and so fun for kids as they watch LEGO secrets on the screen and use their joysticks to navigate their own LEGO choices.

After the LEGO Factory Tour we come to the first ride, Kingdom Quest, which sits at the entrance to Miniland and the rest of the centre. We do the ride because it’s right there in front of us, but you can also walk through Miniland and come back to it later.

The Kingdom Quest ride is a super cute ride where kids have to zap trolls and skeletons with lasers to save the princess. It’s a very tame ride and nothing that my very sensitive 6-year-old found frightening. The kids (and adults!) get very competitive with the scores and like to do it over and over to see if they can beat each other.

Miniland is a large room that also serves as a thoroughfare between the entrance/exit and bulk of the activities. The LEGO masters have created Melbourne’s landmarks in miniature using over 1.5 million LEGO bricks. Some parts of MINILAND are interactive and encourage play, but the majority is for looking at the incredible details in the scenes and spotting the mischievous Minifigures.

Miniland changes from day to night, when the “city” is lit up with sparkly lights. When we visit there is a Star Wars “takeover” of LEOGLAND, so Miniland features a few surprise vehicles from the movies that the Star Wars fans were delighted to spot.

Miniland opens into a large room broken up into the rest of the activities in the centre. There is the second ride, Merlin’s Apprentice Ride, where kids can pedal an enchanted cart faster and faster as it flies up in the air and soars through the sky. It’s a cute ride and again nothing scary here for little ones.

The centre has two soft play areas for kids. The DUPLO Farm is for kids aged 2-5 and is designed especially for littlies with a barn, slide and big soft bricks.

The LEGO City Fire Academy is a gated play area for kids aged 4+. It’s themed like a training area to becoming a firefighter, but it’s really like an indoor play centre with a jungle gym and slides.

Important note: socks must be worn at all times in the soft play area.

There is so much else to do that Cheese didn’t stay long in the soft play area, preferring instead to build LEGO in the other areas.

The LEGO Friends in Heartlake City was a particular favourite, with a central table featuring builds of key LEGO Friends kits, including a few familiar ones that we have at home, plus plenty of tables and brick pits for kids to build their own contribution to the city.

Nearby, the LEGO Racers: Build & Test area is a great spot for kids at the older end of the age range, where they can design their own LEGO racing cars and test them against each other. We found the cars quite tricky to build, so it was a great challenge for us and also really enjoyable for the many older kids who camped in this area for a long period of time perfecting their cars.

Science-loving kids like mine will enjoy the Earthquake Tables that encourage kids to build towers from LEGO bricks and then test their strength to see if they will survive an earthquake. It’s a fun challenge to build a structurally sound creation that will withstand the shaking.

The only activity that requires signing up for is the LEGO Creative Workshop. Sheets are regularly placed outside the workshop and fill up fast in school holidays, so keep an eye out for the sheets being released and put your kids’ names down fast.

Inside the workshop, kids are given a box with bricks to build a particular piece, with staff on hand to help if they get stuck. Parental supervision is required. At the end of the workshop the model stays behind for the next kids to have a go, but the workshop room next door has small builds that kids can also complete and then take home as a cute souvenir.

The last activity to try is the LEGO 4D Cinema, where short 3D LEGO films are shown multiple times a day in a cinema with special effects emulating rain, wind and even snow.

There is no outside food allowed at LEGOLAND, encouraging people to dine in the LEGO Cafe. I found the prices and food both reasonable so was happy to try it. The kids boxes were really cute and good value – for $18 you get a LEGO lunch box to take home, and various food choices – a sandwich, drink, fruit crush or cookie, piece of fruit and a LEGO keyring (which retails in the store for $8.95). Cupcake cost extra.

At the exit it’s impossible to avoid the amazing LEGO shop. They have several exclusive and limited edition goodies, so it’s a good place to shop for gifts and put them away for birthdays / Christmas.

The LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is a bit pricey, with admission from $32.50 per person (online price). For best value, I suggest the following:

Advanced online purchase
If you’re only planning to go to this once and no other attractions, then buying the tickets online will save money and also gives you timed tickets so you are guaranteed entry in peak times.

