A riot in Central Melbourne

9 10 2011

Presenting the riot of sights and colours that is the Queen Victoria Market in Central Melbourne – a perfect way to spend an lazy Sunday morning:

Queen Victoria Market brings a riot of colours to Central Melbourne.

Green and Red Apples.

Bell peppers.



Some of the juiciest tomatoes I have seen.

Giant custard apples.


More oranges.


Love the variety at the deli outlets.

A tart - looks yummy!


Something fishy.

Selection of cheese.


Rose wine.

Popular doughnut van.



At a toy stall.


The final evening of a wonderful trip to remember – in photos

5 10 2011

At the end of three wonderful days exploring Melbourne and some of the areas around being treated to some wondrous sights, tastes and experiences courtesy of Tourism Victoria, Jetstar and omy.sg, the good life had to end, and we were down to one last evening before the bulk of the group was to head back home. The evening started with an awesome treat – an early dinner on a historical tramcar – The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant, which takes one in a lavishly decorated tram that smacks of an opulent and forgotten time, around the streets of Melbourne including Toorak Road and St. Kilda Road. In an evening in the company of good food, good wine and great new friends (and a singing waiter), the three course dinner went all too quickly, and we soon found ourselves taking a walk back in the cool spring evening back to the hotel, not before a walk through the casino in the Crown Entertainment Complex – where we almost left Pete. We paused to take a group photograph on a footbridge as we crossed the Yarra for the very last time together, and as the night was still young, decided that we should head to a nearby Brunetti’s outlet before turning in – or so I thought. Abandoned by the other guys, I ended up being entertained by ladies talk well into the wee hours of the morning before finally calling it a night. It was a short, but thoroughly enjoyable experience and one where not only was I glad to have experienced but also one in which I discovered that there is a lot more to see and do in and around Melbourne – some of which I was able to in the three extra days I had which as it turned out wasn’t quite enough.

Early dinner on The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant.

Everyone was busy taking photographs of each other.

So, I decided to get into the act as well.

The pretty ladies at the next table.

My table.

And the handsome guys at the other table (except for Jenny of Tourism Victoria).

Across the Yarra for one last time.

We waited in the glow of Flinders Street Station for Daphne's sister to join us for coffee at Brunetti's.

Valyn, Deenise and Yiwei looking at snaps Valyn took.

Valyn looking pretty.

St. Paul's Cathedral en route to Brunetti's on Swanston Street.

We indulged in a last evening of sin at Brunetti's.

Karen was at her iPhone all evening.

Back past Flinders Street Station ... where ...

we were in for a treat ...

She ... er, he, blew a kiss in our direction ...

The ladies chatted until it was almost two in the morning ....

Colonial Tramcar Restaurant offers lunch and dinner in some of Melbourne’s oldest trams dating back to 1927, which have been elegantly refurbished in Pullman style decor to become the world’s first mobile tramcar restaurant. Glazed windows allow diners to privately enjoy the passing scenery while enjoying a meal.

Colonial Tramcar Restaurant
Tram stop 125
Normanby Road
South Melbourne VIC 3205
Tel: (03) 9696 4000
Contact: Ingrid Marshall

Off the Edge 300 metres up down under

20 09 2011

For a very brief moment in my life, I had a feeling that I was a thousand feet up with nothing but clear air space below my feet all the way down to those tiny objects moving far below. It was a feeling of fear mixed with exhilaration and one that came with standing metres from the edge of a building – not a result of doing something that comes with me being out of my mind (as some would probably have suspected), but from standing in a clear glass cube that had been extended some 3 metres beyond the side of a building, the Eureka Towers, on Melbourne’s South Bank.

Eureka Towers is located on the South Bank of the Yarra - just across the river from Flinders Street Station on the North Bank seen here on the pleasant spring evening's walk from the hotel to the Eureka Tower.

The Edge is a steel framed glass cube that is extended 3 metres beyond the side of the Eureka Tower some 285 metres above the ground (image: Eureka Skydeck 88).

The Edge seen extended out from the 88th floor of Eureka Towers (image: Eureka Skydeck 88).

