Greetings from Australia!

Greetings from Australia! I’ve been here for something like four days (I say “something like” because the time travel thing that happens when you cross the International Date Line is still confusing me), and I just love it.

Anne and I are in Melbourne, which I’ve found to be an absoulutely wonderful city. My sample size is very small, but every Australian I’ve encountered since I’ve been here has been friendly, kind, and generally awesome. The food is fantastic, and the city itself is beautiful.

When I’m not rehearsing for Thursday’s performance at the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Anne and I have been exploring the city. Yesterday, we made music by dancing around in front of a giant theremin, walked up and down about a dozen alleys (I think they call them “laneways” or something like that, here) that were covered with all sorts of gorgeous street art, and ate a pizza that was covered with nutella, strawberries, and slivered almonds. If you’d told me three days ago that I would eat that on purpose, I would have told you that you were crazy. If you’d bet me a million dollars that I’d actually enjoy it, I’d now be in your debt for the rest of my life.

So, yanno, build the time machine, meet me in Melbourne last Sunday, and start planning to make enough money from me to fund the construction of your time machine.

Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I helped build that time machine?

Restaurants I’ve fallen in love with: Cookie in the central business district, and The Local Taphouse in St. Kilda. Food I’ve fallen in love with: all of it, especially baked beans on toast for breakfast. And even though Anne wants to kill Vegemite with fire, I’m starting to like a thin smear of it on toast with honey or marmalade.

In case you’re here in Melbourne: come to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on Thursday for Video Games Unplugged: Symphony of Legends. It’s going to be amazing. Then, come to Supanova this weekend!

The weather has been nasty and cold, but it’s supposed to start turning around today, just in time for us to go to Brisbane on Monday. I’m super excited to have a few days to myself on the Gold Coast before Supanova happens there, a week from Saturday.

… I just realized that I haven’t yet listened to Men At Work or INXS in the original Australian, so I think I should go do that before I go to rehearsal.

Question for Locals (in Melbourne and Gold Coast): Can you suggest a “must see”, “must do” and warn me off of “not worth your time” activities? Anne and I like to get away from touristy things and find places that locals enjoy.

123 thoughts on “Greetings from Australia!”

  1. Don’t forget to try out The Croft Institute (awesome bar), Robot (great Japanese bar and restaurant), Mana Bar (nerd heaven) and get your arse to ACMI in Fed Square for the free trip down memory lane in their media history room – you can play an old Atari and heaps of other goodness.
    Oh and of course the comedy festival is on, great time to be in Melbourne.

  2. If you’re liking the food scene Wil try a place called Robot in the CBD : http://www.robotsushi.com/ its primarily a bar great sake and just funky geeky chic atmosphere the even screen Anime some nights.
    Shattered I cant be @ supernova but my best friends engagement in Towoomba must take precedence, hopefully will catch you if you come again, hopefully as you’re Evil twin from your first few Big Bang appearances ;)
    Morgan.

  3. Welcome Wil!
    Handy tip: You don’t kill Vegemite with fire, but with a wooden stake through it’s cold, incredibly salty yet oddly satisfying heart.

  4. Pack a picnic lunch and head to the Gold Coast Hinterlands. I like Mt Tamborine’s Gallery Walk, tourist trap, but, has some excellent galleries and odd little shops to poke through, plus I found Beyonce’s convict relative there. Couldn’t afford him though :(
    West End in Brisbane is a bit funky as is The Valley. And I keep hearing that the old power station in New Farm is pretty cool. And for cheap thrills, you could always take the City Cat up and down the river, nice way to see the city.

  5. On the Gold Coast – don’t bother with Surfers Paradise, it’s for trashy tourists only. Try Burleigh Heads or Broadbeach instead. Another nice place is Tambourine Mountain: nice views of the Gold Coast from the montains and nice cafes and art galleries.