Combo ticket
Buy a combination ticket for LEGOLAND Discovery Centre and SEA LIFE Melbourne for $45 per person and save up to $29 off individual admission. The aquarium starts from $33.60 per person so this is a good deal. You have 90 a days to visit both attractions.

Annual pass
The annual pass for LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is $75 per person, allowing for unlimited visits over a 12 month period.

Merlin Annual Pass
This is the best deal of all and the one I highly recommend. for $79 per person per year, you get unlimited entry into not just LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre Melbourne but also 10 other attractions around Australia:

LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre Melbourne
SEA LIFE Melbourne
Otway Fly Treetop Adventures
SEA LIFE Sydney
WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo
Madame Tussauds Sydney
Sydney Tower Eye
Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures
SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast
WILD LIFE Hamilton Island
Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE

Get more info and book your tickets here.

Please note: Adults must be accompanied by a child to visit LEGOLAND Discovery Centre and children must be accompanied by an adult.

LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre Melbourne
Chadstone Shopping Centre, 1341 Dandenong Rd, Chadstone VIC
melbourne.legolanddiscoverycentre.com.au

Thank you to Merlin Entertainment for our entry tickets. All opinions are my own.

The Best Things To Do In Melbourne With Kids: Scienceworks

Scienceworks Melbourne via christineknight.me

On our recent trip to Melbourne we were so happy to find several museums and galleries that catered particularly well to children. Scienceworks, in the suburb of Spotswood, was one of them. This museum is basically a kid-focussed science space, filled with interactive exhibits designed to get kids thinking about their bodies, the cities they live in, and how they can effect the future.

Scienceworks Melbourne via christineknight.me

Scienceworks is a bit of a trek from the CBD. While it’s possible to catch a train or ferry there, it was quickest to catch a taxi. Melbourne has introduced “Miki” cards for public transport that require an initial fee to buy, plus placing more money for fares onto the card. There are no “day ticket” equivalents for visitors, meaning if you want to get public transport it’s going to cost you! Ferries are also pricey, so we decided to take the 15-minute taxi ride.

The museum is broken up over two floors, with elevators and stairs joining them. The whole museum is completely accessible for strollers and wheelchairs. There were so many empty strollers parked around both floors that it was hard to move without tripping over one, that I actually wish they had a stroller parking bay to leave a bit more space for people to walk!

Scienceworks Melbourne via christineknight.me

The lower level has more traditional exhibits: Sportsworks, where you can test your body against famous Australian athletes (can you run as fast as Cathy Freeman?) and try your flexibility, strength and reflexes, Think Ahead, where kids can design a world of tomorrow, including what our future cars will look like, and a temporary exhibit. When we visited, the temporary exhibit was Alice’s Wonderland, a fun, completely hands-on play space filled with illusions, puzzles and imaginative play.

Scienceworks Melbourne via christineknight.me

Scienceworks Melbourne via christineknight.me

Upstairs is the Nitty Gritty Super City, where kids can be the architect, captain and builder of their own cities. It’s a space popular with toddlers and preschoolers as it’s full of imaginative play elements that small kids can easily manipulate.

Scienceworks Melbourne via christineknight.me

Scienceworks is home to the Melbourne Planetarium, which sadly was broken on the day we visited. It’s a shame as it looks amazing! The Planetarium has a 16-metre high domed ceiling and a 7.1 surround sound system. Visitors can choose between seeing more educational content about stars and constellations, or something a little more tiny-kid-friendly, such as their current cartoon about a dog who wants to go into space.

If you have a child aged 6 or over, you’ll be able to visit the Lightening Room and watch a live light show that simulates the awesome power of mother nature, including lightening.

Scienceworks Melbourne via christineknight.me

Outside the museum is a little cafe that serves basic lunch foods, including a kids’ lunch box: $8.80 for a sandwich, juice and corn chips. Kids will spot the two large playgrounds out of the window. Between these two playgrounds and the amazing exhibits inside, your kids won’t ever want to leave!

