Posts Tagged ‘melbourne cbd’

eureka skydeck

In case you’re wondering why the roads are quieter and all the kids movies have just come out at the cinema, it’s now school holidays in Victoria. This means Teach is around, so I am a very happy camper: I’ve gone out for lunch with some friends and I didn’t have to shoo away their grabby hands on my food (too much), and brief supermarket visits for two items is less traumatic because one of us can just wait in the car, and all kinds of similar things that I used to take for granted. We usually throw in a few touristy things, though we’ve been slack these holidays – all I can remember of last week is that we went out for donuts a lot – but today we spent the morning at the pool watching eight-year-olds steal all the kickboards and sit on a big pile of them like miniature evil overlords, and after the Rocket’s post-swim epic nap we decided to go and show her the city from the top of the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere: Eureka Tower. We’d been years before on our own and had a surprisingly great time up there – we even did the Edge Experience, where they send you out in a glass cube and you’re all cool about it until the opaque floor clears and then immediately you know you will fall to your death – so we thought we’d take our little Rocket up there and see what she thought.

It was a beautiful day to be in Melbourne. Sunny, mild, t-shirt weather if you enjoy dressing impractically like I do. We caught the train in, and walked over the Southbank Footbridge which, it turns out, is now covered in love locks. We sat and had snacks by the Yarra, watching the boats and helicopters, and looking fruitlessly for ducks.

To go to the top of the tower is $19.50 per adult, less for kids and nothing for kids under four. The 88-floor ride up lasts thirty-eight seconds (they are the fastest lifts in the southern hemisphere) and your ears pop maybe three times – to the Rocket’s credit, she didn’t seem concerned, but did want to be picked up for the last twenty or so floors. Up there, the views of my beloved city are phenomenal. I could spend hours up there, circling around and rediscovering landmarks from a different angle. We did worry that the Rocket would immediately panic and need to be removed (Teach has had this experience during excursions before), but she wasn’t worried at all, and seemed to enjoy herself very much, and made friends with the stacks of other toddlers that were wandering fearlessly around the place. Her favourite part was the lit-up words on the floor that tell stories and explain which direction is east/west; she spent most of her time walking on them. We didn’t go out on the Edge, as they dramatise the whole thing with loud clanking sounds to make it more scary and effective (which it is), but we did take her to the supremely windy outdoor section, which has an airlock and everything, and which she screamed about as soon as we went through the door. We left, she yelled, “More windy!”, so we went out again, and she yelled, “No windy!” so we went back in, and she yelled “More windy!” so we went back out, and she yelled “No windy!” so we went back in, and the next time she yelled “More windy!” we had finally learned our lesson and just stayed inside. I got a coffee from the tiny little cafe front and it was a) actually very well-priced for tourist-destination coffee and b) pretty lovely, and not even searingly hot so I didn’t have to carry it around awkwardly for an hour, so, good work Eureka barista. There’s a baby change table in the accessible toilets as well, which was handy. We were probably up there for more than half an hour; we watched the sunset and it was just magical.

After we came down, we traversed the path to Crown Casino, passing by fire-twirling and friendly buskers and depleting all our change. Crown is a place I loved when I was a young adult; it was newly built and shiny and so very grown-up, with all the gambling and the booze (though I spent most of my time there either at the arcade, the movies or the Warner Brothers shop that used to be there.) I loved the lights, the opulence, the drama; the one and only time I skipped an entire day of school was to go there and watch Star Wars: Episode 1 (hey so mum if you’re reading this, I totally didn’t, I’m just trying to look cool for my friends). We haven’t gone there much in the years since we became old and uninterested in dropping upwards of seven dollars a night on the pokies, and it had changed – gone was Warner Brothers and candy stores, in was Paspaley and stores with glittering entrances. Still, there were the main ingredients we were looking for: the fountain display just off the hotel’s foyer, which we watched for a while, a food court to supply us with some takeaway felafel kebabs and pizza, and a lovely winding outdoor seating area so we could watch the columns of fire while we ate dinner. Teach and the Rocket went outside while I waited for my food to be cooked, and when I went outside and looked for them, seeing their heads together as they started in on their dinner, illuminated by the lights of the city and the Yarra dark and flowing behind them – I stopped for a moment and just enjoyed it, my little family, out for a little trip in the city.

