When the parents came to Melbourne (Part 2)

What’s better than having one parent coming to visit us from home...Three parents coming to visit us from home! We had a pretty full house when Natalie’s Mum and Dad (Sally and Simon) came to Melbourne half way through Jordan’s Dad’s trip - let’s just be clear Natalie’s parents booked in first, but then Pete wanted to come out for the Australian Grand Prix. So we were stuck ;-) with three parents in one tiny studio flat. Luckily they all get on really well, and each took it in turns to stay in hotels so there wasn’t always 5 of us crammed in and living together!

A lot of people moan about their parents, but we couldn’t be luckier. We have such amazingly generous and supportive parents who would do anything for us - such as fly half way across the world to see us! Here’s some of our best bits from having them all to stay:

1. Exploring Melbourne

Sunday 27th March was Sally and Simon’s first day in Melbourne, so we wanted to give them a tour around the city and show them why we love living here so much. We firstly took a leisurely walk along Southbank, watching the street entertainers and taking in the beautiful city skyline.

At the time, we were living in a cute little flat in Flinders Lane near Degraves Street, so it was just a short walk to Yarra River and oh how we loved living in such a great location. We think our parents were very envious! We then opted for lunch at Munich which does really tasty wraps and salads for just $15.

That afternoon the sun decided to come out, so we took the rents to the Shrine of Remembrance, near the Royal Botanic Gardens to soak up the view and get some snaps of the city.

We then ventured downstairs underneath the Shrine to the amazing museum. You could honestly spend hours reading about the history of WWI and WWII and it’s all free! It was Easter Sunday so that night we all pitched in and cooked a delicious roast dinner. Jordan baked a camembert in the oven and cut up chunky pieces of bread to dip in to start - it was so good! It was really nice to catch up all together and just enjoy each others company. After all, we had a lot to catch up on!

2. River cruise along Yarra River

The Monday was a Bank Holiday so we both had the day off from work which was great. We all fancied doing something a bit different - something that Jordan and Natalie had never done before - so we decided to go for a cruise along the river. We went for a walk along Southbank and asked at some of the boat port desks how much it was etc. We decided to get a boat west to explore Williamstown, an area that we had never been to before. The boat cruise was fun - looking out over the big skyscrapers, restaurants and bars along the river. Seeing the city from a completely different angle was really interesting. Getting further out of the city, we cruised past massive cargo ships transporting huge lorries and sports cars. It made our little boat feel very small indeed. After about 45 minutes we arrived at Williamstown, and unfortunately we were a bit disappointed. The leaflets and information we had read online about Williamstown made it sound like it was a pretty little seaside town. But sadly it did not look picturesque at all, and there was nothing really to do there. We grabbed some lunch in a restaurant associated with one of our favourite cafes down Degraves Street called RMB, and then went for a little walk through the town to a small lookout area. Luckily it was about time to catch our boat back after this. Although Williamstown was a bit of a let down, the actual river cruise was fun and it was nice to do something Jordan and Natalie had not done before and share the experience with our parents.

3. Exploring Melbourne’s Street Art

Tuesday 29th March was sadly Pete’s last full day in Melbourne and Jordan had work for a few hours in the morning and early afternoon. So Pete went with him to have a work out in where Jordan works, S 4 Fitness, and Natalie and her parents met them there to have a look at where Jordan worked, and also around the Royal Children’s Hospital which the gym is inside. The hospital is rated one of the best in the world and has some amazing artwork, a huge fish tank which a spiral staircase wraps around, and a small meerkat enclosure. The hospital is right next to Melbourne Zoo so that’s probably why it’s got the animal aspects to it. That, and it makes the hospital a much more fun and inviting place for children. That afternoon whilst Jordan was working, Natalie took the rents to have a look around the graffiti alleyways that Melbourne is so famous for. First stop was the infamous Hosier Lane. We could have spent hours looking around the amazing street artwork - there’s just so many colours and aspects to look at.

We then walked along a smaller alleyway off Bourke Street which again had some incredible artwork. But there’s no doubt that Hosier Lane is the most impressive. That evening we all had dinner together at Meat & Wine Co on Southbank. Pete wanted to have the chance to try some kangaroo before he went home, and although he had tried kangaroo meatballs that we had cooked at the flat, it just wasn’t the same. So in true Aussie style, Pete and Simon went for the Kangaroo skewers. It was a lovely end to Pete’s visit and it was so nice to have one last meal all together before he went home.

4. Road trip to Mount Martha

After Pete sadly went home, Sally and Simon did a few days exploring the Great Ocean Road so we could have some peace and quiet ;-) So when they arrived back we wanted to make the most of us having the weekend off together. So we decided to rent a car and drive down to Mount Martha beach so they could see how nice the beaches were further out of the city. Unfortunately it wasn’t that hot so we were wearing our jeans and cardigans whilst lying on the beach on our towels, trying to shelter from the wind. We had a few hours chilling out there and walking along the beach, dipping our toes in the icy cold sea!

We then headed back to the city, but not before stopping off at the viewpoint near Seaford. The views are so lovely there - the sea and beach looked gorgeous - so it was definitely time to have few pictures taken. Later that night we had dinner at Bohemian Bar & Restaurant on South Wharf which does some delicious Spanish tapas. We feasted there and enjoyed the wine and beer before calling it a night, ready for our adventures to Phillip Island the next day.

