Melbourne adventures, 2022 style!

After what felt like a very long time with no travel, we had made a little getaway in December 2021 to the Snowy Mountains for some hikes and bikes. In the current covid climate we’ve just taken the approach of booking lots of things (with flexible cancellations) and hoping for the best! This meant we’d also planned a short trip to Melbourne for the January school holidays. It didn’t look like international travel was yet a serious option yet, so we’d settled on a quick getaway South to break up the Summer holidays.

Saturday 15 January

With an early Saturday morning run to the Canberra airport, the kids were again in their happy place, having our traditional photo in front of the planes!

While we haven’t managed an overseas trip in over 2 years, we have been lucky enough to get a few domestic ones, between lockdowns. Still, poor Zinnia hasn’t had enough planes for her liking, so made the most of her flight time…..

Domestic travel is definitely much more efficient than the international variety when you are an Aussie. By 11am we’d landed and made our way into the city via the Sky Bus, caught a couple of trams and were already checked into our hotel in Fitzroy. Ready for some food it was off to a lovely French cafe for lunch. It wasn’t Paris but it was pretty good!

Afternoon naps for tired kids and adults followed by plenty of swimming. Melbourne had managed to save up it’s ‘mild’ Summer weather for us, so it was well under 30 degrees and the outdoor pool was not quite hot enough for my liking. The kids were happy though….

We finished off our first day of holidays with a wander around the streets of Fitzroy, off to collect various forms of carbohydrate laden take-away dinner, ready for a hotel picnic…

Sunday 16 January

It was Sunday, and day 2 of our Melbourne break. The plan for the day was to hit the Queen Victoria Markets in the morning. Never needing much of an excuse to stretch our legs we decided we’d walk down. Melbourne had turned on another beautiful Summer’s day for us as we headed into the city, through the parks.

The Queen Victoria Markets were definitely a little quieter than we’d seen them previously, and quite a few stall holders missing. Undeterred, we perused the produce sections, reminiscing about all our French market trips and working out what delicious goodies we could take back to our apartment for lunch….

Then off to the market stalls so the kids could work out what things they needed to spend their pocket money on. Anto and I found a local distillery and may have procured some gin and rum for ourselves!

The kids had of course discovered the various gelato stores, and gelato was readily consumed!

With our bags full of gin, rum, fidget spinners, cheeses, deli meats and a baguette, it was time to head back. It was almost like being back in Europe, wandering around with baguette in my backpack. I wasn’t on my bike this time!

Feeling a little too weary and loaded up to wander back up the hills to Fitzroy, we hopped on a tram. It’s still a novelty for Zinnia. Even if mum and dad make her wear her mask! This was mid-Omicron wave one and we weren’t all that keen on being near people maskless…..

There may have been some delicious lunch of baguettes with cheeses before some enforced resting for weary children and adults. This turned out to be a wise decision as we needed the energy for our afternoon adventures.

It was off to Port Melbourne via tram to catch up with our lovely friends Jane and Phil. Jane had procured all manner of afternoon tea treats, which the kids readily tucked into. I was thinking they were going to ruin their dinner Jane and Phil had prepared, but turns out we made sure that didn’t happen with plenty of exercise afoot.

We wandered down towards the beach and Station Pier. The Spirit of Tasmania was not yet in, but it was a beautiful sunny afternoon and there were plenty of people around. We’d promised the kids a swim at the beach, but first we planned to walk a little along the esplanade.

First stop was checking out the solar system trail. Pluto is located at Port Melbourne. The kids were pretty keen to see how many of the others we could find during our stay, but we never did quite get there!

After checking out Pluto, Anto decided we should head down towards the shipping cranes before giving in to the inevitable requests for swims. Given the glorious afternoon weather a little walk seemed like a great idea…

The only problem was that Anto had decided we didn’t need to bring the ergo with us as we weren’t going to walk that far! To her credit, Miss Zinnia did an amazing job of walking and clocked up several kilometres before she was requesting carrying. By now Anto and the kids were on a mission to get to the cranes and watch the shipping containers get loaded and unloaded, so I trundled along with a Zinnia who was happy to talk to her new friends but wasn’t going to let them carry her!

