A Travellerspoint blog

April 2018

Melbourne to Toora

Spending time at WIlson's Prom

overcast 65 °F

22 April 2018

TIme to move on but not before breakfast. If you sense a theme here - you're not just a pretty face.

Early Sunday morning and Melbourne has not woken up yet. I found a 24 hour Greek Restaurant just a five minute walk from our hotel. Definitely brought back memories of late nights in Rochester - except this is the "senior" version - 0800 instead of 0230!! (Sorry Nan...no pics)

Breakfast at Stalactites was really good. Breakfast souvlaki - eggs, bacon, lettuce, tomato, feta wrapped in probably the best pita I've ever had. Great way to start the day.

I tried to use my Uber app to call for a cab but having some type of issue...so... if all else fails - flag down a cab. This trip was MUCH less expensive than our trip in - no traffic at all ($35).

We arrived at the Apollo/Cheapo/Hippie RV rental center, ready to head out with a campervan. The rental agent logged us in and really looked surprised and told us we'd been upgraded to a larger RV.

Note: if you're interested in renting a campervan/rv - check out the different companies. They all usually have a graded system depending on the age of the vehicle. (ie: Apollo (newest) - 1 step older is Cheapo and next level is Hippie. Also as in any vehicle - price depends on the size of the vehicle).

Contrary to popular belief - we do work on somewhat of a budget. I knew what I wanted to pay for the 6 weeks and I also knew that one with a bathroom was out of my budget...but...we stay in caravan parks and from previous experience they have all been very nice, so a campervan works for us.

No idea why we got upgraded but we did book last fall and we were a long term lease. We were upgraded to a Euro Tourer. It's an older model (maybe 7 years old with about 115000 miles on it) but it's set up with a small table area vs extra counter space (new models) - which means we can make the bed and not take it apart each night. That right there is a big plus. We do have a bathroom but we'll see how much we actually use it..more about that later.

....back to our pick up. Our Apollo agent took time with us, went over all the paperwork and out options. I was very pleased. He also went through the vehicle with us, got us extra sheets and towels and made sure the vehicle was ready to go. It's a little longer than a campervan but not as long as the RV we had in Alaska so...no worries....we're off.


We thought we were getting the campervan on the left ....we got the one on the right :-)

First stop...grocery store. The two major grocery chains in AU are Coles and Woolworths. There was a Woolworths close by and after just one short wrong turn we made it there. In and out in about 30 minutes and we are off to Toora which is east of Melbourne not far from Wilson's Prom (Promentary).

A number of people had asked us if we were going to the Great Ocean Road. We considered it but it would have taken us west and then back east again. I'm sure it's lovely but we knew it would be crowded so we opted for the Wilson's Prom area, basically because we had never heard of it.

Booked an ensuite spot at the Toora Tourist Park ($45AU/$35USD) per night. This is where the bathroom explanation comes in. Originally having a campervan (no bathroom), it's a luxury to have our own bathroom and for an extra few dollars -we splurged.

The landscape on our drive from Melbourne towards Toora reminded me of the rolling hills towards the Keuka Lake area - very green with small towns.

At the caravan park, we were greeting by Sue (manager), a friendly woman who we found out shared our love of Bali. Our spot was close by with our "ensuite"within a few steps.


The village of Toora consists of just a main street and a handful of streets running parallel. After our three hour drive, the short walk was welcomed. Toora is quiet...very quiet with only a small number of businesses - most only open on the weekends.


Dinner in the RV tonight - a glass of wine and sleep came early and fast. Tomorrow - Wilson's Promontory!!!

Posted by pjburke 16:42 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Day 2 in Melbourne

Also our last full day in Melbourne

sunny 68 °F

21 April 2018

When I say we slept well...10pm to 8am - wish I could do that at home.

We're up and out....what to do today? Weather is still nice but right now food is on our minds.

Still looking for those cafes on Brunswick Street. As it turns out, Saturday morning is pretty quiet but we did find GUTZ open.
A local cafe with a Turkish flare. Jim opted for eggs Benedict with Salmon and I ordered Jilbar Eggs (new for me - poached eggs with pastirma in garlic yogurt and a fried pepper, mint and butter sauce served with crusty break).....well, there goes those 25K steps. Not sure I would order it again. Though very tasty, a bit rich for breakfast. But ...nothing ventured ...nothing gained.


