Victoria Travel Guide
Yesterday, we gave you a birds-eye view over Melbourne and today our feet are firmly planted on the ground. With only a day remaining, let's explore the little nooks of the city: the iconic laneways!
First, a little background. The city is considered the culture capital of Australia and with that comes the love of fashion, food and a general joie de vivre. The weather can get quite chilly here (the mercury, abnormally, hovered around 75 degrees for our visit), so the style is that of more Northern Hemisphere flare.
Melbourne Field Trip / Melbourne Travel / Australia Travel / Hot Air Balloons / City Guides / → All Tags
Yesterday we filled our belly all around Melbourne and, at the end, hinted about getting high. Today we continue to explore while avoiding any hint of the Australian Open, since there's so much more to this city than tennis.
Our alarm went off earlier than we would like to admit, all in prep for a morning filled with flying high over the city via a hot air balloon. Since the balloons are very dependent on weather patterns, the early morning is the best time to head out and enjoy fresh air from in the air.
Melbourne Field Trip / Melbourne Travel / Food Travel / Coffee Travel / City Guides / Australia Travel / → All Tags
This might be the world's largest group handle
Last week we headed down to Melbourne, Australia's second city, for a quick trip chock-full of revisiting old favorites and picking up new ones. Our trip can be considered a whirlwind tour as we were on the ground for just about 72 hours, keeping our explorations non stop.
Typically at this time of year, the city has one thing on its mind: tennis! You see, the Australian Open started this week and has quickly engulfed the city in a tennis fever that is hard to shake. Let's explore what the city has to offer besides tennis.
Dust off your fascinator or air out your seersucker suit, because it's Melbourne Cup time! The most prestigious horse race in Australia is just around the corner and this one is big. It's so big that Victoria, the state that hosts the cup, gets a public holiday to enjoy the races and maybe place a few bets.
In its 152 years, the Emirates Melbourne Cup has maintained its status as the Aussie horse race with most spectators, highest prize winnings, and most outrageous hats. Not everyone has their binoculars on the thoroughbreds; just like it's Kentucky counterpart, this is the event to see and be seen in your best spring fashion.
Let's take a tripa road trip. Most of our stories have a common theme revolving around airports and planes and seats and in-flight meals...but this one's about driving. It's the good ol' fashioned American road trip with one caveat: this one takes place in Australia. We're heading way South to the Great Ocean Road to stand amongst the 12 Apostles.
Functioning as the world's largest war memorial, the Great Ocean Road is in remembrance of the ANZAC (Australia/New Zealand Army Corps) soldiers who fought for freedom in World War I. The returning soldiers were tasked with building a road to serve as a link to smaller coast towns for the timber industry and tourism.
Wine Travel / Australia Travel / Eric Rosen / Drinking Travel / Melbourne Travel / Winery Reviews / → All Tags
When it comes to Australian wines, there’s one bewitching, badass behemoth that gets all the attention: Barossa. But this week, Jaunted Special Contributor Eric Rosen takes us on a tour of a few of Oz’s lesser known wine regions, many of which are within a few hours of the continent’s major cities. So drop that bottle of Shiraz and join us as we take a tour of Australia’s “other” wine regions.
Today we start in one of Australia’s premier wine-growing area: the Yarra Valley in Victoria. This is also one of the country’s most accessible wine regions since it lies just 45 minutes northeast of Melbourne, and can make for a great trip lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
Snapping killer vacations photos is a must and the most postcard-perfect shot can often be the best free souvenir from a trip. But you daredevil shutterbugs will have to watch out if you decide to pull a risky Peter Parker/Spider-Man type photo shoot near Australia's beautiful Twelve Apostles area.
The Twelve Apostles, a set of tall red rock formations off of the scenic Great Ocean Road, are a popular Victoria attraction where tourists dangle dangerously from cliffs to snap such postcard-worthy images, but if you get caught taking photos from precarious cliffs, you can face a fine of up to $240.
Anywhere else in the world, tourism boards would be totally stressed that nature had just destroyed part of a key tourist attraction. But along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia, locals are just wandering how to rename their famous landmark to suit the new situation.
The problem is, a huge natural rock formation known as the Island Archway partially collapsed this week, thanks to the constant pounding of the ocean. The bridge section of the structure has fallen into the ocean and now the archway looks instead like two pillars.
