16 September, 2018

[TRAVEL] 2D1N in Yarra Valley & Phillip Island, Melbourne, Australia

Greetings from Melbourne! 

It's the beginning of spring in Australia, and I am super excited to be back to Australia for its chilly end-of-winter season after my 4D3N trip to Sydney exactly one year ago. I guess when I first went to Australia last year, I have fallen in love with the country and promised myself another winter trip here. 

One year later, today I made it to Melbourne with a bunch of good friends. And the best part is, I have doubled the duration of stay here to 8 days so that I can have sufficient time to explore both the city of Melbourne and its surrounding suburbs / country sides. 

7D6N Itinerary in Melbourne
Day 0: KL - Melbourne
Day 1: Melbourne - Yarra Valley - Phillip Island (Blog)
Day 2Phillip Island Natural Parks - Brighton Beach - St. Kilda (Blog)
Day 3: Great Ocean Road (Blog) 
Day 4: Sightseeing in Melbourne CBD - Flinders Station, St Paul Cathedral,
State Library of Victoria, Block Arcade, Docklands (Blog / Blog)
Day 5: Yarra River, Queen Victoria Gardens, NGV Australia, Shrine of Remembrance (Blog)
Day 6: Hosier Lane, Queen Victoria Market, Richmond, Southbank (Blog)
Day 7: Melbourne - KL

Roamingman Portable WiFi keeps me connected throughout the trip.

For this Melbourne trip, I opt for a pocket wifi instead of local simcard because Roamingman device allows for high-speed data connectivity and can be shared among 5 devices. No issues of connecting to the Internet at all, except for some outskirt areas such as Great Ocean Road. 

Nevertheless, the device can last up to 12 hours upon a full charge and it is more cost effective for those travelling in groups. 

RM38 per day for 3GB daily data capacity
*You can collect the device one day before departure, and return the device within 2 days upon arrival

The second thing you must have here is a myki card, a prepaid 'touch-and-go' card for Victoria's public transport network including train, tram, bus and coach. Available in any 7-Eleven stores.

AUD6 per card, plus minimum reload of AUD10 (=RM48) 

Hertz Rental of Toyota Camry for 4 pax with 1 medium-sized suitcase (24") each

As we are visiting tourist attractions outside of Melbourne city, renting a car is definitely cheaper than signing up for day tours (as we are travelling in 4). Hertz is one of the most prestigious vehicle rental brands in Australia, so no doubt the rate may be slightly higher than its competitors. However, service wise, Hertz is excellent.

As we opt for car pick-up at the airport (additional surcharge applied), we save the hassle of travelling downtown with our luggages. Our Toyota Camry is in excellent condition, and overall is a comfortable ride for our first 3 days around Melbourne before returning it to Hertz Melbourne CBD office.

AUD650 for 3-day rental including insurance, full tank petrol and tolls (=RM1,950)

Now let's zoom into the first day of my trip to Melbourne...

DAY 1: Melbourne - Yarra Valley - Phillip Island

Upon arrival at Melbourne Airport around 11am, we drive 60km east (roughly 1 hour) to the cool-climate Yarra Valley wine country, the home of premium chocolate, cheese and wine. And this breathtaking mountainous view is all we see along the journey, so beautiful and soul-calming! I swear I have not seen so much of greenery for the entire year. 

They say if you are up for a tasting of good cheese and high-quality chardonnay, pinot noir and sparkling wine, then Yarra Valley is the right place to go. The grand champagne house Moët & Chandon complete with tasting bar and cellar is located right here, but unfortunately our schedule of the day is rather tight hence we have to skip this :( 

Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery

Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery
35 Old Healesville Rd,
Yarra Glen VIC 3775, Australia.
Contact: +61 3-9730 2777

Website: yvci.com.au
Facebook: fb.com/YarraValleyChocolaterie
Instagram: @yarravalleychocolaterie
Business Hours: 9am -5pm everyday (except Christmas Day)

Well, wine aside, the next thing that probably attracts you more is the chocolate and ice cream. Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery is probably the sweetest destination of the day! Here we get to watch the European Chocolatiers hand craft over 250 different chocolate products.

The chocolate showroom is filled with thousands of couverture delights, including uniquely flavoured chocolates as well as bath and body products made of chocolates. Seriously, chocolate lovers gonna go gaga here!

Oh did I forget to mention that this chocolate haven offers free entry with abundant free chocolate and ice cream tastings? You can grab as many chocolate beads as you want - available in milk, white and dark flavours. 

Spotted a monster chocolate bar of 1 metre long!

After the yummy chocolate experience, it's time to get some real food (as we are feeling peckish after a long overnight flight)! Tucked at the corner of the chocolate house, there is an all-day cafe serving breakfast and lunch with specialty dessert items. 

So here goes our simple brunch - pasta, sandwiches and hot chocolate - overlooking the vast 16-hectare valley. Such picturesque view is just so comforting that we wish to stay longer here. 

And the temperature on a sunny afternoon in Yarra Valley is slightly lower than 15°C.
Perfect weather for a cup of specialty hot chocolate!

Nobody should leave without a picture with this scenic valley. 

How about some desserts after lunch? There are over 12 flavours of gelato, sorbet and froyo for you to choose from. 

Coincidentally during our visit on a Saturday, it is having a High Tea Chocolaterie event where guests are pampered with decadent delights, petite pastries plus sweet and savoury treats prepared by the French Pastry Chef! For latest updates on events, don't forget to stalk them on social media.

