Your one-stop guide to the best Australia has to offer


Your one-stop guide to the best Australia has to offer

Bookmark this for your next vacation

By Neville Bhandara  October 31st, 2019

From the street-art-speckled alleys of its capital city, Melbourne, to rolling vineyards, luxe hotels and fantastic food, Victoria has plenty to offer.

The beating contemporary cultural heart of Australia, Melbourne nurtures all kinds of artistes, from muralists and musicians to architects, writers, poets and designers. And the food? “Enviable” doesn’t quite cut it; there are hundreds of trendy bars and restaurants to choose between. But if time is of the essence (and you’re keen to max out your trip), here’s a cheat sheet to making the most of your visit.

SEE & DO: 

National Gallery Of Victoria is the institutional mother ship, containing nearly 75,000 pieces, from indigenous art to contemporary works, print, and photography. Next month will see Iranian artist Shirin Neshat’s Dreamers (till April 19, 2020) while December will showcase Crossing Lines (till April 13, 2020), a peek into the lives and works of two of the most important artists of the late 20th century, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Ngv.vic.gov.au

Kaspersaures Wrex by Kasper, Hosier Lane

Melbourne Street Art Tours is for those who prefer their art “in the wild”, as it were. It conducts in-depth walking tours of the city’s famous street art spots. Moreover, the guides are artists themselves so you’re really getting an authentic experience, rather than being led by a tour guide armed with a megaphone and a pamphlet. From spray-painting to stencilling and paste-ups, get ready to expand your street art vocab. Melbournestreettours.com 

Lyon Housemuseum

 Lyon Housemuseum is a private home on the outskirts that also doubles up as a gallery, which makes for a fascinating afternoon. The blurring of lines between the “public” and “private” spaces within is taken to the limit as walls rotate to give way to exhibits. Moreover, the couple behind it, Corbett and Yueji Lyon, have thrown open the doors to a dramatic and promising new space next door, the Housemuseum Galleries. Lyonhousemuseum.com.au 

EAT:

Lesa

Lesa, where the four-course set menu brings the freshest local produce to your plate. The extensive wine list consists of Australian wines and global vintages, each of which pair perfectly with the dishes on offer. Lesarestaurant.com.au 

LongSong

LongSong, where the cocktails and artisanal wine list are the stuff of legend. The Thai-influenced food, which focuses on sustainable seasonal ingredients and places and emphasis on grilling, curing and smoking, is pretty damn good too. Longsong.com.au 

Cumulus Inc.

Cumulus Inc. is in the hip art and fashion precinct, and it’s where one of the city’s favourite culinary geniuses, Andrew McConnell, practises. From a generous charcuterie selection (bresaola, wagyu, jambon iberico and more) to freshly shucked oysters, there’s a lot to feast on. Cumulusinc.com.au 

Pentolina is a time portal, not only in terms of its decor, but its authentic Italian food too. Here, pasta is made the old-fashioned way, by hand, and lovingly stylised into dishes that are low on pretentiousness and high on taste. Go ahead and double-dip your bread in the olive oil, it’s delicious. Pentolina.com.au 

STAY:

QT Melbourne

If you enjoy being in the midst of it all, check-in to the eccentric QT Melbourne. This boutique art hotel is bold and colourful, with Instagram-worthy pieces in every corner. Book the QT Corner King and soak in the in-room bathtub. Qthotelsandresorts.com 

Prefer something a little set back from the crowd? Try Park Hyatt Melbourne. The rooms are large, making it a good bet for families. It’s also close enough to the CBD (Central Business District) and its multiple attractions. Hyatt.com 

DON’T LEAVE WITHOUT:

Princess Theatre

Catching Harry Potter And The Cursed Child at Princess Theatre. It’s a thrilling two-part extravaganza that will leave you spellbound with its theatrics and live magic. Harrypottertheplay.com/au 

TOP TIP:

Street art in Hosier Lane

Walk everywhere, because it’s the best way to experience Melbourne. And stay in or around CBD, because that’s where you’ll find most of what you’ll want to do. The tram is free within the CBD, but you’ll need a Myki card to travel beyond. 

Photographs: Visit Victoria, Kris Paulsen (Lesa), Griffin Simm (LongSong), John Gollings (Lyon Housemuseum)

VICTORIA:

Once you’re done with inhaling all that Melbourne has to offer, hit the road. If you, like us, prefer to discover spots before they hit the mainstream, skip the Great Ocean Road in favour of…

The Bellarine Peninsula

Mornington Peninsula: Victoria’s hottest up-and-coming destination, the scenic Mornington Peninsula is a gorgeous mix of beaches, vineyards and bushland.