  6. I was an exchange student in Australia last semester and my two favourite places were the Gold Coast and Melbourne. Have you caught onto saying Melbourne without the r yet? In Melbourne I recommend Lygon street! In the Gold Coast there is just miles and miles of beach. Surfers paradise is nice, but if you head down farther towards Main Beach it wasn’t nearly as busy and a lot more relaxing (atleast when I was there). Such a beautiful country, I hope you and Anne enjoy yourselves!

  7. If want some really crazy pizzas while in Melbourne, I would suggest:
    http://www.mojosrichmond.com.au/
    As for what to see, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is on at the moment, been plenty of times, and has always been fun.
    ACMI (Australian Centre for Moving Images, Federation Square) is a must as they have games at the moment.
    Enjoy your time here in Melbourne and Australia. While I will not be able to meet you this time (unemployment bites), I hope that you will come back and I can meet you then.

  8. TWEEEEEETOOON!
    Why you in Melb and Bris, but not come to Sydney :(
    I’ve only been to Melbourne once, and the single greatest thing I can recall is a place called Lord of the Fries. If you’ve ever played the original Cheapass Game, you have to go there and pay homage (and eat some fries).
    This was some 2 years ago, so hopefully it’s still there.

  9. Just remember: in Australia if it’s ugly, it will kill you. If it’s cute… it will still kill you. :)
    Enjoy our fair city and thanks for coming. :)

  10. Welcome to our city, Wil and Anne. If you love Greek food, I highly recommend http://www.hellenicrepublic.com.au/ – brilliant and you’ll practically waddle out of there if you get the banquet. There is a lovely little cocktail bar called 1806 (http://www.1806.com.au/) in the city. Drinks & atmosphere are great (like being in the back of an old theatre) and the bar food is terrific. If you had more time, I’d suggest going out to the Yarra Valley, or taking a balloon flight early morning over Melbourne.
    Oh, and if you want a break from Supernova and need to hear some delightful acapella choral music, come see my choir perform Schutz’s St Matthew’s Passion (http://www.facebook.com/events/281722365237743/) at St John’s Church at Southgate.

  11. A common mistake by Vegemite first-timers is slathering the stuff on like peanut butter. You may as well do the same thing with wasabi.
    Do try the chocolate cafés. Lindt has the best cheesecake, but Max Brenner has the best ice cream.

  12. In Melbourne, try a restaurant called “The Dark Side”. No, it doesn’t have a Star Wars theme… You actually eat in complete and utter darkness! It’s supposed to heighten one’s sense of taste. :-)

  13. Minotaur Comics in Melbourne if you need a comic fix. I think I got stuck in there for about 2 hours once. Also, walking down Collins St and going to Fitzroy Gardens is great – the gardens are lovely, and they also have Captain Cook’s house that the government bought and transported from England. The National Gallery is worth having a look at, and while you’re in Southbank, there’s cafes and restaurants by the foreshore.
    In the Gold Coat, Broadbeach is really nice. Surfers is the touristy part, but it’s still good to go have a look at and walk down Cavill Ave, there’s a Ripley’s Believe It or Not there if you’re interested in that kind of thing. There’s also the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, but it’s a bit like The Birds as they come and sit all over you as you feed them.
    Hope that helps a little!

  14. As have many others before me, I too suggest ACMI – they have good geeky exhibits right now, and best of all, those exhibits are free. I went along yesterday between uni classes.
    I look forward to seeing you tomorrow – yes, I will be at Video Games Unplugged. Sadly no Supanova for me this year, though.

  15. Welcome to Melbourne!
    Many Melburnians love sport and especially Australian Rules Football (AFL) so catch a game on the weekend if you can – preferably at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). Find a local who knows the game to tag along and explain the rules!
    If you have time for a day trip on the weekend I would recommend the Great Ocean Road or a trip to the Yarra Valley Wineries. The Coldstream Brewery in the Yarra Valley might also be a winner.
    If the weather warms up the Royal Botanic Gardens are nice and a visit to St Kilda beach is always good (lots of good food and bars around here too).
    For something quaint you could try the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant Tour of Melbourne.
    Don’t bother with a river cruise (it really isn’t out best feature!), the zoo or aquarium (just like every other one in the world!), Crown Casino (tacky), Docklands precinct (no soul) and Eureka Skydeck.
    Enjoy the rest of your visit to Aus and come again!