That feeling was for me, the best part of a truly awesome Edge experience, one that a visitor to what is to the Southern Hemisphere’s highest observation deck, the Eureka Skydeck 88, would be able to do. The Skydeck is located on the 88th floor of a residential skyscraper, the Eureka Towers, some 285 metres above the ground and offers simply stunning views of Melbourne and beyond, as well as giving an opportunity for the visitor to have what is a one-of-a-kind experience with the Edge.

Eureka Skydeck 88 is the Southern Hemishpere's highest observation deck (image: Eureka Skydeck 88).

A nighttime experience of the Edge was what nine other bloggers and myself got (image: Eureka Skydeck 88).

The Edge experience was part of a visit to the Eureka Skydeck 88 that along with nine other bloggers, I made on the start of the first evening’s activities during a 4 day / 3 night adventure to Melbourne made possible by Tourism Victoria, Jetstar and omy.sg. Greeting the group at the reception area on the ground level was Ms Megan Peacock who provided the group with an interesting presentation about the tower. Interesting facts that came out during the presentation included the ability of the top of the tower to flex up to some 600 mm in high winds, and that two large water tanks have been placed at the top of the tower to counteract any excessive swaying movement – much like an anti-roll mechanism on a ship. Another interesting fact is that the glass on Eureka’s top 10 levels is plated with 24 carat gold!

Ms Megan Peacock of Eureka Skydeck 88 was on hand to greet the bloggers.

The glass on the top 10 levels of the Eureka Towers is plated with 24 carat gold (image: Eureka Skydeck 88).

At the end of the presentation, it was time to step into the lift, which at a speed of 9 m/s, are the fastest in the Southern Hemisphere. All it took was 40 ear popping seconds and we were up to take in the breathtaking panorama of Melbourne’s night lights through the safety of the large glass windows of the observation deck. There was also the opportunity to get out to the Skydeck Open Terrace, an open air terrace exposed to the elements, accessible through an air-lock. This is positioned next to the Edge, allowing visitors to observe passengers inside the Edge.

All it took was 40 seconds to reach the 88th floor on the fastest lifts in the Southern Hemishpere.

View from the 88th floor.

A close-up of Flinders Street Station as seen from the Skydeck Open Terrace.

Taking the magnificent night time views probably took the initial apprehension I had felt about getting on the Edge that had much to do with a previous experience walking on a glass floor at a similar height above the ground that I well remembered. Excitement rather trepidation seemed to overtake me as I slipped booties over my shoes (a requirement to prevent shoes from scratching the glass floor) and stepped into the Edge. The door soon closed and light and sound effects added to the growing sense of anticipation as the cube we were in was extended outwards (not that we could feel it), and once fully extended, we saw the light – the opaque glass that had surrounded us suddenly became clear. And that moment that I first described arrived as the ground below came into full view – a moment when legs immediately turned to jelly – before I realised I was actually standing on a 45 mm thick glass floor – certainly an experience that is not to be missed!.

Off the Edge! Ten bloggers, Han Weiding from omy.sg and Megan 285 metres over Melbourne.

The Eureka Skydeck 88 is open from 10 am to 10 pm (last entry 9.30 pm), 7 days a week. Admission to the Eureka Skydeck 88 is AUD 17.00 for adults and AUD 10.00 for Children (4 – 16 years). Prices for the Edge Experience are AUD 12.00 for Adults and AUD 8.00 for Children.

Eureka Skydeck 88
Riverside Quay
Southbank VIC 3006
Tel: (03) 9693 8844
Fax: (03) 9693 8899

This is a repost of my post on the omy Colours of Melbourne 2011: My Melbourne Experience site. You can vote for your favourite blogger at the My Melbourne Experience voting page. Voting period is from 15 September 2011 to 5 October 2011 and stand a chance to win prizes worth up to $3000 which include Jetstar travel vouchers and Crumpler limited edition laptop bags.

Discovering Melbourne on a saddle

16 09 2011

After a thoroughly enjoyable lunch at the Merchant, it was time for some of us, perhaps the foolhardy ones, to get on a saddle and work some of the calories (especially from the panna cotta) off. A few of us who chose to might perhaps have had illusions (or delusions) of riding in the footsteps (or would wheel tracks be more apt?) of Cadel Evans, who rode through the streets of the very same city just barely a month before, in celebration of his recently concluded successful Tour de France campaign.