So we timed our dinner for the flame show on the columns along the Yarra promenade, which was a good idea, until the fire did its most dramatic, big and hot blast whereupon the Rocket burst into immediate and horrified tears, causing everyone around us to laugh affectionately as she wailed, “Mummy hug!” and I held her tight. It happened again, she screamed louder, and so I took her inside until the show stopped and she calmed down, the poor poppet. After we finished eating, and she was feeling better (despite having caused another nearby kid who had coped fine with the fire to burst into tears over her anguish), she and Teach shared an ice cream cone as we meandered back to the station.

We didn’t get home until almost nine o’clock. On the train, she had melted into her father’s arms, rubbed her eyes and asked him to sing her a song, which we do to go to sleep, so he whispered Baa Baa Black Sheep for a while as she lay on his lap. She was sweet and lovely the whole time, and even forgave us the Great Fire of 2014. I know from experience these days very rarely work according to plan – but that just makes a day like today easier to appreciate as it unfurls in front of you.


Eureka Skydeck

7 Riverside Quay



phone: 9693 8888

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Today’s weather was, at its peak, 44C. (That’s 111.2F, for those of you playing in America or similarly ass-backwards countries.) It was Melbourne’s fourth day in a row that hovered around or above forty degrees, and we had exhausted our usual ideas (the pool, three different shopping centres, ice cream, Yo Gabba Gabba marathons) and were sad that we couldn’t get onto the holiday activities we’d thought of. Today, sick of being stuck inside, we decided to just go out anyway, and drove to the National Gallery of Victoria (or NGV, for those of you playing at home where you don’t have time for long words.)

We’d usually catch the train, but Melbourne’s Metro/PTV/whatever network usually decides to lay over and die on days this hot, so we took the car and a fistful of change for parking meters. Happily, we found $2/hr parking just opposite NGV down the lattice of streets between the trusty brown Yarra River and the Botanic Gardens, and managed to slot ourselves in under a great bushy tree. (FYI, we amused her on the drive first by giving her a container full of ice to chew, and once she’d poured that over her seat I read her The Noisy Book, which is much fun.)

Even the walk to the NGV was great; dappled shade on the ground, sprinklers to run into and then panic about getting wet in, nude statues to not really be scandalised by, ducks splashing around. Better still, we encountered a Play Me I’m Yours piano, and bashed on the keys terribly because, sadly, I am the most skilled piano musician in our little family and I can only play Chopsticks. The Rocket very much enjoyed telling me which key I had to play, because she is very bossy.

Finally, we extracted her from all the amusements on the way and made it all 100 metres from the car to the gallery, and just oh, what a great time we had. Walking on the wall around the fountain; throwing coins into the water; touching the water wall outside and getting wet. Inside, displays of air plants glued to plastic buckets making a giant white pergola; over to look up at the beautiful stained-glass ceiling and say “Whoaaaa” in delight. Then we went into a bright merry room and played a game called Trugo, which I didn’t believe was actually a real thing until just then when I Googled for a link–for this version, you face away from the goal, bash a ball between your legs with a big foam mallet and the ball, if you’re good at it (none of us were), hits the goal, which is made up of chimes. Much loud, many fun. Then, actual artworks; the Rocket loved all the short films, didn’t touch or break anything (hallelujah), and got to participate in an artwork by adding bird stickers to a mural. There were ping-pong tables set up near the cafeteria, and there were kids just everywhere, so we didn’t feel like the only people who brought a guest that likes to yell “WHOA!” whenever she goes into a new room. Her favourite thing was, of course, the light-up floor which she and a stack of other children danced about on with abandon. Teach, who read the information on the wall (I usually would too, but this was my first time escorting a baby to a gallery and I was just grateful she didn’t set the place on fire), told me that the idea was that the lighting was deliberately chosen to be flattering so you would lose all inhibitions. All I know was that when the Rocket said, “Mummy, here,” and pointed at the dance floor, was that I did so without hesitation.