Success and we finally made it to the cranes and all the kids were quite happy to watch them for awhile……

We eventually dragged them away so we could get that swim in before it was time for dinner.

I decided Anto got shoulder ride duty for the way back, since he was the one who didn’t want to bring the ergo! Plus my arms were a little sore from too much Zinnia carrying. Zinnia was thrilled with her excellent view of the bay….

We made it back around to a section of beach that was good for swimming and the kids and Anto were off in a flash into the water…….

It was certainly a picturesque spot for a Sunday afternoon dip, although I was happy to hold the towels and shoes and watch them splash around!

It was rapidly approaching ‘way past toddler dinner time’ so we convinced them they had to abandon their splashing and sand castles. I think they would have stayed all night! We made it the rest of the way back with the sandy and wet kids, having now clocked up well over 10km walking for the day……

As we were approaching the Pier, the Spirit of Tasmania was coming in, so the kids were rather pleased to get to see it dock.

We finished off our day with a marvellous dinner and dessert and a fabulous sunset over the city (spotted by Miss Z).

With too much catching up to be had, we had to drag the tired kids home to our apartment, well past 10pm. This did give Zinnia a chance to see the young people all heading out into the city as we were catching the tram back. She was wondering why the ‘kids’ were out without their adults at night! Apparently 20ish year olds are ‘kids’ because they look way younger than her mum and dad! They were also loudly admonished for not wearing a top. Three year olds don’t rate crop tops as acceptable clothing it would appear!

Monday 17 January

After a late but very fun night, the kids didn’t sleep in all that much but were ready for another day of exploring. We decided to start the day with a wander to obtain coffee and then some exploring of nearby gardens. It was a lovely overcast morning so the nearby Fitzroy Gardens were a pleasant stroll away.

Late nights didn’t dampen the kids ability to run around like crazy people. We checked out plenty of fountains and ponds.

The kids liked the model Tudor village and the Fairies tree but were happy just to run and find plenty of beautiful flowers.

The greenhouses were rather reminiscent of the ones in the Auckland Botanic Gardens and had a lovely array of flowers and plants.

We then walked back to the CBD for a little chocolate sampling and purchasing. We ended up with a lot of free samples. I’m fairly sure they just wanted the noisy and annoying children out of their store! Chocolates may have been consumed about as quickly as they were purchased…

Another sunny afternoon meant we could hang out at the pool for a bit. The kids all think they are part fish, and even Zinnia is doing her best to try and swim laps these days.

Anto entertained us with his butterfly laps in the rather small pool…… He can still beat Astrid at butterfly!

After swiming and relaxing we thought we’d head down towards Docklands and have a wander along the Yarra. The kids started out with a good chasing of some pigeons before we wandered around the esplanade looking for where we might have dinner.

Nothing around the Crown complex seemed all that appealing so we checked out the lights in the Casino foyer and headed back outside to watch the helicopters landing on the Yarra. The kids all adore helicopters so it was fun watching them come in, even if we did get a little soaked…

We found a well-rated Japanese restaurant just across the river from the Casino complex so decided we’d give it a try. It turned out to be a great decision, excellent food and a fraction of the price of the offerings near the casino.

Zinnia had worked out that you can ask waiters for food and self-ordered some edamame (one of her favourite foods). The waiter thought it was hilarious but at least she said please!

An absolutely delicious meal was had and despite not being all that hungry, the kids were keen to con a gelato out of us. Back over the river and gelato while observing the pigeons!

Full of food and gelato, it was a tram back to our apartment and a not too late night before a big day at the zoo the next day.

Tuesday 18 January

Tuesday was zoo day! We’ve been to the Melbourne zoo a number of times, from when Astrid was quite little, but the last visit was when Soren was under two. It was a quite mild day weather wise and no rain forecast, so perfect for wandering around. So thought everyone else, as it was packed! This made it difficult to social distance, so our plan to let the kids run maskless outside didn’t really work and we all elected to keep them on as much as possible.

Melbourne zoo is relatively large so we started our wander and planned to see as many animals as possible before the kids (well at least Zinnia, got too tired).

