Melbourne @ Where to Stay

I found I got an issue, guess everyone also face the same – “where to stay” if you never been to the city before. I had been scratching my head, looking at the map at every single corner of Melbourne when I planned for my family trip.

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Then, I make a conclusion that CBD (Central Business District) shall be the best place to stay, easy to travel (walk) to other point of interest. Plus point, it is also in free tram zone, which means tram travel is free within Melbourne’s CBD and Docklands (trip within Free Tram Zone – myki ticket not required). One more to add is I enjoy the energy of center.

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Melbourne CBD basically divided to Central, West, East, North & South. You can choose your stay based on your style and kind of trip.

  • Centre: The best area for shopping, next to the Bourke Street Mall area, Melbourne Central, Emporium and the incredible choice of shops. It is the busiest part of the city and tends to be a bit noisy. Melbourne Central is the closest train station and you will have access to almost all of the tram lines. Plenty of bars and restaurants.

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  • West: Probably the quietest part of the CBD, together with the north. It tends to be quiet in the evening and weekends because there is not a great choice of bars and restaurants. Here, you have Southern Cross Station, the main station from where most of the trains departs. I stayed here (opposite Southern Cross Station) during my last visit. Since it is in free tram zone, it is easily to travel around too.  

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  • North: Another quiet area of the CBD. The main attraction is the Queen Victoria Market and the Flagstaffs Garden. There are few eatery options, mostly Asian style. It works great if you are after a market experience. In the summer the QV Market opens also on Wednesday night with live music and a huge amount of street food options.

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  • East: Most of the luxury related shopping is here. Lots of fantastic restaurants, bars and cafes of which some really hidden. Minutes away from Fitzroy, another lovely neighborhood for food and live music. And, lastly, it’s close to the Fitzroy Garden, perfect spot for some walking or jogging. Not really recommend since the food price is rather high here. Unless you like Green.

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  • South: It is considered to be the heart of Melbourne, with Federation Square used as meeting point or landmark for everyone. The Information Center is right in the middle of the square, great spot to start your holiday (they can also organise and book tours for you). The river area is really beautiful in the summer as it tends to get a bit of sea breeze. The south has the biggest concentration of art and history options with the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria), the Arts Centre, the Immigration Museum, Hosier Lane (famous in the world for the amazing street art) and so much more.

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Sydney @ Where to Stay

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It takes me some times to decide the right place to stay in Sydney. I would say it rather hard especially this is my first visit. With this article, I hope I could give some help to those first timer.

I have put together my thoughts on the most popular tourist areas in the city and also the map.

  • Central Business District or CBD
  • The Rocks and Circular Quay
  • Pyrmont and Darling Harbour
  • Central Station

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The CBD just located in the middle of the city and surrounded by shops, bars and transport. This area is home to government offices, multinational companies and is the central shopping district.

For your easy reference, I make it more precise to North End & South End.

Northern End –  bordered by Bridge Street to Park Street, Macquarie and Kent Street.  Martin Place is the landmark. By walking distance ~10 minutes, you will reach The Rocks, Circular Quay and Pitt Street Mall shopping. Besides, here also have a great range of small bars in this part of town.

Southern End – it is best suit for shoppers, Asian food lovers, budget travellers and also a good choice for families. It take about 20-30 minutes walk to Hyde Park, Museums, Chinatown and Darling Harbour.

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The Rocks is Sydney old town. Beautiful historic buildings share the spotlight with the Harbour and Opera House. There are some great old pubs, plenty  of dining options and transport to the rest of the city is less than 10 minutes walk.  Circular Quay also the best area to stay in Sydney if you are on a very short visit.

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It is a favourite spot for family dining and weekend festivals. It’s also home to several popular attractions including the Star Casino, Sydney Aquarium and Wildlife World. I super love this place and this is where I stay during my trip. The area is connected to the city via the light rail or ferries, but neither option is a quick trip.  It is an uphill walk to Pitt St Mall and the other city sites.

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Central Station is the main train and regional bus hub of the city. It is also the primary location for budget accommodation. Near here, it have Paddy’s Market and Chinatown with all its delicious, cheap eats. You can also go to Surry Hills looking for more higher end bars, exciting food and hipsters rule.

Hope my article will ease your mind especially if you are the first timer or in the mid of searching where to stay.

 

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Blue Mountains @ Day Trip from Sydney

The Blue Mountains is an area just outside of Sydney which is categorised by it’s sweeping mountain ranges, blue haze and numerous tourist attractions which have put it on the map as a must see destination for all visitors.

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It is rather easier to go by train, from Central Station to Katoomba Station (via Bluemountain line). The trip is relaxing, will take approximately 2 hours end to end, and gives you the chance to see the beautiful countryside along the way.

I took early train to Bluemountain,  ~ 8.50am and leave Katoomba before 5pm. For this day trip, recommend you only 2 to 3 destination. Scenic World & Three Sister will be the top choice among the tourist. If there is the case, for for 686 bus will do, instead of wasting the money on Hop-On-Hop-Off bus.