Somehow, that all took up an hour, and we already had to leave to avoid a parking fine. We watched a guy make beautiful music on the piano outside the gallery, touched the water wall a hundred more times, said goodbye to the ducks, and raced over some crunchy leaves to the car. On the way home, with the Rocket already asleep in the back, we stopped at Merry Cupcakes for a Vanilla Ice and a Rose Tyler, and a takeaway coffee for me, and despite the ridiculous, appalling, fire-breathing heat, we had a really beautiful day. Good work, Melbourne. Sometimes you can be alright.


The National Gallery of Victoria

180 St Kilda Rd



Lots of flat surfaces, toilets and parents rooms for everyone, lots of stuff to do, applause all round.

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Having an almost-two-year-old is a delight at the moment. Seriously, my daughter is funny; she hides, she dances, she waves at every ant we meet. She talks (“Snack? MORE SNACK! PLEASE!” which let’s face it is basically like my own internal voice is now happening out loud), can count (“two, two, two, two, three, four, two, two, five, two,”) and sleeps for just enough hours during the day for me to read Reddit until my eyes bleed out of my face. Better still, she goes to sleep, with usually minimal complaining, sometime around eight o’clock. It’s just dandy.

UNTIL CHRISTMAS. Because I utterly and shamelessly adore fairy lights, which as you may know, come out in force at Christmas, and as you also may know, only really work at night. Which, as you still also may know, does not occur during daylight savings until sometime after nine. Which, as the Rocket does not know, comes after eight.

WHAT DO? Am I a bad mother for keeping her up late and showing her Christmas lights? Or am I a worse mother for NOT keeping her up late and showing her Christmas lights? Is this not really a serious problem? PROBABLY.

Well, the problem was inadvertently helped the other night when Teach and I thought it was very smart to do some late night present shopping at Doncaster. It was only half smart; we couldn’t get all our presents done due to some kid who did not want to be in a pram. We took it in turns watching her at the playground while the other dashed off to find things, and as less kids were out she didn’t get bitten at the feral playground in front of Big W, which was a nice change. Anyway, a few haphazard gifts and a trip to Snag Stand later, it turned out it was nine o’clock which probably explained her rising temper. We packed her in the car, rolled out of the car park and then realised it was this mysterious thing known as “dark”. With the Rocket happily kicking the back of my car seat, we thought it was a fortuitous time to show her some lights, so we ambled over to the vaguely nearby Van Unen Court in Doncaster, which has a couple of totally amazing homes (and a website!). To my surprise, the Rocket stayed awake – I thought she’d conk straight out – but was very pleased to get out and look at everything. There were a few people happily chatting, and one house had a top window projection that showed Santa getting all his stuff together. Many inflatables, lots of flashing lights, great success.

After getting in the car, Teach thought maybe we could try and make it to The Boulevarde in Ivanhoe, Melbourne’s premier Christmas light location. We’d never been, and there are signs even on the Eastern Freeway warning of traffic jams in the neighbourhood, so I thought it was probably going to be unsuccessful and besides, I said smugly, SURELY the Rocket would fall asleep before we got there. Well, she did not. And boy, The Boulevarde is something else, not least because it’s so popular that they sell flashing paraphernalia, ice cream, coffee, and have set up a St John’s Ambulance van too. (“For all the seizures,” the teenager behind us wisely mused.) As Ivanhoe is a wealthy area, some of those house are completely nuts. Entire Christmas scenes. Moving figures comparable to the Myer Christmas windows. Endless carols. The Rocket was thrilled, and spent the whole time saying, “Wow” and “Nice”, which is an understatement but then she doesn’t have any more hyperbolic words than those just yet. (I’ll work on “amazeballs” for New Year’s Eve.) So that night, she didn’t get to sleep until just before 11pm.