The Yarra River. Melbourne is a very bicycle friendly city and an ideal location to explore on a bicycle saddle.

There are many possibilities to see Melbourne on a bicycle, including Share a Bike or better still with a guided bicycle tour.

Melbourne does, fortunately for the mere mortals who would have struggled up a 1 in 10 incline, does not present the challenges that a climb that Cadel and his colleagues would have relished that Le Tour is well known for. It is in fact a relatively flat and very bike friendly city and one that is perfect (weather permitting) for a pedal powered tour of, and this is what five bloggers found themselves doing with the with the highly rated Real Melbourne Bicycle Tours. The bicycle tours are run by a journalist Murray Johnson, can be customised, and offers a quick but comprehensive way of discovering Melbourne. Routes would typically take participants through the many backstreets, colourful markets, cosy cafes, hidden arcades, little bike paths and and narrow laneways. It provides participants with a quick appreciation of the lush gardens, magnificent architecture, some of the many cultural icons and most importantly (from a Singaporean’s viewpoint), the many gourmet treats that awaits discovery.

Murray Johnson getting the bloggers ready for the ride.

The 20 minute walk from the Rialto Towers to Federation Square where the Real Melbourne Bicycle Tours is run from, gave a chance for lunch to settle. And the five brave souls: Aussie Pete, Huang Kee Hong, Karen Lim, Eunice Khong and myself, soon found ourselves equipped with a helmet – a requirement for all cyclists and a bike. First stop was under the shade of a lemon-scented gum tree by the Yarra, where Murray extended a welcome by offering leaves from the gum tree as well as from a eucalyptus tree. The offering of leaves, was, as Murray mentioned a traditional greeting which extended the freedom of the land to visitors.

A briefing before setting off.

Not far from the spot were we had our welcome in the Birrarung Marr, a park by the Yarra, a three legged and two headed beast confronts us. It is of course not one that is alive, but is the Angel, a creation of local artist Deborah Halpern, best known for her works of public art. It is from this point that the pace picks up, we head up a ramp (which Murray advised was the steepest incline we were to face), to a link-way from where we got an excellent view of the Rod Laver Arena – home of the Australian Open. The link-way then leads us to the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) – home not just of cricket, but also of (Australian Rules) football, where a statue of Dennis Lillee – the renowned fast bowler greets us. The MCG with a capacity of more than 100,000 is one of the world’s largest sporting arenas and the largest in Australia. The MCG is home to the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) which Murray mentions has a 16 year wait for membership. A quick check on the MCC’s website reveals that there are as many as 210,000 people on the waiting list.

The Angel by Deborah Halpern at Birrarung Marr.

An angel on a bike? Karen Lim, winner of the Best Lifestyle Blog Award.

The Rod Laver Arena.

Statue of Dennis Lillee at the MCG.

The MCG is the home of the MCC which has a 16 year waiting list for membership.

The MCG is also home to football.

Other places of note that we passed on a fast but manageable (with a exception of a few huffs and puffs upslope) ride included the Fitzroy and Treasury Gardens, the imposing State Parliament House, the gorgeous Princess Theatre, the Bohemian streets of Fitzroy, and Melbourne’s little Italy – the neighbourhood of Carlton with the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens. It was in Carlton where a reward, in the form of a cappuccino and a sampling of cakes at Brunetti’s – an institution in Melbourne, awaited us, and all too soon, it was time to head back to Federation Square, which we did through peak hour traffic.

It was a short but thoroughly enjoyable ride through the streets and one that the next time I am in Melbourne, would certainly want to do again. Returning the bicycle and helmets, it was now time to take that short walk back to the hotel, and prepare for what was to be an exciting first evening in Melbourne.

Continuing on the bike tour.

Aussie Pete, winner of the Best WTH Blog Award.

The State Parliament House.

Princess Theatre.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral.


Down the very Bohemian Brunswick Street..

Another view of Brunswick Street.

The Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton.

A burger joint at the corner of Lygon and Faraday Streets.

Enjoying the reward at Brunetti’s.