We also walked the local neighborhood. Love the architecture.


After breakfast, we headed to the Melbourne Museum. It's a nice museum and free for seniors. Truthfully, I wanted to see the Viking exhibit but Jim can only take so much "museuming" so we opted out.

We decided to try the local #35 Tram. It's a local tram that circles the CBD. You are able to get on and off and it's free. Seems to be today's theme.

Our other destination today was a late lunch at Shangai.........a little place we found that serves xiao long boa (my very favorite Shanghai dumplings). We arrived to a very short line and enjoyed a dozen...or two.


Took some time back at the hotel to catch up on my blog and let Jim grab a nap.....

Short nap turned a bit long and we weren't really hungry but still early. There is a bar in our guest house so we wandered down for a beer. We weren't the oldest people there but definitely in the minority :-) Had a beer and opted for a small pizza - just enough.

Tomorrow we'll be taking off to pick up our campervan and heading out to explore more of Australia. Our first stop will be Toora and the Wilson's Prom area.

The adventure continues.

Posted by pjburke 00:45 Archived in Australia Comments (4)

The Adventure Begins

What to do in Melbourne

sunny 70 °F

20 April 2018

Sunshine and sleep are a great combination. Now, we needed to add food to the mix. We were told that the Brunswick Street area would be a great place to grab breakfast (brekkie). Out the front door and turn left, what could be easier...other than we actually needed to make one more left.
We ended up walking down Lygon Street, a nice area but not where we thought we were.

Asking for directions, we got headed in the right direction and ended up at a cute little creperie (Breizoz French Creperie) on Gertrude at Brunswick. My first Galette (buckwheat crepe) was delicious and it didn't hurt that our French waiter was very friendly and incredibly handsome (but I digress).

Morning Cappacino

Morning Cappacino

The crepe maker

The crepe maker

As we ate, we tried to decided what to do - loving museums as I do, I really wanted to go to the Melbourne Museum but it was such a lovely day (and we understand that that can change minute by minute) so we decided to take the 230pm Free Walking Tour. The tour meets in front of the State Library on Swanston Street - note there is also one at 1030am - check out their website. www.imfree.com.au

Melbourne State Library

Melbourne State Library

We had time to spare, so after we located the library, we wandered around Chinatown. Melbourne's CBD is very compact (we would come to find out it's history on our tour) and very multicultural...and young. Waiting for our tour to be begin, we found a bench which gave me a little "people watching" time.

Our tour started promptly at 230pm. There were about 60-70 people and two guides. We were split in two and we "ended up" with Desmond (only kidding Desmond - you did a great job). With frequent stops, our group wandered the streets of the CBD for about three hours. (Note: this is a WALKING tour - if you decide to do it - wear comfortable shoes. A few young ladies in heels started the tour but after a stop or two we never saw them again). Desmond lead his merry band from one end of the CBD to the other. We represented all ends of the earth. I think we were the only Yanks, and there were Canadians, Portuguese, French,Dutch, Asians, Italians, Aussies and even a lovely Irish lass from Kerry - a Rose no less. We hope to meet up when we're there in August.

Our free tour begins

Our free tour begins

Chinatown gate

Chinatown gate

Fountain in front of the Exhibition Hall

Fountain in front of the Exhibition Hall

Street Art - not graffiti

Street Art - not graffiti

Desmond (our tour guide) shares an uncommon resemblance to Ned Kelly

Desmond (our tour guide) shares an uncommon resemblance to Ned Kelly

The Notorious Ned Kelly

The Notorious Ned Kelly

More Street Art

More Street Art

Street Art on Dosier Lane

Street Art on Dosier Lane

I highly recommend this tour. We learned about the beginnings of the Melbourne area and a bit about Melbourne today. We saw the main thoroughfares and small laneways - new structures sprinkled alongside buildings dating back to the early 1800's.

