U BEAUTY! NO ONE WILL WELCOME YOU LIKE AUSTRALIANS DO

A GUIDE TO THE PLACES I RECOMMEND HAVE VISITED AND KNOW OF

I have no commercial relationship with any of these providers. I am a member of three hotel loyalty programmes (Hyatt Gold, Starwood and Priority Guest). Nothing in this guide has been paid for, I have received no gratuities. I pay like you do.

Hotel operator, and names, may change along with restaurants. There are so many here I can only edit them if I discover the change, visit the area, or facility, or you tell me. I suggest you check the accommodation and others that interest you on the Internet, or through visitor guides.


EXPERIENCE AUSTRALIA'S BEST CUISINE, BEST HOTELS,

OUR HOSPITALITY AND IDYLLIC DESTINATIONS


Another free to use public interest information web site on the
Mosaic Portal Network


Created by

Kevin Beck




Palya Art supports and promotes Indigenous artists and Indigenous run Art Centres in northwest Australian Aboriginal communites. Commercial exhibitions are held yearly in Australia and internationally. Palya Art Tours facilitates meetings with artists on 'Country'. Artists, communities and visitors benefit by increased enjoyment and understanding of Indigenous art and culture.



Palya Art





My very favourite hotel group: QT




Australian Overview Victoria Queensland Canberra
Camping
New South Wales - Sydney
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Experience our black humour

go to Australia's outback see where some tourists



never came back from




SAY GOODAY TO SOME OF MY CUTE FRIENDS

They are waiting to meet you


just tell 'em to piss off if they come near you do not pet them or antagonise them








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An Australian touism business


Luxury Escapes




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Australian Literature and Poetry Australia's Convict Heritage
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Kevin Beck's Global Tourism Portal.


Go to the Australian Travel Network


Comprehensive Guide to Australia



Australia wide selective accommodation guide




Click on your favourite passtime image below


cricket

snorkelling

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outback



The opinions expressed in this web site are personal and are based on my own experience and knowledge. The writer receives no payments, or gratuities, and has no relationship with the establishments other than a personal membership of Qantas and Virgin Airlines, Starwood Hotel Group and the Hyatt Hotel Group. Any enterprise, or other entity, that is commented on by the owner of this web site (Kevin Beck) has the right of reply or rebuttal. The reply be posted, provided it is not defamatory or abusive, in whole, without prejudice or change, provided that it does not, in the opinion of the owner of the web site, breach ethical, common sense and/or legislative, standards or plageurise other's owned materials without suitable acknowledgement or attribution of their work.


DECLARE YOURSELF TO AUSTRALIAN CUSTOMS ON THE FORM PROVIDED


When coming from overseas, arriving into Australia, fill out your customs declaration carefully and accurately. If not sure write what you have in your luggage and say you are not sure. They will not fine you for not knowing, or understanding as long as you are honest, unless you have something really naughty hidden or you try and con or fool them. Honesty is always best and will get you through quicker. Australia has fines if your do not declare food and agriculture, undeclared items are a no, no. Airports, and ports, security officers use sniffer dogs, drug tests on bags and clothes, X ray scanners (on humans and luggae) as well as motion cameras and observers watching you sweat, they sit studying the moisture on your brow. Australian Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Officers are very polite, they are reasonable, but they are highly trained and cannot be scammed.

A you leave the terminal you may be asked if you want a taxi or hire car. Hire car touting inside Australian airports is illegal. These are private hire car drivers looking for business. They are not allowed to be there unless they have been prebooked and they will hold a sign for the person or group. Taxis (all metered) are in ranks outside the terminal and you get in a queue. Note: THERE ARE NO TRAINS AT MELBOURNE AIRPORT. There is a Skybus service to the city from Melbourne's Tullamarine airport and it reasonably priced. It stops at a major train station in the city called Southern Cross.


WHERE WILL YOU CHOOSE TO GO?




FLYING INSIDE AUSTRALIA


PLAN WELL AND ALLOW PLENTY OF CONNECTION TIME WHEN YOU ARE MAKING YOUR INTERNATIONAL - INTERNAL DOMESTIC CONNECTION FLIGHTS ACROSS AUSTRALIA

Our domestic airlines offer a service, and reliability, above what you may be used to.


