13. Go to the MCG

1 07 2012

I was tempted to make this a sequel to Non-celebrity lookalike on campus #1, but decided to attach it to this item on my list for it was at the MCG where this (actual) celebrity spot took place.

Let me delve into where my Melbourne love stems from for a second. There are many, many reasons why I chose to move to Melbourne, but it’d be hard to say that my avid Neighbours viewing/fandom is entirely unrelated. I’d already seen one Neighbours actress at the Mimco LMFF show a few months ago and then, on my final night in Melbourne, I found myself sat in front of Ashleigh Brewer (Kate Ramsay from Neighbours) at the Hawthorn V Carlton match at the MCG.

And if it wasn’t her, then it was the best lookalike ever.

Despite a text/Twitter conversation across the globe to Hannah in the UK, I decided not to ask if it was actually her as she was enjoying a night out with friends and because I am not actually a total stalker. Instead I just decided to take a completely non-stalkerish photo of Lara and Lucy whilst actually capturing her in the background…

What do you think, is it her?

For symbolic reasons, I’m going to say it was definitely her. I like to think it was the perfect Neighbours-y way to say goodbye to my home for the past four and a half months.

Melbourne, thanks for the memories. You were the best temporary home I could’ve asked for. See you again soon?

Update: @AshleighBrewer1 tweeted me. Click here to see what she said.


57. Watch an AFL match

1 07 2012

On my final night in Melbourne, I headed to the MCG to watch Hawthorn play Carlton. We booked reserved seating tickets for $27.50 and got ourself some really good seats on Level 1. We thought this was very reasonable and were a bit gutted we had found the one thing that was cheaper in Australia (sporting tickets) than in the UK on my last night!

Hawthorn quickly took the lead so we quickly decided to be Hawthorn fans. We definitely seemed to be in the Hawthorn end so this seemed like a sensible decision.

There was one other thing that quickly became apparent: AFL matches are long.

Each quarter went on for more than half an hour meaning the total time spent shivering in the MCG topped two and a half hours. A (luke warm non-chocolatey) hot chocolate ($4.20) at half time warmed me up for a bit but I’d definitely advise wearing lots of layers.

Hawthorn won the match. We cheered. And then I went home for my last night in Melbourne.

I’m glad I went though. Despite deeming the sport a little bit bogan scrappy, it was a very Australian experience and definitely one worth ticking off the list.

74. Explore the Dandenong Ranges using only public transport

27 06 2012

I can’t remember why they decided to wave like the Queen.

Ever since Uni finished, Lucy and I have been living like tourists. As such, we had been looking at getting out of the city for a day to explore some of the greater Victoria region. We’d hoped to head down the Mornington Peninsula, but it was looking as though we’d need to get the train to Frankston and then a lengthy bus journey to get anywhere near Mornington.

A much easier option, it seemed, was to go an explore the Dandenong Ranges.

Now, when we told people of our plans, we were met with questioning eyebrows – even the lady in Tourist Information thought we were a bit foolish to want to go there without a car, particularly at ‘this time of year’.

You know what? It was the easiest day trip ever. And it was beautiful.

Catching the 9.16am train from Flinders Street to Upper Ferntree Gully (Belgrave Line, Platform 3 in case you’re looking to recreate this trip) we headed out of the city eating Salted Caramel cupcakes that I’d picked up from Little Cupcakes en route.

Once at the station, a women stole 5 cents off Lara which we thought may be a bad omen for the day. This fear continued when we got a bit lost trying to find the correct bus stop and missing our intended bus.

Fortunately we then found the 688 bus stop directly opposite the exit of the station next to the Tourist Information building. Buses are at least two an hour on weekdays so it wasn’t too much of a wait before we got on the bus and headed to our first stop for the day: Sassafras.

Chocolate Tart, Apple and Pear Batter Cake and Lemon Cheesecake. YUM.