  16. Wednesday night at Mountain Goat Brewery in Melbourne – pizza, and their handcrafted beers. Yum. Also, Embiggen Books – my favourite Melbourne bookshop. On the Gold Coast, check out Burleigh Brewing Company beer – I like the Hef! If you like bushwalking, the Gold Coast Hinterland is full of walks of all lengths and difficulties.

  17. There’s an upstairs restaurant in Swanston St in the CBD called The Lounge, which does a Chicken Parmagiana that is to die for (one of the best IMO), and the STREAT coffee cart in the lower level of Melbourne Central makes Starbucks taste like burnt dishwater!

  18. Wil when you have a day spare in the Gold Coast, take a day trip to Byron Bay. It’s one of the best places in Australia, beautiful beaches and awesome laid back atmosphere. Kind of a slight hippie vibe to it.
    You’ll probably need to hire a car for the day (remembering to drive on the LEFT) but it’s less than an hour’s drive south of the gold coast.
    You can visit the Byron Bay Lighthouse, which is the easternmost point of Australia. Go for a walk along one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Have a beer at one of the best pubs in the country (the Beach Hotel).
    If you and Anne like swimming and seeing awesome fishies, then you can take a snorkelling trip out to Julian Rocks, which is a great marine reserve where you can see all sorts of marine life, possibly including whales close up.
    Anyway if you like the sound of it I’m sure you can google more info :)

  19. A must is to catch a good AFL game at either Etihad Stadium or preferably the MCG, just choose a game that promises to be great, like this Friday night Carlton vs Collingwood. Try to check out the retro games at ACMI in Fed Square. The view from SkyDeck is nice also. Have fun! Also, on the music thingy, don’t forget Barnsey!

  20. Stay away from Surfers Paradise, go to Byron Bay or Bangalow, you have to go to one of the country flee markets: http://bangalowmarket.com.au/ or http://www.byron-bay.com/markets/ Seriously good local shopping, and great people watching. Byron and Bangalow are about 2-3 hours from Brisbane along the pacific Hyw. It is a really nice drive. Stop by Lennox Head to swim in Lake Ainsworth which is a tea tree lake. Don’t go to the big Pineapple, the big banana, or the big what ever.

  21. No one does brekky or lunch better than Bondstore in Southbank, just across from the Belgian Beer Cafe on Cook Street. For dinner and drinks, Borsch, Vodka and Tears on Chapel St, and Der Raum on Church St for overpriced but awesome cocktails!

  22. Aye, The Mana Bar has locations in Melbourne and Brisbane. Say “hi” to Yahtzee. The Mana Bar Melbourne is located at 336 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne. The Mana Bar Brisbane is located at 420 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. Enjoy!

  23. The Local is just up the street from my house, love it so much there. A+ choice, Wheaton.
    The only “touristy” thing I would recommend in Melbourne is the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant (http://www.tramrestaurant.com.au/en/). It’s one of those things that people look past as too kitschy, but I’m a Melbourne girl and I’ve been 4 times just for the love of it. The interior of the trams is BEAUTIFUL, the food is actually delicious, the alcohol is all included in the cost and you get to see Melbourne from the northern to the southern suburbs. /rant

  24. I must agree with the Croft Institute! It’s a great place with even better cocktails and a very creative barkeeper. If you end up going there, make sure you actually walk down the whole lane. It is the very last door on the right and rather hard to find..
    Also heard good things about the Mana bar.
    Plus, I take my visitors to the ACMI museum. They have two exhibitions. The permanent one is about the history of making movies. And you can take an awesome matrix-like spinny movie of yourself for free :)
    I’d also suggest the theremin, but apparently you found out about it already.
    Best pizza places are on Lygon Street (that’s in the North of Melbourne) I believe.
    …oooh… and then you might be able to take a trip on the Enterprize. It’s an awesome sailing ship! Can I post links here? Well.. I’ll try: http://www.enterprize.org.au/
    So much fun.
    Random knowledge: there is a (rather disappointing) Batman park, because Batman was one of the city’s founders.
    Hope you have a great time here!
    (And I’ll see you tomorrow! Can’t wait!)
    Cheers!