Scienceworks Melbourne via christineknight.me

Scienceworks
2 Booker St, Spotswood
Daily, 10am-4:30pm
Online

Looking for more things to do in Melbourne with kids? Find some ideas here.

Jurassic World The Exhibition Melbourne

Jurassic World The Exhibition via christineknight.me

This is one for the haters. The haters of boring museums, of dusty galleries, of stuffed animal corpses (how creepy is taxidermy?!). Jurassic World The Exhibition opened in Melbourne recently with its world premiere.

Jurassic World The Exhibition via christineknight.me

For the first time ever, you can get up close to dinosaurs that look so real that you might be tempted to make a run for it when they start roaring.

I don’t want to give too much away, so all I will say is this. The exhibition blends science and entertainment seamlessly together to make you feel like you have literally walked into Jurassic World, the movie. The set up, the technology and the realism is astonishing.

Jurassic World The Exhibition via christineknight.me

While the prime purpose of this exhibition is entertainment, you will also learn about the dinosaurs featured with clever little screens at each station, including Pachyrhinosaurus, Brachiosaurus and Tyrannosaurus.

Jurassic World The Exhibition via christineknight.me“How life-like can these dinosaurs be?” I hear you ask. Imagine you are actually in Jurassic World and a T-Rex is chasing you and roaring it’s head off. That’s how real it feels.

The exhibition is a bit scary for littlies, but Cheese, who is 4.5 and extremely sensitive did not find it scary. She thought it was a bit loud, but wasn’t scared at all.

Jurassic World The Exhibition via christineknight.me

As well as the life-sized dinosaurs, I really enjoyed the elements of the exhibition that brought the movie to life, such as Hammond’s lab, where we saw eggs incubating, baby dinosaurs and a great interactive area for kids to design their own dinosaur, and the entry with its simulation of a boat taking visitors to Isla Nublar, home of Jurassic World.

Jurassic World The Exhibition via christineknight.me

The only constructive feedback I have is that the exhibition felt a bit short. Or, it could have been that the whole experience was so good that time just rushed by and it was over before we knew it, leaving us wishing it was starting again.

Jurassic World The Exhibition via christineknight.me

The exhibition is open until 9th October, 2016
. It is not coming to Sydney, so I highly recommend visiting if you have dinosaur fans in the family.

Jurassic World The Exhibition via christineknight.me

Jurassic World The Exhibition (until Oct 2).
Melbourne Museum
11 Nicholson St,
Carlton VIC
Online

Pricing: Adults Peak $34, off-peak $30
, Child (3-16) Peak $22, off-peak $18


*Peak Pricing applies: Fridays, weekends & public holidays, Victorian Public School Holidays, and the first week of the Exhibition
**Off-Peak Pricing applies: Monday to Thursday outside Peak Periods

Tickets include entry to Melbourne Museum on the day of your visit.

Thank you to the Melbourne Museum for media passes to see the exhibition. All opinions are my own.

Five of the Best Desserts in Melbourne

5 Sweet Spots in Melbourne via christineknight.me

Melbourne is home to excellent food, particularly of the sweet kind. I didn’t have to look far to find these five delicious sweet desserts and sweet treats in Melbourne. While there are countless other amazing places to find handmade chocolates of exquisite desserts, these five are all in Melbourne’s CBD, making them easy to stop by if you’re only in town for a short visit.