We still don’t know how to pronounce Sassafras, but we do know that they love Devonshire Teas. We stopped off for morning cake and had a wander around the small town – finding an amazing produce shop with vast quantities of tasters which we enjoyed before Lucy bought some expensive, but delicious, Goats Cheese.

You see how it could be a little bit creepy?

Next we caught the bus to Olinda. Olinda, as Lara declared, is a great place to bury a body. It’s quiet and creepy-looking forests are in an abundance. We did a circuit of the town (it seems quite a few shops there close on Tuesdays) then headed off to the National Rhododendron Gardens which were a short walk away. Entry to the gardens was free and on a clear winter’s day they were beautiful (even if rather lacking in rhododendrons). There was a lovely lake that provided ample photo opportunities and Lucy declared Olinda to be a very romantic place.

I’m not sure how one place can be both ‘romantic’ and ‘a great place to bury a body’, but seemingly Olinda justifies both those qualities.

Pretty lake, National Rhododendron Gardens.

Look at that blue sky – perfect Melburnian winter day!

After lunch (be warned that everything is much more expensive out there) we got back on the bus and headed up to SkyHigh Mount Dandenong. By this point we were very cold, so after pointing out the city on the horizon (unfortunately it was pretty misty) we went down to the bistro and got three hot chocolates to drink by the fireplace.

We wanted to check out the maze but it was closed and the English Garden had little to explore bar the Wishing Tree which offered some humorous photo opportunities.

We caught a bus back towards Upper Ferntree Gully direct from SkyHigh, but you could’ve equally got back on the 688 heading towards Croydon and continued to see what the other side of the mountain offered.

Lucy and Lara at SkyHigh Mount Dandenong.

So was it worth the effort? Most definitely. And using a concession Myki it cost less than $5 for the whole day’s transport. Perfect for an exchange student’s day out (with a local student joining us for the tourist fun too!)

Unfortunately I’m leaving Melbourne on Saturday, but if anyone has any other daytrip suggestions feel free to suggest away…

39. Find somewhere that sells amazing breakfasts

25 06 2012
Green Refectory, Sydney Road, Brunswick


It’d be fair to say I’ve eaten my fair share of amazing breakfasts in Melbourne. Back in my first week I had strawberry crepes in Degraves Street. Annamiek showed me the wonders of Arcadia on Gertrude Street on a day when my stomach was refusing to cooperate despite the incredible lemon ricotta hotcakes before me. And then there’s the homemade crumpets with marscapone and honey from Di Bella Roasting Warehouse in North Melbourne that have filled my tummy numerous times.

Melbourne is THE best city in the world for breakfast.

Actually, as it’s my last week here I’m going to be all sentimental and simply say Melbourne is the best city in the world. It’s my best city in the world.

And these past ten days since handing in my final uni assignments have made me realise how much I’m going to miss it.

I’ve been living like a complete tourist: Taking walks in the Botanical Gardens, going to the Immigration Museum (highly recommended) and tomorrow we’re navigating our way across the Dandenong Ranges by public transport. I’ve also been eating as though I’m on holiday. This has meant many trips to cafes. And in the past ten days, I’ve been to Green Refectory on Sydney Road, Brunswick twice. Once for lunch last week and then today I went there again. This time, for breakfast.


I had the pancakes with caramel and banana ($7.95) and it was delicious. It was sweet – but not sickly – and the caramel and banana combo was always going to be a winner. I also had a large fresh fruit juice. I can’t remember how much a large was, but a small is $3.70. In a small you can pick up to three fruits to be juiced together, and up to five in a large. On both trips I’ve opted for apple, pineapple and mango nectar and have not been disappointed.

Sydney Road, Brunswick

Totally unposed picture.

Lucy decided to go for savoury and was narrowly defeated by her huge Breakfast Stack ($10) comprising of a poached egg, tomato, spinach, haloumi, bacon, hash brown (and possibly other bits I’ve forgotten). She also opted for a small orange juice and a flat white; both of which she seemed to enjoy.