Visitors, particularly from America, will probably note that our domestic airlines Virgin Blue, Qantas and Jetstar are a cut above what they are used to. Personnel working for these airlines are polite, provide plenty of information, and service, and do not leave you to your own devices, and wonderment, if a service is cancelled. They will arrange reticketing if a through put service (domestic to domestic or domestic international) is delayed through their fault or late arrival. The Club Lounges are fitted out and offer complimentary food and beverages. The same service is offered to international (reciprocal rights) lounge members for example from American Airlines to the Qantas Club. All business class ticket holders get automatic entry to airline club lounges in the major capital cities of Australia

Qantas and Virgin Australia provides meals, and snacks, and may also offer complimentary beverages on certain late afternoon, and evening, flights. I have not experienced Tiger Airlines and would not choose to fly with them since discount is of lesser attraction to service is something goes wrong.


FLYING TO MELBOURNE VICTORIA



Melbourne


Do you want to fly into Melbourne city? The main airport (25 kilometres from the central business district of Melbourne) is Tullamarine. The international and domestic terminals are together at Tullamarine Airport. A taxi from Tullamarine Airport to Melbourne city costs about $A55.00 - $70.00 (rates vary at night, after 10pm the driver can ask you to pay in advance. It takes between twenty and thirty minutes, to the city. The bus is much cheaper at around $A16.00 into Southern Cross Station in the city. A return ticket is cheaper again against taxis. Uber operates here under continued political adversity and the taxi industry's angst.

Avalon Airport, is not in Melbourne, it is a small airport, about 40 kilometresfrom the city, and the taxi fare will add about $A80.00 - $A100.00 to your costs. It will take an hour, to an hour and a half, maybe longer if traffic is severe, to get to Melbourne city.

FLYING TO SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES


sydney
images courtesy of
photoeverywhere.co.uk


SYDNEY AIRPORTS

The international and domestic terminals are quite a distance apart, it takes seven minutes by internal bus from domestic to international and the buses are regular but up to twenty minutes apart in off peak. If you have a Qantas ticket the bus is free (opposite gate two (2) in the Qantas domestic terminal, if you have any other ticket it is $A5.00 per passenger.

When I am travelling back into Australia, and have to land in Sydney, and connect to a domestic airline, I like to allow at least three hours between landing, clearing customs and getting the internal flight. Customs is efficient but the airport, and its carriers, are not neccessarily so.

I would preferably allow even a day, because it is a congested airport and I think the facilities are not as good as Melbourne. The charges for food and drink are quite high and may challenge your notions of value. If there are four of you, getting a taxi into the city is probably more efficient and less costly, and onerous, than getting the train. The train into Sydney does go to convenient city locations. By yourself with small luggage, by all means, get the train to the city.

Congestion, and delays, are the norm at Sydney and the airport owners have a monopoly and to my mind exercise it ruthlessly even though watched by Australia's competition regulator. The charges for parking are probably the dearest in Australia (15 minute minimum) at an airport - circa $A15.00+ per hour (2011).

Taxis take about 40 - 50 minutes to the city $A50.00, there is a train to the city much cheaper ($A15.00).


FLYING TO ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA


The international, and domestic, are colocated. The airport is about 30 minutes from the city by taxi, there are buses also.


FLYING TO BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND


The international, and domestic, are separate and a few kilometres apart. The airports are about 30 minutes from the city by taxi, there are buses also.


FLYING TO PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA


The international, and domestic, are colocated. The airport is about 30 minutes ($A30.00) from the city by taxi, there are buses also.


FLYING TO DARWIN, NORTHERN TERRITORY


The international, and domestic, are colocated. The airport is about 30 minutes ($A30.00) from the city by taxi, there are buses also.


FLYING TO HOBART OR LAUNCESTION, TASMANIA


There are only domestic flights from other major Australian cities. The airport is about 30 minutes ($A30.00) from the city by taxi, there are buses also.






OFF WE GO TO GREAT RESTAURANTS, HOSPITALITY AND FOOD ACROSS AUSTRALIA


Tipping, and the amount you give for service, is up to you. It is not a requirement. Australians working in our hospitality sector are on awards and get reasoanble rates particularly late at night and on weekends.

I have eaten at thousands of restaurants and stayed in hundreds of hotels, motels, caravan parks and bed and breakfasts, from budget price to 5 and 6 star luxury, across Australia. I think that our hotels at 3 - 6 star ratings are well above US hotels in terms of decor, service, standard and offerings.


BELOW IS A SELECTION OF MY VERY FAVOURITE PLACES
AND OTHER RECOMMENDED ESTABLISHMENTS


I have no association with these places other than I think they represent the quality, and value, and I have stayed, and/or dined, at these places, and have experienced their hospitality. They are represent a cross section of the best Australia has to offer visitors.