The next night, we decided to go with the flow and went into the city proper, crashing briefly into and out of a Christmas party just long enough to wave at our friends and steal a can of lemonade. Outside, we decided to try the Myer Christmas Windows again – it’d been too busy when we last attended – and it remained pretty crowded, so we stood behind the queue with the Rocket on her dad’s shoulders and watched it that way. At the other end, George Kamikawa – one of Melbourne’s best buskers – was playing, and the Rocket dropped some coins into his case, then danced so much to his guitar that one of the onlookers gave her his Santa hat, which she fetched and made me put on instead. It was actually really lovely; the Rocket was stomping happily and making those around her smile, and it was a complete buzz – I made that! That little girl that’s making people smile on Bourke Street a week before Christmas! Corny, but there you have it; tis the season for ridiculous emotions, after all.

Picture from the Myer windows gratuitously stolen from au.timeout.com, because I forgot to take any pictures myself and wanted at least one to illustrate this particularly wordy post.

Once we had danced and clapped ourselves out, we left, returning the Santa hat to its friendly and rightful owner, and encountered a tinsel-covered fire engine which parked outside Myer and took overexcited kids on tours inside the truck. Firefighters handed out lollipops and bags of candy to the public, and I was completely happy with my city for putting on such a show. On our way back to the car, Hardware Lane had its lights up and shining, and the Rocket was awash with wonder. (And for the record, that night she went to sleep at 9:30. Tonight – the night after – she was still screaming “MORE BOOK!” at 9pm, so, only minor regrets.)

So this is a long essay that is just here to say: it was worth it, to keep my toddler awake. Seeing her blink at all the bells and shine and excitement is one of the things I’d always wanted to do as a parent, and I am so very glad we decided to go with it. Maybe she won’t remember it, but then maybe she went to sleep and dreamed about them that night. Or, maybe, she’s not as ridiculously sappy as her mother.

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Look, if you don’t like Mexican food then we just can’t be friends. And I probably don’t mean authentic Mexican food, because how would I know? So many places now claim to be authentic but the closest I’ve come to Mexico was when I flew into LA to spend five hours in an airport. So should I call it Tex-Mex? Should I just get back to the topic on hand?



Guzman y Gomez (the y means and–aren’t you glad I’m here to help you with these difficult life moments?) but who cares, what you need to know is that Guzman y Gomez is basically the bestest, freshest, excellente-est Mexican food in Melbourne, probably. And I’ve sampled a decent amount, because if I know anything, it’s where I can get corn chips at short notice.


tacos never photograph well. what is with that?


This place ticks a lot of my boxes. 1) close to public transport. 2) has high chairs. TWO high chairs. 3) hard shell tacos (soft shell is really just a burrito, amirite?) 4) filling is awesome. 5) Jarritos. 6) CONDIMENT BAR. 7) swift service because I am basically without patience. 8) the choose your start/filling/sauce means it’s basically as  choose your own adventure, except the adventure is that you get to eat a taco/burrito that is great instead of getting eaten by a lion like in the books. 9) the Rocket approves of the beans. 10) also she ate part of a menu because babies live in opposites land pretty much all the time. 11) the filling is the freshest, loveliest thing ever. There are beans and capsicum and so many good things. I don’t even know or care. It is mind-blowing. The first time Teach and I went there, we were having a bit of a disagreement and the food was so good it literally fixed our fight, because we couldn’t be mad when tacos could be this good.



The cons: 1) the corn chips are a little dry, but not if you eat them with salsa or the frankly amazing guac or the filling that fell out of your taco. And if you’re not doing that, then you’re weird. 2) the menus are not edible. 3) they don’t have Trippy Fries, unlike Trippy Taco which has Trippy Fries. 4) they aren’t next to my house.


The entry is wide and flat. Prams can fit somewhere. Numerous high chairs. There’s a bathroom but I haven’t used it. Ordering at a typical fast-food counter.


Guzman y Gomez


289-299 Swanston St (kind of opposite the State Library)


9988 1402


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Mexican food is having quite the resurgence in Melbourne lately, and I am ALL FOR IT. Chips. Salsa. Guacamole. Other things. We make a tremendously lazy and tasty chili non carne at least once a week and both secretly want it the other six days. So far we’ve tried impossible-to-get-a-table-at Mamasita, and gone to fast-food versions Mad Mex and Salsa’s super frequently.  Shortly, I hope to try Guman  y Gomez which has just opened on Swanston St in the city. And recently, after a tip-off from my friend Liz, we tried the atmospheric Senoritas.