So have I found somewhere that sells amazing breakfasts? Most definitely. But more impressively, I’ve found an entire city that does too.

Has anyone got any other Melbourne breakfastories (may have made that word up) they’d like to recommend?

37. Visit the Neighbours back lot

21 06 2012

Ok, so I haven’t exactly done this. But it’s close enough.

You get to visit the Neighbours Back Lot on weekend tours but owing to the fact that Lucy works weekends, it made much more sense for us to do the standard weekday tour.

We arrived at the Bunyip Tours shop on Flinders Street and waited for our Irish guide Gerry to drive us to the Eastern suburbs where Neighbours is filmed. En route (in the second most embarrassing vehicle I’ve ever traveled in – I’m looking at you, London Duck Tours) Gerry told us lots of fun facts and trivia about Neighbours which I may have already known most of. I do definitely agree that a non G rated Neighbours would be very entertaining to watch. Imagine a whole half hour of this…

Unlike my first Neighbours tour four years ago (where I was jokingly offered a job if I could get a minibus license), this time we headed to the Nunawading Studios first and took daggy photos outside Back Lot 2. Here’s me chillin’ at Fitzgerald Motors…

Read my t-shirt. I said… READ MY T-SHIRT.

At this point Chris Milligan who plays Kyle Canning drove passed us in his car with his personalised number plate (apparently both characters in Neighbours – a la Andrew Robinson – and the real life actors enjoy a good initialed number plate). Alas we didn’t actually see him in the car though. Apparently he was wearing a black hoodie. Insightful, eh?

We then loitered for a bit to see if we could meet the ‘star’ we were supposed to be meeting but filming was overrunning (apparently this is common) so we headed off to Pin Oak Court (the real street!). We did, however, do a loop around the studio to turn around and got to see the back of the main Back Lot set where the Lassiters complex is. Neighbours seem to be very much of the ‘let’s maximise the usage of everything’ as we past a gate that had been used as a gate to the prison, that animal testing place where Zeke got arrested and as the entrance to Eden Hills Grammar School.

Once in the street we continued to take dorky Facebook profile pictures such as this…

Apparently the guy who really lives there once beat up a drunk backpacker. I am not sure if this is 100% true.

Yes real people live there. Apart from Number 26 which is currently being rented to the studio and being used to store props, all the other houses are lived in by real non-fictional people.

Having taken enough photos we then got back in the Neighbours-mobile and headed back to Flinders Street watching a BBC Documentary about our beloved (entirely realistic) soap.

Once back at Bunyip Headquarters Gerry had called in Alan Fletcher (Dr Karl Kennedy) to come and meet us all. This was actually the third time I’d met him (if you’re my Facebook friend you may remember this video four years ago where I went to his gig and then he filmed me looking like a nutter singing all the words to his original-penned song.)

And sometimes I question why my Neighbours love is weird…

Anyway, it was a great few hours and for $50 you get lots of laughs and enough Facebook profile pictures to last a lifetime (or until you do another Neighbours tour in four years).

18. Find some Australian chocolate that I actually like

19 06 2012

I’m a chocolate snob.

Ok, that’s actually a lie. I’ll gladly eat a bar of 25p 100g Tesco Value chocolate (Please tell me that still exists?!) What I struggle to consume though, is Australian-made chocolate.

Australia has Cadbury’s chocolate. England has Cadbury’s chocolate. You’d think this would mean they’d taste similar. You’d be very, very wrong. Australian Cadbury’s is not deserving of the Cadbury name. No matter how exciting the chocolate bar sounds (England really needs to get a Top Deck or Duo equivalent) it always disappoints me in the taste stakes.