Haighs Melbourne via christineknight.me

Haighs
Established in 1915, Haighs is Australia’s oldest chocolate retailer. The fourth generation, family owned company has locations around the country, with its flagship store located Melbourne’s historic Victorian building, The Block Arcade. Haighs are renowned for their high quality chocolate and related products. I can’t go past their Aprichocs (apricot covered by delicious chocolate) and their trademark chocolate frogs. Yum.
Haighs, Shop 7-8 The Block Arcade, 282 Collins Street, Melbourne

Chocamama Melbourne via chtistineknight.me

Chocoamama
This new store specialises in locally-made Australian confectionary and premium chocolate. Their specialities include chocolate shards with salted caramel, chocolate-covered raspberry lollies (so good!), and hand-made Turkish delight. Kids will love their “pick and mix” section, where you can choose your own lolly and chocolate mix.
Chocamama, 6 Degraves St, Melbourne

Doughtnut Time via christineknight.meDoughnut Time
I’ve been a convert of Doughnut Time for a while now. They are best know for their crazy doughnut flavours like maple bacon and nerds, as well as their funny names: the “Veruca Salt”, for example, is their salted caramel doughnut. Doughnut Time hand-dip their doughnuts in small batches so they are always super fresh. At $6 a pop they’re not cheap, but they sure are good!
Doughnut Time, 5 Degraves St, Melbourne

Hopetoun Tea Room via christineknight.me

Hopetoun Tea Rooms
Lovers of tea and cake have been lining up for a seat in this tiny tea salon since it opened in The Block Arcade in 1891, when it was set up for the Victorian Ladies Work Association. The tea room is a throw back to world of elegance and grace, with white China, delicate teas and exquisite cakes. We had a slice of pavlova and vanilla slice and they were perfection.
Hopetoun Tea Rooms, The Block Arcade, 1-2/282 Collins St, Melbourne

Koko Black Melbourne via Christineknight.meKoko Black CBD
A Melbourne-based family-owned business, Koko Black are chocolatiers who produce premium handmade, chocolate and gourmet desserts. As well as being a chocolate store, Koko Black is also a chocolate-focused cafe, serving up baked treats, a sweet degustation and high teas. While you can choose from their 7 locations across Melbourne, the CBD store on Collins st is very convenient.
Koko Black, 52 Collins Street, Melbourne

What’s your favourite sweet spot in Melbourne?

Novotel Melbourne on Collins Hotel Review

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

On our recent visit to Melbourne, we stayed at the Novotel Melbourne on Collins. It was our first time in the city with Cheese, and we since our plans for the long weekend were hitting up museums and galleries, we wanted to stay somewhere central, family-friendly and comfortable. The Novotel Melbourne happily ticked those boxes for us, and we really enjoyed our stay.

Melbourne

The Novotel on Collins has a superb location if you want to be right in the centre Melbourne. Located on trendy Collins Street, it’s very close to the art gallery, museums, Botanic Gardens, the MCG, Federation Square, the theatres and shopping. The location was absolutely perfect.

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

We chose a room with two double beds and it was the perfect size for our family of three. The hotel very thoughtfully provided us with a large crib incase we needed it. The room had a great little nook in the wall where the crib fit in perfectly.

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

Our room was larger than I’d expected, with plenty of space and a massive desk which we used for putting all of our computers and Cheese’s toys on.

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

The room also featured a large modern bathroom, free in-room wifi, an LCD flat-screen TV, a mini bar/fridge and tea and coffee making facilities. Our room overlooked the glass atrium of the currently-being-renovated Collins Lane fashion and retail centre.

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

I found our room to be extremely clean and neat, with bright, fresh paint on the walls and spotless linens. The bathroom was similarly spotless with plenty of big fluffy towels.

We were on floor 7, which is the same level as the gym and pool. We probably experienced a bit more foot traffic as a result, but not much.

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

Our booking included breakfast, so each morning we dined at the Lane Cafe on Level 6 – the same floor as reception. Breakfast was a tremendous buffet affair, with all manner of fruits, cereals, hot food and pastries on offer.

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

The egg station, where you could order eggs in any manner you liked, and the fresh juicer machine were popular, as was the “Popcakes” machine with the kids – a fab little machine that you can use to make your own pancakes with the push of a button.

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

While we didn’t order room service, I did notice that the Novotel Melbourne on Collins has a large menu to choose from, including food that kids will actually eat like toasted sandwiches, pizza, hamburger, fish and chips and spaghetti bolognaise at reasonable prices. The kids’ meals ranged from $9 to $12 which is pretty standard for most restaurants.