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Once you get out from Katoomba station, you will find a signboard as below, Then, cross the road to the yellow building. Go straight until you see a arched clock. Wait the bus below the arched clock.

I went to Scenic World first, then only Three Sisters. This is to avoid the crowd, where most of the tour will go the other way round. 🙂

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The Scenic World ticket basically is a collection of ‘rides’. If not mistaken, the ride fare for (all) is AUD 38 for adult & AUD 21 for child. My sequence of rides as below and i by purpose put Skyway the last as I want to walk to

1) The Scenic Railway – The steepest railway in the world, ~ 58 degree that takes you down to the valley floor in 2 minutes. Suggest to take the first row, then you will know how exciting it is! I went for few rides.

2) The Scenic Cableway – A cable-car alternative that takes you either down to the valley floor or back up again. I find nothing special, it is just another cable car to me.

3) The Scenic Skyway – A glass-bottomed container that takes you across the Jamison valley and back again, with dizzying views of the ground 270m below.

I  purposely put Skyway the last, because I want to take Prince Henry Cliff Walk, where it starting point is at Skyway’s East Station. It will take approx 45 minutes to reach Echo Points.

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Along the walks, there are a lot of nice scenarios.

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Finally reached Queen Elizabeth Lookout. Here we saw Three Sister.IMG_3255

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We finally completed our trip today. It is really a long walks. We took the 686 bus again back to Katoomba Station to catch up train back to Sydney. IMG_3264.JPG

At the time that we reached Sydney, it is almost 8pm. Time to get food.  

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Loobie Lobster @ Affordable Price

I’m not the fan of lobster but my Indonesian friend is. When i visiting him, he always bring me around to find good food. This time, he introduced me to Loobie Lobster. It’s a small place, well guess you never know when you’re not really explore.

loAll the seafood here come with an affordable price. I choose lobbie combo, which have 2 half lobster platter, fried calamari and white rice. The lobster was moist, tender and perfectly grid. The fried calamari was awesome too, crispy and fresh. Sambal definitely is a good match. Its complements the seafood perfectly.

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The one that I ordered cost rupiah 195k, which is USD 13. Can’t believe it right, then check out the menu below.  For the lobster menu, i guess it’s worth it? You’ll get half/full lobster as you wish and get another calamari on your dish. It’s definitely worth the money!

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Sydney Opera House @ Australia Icon

I’m too stupid to think that it was built in 80’s. From my recent visit,  i had just learnt that it was formally opened at 20th October 1973 and the construction work begin in year 1958.

Sydney Opera House is beautiful from far and near. It is also gorgeous inside and out. It is not only Sydney icon, it actually an Australia icon. Best view is to visit during the sunset hours. Beautiful open area for walk and also nice view for photos which has bridge on the background or in front of the Opera house.

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Take a closer look at the Opera House roof. It is actually built up by more than 1 million roof tiles covering approximately 1.62 hectares sitting over the structure. They were made in Sweden. It is the reason why the original cost estimate to build Sydney Opera House was $7 million and  the final paid up was $102 million. (ps: the total size of Opera House could hosts up to  seven A380s sit wing-to-wing on the site)

cofThere are plenty of restaurant at the lower concourse level of Sydney Opera House, such as Portside Sydney Opera House, Opera Kitchen and etc. It is the place that you could take a short rest before move to next destination.

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We found a Campos coffee store here. We ordered cappuccino and my son went for his babyccino.

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Opera House during sunset.

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Barrack Museum @ The Beginning Time of Australia

Barrack Museum takes you back to the beginning time of Australia. It is one of the most significant convict sites in the world, built between 1817-1819, this UNESCO World Heritage listed site was a crossroads for tens of thousands of people, it played a central role in the world’s largest and longest-running system of convict transportation.

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More than 50,000 convicts passed through its gates from 1819 to 1845. From 1848 to 1886, it was an Immigration Depot and Asylum and 1887 to 1979, it become the Courts and Office. In 1984, the Barracks opened as a museum. This is a definite must see when in Sydney.

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It is the place to learn about the arrival of the prisoners who constituted the First Fleets from England. Convict architect Francis Greenway designed the building in the 19th century to house inmates. Today, the square Georgian structure is a museum displaying the barrack’s history.

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I’m in love with this museum by its limewashed brick at the first glance. It is like time machine, bring you back to old days. Later, the reason makes me stay longer is this unique cafeteria, located at the entrance of the museum.

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It also offer Campos coffee too. A lot of the bloggers claimed that it is the best coffee in town. I tried and i have to admit that it is good in taste with it’s unique aroma.

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Hyde Park Barrack’s Museum was centrally located, easy to find and it is beautifully restored. This museum is just across Hyde Park, Sydney.

ps: I just stroll around the building, not visited to the museum. If you like the history, you can buy Sydney Museum Pass, 1 month validity, allows entry to 12 museum, including Barracks Museum, the Museum of Sydney, Justice & Police Museum and Susannah Place Museum. You can refer to https://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/sydney-museums-pass for more information.