It's not the first time nature has created havoc with the sights along the Great Ocean Road; as recently as 2005, one of the famous Twelve Apostles pillars tumbled into the sea. But it does kind of make you want to get Down Under ASAP before all the pretty things fall over.
· Island Archway Near Loch Ard Gorge Loses Its Archway [Herald Sun]
· Walk the Great Ocean Road [Jaunted]
Winter is coming to Australia, but that's definitely no reason to avoid planning a Down Under trip, especially not with the crazy off-season airfare sales going on. Half the country's still warm in winter anyway, and if you're a snow enthusiast, then you'll be pleasantly surprised at the ski resorts in the states of New South Wales and Victoria.
This year in particular looks fantastic for the Victorian snowfields. The Mount Buller resort region has already had a weekend opening for skiers, making it the earliest start to the season in history, and five weeks ahead of the usual schedule.
The official season (along with all the appropriate celebrations) will launch on June 6, 2009, with a big festival over that weekend. The fact that the resort website mentions free hot chocolate during the opening weekend is enough to entice us, without hearing how snowfalls should make for some excellent skiing and snowboarding this winter.
You can reach Mt Buller most easily from Melbourne - it's a three and a half hour drive, or a bit longer on the bus, in the Alpine National Park. We like it because it's not quite as corny as going to the snow in the Snowy Mountains further north.
· Mt Buller Ski Resort [Official Resort]
· Buller to Open for Skiing After Cold Snap Snowfall [The Age]
· Australia Travel: Sand, Surf and … Snow? [Jaunted]
Nicholas Cage’s latest fantasy flick, "Knowing", opens in theaters everywhere today. The movie, about a teacher who opens a time capsule and realizes that his family plays a role in some chilling predictions contained inside, is set in Boston but was filmed in Melbourne, Australia. Cage also filmed "Ghost Rider" in Melbourne in 2007. Here’s a guide to help you get to ‘know’ Melbourne.
What to Stay:
The Grand Hyatt Melbourne recently spent a fortune on renovations that include a trendy new lobby, restaurant, and bar. The hotel is also centrally located near shops, restaurants, and late night hotspots. Currently, rates start at US$219.
The deadly bushfires in the state of Victoria, Australia, have now been blazing since the weekend--and unfortunately, not all of them are under control yet. There have even been nervous times when the city of Melbourne looked like it could be under threat; this seems safer at the moment, but hot weather is forecast again in the next week.
In rural Victoria, life is definitely not normal right now, and many towns will be without basics like electricity for weeks. Traveling in the area at the moment is definitely not on, apart from many experts and volunteers from other parts of Australia and abroad who are flocking in to help with further firefighting, providing for those who've lost their homes and the grim task of identifying some of the probably 200 plus victims.
Within Australia there are numerous ways to help: if you're in Melbourne or nearby, they're still looking for blood donations to help burns victims, for example. And Coles Supermarkets are donating all of Friday's profits, so stop by for all your groceries there. From outside Australia, donations can be made via the Salvation Army--just direct your donation to the Victorian Bushfires Appeal.
Just for the record, this photo of the now famous Sam the Koala actually made us shed a tear. We realize it was actually taken during preventative burning last week before the fires hit, but it shows just how badly local wildlife is being affected by these fires. It's a horrific event on all accounts and one that there will be plenty of reminders of for any travelers passing through Victoria in the coming years.
Escaping the northern hemisphere winter for a summer Down Under might sound tempting, but spare a thought or ten for the south-east corner of Australia where bushfires have taken over a hundred lives so far. Many experts are saying the final death toll could be over two hundred.
The deadly fires are in the state of Victoria, most of them not that far away from the capital, Melbourne. There's plenty of outrage from the public that some of the fires were probably deliberately lit by arsonists. On top of that, the heat wave of temperatures over 40 degrees C (104 F) has made conditions nearly impossible for firefighters.
There is no word of travelers being amongst the victims as yet, although travel blogger Nora from the Professional Hobo site is reporting that she's had to evacuate her accommodation. Assistance in many forms is coming in from all parts of Australia and New Zealand and state and federal governments have already announced financial aid for those affected.