We found the staff at the Novotel Melbourne to be extremely friendly and welcoming. They made quite the fuss over Cheese, enjoyed (or seemed to enjoy!) chatting with her at breakfast, and really made us feel like valued guests. We saw a lot of other families with kids of all ages in the hotel, so it seems that we were not the only ones who thought that the Novotel was an ideal hotel to stay in with a family.

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

In the lobby, right near the check in desks and concierge, was the most fantastic electronic games table. The table had four different age options, so preschoolers through to adults could enjoy games tailored to their age group. The table proved very useful at times when a wait was in order – what a fun idea to place it in the lobby to keep kids (large and small!) entertained.

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

Please note that the hotel is currently experiencing renovations out the front and underneath. St. Collins Lane, underneath the hotel, and the entire front of the Novotel, are being renovated to become a premiere shopping destination that I imagine will be a fantastic draw for future hotel guests.

We didn’t mind the scaffolding, and were only woken once out of three mornings with building works at 8am in the morning. I had a look on the site and saw that the works are scheduled from 7am – 7pm, Monday to Friday and from 7am – 3pm Saturday. The only noise we heard was at 8am on the Saturday. Monday morning, not a peep! The development was due for completion at the end of first quarter (which is now) and I don’t have an update on when the new completion date is. Other that this one loud morning, we had an excellent stay at the hotel, and really, renovations can’t be helped. I imagine this one will be worth the pain when the new centre underneath opens up.

The photos below were all taken within a 15 minute radius walk of the hotel. As you can see, it’s incredibly central.

Melbourne Yarra River Melbourne Yarra River Melbourne Flinder's Station Melbourne Street Art Melbourne Tram Melbourne Melbourne Tram Melbourne

Novotel Melbourne on Collins
270 Collins Street Melbourne, VIC Australia 3000
Tel: +61 396675800
novotelmelbourne.com.au

We received a media rate when we stayed at the hotel, which means we received a small discount off our room price. We were not required to write a review or share our experience in any way. All opinions are our own.

Melbourne: The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden

Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me

A tip off from a friend led us to seek out the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden, in the heart of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens.

Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me

The Royal Botanic Gardens are a gorgeous place to visit in their own right – set over 38 hectares, the gardens are an oasis of peace in the busy centre of Melbourne.

Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me

The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden was opened in 2004, designed to encourage children to get their hands dirty and express themselves through play. The gardens are carefully planned to allow children to run free and wild within a contained environment. The gardens are gated so kids can’t escape, which also means you can really let them explore without worrying that they will do a runner when you lose sight of them for a moment!

Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me

Children enter the garden and embark on a journey through a jungle, a bamboo forest, a kitchen garden and creek bed. There are mazes, rocks to climb, characters to meet and an ancient Grandmother tree to explore. A wide variety of plants are set around the garden to give kids the opportunity to discover the delights of nature in their play, and to spark curiosity in the world around them.

Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me

Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me

The gardens have a clean bathroom right outside the gate, and a cafe a few metres away.

The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden
Royal Botanic Gardens,

Birdwood Ave, Melbourne
Hours: 10am-sunset Wed-Sun (closed during term time on Mon & Tue). 10am-sunset 7 days a week during Victorian State School holidays and all public holidays.
http://www.rbg.vic.gov.au
Get directions

Looking for more things to din in Melbourne with kids? This list of free things to do will help you holiday without breaking the budget.

Melbourne Weekend

We had booked a weekend in Melbourne to watch the Australian Open looong before we knew about this New York business. It ended up falling on Alec’s last weekend in Australia, so it seemed to be a good way to see him out with a bang.

Sweltering in the tennis. Don’t be fooled, the clothes are for sun protection. It was boiling.

We also spent a day wandering around St Kilda and the CBD, just hanging out.

St Kilda boardwalk.

Luna Park!

The Victoria Art Gallery. Thumper!

We had such a lovely weekend – the perfect way (bar a weekend at the beach!) to spend our last weekend together for a while. Next time we meet, it will be in New York, baby!

