Wild, remote, and friendly, Australia is above all a welcoming country. We visited in May during the Australian autumn, certainly a warmer season than our Montreal spring. We explored two beautiful cities, very different from one another, Sydney and Melbourne.
Sydney, the business capital, is a very dynamic city. Although the city centre is chock-a-block with suit-and-ties, one can’t miss the essentially relaxed nature of most Australians. So, before they go off to work, or return home, they enjoy life. Exercise is an absolute must. I’ve never seen so many joggers, be it morning, evening, or late at night. Surfing is another popular way to keep fit. Let’s just admit that it’s in their blood.
Pack a good pair of shoes for a run or walk along the water and make like a local. On the program: The Rocks, Circular Quay, the Sydney Opera House, and the Royal Botanic Gardens make for a beautiful walk. If surfing is your thing, trendy Bondi and Manly beaches will fill the bill for novice surfers, and you may even cross paths with Mr. Wolverine himself, handsome actor Hugh Jackman.
A noteworthy excursion: The Blue Mountains. The abundance of eucalyptus gives a blue tone to these false mountains, actually a plateau cut by a deep canyon with its own microclimate and rainforest. The ferns and living fossils, centuries old, and measuring several meters, are spectacular. And The Three Sisters peaks dominate the landscape!
Gastronomic rival to Sydney, Melbourne is a bohemian, fun, and young city worth a visit. Melbourne reveals its past as an industrial and financial capital (late nineteenth, early twentieth century) in a rich architecture, the result of prosperity brought by the gold rush. The Yarra River runs through Melbourne, dividing the city. In the south, the business district; the north comprises Chinatown, numerous parks, and the Flinders Street Station, known for its famous clocks – thus the Australian expression, “I’ll meet you under the clocks.” The urban art on the walls of nearby Hosier Lane is worth a stop.
The Great Ocean Road, a 250 km coastal road in the State of Victoria, created by WWI veterans to honour the fallen, should not be missed. Along the way, we pass Geelong, a surfer’s paradise, where Billabong and Quiksilver were born. The route highlight, however, is The Twelve Apostles, nine sharp limestone rocks rising from the sea creating an extraordinary landscape!
Two great cities, sunshine, the exotic Tasman Sea, great food and a memorable excursions, all-in-all, well worth the long journey despite the brief (nine day) stay!
MoVIDA1 Hosier Lane, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, 61 3 9663 3038
is a tapas bar located at the start of Hosier Lane, a Melbourne backstreet famous for urban art. MoVida is a dynamic restaurant, a real treat due to its clientele and friendly, helpful staff. There are no Spaniards working the resto, not even the Chef, but this doesn’t prevent us from savouring delicious tapas. Not to be missed: Tapa buñuelos de bacalao, goat and quince cheese with Serrano ham served on Catalan bread and Canillera de Buey (braised beef cheek on cauliflower puree).
187 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, 6 13 9639 6811
Ezard is the perfect example of fine Australian cuisine: fusion, part-European, part-Asian. In a simple but elegant decor, Chef Teage Ezard showcases his mastery of both in an a la carte menu, and an eight-course gourmet tasting menu. We opted for the latter and were completely won over. Starting with the Japanese oyster shooter, through the braised pork and wagyu beef accompanied with polenta and morel mushrooms, everything, including the service, was perfect. A vegetarian menu is also available. Ezard has a sister restaurant in Sydney worth visiting: Black by Ezard is located at Level G, Harbourside, The Star/80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont NSW 2009.
Photographer: Jean-Claude Lussier
picture: sight-seeing-melbourne-street-art-hosier-lane-by-steven-wright, via www.junkpit.net