Real Melbourne Bike Tours
@ Hire a Bike
Vault 14 at Federation Wharf, riverside level below Federation Square
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: 0417 339 203

This is a repost of my post on the omy Colours of Melbourne 2011: My Melbourne Experience site. You can vote for your favourite blogger at the My Melbourne Experience voting page. Voting period is from 15 September 2011 to 5 October 2011 and stand a chance to win prizes worth up to $3000 which include Jetstar travel vouchers and Crumpler limited edition laptop bags.

The Merchant of Venice

15 09 2011

I am just back from an extended stay exploring the world’s most liveable city, Melbourne and the area around it, first with nine other bloggers on a 4 day, 3 night adventure courtesy of Tourism Victoria and Jetstar, and then on a self-drive adventure of my own. Although it wasn’t my first visit to Melbourne, I did come away with a collection of wonderful impressions, that included some of its best in dining, an appreciation of its friendly people, vibrant culture, and rich heritage, and the what lies beyond greater Melbourne and its environs. It is probably too much to really describe, but it will be something that over the next few weeks, I will try my best to do.

A selection of cheeses greets the visitor to the Merchant which is inspired by the culture of Venice and the Veneto.

The serving counter at the Merchant.

Some of the Venetian inspired fare on offer at the Merchant.

The adventure started with a delectable treat at an Osteria inspired by the rich culture of Venice – a perfect way to start the short, but what proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable time in a city which is informally referred to as the dining capital of Australia. The Osteria, the Merchant, was founded last year by one of Australia’s leading chefs, Guy Grossi and Grollo family, both of whom have links to the Veneto. The Merchant, set in a red brick historic building within the forecourt of the Rialto Towers which once served as a trading house, provides an ideal setting for the Osteria, and one that certainly provided a welcome to an excited group of ten bloggers. Accompanied by an excellent selection of wine, a three course meal awaited us, one that included some of the finest ingredients.

The Merchant is set in a historic red brick building which is now part of the Rialto Towers forecourt off Collins Street.

We started with a King Valley La Zona Prosecco.

Chrismont La Zona King Valley Wines accompanied the meal.

The choice of a starter wasn’t difficult – I can never resist a mouthful of prosciutto. That, Parsuto on the menu, came served on a wooden board and a tong – an interesting way to start the meal, and the rich flavour of thin slices of dry cured pork in the form of nothing less than Prosciutto di San Daniele seemed to be brought out by the prosecco which accompanied the starter. The main course for me was fish of the day, flat grilled – Il pesse de uncuo alla piastra – grilled to perfection – each mouthful was a pleasure. Dessert was Spuma di Castagne con pera cotta, a delightful but very sinful chestnut panna cotta served with slices of pear poached in amarone.

Choice of a starter, Parsuto - Prosciutto di San Daniele served on a wooden board.

Choice of Main Course - Il pesse de uncuo alla piastra - flat grilled fish.

Spuma di Castagne con pera cotta, a delightful but sinful chestnut panna cotta served with slices of pear poached in amarone.

Bloggers and Tourism Victoria representatives were able to mingle over the wonderful lunch.

A double espresso that saved me from the effects of lunch.

With a belly full of scrumptous Venetian fare, fine wines and prosecco, it wasn’t had to be transported to the Veneto, and for a while, it did feel like I might have been floating through the canals of Venice in a Gondola and passing under the Rialto. But that did not last long as we all too soon had to make a move, not under the white arch of the Rialto Bridge, but the glass and steel of the towering Riato Towers – the next adventure awaited some of us braver ones – a bicycle ride through Melbourne, and that I will ride through in my next post.

A very satisfied customer - Valyn Lim, winner of the Best Fashion Blog.

The Merchant
495 Collins Street
Melbourne Vic. 3000.
Tel: (03) 9614 7688
Fax: (03) 9614 7211

This is a repost of my post on the omy Colours of Melbourne 2011: My Melbourne Experience site. You can vote for your favourite blogger at the My Melbourne Experience voting page. Voting period is from 15 September 2011 to 5 October 2011 and stand a chance to win prizes worth up to $3000 which include Jetstar travel vouchers and Crumpler limited edition laptop bags.