Birthday in Melbourne: Day 3

My birthday fell on day 3 of our Melbourne trip. We had a sleep in, breakfast in the hotel, and then sauntered off to the Tim Burton Exhibition.  I’ve always admired his films, so seeing his artwork on loan from personal collections was quite amazing. I found it entertaining picturing him as an animator for Disney, seeing as his personal style is quite the opposite.

I felt most inspired seeing the exhibition, as Tim Burton has clearly worked extremely hard to get to where he is. For every success he has had, he’s had more than double the amount of projects go nowhere. His passion and skill have taken him to where he is, also his tenacity. It reminded me to be stronger and not give up on my dreams.

Hello giant blow-up scary person.

“Nananananananana BATMAN!”

My favourite quote of the day, overheard in the exhibition: “Did he do Shrek?” Lol.

After the exhibition we wandered around some more on the river banks until the sun went down.

The Yarra.

Very scenic.

As CBD as it gets.

Pretty bridge makes for nice photos.

Baroo?

It’s my birthday and I’ll pose if I want to.

And make my husband pose too!

Another graffiti wall.

Outside the ACMI building – such a cool design.

I lurve you blob!

Raaarrr!

We didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye, lol.

Run, husband!

Blobs make for handy seats too.

And then SHE said …

After much wandering, we had dinner at the very funky Fifteen. I love Jamie Oliver, so was keen to try his restaurant.

The restaurant was excellent. Stylish, great vibe, fabulous service. The food was really great, interesting recipes rather than the stock standard type, particularly for the veggo options.

What is down the stairs?!

Happy birthday to me! (This may have started out as “happy birrhday” …)

Another year older …

One more pose for the road. Happy, well-fed and slightly tipsy.

Even the restaurant had graffiti art …

I’m on a tram!

Back at the hotel – Alec and the frog, together at last.

I wore out my husband …

Thanks so much for the fantastic weekend away Alec 🙂 xox

31st Birthday in Melbourne: Day 2

Day 2 kicked off with brunch at Di Bella in north Melbourne with an old friend, Dana, and her bf Karl, an ex-intern at Google and who joined our netball team while she was in Sydney. Dana moved back to Melbourne after her internship ended and is moving to Seattle in the near-ish future to join Google there, where I’m sure she will take the Seattle netball team to new heights of victory.

I enjoyed the breakfast at Di Bella immensely, even more so because we were introduced to Dana and Karl’s brunch technique of ordering food, then eating cake while the breakfast was being cooked. Breakfast of champions. Amazing.

Pear and chocolate danish. Divine.

Netball yay 🙂

After brunch (and an unscheduled drive to the bus depo in Footscray to pick up the wallet Alec left on the airport bus – PS Sunshine street is NOT sunny people) Alec and I walked around Melbourne and ate more food.

I’d like a purse THIS big.

I love how Melbourne has random sculptures scattered around it. Like the giant purse. Or the men waiting for a tram.

Like CityRail in Sydney, trams can take a while to arrive. This poor fellow has been waiting a looooong time.

I practice my tram-waiting face while waiting for the tram, of course.

Melbourne also has a lot of graffiti art. I enjoyed the little alleys with oh-so-cool cafes, jam-packed with trendy Melbourne-ites, and covered with bright designs.

Even the dumpsters got the art treatment.

The husband loves a good alley.

The wife loves a good Tiffany store 😉

Lindt gets arty.

Birthday tulips! Thanks husband!

Melbourne Central shot tower in the middle of a shopping centre. So cool.

More graffiti.

Dinner at Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar for home-cooked, simple, Italian food. 

After dinner it was off to Mary Poppins at Her Majesty’s Theatre. Alec was fabulous and booked us great seats with a package that included wine and a goody bag (ooooh more gifts!).

“Feed the birds, tuppence a bag!”

The show was fantastic. I wasn’t sure what to expect, so it surpassed any expectations I might have had. I adored Mary Poppins the movie when I was growing up, so the musical brought back lovely memories. The singing, dancing and set were all fabulous.