I don’t know the full science behind it, but I believe it’s something to do with enzymes and melting points and the fact that Australia is supposedly ‘hot’ and England ‘cold’. I think I actually did a project on it in Year 7 or 8 science, but let’s just say that if I did actually learn anything in year 7 or 8 science then it was forgotten a long time ago.

Anyway, this list item has been sitting pretty unticked off for a while and I’ve had many people comment to me that I must go to Haigh’s. I’ve heard everything from “It’s the best chocolate ever” to “The guy who started it trained with the guy from Lindt”. I’m not sure whether either of these are facts, but if the latter is true then unfortunately I feel Mr Lindt may have been a bit better at the training.

Here’s the thing. I bought two squares of Haigh’s chocolate. One milk. One dark. Each cost me 75 cents and I was content with the world. I left the chocolate at room temperature for full effect and this morning I commenced the taste test. Placing a square on my tongue it immediately struck me that it just wouldn’t melt from the warmth of my tongue – room temperature Lindt will normally pass this test after a few seconds. After giving up waiting and biting the chocolate I was impressed with the flavour, but the texture just wasn’t as smooth as it’s European counterparts.

So have I found some Australian chocolate that I actually like? Yes, yes I have. However I still believe that buying Lindt here is a better (and surprisingly more cost-effective) option. Plus, there’s always Aldi chocolate. I’m also pretty excited about returning to England and not having to look at where the chocolate was produced in order for me to determine whether or not to purchase it.

17iii. See Missy Higgins play live (again again)

18 06 2012

June 17 2012.I managed to get tickets to last night’s final Melbourne show and the final date on the tour!

After searching “missyhiggins tickets” on Twitter and refreshing Gumtree all afternoon, I saw a tweet from clearly the most lovely human in the world who could no longer make the show and was giving away her two tickets. For free. For this I cannot thank her enough!

With tickets on my phone, a last minute phonecall to get Jude to come with me and having put a Twitter request in for Sugarcane, I jumped on a tram to the city and went to three different Internet Cafes before finding one which actually let me download and print documents!

Just before Butterfly’s set started I saw Missy had tweeted me in response to my request which caused quite a bit of excitement! Butterfly’s set was great and I now feel I must immediately download the entirety of her new album as I’ve now seen her play four times since moving here so shall be opening up my iTunes in a second to complete my album collection.

Missy’s set started with Secret and The River but quickly things were shaken up with Tricks making an early appearance. Also of note was Set Me On Fire, which was, tonight, introduced with a whole verse of the rap that it was originally written as. Let’s just say Missy’s stage persona didn’t quite match the rap so well.

When the band left the stage for Missy’s solo set I got excited. Nightminds was up first, before Butterfly and Judith Hammond (who’d been a multi-instrumental genius at all shows on the tour) returned to join Missy to perform Sweet Arms of a Tune. I hadn’t previously seen this song performed live so was eager to see it and the three women’s instruments and voices blended together beautifully making me oh-so-happy to be at the show.

The band returned and, after a little bit of stage banter, I heard those familiar piano notes and then… “Baby ballerinas hiding somewhere in the corner…”

YES. I have now heard Sugarcane played live and it made the seven year wait, the trip interstate and the move across the world on the off-chance to see her play live totally worth it. (Ok, for clarification there were a lot of other reasons for the move with education clearly being the top one *Cough*)

I didn’t write a proper set list and this was not meant to be a review. I just had to write something down to show my excitement and gratitude at how yesterday worked out. Because of Twitter, I had a free lunch, got free tickets to Missy Higgins’ gig and then got my favourite song ever worked into the set list. And people say Twitter is just for oversharing what you ate for breakfast…

The amazing full band: Judith Hammond, Peter Groenwald, Will Sayles, Missy Higgins, Butterfly Boucher and Tyler Burkum.

See also: 17i. See Missy Higgins play live and 17ii. See Missy Higgins play live (again). If you’re really interested, hit the ‘Missy Higgins’ tag to see what other non-stalkerish things I’ve been up to.