Down one of Melbourne’s laneways that hide great food (as opposed to the ones that hide a couple of dumpsters and the half-assed graffiti of eleven-year-olds), and up an end of town we don’t go to much any more, you’ll find Senoritas tucked away and looking very excellent the moment you walk in. With glittering Day of the Dead artwork, masks, life-size statues and moody lighting, it’s the kind of place you should take a date. So, uh, don’t do what we did and take a baby. We did wait until after two o’clock to avoid the crowds, and for a while we were the only people in the place – also, the staff were very kind about the baby and made admiring noises about her big gummy smile. But unlike the fast food joints or even the brightly-lit Mamasita, this is more like a bar with food.



The food, though, is worth a visit. A warning, though: Liz pointed me in the direction of Senoritas due to the extensive vegan labelling on the menu, but after a chat with the waiter, it turns out that by vegan they just mean vegetarian. So instead of virtually everything in the appetizers and desserts being something I could have, it was a much more limited offering. To his credit, the waiter figured out what was cooked with dairy and what wasn’t, rustled up some good ideas and then even threw in a few extra tortillas for the confusion. Thanks, nice waiter. They’d already won me over when we got a little bowl of free tortilla chips as soon as we sat down, which you could then have with this cool selection of three salsas in bottles that decorate every table. And LO, they were ALL GOOD.



So, we had the tostadas de cactus (cactus, capsicum, onion, black beans and herbs) without the queso fresco. It made me wish I’d kept some of the tortilla chips or ordered more, because the topping far outweighed the chip underneath. It was tangy and strange – I don’t think I’ve had cactus before – but delish all the same. Next, I was served up the vegetables al ajillo (seasonal vegetables with garlic, chili and lime juice) along with cumin flavoured rice and the above tortillas. I rolled me up some tasty food and then slowly chomped down more of the vegetables. I was full before the end, however, and sharing some of the strips of vegetables with the Rocket which, let’s face it, wasn’t my best idea. Babies don’t appreciate chili, who knew? Wimps.


For a drink I had the lovely, sweet and fresh non-alcoholic jamaica (hibiscus and agave are in it, I think?) and was entirely happy. The waiter says the menu will be updated soonish, allowing for more vegan options and clearer labelling. It’s sad, really, that it’s not really baby-appropriate; there’s space, and no steps (that I can recall), and Teach says the toilet is gorgeous and big. Oh well, you can’t take your baby everywhere, just like you don’t take your mother to Quentin Tarantino movies.



16 Meyers Place


9639 7437


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china red

At a recent entertaining Chinese New Year party that we left far too early, a conversation started amongst the bloggers there about how they post blogs. Chronologically seemed to be the way to go, so, even if a fun thing happened today, you post about the thing you had next on your list, which may have happened ages ago. Seems fair, so let’s travel back in time about six weeks and do that, which also helps get rid of some of the terrible pictures on my phone that I need to delete to make more space for eleventy billion self-portraits of the Rocket figuring out where the camera button is.



Pre-Rocket we discovered a most wonderful futuristic eatery in Melbourne’s Chinatown called China Red, or Touch-Screen-Place if you are me or Teach and get it confused with China Bar all the time. Because yes, instead of table service, you are seated next to a touch screen, order your choices right there, and then someone delivers them to you at high speed. It means you don’t have to awkwardly mispronounce things like I always do, and you can hem and haw all you like over luscious oily pictures of food while everyone else at your table says JUST GET THE DUMPLINGS LIKE ALWAYS JEEZ. It also means you don’t really have to tip much, right? Right.