  25. Hey Wil,
    Check out MoVida in Hosier Lane for awesome tapas, Little Creatures Brewery/Cafe for micro-brews on Brunswick St and Cumulus Inc on Gertrude St for modern Australian deliciousness.
    Glad you’re enjoying our freezing city!

  26. Oh and someone else mentioned it, but I second the suggestion of 1806 for the most comprehensive cocktails in Melbonio.

  27. Come on! – I can’t believe no-one has suggested the essential Australia thing to do for Americans – see/pat a Koala and a Kangaroo!
    In Brisbane (BrisVegas for those in the know) the best place is Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary – about 15 mins from my place so give me a yell and I’ll shout you a ticket :-)
    At the Gold Coast you can see them at Dreamworld (which is like a mini Disney) but your probably better off going to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Just animals – no rides.
    Back in BrisVegas taking a quick trip up to the top of Mt-Cootha is a good way to see the whole city (a bit like going to Griffith Observatory in LA – except without the Observatory!).
    If you want adventure do the Story Bridge climb – its meant to just as good (if not better) than climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
    You could also hire a City Cycle ($2/day) and ride along the river taking in the sights.
    Have a great time – wish my daughter & I could make it to SupaNova Gold Coast to see you.

  28. Hey Wil. Send Cal an email. He and Raellen love Melbourne and although they’re not locals, you just know that they’ve scoped out all the good places to eat and drink wine. Have fun!

  29. You like beer, right?
    If you’re in Brisbane for longer than just landing at the airport and transferring to the Gold Coast, you should totally let me buy you a beer at Scratch Bar – http://www.scratchbar.com/. Or, you know, just go there yourself.
    I only discovered it a week ago and have been back three times since.

  30. Go to an AFL game – (aka Aussie Rules Football) – the best game will be Friday night (Carlton v Collingwood). No aussie visit is complete without seeing “the footy”. I’m a hockey nut, and footy is all the action and excitement of hockey.

  31. Another vote for the football. Friday night will be a HUGE game at the MCG (the stadium with the big light towers you can see from pretty much anywhere in the city). I’m sure you can find someone willing to take you – even me.
    Vegemite with honey marks you as a rube to everyone in sight. Please stop this atrocity and just go with a thin smear. Plain bagels work very well for this too.
    With the comedy festival on you should head to the Town Hall and surrounding blocks and grab a ticket to whatever is on next. Treat it like a laughter lucky dip.

  32. All these comments and no one told the poor guy to try a flat white? Wil- next time you’re out at breakfast, or just coffee, go ask for a flat white. You won’t regret it. And if it’s crap, then it’s a crap coffee shop. Find another one until you get a good one. :)
    Still can’t believe you’re skipping Sydney …

  33. Brisbane city is really pretty and lovely to walk around. There is a man-made beach(ette) called Southbank there which is also lovely to walk around.
    I remember going to a great place in Fortitude Valley for Dim Sum when I was there. I can’t recall the name though.
    If you can get out of Brisbane, then I recommend going to Lamington national park. You can even stay there the night, and it’s lovely if you enjoy birdwatching.
    Alternatively, there is Dreamworld and Seaworld if you like theme parks with vomit-inducing rides.
    Try at some stage to meet some Kangaroos. There are places like sanctuaries, where they care for them and they let visitors help feed them.
    Hope the weather gets better for you!

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