By the end of the tour, Jim was hungry....really hungry which means "find food fast". We tried two different places that we had scoped out but it was a Friday night and there is also a Comedy Festival in town. We decided to head to Lygon St and stopped for Italian at The Spaghetteria. The evening was lovely so we ate in the sidewalk cafe area. Good food, good wine - after walking 25K+ steps we rewarded ourselves with gelato on the way back to our room.

Needless to say - we slept really well!!!!! Tomorrow is another day and we'll be ready for it.

Posted by pjburke 23:21 Archived in Australia Tagged french creperie breizoz Comments (4)



sunny 72 °F

19 April 2018

We've arrived in Melbourne, AU - though long, it was an easy trip after we finally left Tucson (2 hour delay).

I've been reminded by friends that Australia, on a whole, is expensive. Yes or no, this is my quest to find out.

We decided to take a taxi from the airport to our hotel (inside the CBD - Central Business District/Downtown Melbourne), I did my due diligence and found if we took the Skybus ($18AU p/p) from the airport, we would then have to make our way to our hotel from the Southern Cross Station.

With of the two of us and a 30+ hour journey, we decided to splurge on a taxi. Traffic was slow - our taxi ride ended up costing us $72 ($50USD).

Our "home" in Melbourne is the Space Hotel. It's a hostel/small hotel, centrally located and at $139AU ($100USD) a night for a private, en suite double with an awewome private patio looking out over the cityscape - a deal in my book. Hotels in Melbourne are pricy. Remember, Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia, so think NYC or Chicago and it's really not that bad. Also, Space Hotel had great reviews on Lonely Planet and Tripadvisor.

We knew that we would probably not be able to get into our room straight away and had planned for that. Our luggage was able to be dropped off at their secure storage room and with a change of clothes, comfy shoes and a couple of front desk suggestions - we were off for some sustenance.

Hit at the front desk told us that Queen Victoria Market would be a good place to grab some food - airline food just doesn't do it for me but QVM was just what we needed. Anyone who follows our blog know that we LOVE local markets. QVM was definitely in our wheelhouse ...fresh veggies, cheese, bread, meat (all sorts of meat) and so much more. With a small frig in our room, we decided to grab a few items for an evening nosh - just in case jet lag got the best of us.

The small food court at QVM was just right. I ended up with Chinese and Jim with Sri Lankan and coffee - we really needed coffee and Melbournians love their coffee.

We usually don't try and do too much after a long flight but just enough to get us to early evening (at least). We walked around, taking in the local atmosphere (actually trying to stay awake). Dan Murphy's Bottle Shop is one of the local liquor stores and we found it on our way back to the hotel. Wine prices were similar to the US. Also note, if you're on an extended trip (like our six weeks), Duty Free at the airport is a good place to stop.

Forty hours awake was testing us and our thoughts were that our room should be ready and from Murphy's it was a quick walk up Russell Street.
Cosy, clean and comfortable is my best description of our room. Jim and I both needed just a short nap - to remain civil, if nothing else.

Our Space Hotel Patio

Our Space Hotel Patio

We woke about 5pm and decided to enjoy our lovely patio with a meal of wine, cheese, salami and bread and were treated to a beautiful, crimson setting sun. We went over our plans for the next day and it was a night in for us. Pushing even our limits, we put on the TV, though I can' remember what we watched and slept pretty well - waking to sunshine and our first full day in Australia.

Melbourne Sunset

Melbourne Sunset

Posted by pjburke 22:16 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Australia 2018

Traveling East...one more time - hopefully not our last !!!

sunny 80 °F

17 April 2017

These last couple of months have been an incredible adventure..and I didn't even leave Saddlebrooke.

Last week, we (Saddlebrooke Community Players) finished ...to rave reviews..a seven night run of Mafioso Murders (Mystery Dinner Theater).

Our cast party is tonight but unfortunately Jim and I won't be able to be there....we'll be off on another adventure. Tuscon to LAX and then on to Melbourne, AU. Another campervan journey for us.

Yes, I'll be blogging along the way. Hope you enjoy the journey!!

Saddlebrooke Community Players - 2018 Mafioso Murder Mob

Saddlebrooke Community Players - 2018 Mafioso Murder Mob

Posted by pjburke 11:40 Archived in USA Comments (4)

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