SEE & DO

Merrick’s General Wine Store

The road from Melbourne curves lazily southwards to Port Philip Bay, where you’ll encounter the famous bathing boxes. Further down, stop at Merrick’s General Wine Store. Check out its gallery space, followed by breakfast with a glass of Baillieu Brut at the cafe. Mgwinestore.com.au

EAT

Mirri by Reko Rennie, Pt. Leo Estate Sculpture Park

Pt. Leo Restaurant

Pt. Leo Estate is a 134-hectare property on the edge of a cliff, with uninterrupted views over Western Port Bay. It houses two restaurants (the fine-dining Laura and à la carte Pt. Leo Restaurant) and a cellar that stocks over 6,000 wines. It is also home to the foremost sculpture park in the country, a constantly evolving 19-acre outdoor exhibition space with over 50 pieces by well-known sculptors. Ptleoestate.com.au 

STAY

Flaggerdoot bar at Jackalope

Jackalope, situated on the grounds of Willow Creek Winery, is the design-driven hotel that dreams are made of. Book a room overlooking the striking infinity pool, as it comes with the added benefit of seeing the rolling vineyard stretch out beyond. Be sure to grab a nightcap at Flaggerdoot during your stay too. Jackalopehotels.com

DON’T LEAVE WITHOUT:

TWØBAYS Brewing Co

A quick stop at TWØBAYS Brewing Co., a brewery that’s become famous for its gluten-free craft beer. The IPA, with its hint of pine and fruity aromatics, is a bestseller. Twobays.beer 

THE BELLARINE AND GEELONG 

Next stop after Mornington Peninsula: the Bellarine region and Geelong. Though you can drive all the way, the quickest route is to board the Sorrento-Queenscliff car ferry. 

SEE & DO:

The vineyard at Terindah Estate

Terindah Estate is a boutique winery that’s known for its award-winning pinot gris, chardonnay, rose, pinot noir, zinfandel and shiraz varieties, as well as its extravagant tastings. It’s also one of only two properties in Victoria that offers glamping. Here, 15 canvas tents decked out in luxe fabrics face the ocean, and a path leads down to a private beach. Terindahestate.com

Glamping at Terindah Estate

Geelong waterfront is where you’ll find the quaint Cunningham Pier, as well as the famous bollards, each of which depict those who have contributed to Geelong’s development and cultural evolution, like the explorer Mathew Flinders and the indigenous Koori. 

EAT

ALMA

Alma serves contemporary Australian fare with a South American influence—think spiced Bellarinedistillery.com.au leek and manchego empanadas, and local oysters topped with tomato, pisco and chilli. Almarestaurant.com.au 

House Of Jack Rabbit is a stunning cliffside cafe that serves Flying Brick (the most delicious cider you’ll find in Victoria) and delectable seafood. Top marks go to the mussels and the smoked salmon linguine. Jackrabbitvineyard.com.au 

Stairs leading to Thirteenth Beach, Barwon Heads

At The Heads at Barwon Heads is the perfect spot for a late lunch. Grab a table by the window and watch the sun glint off the water. Start with the New England lobster roll. Attheheads.com.au 

STAY 

Devlin Apartments, a set of luxury service units. The exterior is pure Georgian Revival, but the interiors have been given a swanky makeover. The 27 apartments are divided into three distinct styles: New York-style lofts, utilitarian industrial, and contemporary. Devlinapartments.com.au 

DON’T LEAVE WITHOUT

The Little Mussel Cafe

Grabbing a bite at The Little Mussel Cafe in the coastal Bellarine town of Portarlington. Get the tasting plate, which serves the molluscs done multiple ways. Advancemussel.com.au

Teddy & The Fox

A visit to The Whiskery, the first distillery on the Bellarine Peninsula. Pick up a bottle of its small-batch, hand-crafted in-house gin, Teddy & The Fox, which has a delightful citrus profile with notes of orange and lemon myrtle. Bellarinedistillery.com.au

GETTING THERE

Singapore Airlines flies to Melbourne from Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Chennai, via Singapore. Singaporeair.com

Photographs: Visit Victoria, David Hannah (Mirri by Reko Rennie), Anson Smart (Pt. Leo Restaurant), Chris McConville (Teddy & The Fox)