AUD59 per person for a high tea set 

Thank you Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery for the experience (and FUN!).

Yarra Valley Dairy
After sinking our teeth into lots of chocolate, we then hunt for some cheese and wine. Just a quick 10 minutes drive away from the chocolatier, we arrive at Yarra Valley Dairy which is famous for its handmade farmhouse cheeses

Yarra Valley Dairy 
70-80 MC Meikans Rd,
Yering VIC 3770, Australia.
Booking: +61 3-9739 0023 / 1222
Email: mail@yvd.com.au

Website: yvd.com.au
Facebook: fb.com/YVDairy
Instagram: @yvdairy
Business Hours: 10.30am - 5pm everyday (except Christmas Day and Boxing Day)

Cheese lovers like me would definitely look forward to having an one-of-a-kind cheese tasting experience because all the cheeses available at the cheese shop come from the original 100-year-old milking shed located right next to it. 

In short, it means that we can enjoy delicious, fresh artisan cheeses from both cows and goats milk, produced freshly from this cheese farm cum factory! 

Frankly, it is my first time tasting cheese this way! The cheese tasting is complimentary for any group of 8 people or less - YES, IT'S FREE. We get to try 6 different cheeses (randomly selected everyday) from the entire range of over 15 cheeses available for purchase.

Most of the cheeses are soft, in a style that reflects the farmhouse cheese of France and Italy, including the much loved Persian Fetta. Although I am a huge fan of cheese, I find that some cheeses have really acquired taste and may not suit everyone's palate. 

For groups of more than 8 people, just pay an AUD3 tasting fee and you'll get to experience the same cheeses - but be sure to make your bookings. 

What's better than pairing the fresh handmade cheeses with locally produced wines from independent winemakers? How I'd wish we have more time to sit down and enjoy a cheese platter while sipping on glasses on wine. 

Plenty of local jams, freshly baked loaves and handmade items are available in the cheese shop too.

Penguin Parade, Phillip Island Nature Park
Our third stop of the day, which is also the main highlight of the trip, is the Penguin Parade in Phillip Island. We have to leave Yarra Valley early because Penguin Parade is 1.5-hour drive away and the recommended penguin viewing time during winter is around 6pm. We are glad to be able to arrive on time and wait for the arrival of little penguins. 

Penguin Parade
1019 Ventnor Rd,
Summerlands VIC 3922, Australia.

Website: penguins.org.au
Facebook: fb.com/PhillipIslandNatureParks
Business Hours: 10am - 6pm everyday 

I'd personally recommend this as one of the must-visit attractions in Melbourne! Why? Simply because you don't get to watch a penguin colony's sunset waddle from the sea to their burrows everyday.

The usual ticket for General Viewing is priced at AUD26.20 (=RM79) and for Penguin Plus at AUD52.50 (=RM157) per person. But I manage to purchase my ticket at a cheaper price and skip the long queue at the counter via Klook

Just head to this website and you'll see plenty of options for Phillip Island attractions.

You can get RM20 OFF for your first purchase on Klook using my promo code:

*Promo code is valid for all activities on Klook across the globe
including Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and more

Phillip Island Combo Ticket @ RM175 per pax
Just flash the email confirmation from Klook at the counter and redeem the tickets without queuing!

Free parking is available on site, but be sure to allocate a further 20 minutes walking time from the bridge to get to the Penguin Parade. Public transportation is a little difficult here, so joining a tour is the next best option apart from driving :) 

Spot the huge crowd in front of us! Approaching sunset, everyone is rushing towards to
the beachside to get a good viewing spot of the penguins.

As the sky falls, we can hear the ‘huk-huk’ sound of penguins as they gather in their groups and begin moving towards the shore. It is fun to watch these cute little penguins so closely as they emerge from the waves, then waddle across the beach toward their burrows in the dunes. 

Penguin Plus - our up-close viewing platform

As much as I want to take the pictures of penguins, I can't because photography is not allowed. Anyway, here's some pictures from the official website of the penguins waddling along the most popular pathway at the Penguin Parade. 

Yes, waddling is what they do, and they can waddle really fast!

Travelling Tips: Be sure to wear thick clothes during winter as the viewing platform can be very cold and windy in the evening. 

After such an unique penguin viewing experience, I am so tempted to bring the penguin plush toy home!

End of Day 1...
Xpress Gourmet Pizza & Pasta
Shop 1/72 Chapel St, 
Cowes VIC 3922, Australia.
Contact: +61 3 5952 2085

Facebook: fb.com/xpressgourmetpizza
Instagram: @xpressgourmetpizza_dromana
Business Hours: 5pm - 9.30pm daily /
5pm - 10.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays)

Our day in Philip Island concludes with a simple meal from the famous pizza chain in Melbourne. Three whole pizzas full of meats, cheese and eggs are a tad overwhelming for us, thanks to the huge pizza size in Australia (9" small and 12" medium). Nevertheless, such warm and hearty meal is great for the cold evening. 

Finally we head to our Airbnb in Ventnor (15 minutes drive away) and call it a night before continuing to explore the remaining parts of Phillip Island Nature Parks on the following day. 

Next up: What are the other attractions in Phillip Island Nature Parks? We spend another 2 days driving around the country areas and the remaining 3 days in Melbourne CBD. Stay tuned for my next update! 

More about my Melbourne travelogue:
#1 2D1N in Phillip Island, Brighton & St Kilda

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