5. Phillip Island

Jordan and Natalie had never been down to Phillip Island, and Simon and Sally were keen to go, so we made a day of it and rented a car to drive down there. It took us about an hour until our first stop, which was Maru Animal Park. We’d read up online that you could stroke the koalas and hand feed the kangaroos, so we definitely wanted to do this on our way down to Phillip Island.

After exploring the park, having our picture taken whilst stroking a koala, and hand feeding the many kangaroos, we had some lunch in the cafe before heading off to our next stop - The Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. This was about another hours drive and of course we had to stop off there a Natalie’s Dad Simon was really keen to see it. Unfortunately all the activities (such as go karting) were really expensive, so we just opted to look around the museum area then walked outside to view the track in all its glory. It was a lovely sunny day - albeit a bit windy - but the track looked amazing in the sunshine and it was cool that we could see pretty much the whole circuit from the lookout area.

It was then time to move on again and drive further onto Phillip Island to Pyramid Rock. This was incredible. Although it was windy, the views over the ocean were amazing and the rock that looked like a pyramid (hence the name) was pretty cool. We all had a sit down at the edge of the viewpoint to take in the view. After that, we drove to the far end of Phillip Island to Nobbies Centre where there were even more spectacular views and an awesome blowhole that erupts during big southern swells. After baring the cold wind for too long, we took shelter inside the centre where we grabbed a bite to eat and had a hot drink to warm ourselves up.

Last but not least on this mammoth day, it was time to watch the incredible Penguin Parade. This is where you can watch wild penguins arrive on the beach at sunset, after a day of exploring and gathering food. The penguins arrive in groups and are washed in by the tide lapping against the shore. It was so amazing to watch - we were all in awe. The penguins were so tiny - apparently Australia’s smallest - and it was quite funny to watch them fight against the waves to finally make it safely to the shore. Once they had gathered in their groups, they then waddled up the sand bank to their homes further inland surrounded by rocks and plants. Apparently each penguin remembers their home and they return to it every night. Once we were sure that all the penguins had arrived onto the shore, we walked up the decking area towards the information centre, which weaved in and out of the little penguin homes. There were lights dotted about so we could watch them walking and playing together as we walked up to the carpark. It was a long day but definitely one of the best during our time in Melbourne. (They don't let you take pictures of the penguins, so here's some of us waiting for them...)

6. Eureka Skydeck

During the week, we were working so Simon and Sally entertained themselves by going to the Aquarium, looking around Federation Square, and doing a day trip to Yarra Valley to do the wine tasting. On the Friday though, Natalie took the day off work and Jordan was free in the morning, so we went up the Eureka Skydeck to see a panoramic view of the city from 88 floors up! We also did the Edge Experience, which is where you stand in a glass box which moves out, away from the rest of the building and exposes a sheer drop underneath you. If you’ve ever walked on a glass floor before, trying standing in a glass box with nothing but air around you. It was freaky but again it offered amazing views of Melbourne.

That night we had dinner at Father’s Office near Melbourne Central. Well, we attempted to have dinner there. What really happened was we ordered a few starters to share - they came out late and we were told they would be coming with our mains as well. We said no and that we wanted them to come our first as starters - they came - we ate them. Then it started to get quite smoky in the restaurant, but we were assured it was nothing to worry about - there was no fire, just some of the extractor fans in the kitchen weren’t working. Our main dishes came out, and I think we managed to have about three mouthfuls each until the fire alarm started blaring out and we were asked to evacuate because of the smoke. We waited outside for a while whilst the fire brigade inspected the premises, until we couldn’t be bothered to stand out in the cold any more. So we moved on to one of our favourite cocktail bars - Berlin Bar. The bar is hidden down a little alleyway in Chinatown, and it could be easily missed if you didn’t know it’s there. Once you’ve climbed a few steps, you ring the doorbell and wait to be greeted by a member of staff who will seat you and talk you through the menu. Cocktails aren’t cheap at $20 a pop, but they are so yummy and the whole experience is great fun. The bar is divided into East and West Berlin with different decor separating the two halves. We had a few laughs over some cocktails and were stunned by the talented magician they have there every Friday and Saturday night. Then we moved on to the Rooftop Bar above Cookie to enjoy some drinks while looking at the Melbourne rooftops and the stars.

7. AFL Game at the MCG

Saturday 9th April was Sally and Simon’s last day in Melbourne as they were leaving that evening. There was one last thing on their list to do before they left - and that was watch a live Aussie Rules football game. We hadn’t watched one either so we were keen to join them! So we booked to watch Collingwood and St Kilda in the MCG. Natalie had not even been to see a footie game at home, so she had no idea what to expect. And although Simon and Jordan both said that the atmosphere was nowhere near as intense or energised as it is in England, they both still really enjoyed it. We briefly looked up the rules before we went but it is actually quite an easy game to follow once you get into it. We didn’t really know who to support and were cheering for both teams most of the time. It was strange to be sat in an area surrounded by both Collingwood and St Kilda supporters - at home, that would never happen at a footie match as there would be too many fights apparently. That’s obviously where Brits get our football hooliganism reputation from.

After the game, we walked to Federation Square and had drinks and a few snacks in Arintji - their roasted kipfler potatoes with bacon and horseradish cream are insane! As is their hot chocolate - they make their own chocolate sauce and you can pour as much or as little into the frothy milk as you like. We then headed back to the flat to make sure Sally and Simon were all packed before catching the tram to Southern Cross station so they could get the Skybus to the airport. It was an emotional goodbye but we had an amazing time with them and have so many great memories to cherish before we see them again in England - but who knows when that could be!