The lemur exhibit is always a favourite. Apparently lemurs can get covid (and can’t be vaccinated) so there was a limit on how many people could go in at time (and masks needed to be on). As usual it was fun to see them up to their crazy antic,s and the kids loved seeing a lemur try and steal a biscuit a visitor had dropped…. from under the keepers foot (who was desperately trying to keep them away).

Another of our favourite exhibits is the butterfly enclosure. It’s always fun to see the butterflies up close and have them land on you. Sure enough we had plenty of butterfly friends. They seemed particularly taken with our straw hats and mine was the most popular of all. I had butterflies hitching rides on me the whole time!

We had taken picnic food with us and made it around a reasonable percentage of the zoo before exhausting our food supply! The kids don’t eat quite as much as the elephants at least!

Most of the indoor exhibits were a little crowded but there was plenty of outdoor space. The walk through bird aviaries were almost deserted and we found plenty of birds up high and hiding down low too.

By now Zinnia was a little weary, especially after all her walking the day before, so was getting carried in the ergo. She was quite pleased with this as it meant it was easier for her to see. We’ve long since given up on strollers as she is a pretty good walker most of the time.

I was happy to see my favourite giraffes and zebras, and by the time we’d made our way back to them we’d seen most of the animals at least once.

There happened to be a crepe restaurant right near our hotel and the kids had been eyeing it off since day 1. After a long day out, an early dinner, metres from our apartment sounded ideal. We had delicious savoury crepes and galettes, followed by some scrumptious dessert crepes, all while watching the cyclists and trams.

The only issue was that kids were rather quick at demolishing them and weren’t keen on sharing!

Wednesday 19 January

The plan for our last full day in Melbourne was a catch up my dad and Kim and their friend Leanne. They happened to be in Melbourne that day as they had arrived to see Moulin Rouge (which was subsequently cancelled due to Covid impacts). Nonetheless, we had plans to meet up at the Botanic Gardens, so caught some trams down after breakfast.

It was another beautiful and sunny day, and perfect for wandering around the gardens.

There happened to be a ‘seeing the invisible’ exhibit on during our visit. You use a phone app to ‘see’ things in various spots. Soren hijacked my phone and had a fabulous time wandering around finding all the hidden things.

Meanwhile, Zinnia was happy to run anywhere, and Astrid was happy to talk! We wandered through various sections of the gardens. They are huge so we didn’t get around all of them, but they are well laid out and had plenty of beautiful plants.

The big trees were indeed big, and we could have lost a kid or two, but they kept following us!

It wasn’t too crowded and some of the gardens offered fabulous views over the city…….

We probably could have spent 5 or 6 hours wandering around and seeing all the different areas, but a good couple of hours of slow meandering and we saw plenty, and let the kids burn off some energy. There was also plenty of shade for a warm day…..

As we headed to one of the exits we found ourselves down near the Yarra and took a stroll along the shared paths, watching the rowing crews and listening to the tennis crowds.

We headed past Rod Laver Arena, but didn’t manage to fit in a match, it was a wander back into the CBD and time for some lunch!

After more than a few trips on trams we decided to go back to the same Japanese restaurant as our Monday dinner. It was again delicious! Yes, Zinnia ordered more edamame and even tried to order herself some lemonade until Mum and Dad put a stop to it ūüôā

After plenty of yummy lunch, it was more tram rides and a wander to taste (and purchase) chocolate. There might have been some chocolate fondue afternoon tea. I was a little on the full side but it didn’t stop the kids….

We finished our day with a couple of drinks and swim in Gramps and Kim’s hotel pool, before dragging the kids back to our hotel for some packing and an early night

Thursday 20 January

All good things must come to an end. Our flight home was unfortunately rather early. The need to catch a tram into the city for the Sky Bus meant for a ridiculously early alarm and a beautiful sunrise as we were on the bus into the airport. At least once we made it to Tullamarine there was plenty of breakfast treats in the lounge.

The kids were not convinced on returning to reality, but we were all glad we managed a few days away, aeroplanes, trams and plenty of food……. and as a bonus stayed covid-free!

We are definitely looking forward to more adventures in 2022. Zinnia is keen on this travel thing and has heard all her siblings stories of long-haul flights and Parisian pastries. In the meantime we were thankful to Melbourne for putting on some spectacular weather for us, not too hot and no rain. Perfect timing for once as the week after was a scorcher!

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