Melbourne - Great city! Lousy weather.

Mar 9th, 2010, 08:16 PM
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Melbourne - Great city! Lousy weather.

This was our first trip to Melbourne in 22 years, we got great tips from people here on the forum.

We're back! Boy oh boy! What a weekend.

After 22 years of not going to Melbourne because my husband hated the weather there. Guess what? Yup. The biggest storm to hit Melbourne in recent memory.(Sigh.....)

However, all in all, we loved it! Our hotel, The Quest Bayside in St. Kilda, was great. The location could not be better as it is a very quiet, beautiful and leafy green area which is a stone's throw from everything you'd want to see and do in St. Kilda. It was spanking clean, quiet, very well run and comfortable. We had a view of the city in a one bedroom flat with a balcony overlooking the pool. So that was perfect and we'll go back there again, hopefully about once a year(!!!!!!!)

We had heard so many horror stories about how cold and changeable the weather was, that it was impossible to know what to pack. In the end I needed a bathing suit, and never put on one single item of cold weather clothing.

We ate at Lau's Family Kitchen, right around the corner, which we enjoyed, but it is a high priced Chinese-modern restaurant with a modern Australian look, service, and wine list. I'd recommend it, but you'd have to know these things first. If you skip the wine, share a main and two entres, then it's not expensive. They have 2 nightly sittings at 6 and 8 and a booking is probably a good idea as they do book out.

We had a number of breakfasts, but our favorite was at the Felix St. Kilda, which did great poached eggs, looks gorgeous, and was just the favorite.

At the Sea Bass cafe by the water, I had some of the best oysters I'd ever eaten. Ever! Not likely to get that lucky again I'm afraid. (And I didn't either)

So, here we go.

Loved St. Kilda. Location, beach, wharf, Luna Park, buildings, cafes and restaurants, cake shops . Monarch bakery was the outright winner bakery for us. Walking out on the wharf at sunset and then waiting to see the fairy penguins come home is sheer delight, not to forget the great views over the marina back towards the city. Sitting in a cafe beside the beach is pure heaven and made us sad that at both Bondi and Manly there is such a scant variety of places to sit right beside the beach like that.

Very easy access to trams to the city and a 15 minute ride.

After our friends left us Friday morning, we went into the city center and walked all around so many of the places you recommended, the little lanes, cafes and shops, and we so enjoy Melbourne now, that we agreed to make it a regular getaway and recommend it to our friends for all these reasons. The city center, beautiful architecture everywhere, Docklands, Southgate, and especially the fabulous Crown Casino which knocked our socks off simply for the beauty of the design and the maintenance which makes it all still look so new ($30M per year in upkeep). Sadly, after we'd had a good look around and were exiting to go home, we saw 3 men on their hands and knees trying to wipe up something very red. Some silly woman had just dropped a bottle of bright red nail polish which crashed onto this white marble floor and created a gigantic red blotch. I nearly had nightmares about this as it looked very permanent and at one of the main entrances. (I couldn't even enjoy the vision of 3 men on their hands and knees scrubbing the floor.) A big ugly blotch on something which was nearly perfect.

So, to continue, on Saturday we went into town and started at Docklands with it's stunning location, buildings, cafes, and art. It's just fabulous and a don't miss when visiting Melbourne, and knowing a storm was expected, and then seeing the dark clouds coming in, we decided it's best to catch a tram back to the city center where we'd have places to duck into should we get caught out.

And then we go out of the tram at the top of Swanston St., started walking down, and that's when all hell broke loose. We made it down to a Telstra shop when deafening thunder cracked right overhead, and the hailstones began to fall. The streets were full of screaming hail and very high wind, blocking out all other sound, and bucketing down rain. People were screaming and running here and there in bare feet (me included) and looking like drowned rats. Frightened horses attached to buggies with nowhere to run. I suspected a tornado was going to hit, and dragged my husband inside the shop in raw fear. Although I have heard it called a 'cyclone' (which is a swirling mass of low pressure) , it was never quite a tornado, but I think it was as close as it could ever get without being one. After two hours of this, there were still piles of hailstone about the streets. Buildings everywhere were covered in broken leaves. We saw broken tree branches inside buildings, and rivers of water flowing right through shops and out into the street. I think the damage must be colossal. But it was so overwhelming, that it simply became laughable once the pressure to survive was gone.

Eventually, we made our way through rivers and lakes, having to go both up and down streets when one street was blocked. And because there were no trams running back home, we thought the best place for us to be was the casino where we could pass the time until things settled down and there was transport.

We thought we'd duck into a film and then have dinner to pass the time. But the cinemas were all shut due to rain damage, and even the sound system in the casino was shorted out and it sounded like a loud fireworks show all around us. So we did what all sensible travelers should do when their plans go astray:

Time for a few margaritas!