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Sydney Fish Market @ Foodie Destination

I would rather disappointing with size of Sydney Fish Market compare to Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne.  Anyway, it is merely focus on the seafood, not like Queen Victoria Market have everything under the sun.

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There are many retailers such as Claudio’s, De Costi, Doyle’s, Nicholas Seafoods,  Peter’s Fish Market. All you need is just walk round and round like touring a supermarket where the colours and freshness of the seafood will really thrill you. Prawns, clayfish, giant lobsters, oysters, salmon, scallops, sea urchins, squids, trouts, tunas, crab. This is the place like seafood heaven for seafood lover with the attractive price.

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We end up bought a lobster platter, fish and chip and fried squid. All are every fresh and juicy. Simple cook makes perfect, i totally agreed with it.

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We sat outside, so that we could enjoy the view while savoring our catch of the day. We had truly enjoyed the view and the cool breeze, before sea gulls came.  One very important note : be careful of the sea gulls, they will target you and your food as their prey.

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How to get to Sydney Fish Market:

Sydney Light Rail from Central Station, The Star, Haymarket or Darling Harbour to the Fish Market stop which is located across the road from the market.

Bus Service 501: This City/West Ryde/Ryde bus service departs from Central Station every 30 mins. Embark at Miller street, opposite Jone Street which is 5-mins stroll away from Sydney Fish Market.

Sydney Fish Market

Address: Bank St & Pyrmont Bridge Road, Sydney NSW 2009, Australia.

Tel: +61 2 9004 1100

Opening Hour: Daily 7am – 4pm

 

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Blue Mountains @ Stunning Natural Beauty

IMG_6857.jpgThe stunning Blue Mountains should be on any nature-loving visitor to Sydney’s must-see list. The Blue Mountains region is an easily accessible area of stunning natural beauty on the city fringes which encompasses dramatic sandstone formations, impressive canyons, steep cliffs, virgin bush land and stunning waterfalls.

Just a two-hour journey from the city and everybody should do a Blue Mountains day trip from Sydney at least once.

The first stop on this Blue Mountains day trip itinerary is Katoomba, probably the most well-known town in the Blue Mountains. The train journey to Katoomba from Central Station in Sydney takes 2 hours, so try to set off early to make the most of the day and avoid the crowds.

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Save time and hop on the 686 bus on Waratah Street to Scenic World. Suggest go straight to Scenic World first, to avoid the crowds. ps: wait for 686 bus at the bus stop under the arch-clock.

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Scenic World – Entry to the 3 “rides” here, the railway, skyway and the cableway is usually an optional extra although a small number include it in the cost. Walkway refer to walk path through rainforest. The below cost is for unlimited rides and just follow the ride sequence that advise by the counter attendant. It is always the best, trust me.

This is the 2 rides interesting the most and caught our interest for several rides.

We took the skyway from scenic world to the another end and follow Prince Henry Cliff Walk to Echo Point, which took nearly to an hour walk. (if you do not prefer walk, you could hop on the 686 bus to Echo Point).

View along the Prince Henry Cliff Walk.

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The walk will end at the Queen Elizabeth Lookout. Once done, look for the bus stop near to restaurant (just follow the crowd will do, but always the last ride schedule. If not mistaken, last ride should be 430pm) and hop back on 686 bus, back to Katoomba train station. From here, you can catch the train directly back to Sydney and rest your weary feet!

For information, we took the early train ~ 830am and back to Sydney about 8.00pm++. It is almost one full day trip. My advise is always check for train and 686 bus schedule and also try to set off early to make the most of the day and avoid the crowds.

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Angel Place @ Forgotten Songs

While walking down George Street, around Martin Place, there is a little side alley Angel Place, which is an alley way full of empty birdcages. The artwork is called “Forgotten Songs” and was designed by Michael Thomas Hill.

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As you stand underneath the birdcages, you can hear the sounds of the birds that once inhabited Sydney before the city built up to what it is today. As day becomes night, the sounds of the birds change too!

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“Forgotten Songs commemorates the songs of fifty birds once heard in central Sydney, before they were gradually forced out by European settlement. The calls, which filter down from the canopy of birdcages suspended above Angel Place, change as day shifts to night; the daytime birds’ songs disappearing with the sun, and those of the nocturnal birds, which inhabited the area, sounding into the evening.”

How to get there – It is located at an alley near Martin Place. If you could spot Emporio Armani & Louis Vuitton outlet, it’s mean that you are not far away from Angel Place, a must that you should not miss out in your Sydney itinerary.

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Sydney University @ Magnificent Building

Sydney University is the Australia’s first university.  It was built in the mid-19th century, so its Australia’s oldest tertiary institution. It’s one of the world’s most respected institutions. The architecture of the original buildings is fabulous & beautiful.

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It is a easy walk from Sydney CBD to the University of Sydney. Beautiful campus with impressive English architecture. There are so many lovely old buildings. Some of the most amazing sandstone buildings you might think for a moment you were in historical England.

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To some certain extend, I though i will meet Harry Potter at once.

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Staircase lead to Sydney University

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