We’ve ordered a few things there, but we now have a standard order of twelve vegetarian dumplings, garlic beans, a coke and an iced tea. Odds are in your favour that the dumplings will be fat and delicious (eat them with the supplied chili oil and flakes dumped in soy sauce), and the beans soaked in garlic, al dente and mouth-destroyingly hot. It’s not as cheap as you’d wish, but it’s totally divine. Not only that, but the last time we went, they even sourced a high chair for the Rocket to sit in and didn’t even blink when she dropped beans on the ground. (I cleaned them up before we left, I promise. I’m not That Guy.) While the atmosphere is slightly higher than cafe, the casualness of the touch screens make it lower than a posh restaurant, so: take your kids, but leave if they cry. Luckily, you can be in, fed, and out in no time, meaning there’s a lower chance your kid will opt for said tantrum. And if your kid is older, they can ruin your day by ordering seventeen spring onion pancakes which you’ll then have to pay for, because there are no refunds once you’ve hit the order button. But you’ll probably eat them anyway, because they’re yum.


China Red

Shop 6, 206 Bourke St


9662 3688



There’s a flat entrance, and all ordering and payment is done at the table. There is a downstairs section, which is unfortunately where the toilets are located, but as it’s in a strip of shops there are public toilets handily located just across from the shop. A pram might be squashy, but not impossible.

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Since my friend Steph’s return from China, we have made a bit of a habit of catching up for lunch once a week. This week we went semi-cheap and just made avocado-ey toasty goodness at home (accompanied by some cupcakes, which I will hopefully blog about at a future time that doesn’t involve me dropping them on the footpath thirty seconds after Steph had carefully transported them from Fitzroy), but I still have another week’s eating excitement up my sleeve. I frequently meet pals in Melbourne Central (have I mentioned my love for this place? I mean, it is sadly bereft of kids’ clothing stores, but not everywhere can accommodate my every need I GUESS) but have yet to try everywhere, though I am doing my best. And a recent happy discovery was Chillipadi.

The Rocket had fallen asleep in her Baby Bjorn (did you know that they were invented by Bjorn Borg? I did NOT until very recently, thanks to my friend Katy) before we arrived which seemed like a godsend until shortly after our food arrived. The food was great but do you know what is ridiculous? Eating laksa over a sleeping baby’s head. It is a glorious food, but it is a splashy food. It is designed for slurping over the bowl, not delicately eating (with a FORK, ugh) over your daughter’s lovely skin without getting soup on her. Anyway, I got soup on her, and on her clothes and also me. But she was cool with it.


So we got chips with shichimi salt, a vegetable laksa each, and Steph had a virgin cocktail (the Hello Kitty, I think?) while I ordered something that I remember, vaguely, as being Ribena with lychees. The first few sips made me think EEK TOO SWEET, then mysteriously, after eating the spicy laksa, it was suddenly WHOA PERFECT SWEETNESS. The laksa was pretty good–not Laksa King good, but as that is the King, I guess there isn’t much hope for anyone else–with stacks of noodles and vegetables but not enough tofu, WHY IS THERE NEVER ENOUGH TOFU*. But I would (and will) happily get it again, this time hopefully while the Rocket stays awake and sits next to me very quietly with her hands folded in her lap, so that I can eat it properly with slurps. But let us talk about the chips. I think we can all agree that the chip winner in the Skinny and Interesting category** is Trippy Taco’s trippy fries, all paprika and smokey goodness. Well, we have a contender now in these shichimi salted fries, and while I don’t know what shichimi salt is (magic, presumably) I will eat it gladly because it nudges ahead in the category by being more conveniently located. These are GLORIOUS.


All in all, two thumbs up, would nom again. The service was smooth and friendly about the Rocket, even recommending we didn’t go upstairs as intended because it was loud and might wake her up. As it’s part of Melbourne Central, it’s on a flat surface (though gets squishy inside, however there is outdoor seating as well) and the toilets are just around the corner.



Melbourne Central

Little Lonsdale St


9663 5688

pretty cool-looking website


* I KNOW there are those of you snickering about tofu. When it is done badly, or eaten straight from the packet, it obviously sucks. When it is made properly, it is a beautiful thing. DEAL WITH IT.

**current winner in the Fat Chips category is Gasometer, but I haven’t been there for ages due to lengthy waits so, what are your favourite Fat Chip locations?

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