We had a drink or two, then talked our way into the Waterfront restaurant for a nice steak dinner without a reservation. They said they were booked out but we could sit at the counter. I looked at it and said that I thought it was much too high for me to sit at and cut into a big steak, but thank you anyway. And, as we turned around to go, they surprisingly found us a lovely table for two! What a great restaurant!

But the very best news of the night was that as we were leaving the casino, we walked past the ruined marble floor with the giant red nail polish accent, to see it bright white and sparkling with not a trace of red. Thank goodness! I could now sleep soundly!

All's well that ends well.

We didn't make it to the wonderful museums and galleries, but now that we will return again soon, the pressure was off to see it all in one trip and we just tried to enjoy being there this time.
Thank you all for your help. In spite of the storm, and the polish, we really do love Melbourne. Wonderful city! Awful weather!
tinydancer is offline  
Mar 10th, 2010, 02:06 AM
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Hi, thanks for your great trip report. We just came back from there and I have not yet had time to post my thought, but enjoyed reading about your experience very much!

lavandula is offline  
Mar 10th, 2010, 05:18 AM
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Tinydancer, well it will be a holiday story that you can dine out on for a long time. On the odd occasion we still to get to say that we are amongst the few people that visited the Isle of Capri while it snowed despite it being over 20 years since we were there. Glad to see that it didn't stop you from making the most of it. Is your husband now advocating 44 years before he returns?
shandy is offline  
Mar 10th, 2010, 02:34 PM
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shandy, lavandula, thanks! He loved it too. I think we'll be making an annual visit. Or bi-annually anyway.
tinydancer is offline  
Mar 11th, 2010, 01:49 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
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Yes that was the worst storm we have had in 100 years so it is unlikely you will experience a downpour like that on your next visit.
Glad you like our great city. It has changed significantly in the last 22 years and very much for the better.
DownUnder is offline  
Mar 15th, 2010, 06:54 PM
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Downunder... I was about to tell them that a storm like that is VERY unlikely to happen again. I too am a Melbournite for 35 years.... just moved to Sydney outskirts for the last 5 years. I loved Melbourne.
MissGreen is offline  
Mar 15th, 2010, 07:58 PM
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We live in Sydney...but a large part of our hearts are now in Melbourne. Weather
or no weather! Now that we've seen and experienced what a wonderful city it is, we'll be back! (And we'll be ready for anything!)
tinydancer is offline  
Mar 16th, 2010, 03:02 AM
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That was a great report, and even some ideas for things to do ourselves. I've lived here now for only a couple of months, so still learning. Thanks for writing it up.

We'd just missed the storm, having flown back to Melbourne the next day after a week away. Can't say I'm sorry to have missed that one!
Clifton is offline  
Mar 16th, 2010, 03:20 AM
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We looked at our video of it again yesterday. Wow! It was really something! And we still love Melbourne. So it must really be as amazing as we think it is. Even a storm like that didn't change the way it impressed us.
tinydancer is offline  
Mar 16th, 2010, 10:56 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Thanks for a great TR! It's helpful to us as we plan our first trip Down Under in October/November. Melbourne is on our list of places to stay.

Hadn't thought of staying outside the main downtown -- what are the pros and cons? Sounds as if the trams get you where you need to go -- can you dine late-ish in town and still get a tram back to the beach?
SB_Travlr is offline  
Mar 16th, 2010, 11:37 PM
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Thank you! For us St. Kilda was perfect. You can have a nice dinner in the city center or the casino and catch the tram back. Try to look up schedules on line, but they probably run until 11 or midnight is my guess.

We loved staying there and doubt if we'd stay in the city on future trips. Staying here gave us the best of everything. We had countless cafes and restaurants a short walk from our hotel, the beach too, beach cafes, sunset walks on the pier coming back to eat in a cafe somewhere. There are fine dining places, and pubs and cafes. The trams make it so easy.

You'll love it.
tinydancer is offline  
Mar 17th, 2010, 12:37 AM
Join Date: Dec 2009
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To SB. I can't recommend St.Kilda more highly. I live in Elwood the next suburb to St.Kilda so may get accused of bias.
The web site for the Melbourne transport system is The best service is the No. 96 tram (light rail). You will see that the last tram leaves the city at 11.57 pm Mon-Thurs. and 0.46am on Frid. & Sat. The No. 112 also runs from the City to St.Kilda. As I have said on this forum before when my well to do brother-in-law comes to Melbourne on business he stays at a very reasonable apartment in St.Kilda.
The other great suburb to stay in is Carlton, walking distance to the CBD.
jamesexton_1 is offline  
Mar 18th, 2010, 05:57 PM
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Insurers estimate the cost of that fast & furious hailstorm at $500m+
Bokhara2 is offline  

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