First things first.

In an earlier post, I was taking you around Melbourne for the night. I think we only got around to one or two nightclubs, a karaoke club, and what else, I can’t even remember. Anyway, as promised, I’m going to quickly finish that tour – oh yes, now I remember, I was talking about coffee shops, or was I, shucks. Yes, that’s right; I think the sentiment was alluded to across a couple of posts. Good and well that you fancy a nice cuppa, but how about a decent bite to eat then.

I think if there’s time and space, I’d like to take you out of Melbourne for a while. If we get that far, I won’t tell you where we’ll be going. Let’s keep that as a nice surprise. Anyway, let’s quickly go and have a nice bite to eat. And let’s assume I’m meeting you and you’ve brought your fancy purse and traveller’s checks with you because, sorry girl, I’m broke. I’m far too embarrassed to tell you how that happened. For now though, we’re meeting up at Attica, it’s one of the world’s best restaurants, really, it is.

If you want a nice view of the sea, you’ll go to Donovan’s. Most of the waterfront menus are all more or less Mediterranean inspired. The Mediterranean diet, taking care of countries such as Greece, Italy and Spain, just happens to be the healthiest proven diet in the world. Provided you’ve got the right attitude about you and you’re able to moderate and enjoy your meals at the same time, then this is the way to go.

Let’s burn off those calories for a while.

And don’t forget your purse, Sheila, because, boy, are you going to need it. Yes, we’re going shopping. Hope you’re really into big fashion trends and designer labels because Melbourne’s got dozens of boutiques all over the show. To get to the heart of the matter, you’ll need to get to the famous fashion streets; Little Collins Street, Brunswick Street and Gertrude Street. Off the beaten track and off the high end chart, places where I’d like to go, if I could afford it, would start in Chapel Street.

For really cool organic products and all sorts of odds ‘n ends, homemade stuff mostly, you need to pay the Queen Victoria Markets a visit. Just outside of town you can take a train to the Sunday Camberwell Market, or just stay in town rather and visit the South Melbourne Market. I’m always hungry, so you can fill my basket up with nice delicacies before you pack your bags to go home if you don’t mind, thank you very much.

Right, you’ve done really well, thanks. Now let me spoil you with a couple o’ surprises from out of town. Fancy seeing the world’s smallest penguins? Well, you can. It’s free – hee-hee. Actually, this is the Penguin Parade and it is home to the world’s largest smallest penguin colony in the world. Don’t worry, it makes sense in Australia. Interestingly, it’s also Australia’s most popular wildlife attraction. Let’s hold hands while we watch this lot. It’s actually quite romantic watching all these little blokes storm their beach and waddle their way to their sand burrows at sunset.

I’m feeling like I’m in love.

Staying with the romantic notion for a little longer, let’s go to The Port Campbell Park. I’m taking you to a place that was standing there for a lot longer than since the first Aborigines arrived. In fact, the Twelve Apostles have been in this space for just about twenty million years already. As things stand now, they’re giant rocks that rise up impressively from the ocean. They’re the highlight of anyone’s visit to the Port Campbell national park.

Over the millions of years these rocks have been here, erosion has allowed it to transform into soft limestone cliffs which have caves. I would have liked to suggest that we nip off into one or two of them but I’m in a conservation mood and believe that the less foot traffic there is here, the better these ancient caves can be preserved. In any case, there’s views aplenty for us to continue holding hands and from which we can watch glorious sunsets and sunrises, if the park rangers could just let us stay there all night long.

Well, of course not. But no harm in trying.

If you’re a mum, your kids might like this trip. I love it. I’ve always been fascinated by choo-choo trains since I was a child but there wasn’t really much opportunity for us school kids to travel by trains. The closest we ever came to regular train rides was the famous Melbournian trams, nostalgically similar to the ones in San Francisco, if you’re from North America. Girls, mums and kids, we’re going on a cool train ride. We’re riding in old Puffing Billy, that’s what this choo-choo train’s name is. He’s Australia’s oldest surviving steam railway network, actually.

It’s a mere twenty-five kilometres of tracks to negotiate so, bummer, the ride’s over before you realise it’s even begun. Good, clean, fun things never last, do they? But then again, the train rumbles along its tracks at a snail’s pace, allowing you to take in the sites. Your ride will take you to thick forests and beautifully lush fern plantations, a characteristic feature of greater Melbourne’s rainforest heritage. Has the entire natural region beyond Melbourne been declared a World Heritage Site, I wonder? Hmm, I’ll have to check on this later.

Anyway, the old train leaves Belgrave, which is just an hour outside Melbourne. And it chuffs along all the way up to the Emerald Lake Park. For girls with lots to spend, they can enjoy first class travel par excellence. Otherwise, the rest of us can discreetly pack in our own hampers for the day.

Gosh, still so much to see and do in Melbourne, girls. I’ve yet to get a quarter of the way. Let’s hope that sometime in the near future, we’ll be enjoying some more journeys and trips soon. See ya!