AUSTRALIA'S CAPITAL TERRITORY

CANBERRA


Note: Due to demand, hotel rates will go up during the sitting days of the Australian Parliament and at times where major events are on such as Floriade and SummerNats. Canberra is a great under estimated destination. Its institutions (fee to the public)n are excellent and its hotels and restaurants are always in search of higher benchmarks.

....Check parliament sitting calendar here

I drive, rather than fly, to Canberra from Melbourne (7 - 8 hours) and similarly from Melbourne to Sydney (10 hours, or 3.5 - 4 hours from Canberra). It is a modern freeway between Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.

I break the journey and stay in the
Southern Highlands, half way between Canberra and Sydney at places such as Berrima. The towns in this region and the country are exceptionally breautiful with lovely bed and breakfasts, hotels and retreats, restaurants and scenery. The taxis in Canberra are controlled and each journey can cost $25 to $40 each trip depending upon time of day. Adding cost if youi want to move between institutions.

During peak hours the demand on taxis is high.


Canberra is a government city, with magnificent public institutions and they are free to visit - art galleries, libraries, museuems, science institutes, media centres and more. There is a wonderful Australia Museum nestled on the edge of the Lake and it is a pleasant walk from the city, but it will take up to fourty five minutes or longer. The world's best museum, the War Memorial, is the centre piece of these instiutions. Lake Burley Griffin is in the centre of Canberra. It is picturesque. The hotel with the best view of the Lake is the Rydges Lakeside.

War Memorial Canberra
Rated the World's Best Museum
Photo Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial... click


Canberra Tourism... click


HOSPITALITY IN CANBERRA


The restaurant industy in Canberra has blossomed dramatically and there are many good eating establishments spread through the CBD and suburbs. I stay in many Canberra hotels over the years and in 2011, due to the nature of my work I purchase a total of 150 bed nights, in multiple hotels and apartments.

The premier hotel in Canberra is the
Park Hyatt. It is a full service luxury, five - six star hotel. It is the only hotel of its type, and grade, in Canberra. It has a reasonable restaurant and bar. Due to its location one has to go by car, or taxi, to the restaurant precincts but you can walk across lovely parks to the National Gallery, National Library, Portrait Gallery, Old Parliament House, to Science Museum and the Australian High Court. The Realm Hotel. It is a well appointed hotel in Barton, a suburb of Canberra. It is a maximum ten minutes drive from the central business district. Fourty five minutes to one hour walk It claims five star status but I do not put it in the same class as the Canebrra Park Hyatt. It is closer to the suburban restaurant precincts of Kingston, and Manuka, than the Hyatt hotel is. Nearby is the Rydges on Capital Hill Hotel and a number of apartment complexes located in Kingston and Manuka. There is also the York in Kingston whihc is good.

The Kurrajong Hotel, a heritage hotel is quite lovely (near the Realm Hotel) but the service, and hospitality, at this hotel leave much to be desired. Probably because it has a chequered history including as a training hotel and has not been managed by a competent hotel group. When I stayed there in 2011 the restaurant did not open on weekends and there is no food outlet close by. There was no room service. One has to walk to Manuka or Kingston, whihc takes perhaps twenty to fourty minutes, or a five minute drive. It has reasonably appointed rooms, extensive free to air, and satellite, television was included in the room rate. There are also very basic student type rooms available.

On the side of Lake Burley Griffin is Rydges Lakeside hotel with bars and restaurants, an easy walk to the central business district. Having stayed there twice, I found it at the lower end of service levels. Next this hotel is the
Diamant Boutique Hotel. I have stayed at this hotel a number of times. It had one of the best bar lounges in the city and two very good restaurants. They burnt down, however the main part of the hotel, and apartments, were not affected. You should check with the hotel as to what hospitality facilities have been rebuilt.

Crowne Plaza Hotel, is in the central business district, close to clubs, restaurants, cafes, cocktail lounges, adjacent with the Canberra Casino The Canberra Casino is not a fine gambling enterprise. It neds face lift and an expansion. In my view (as at 2012) it is not an attraction in Canberra. The Crowne Plaza, adjacent to the Casino, is quite well appointed. My view of this hotel (at mid 2012) was that it has a lot of potential that is going wanting. Its location in the central business district is excellent. For the value tourist stay it is a good location and buy.

I stayed for a week at the Crowne Plaza Canberra and I gained the impression that this hotel has extensive, entrenched management problems and issues. The staff seem to function as isolated units without a strong leader imbuing hospitality culture and ethos. The restaurant is not well run and the food and wine selection is limited and unimaginative. Media (televisioon and movie) are extraordinarily limited. On the weekend the movie server failed and I was told that it could not be fixed until Monday. This is unsatisfactory and belies a service culture mentality. If I was the guest services manager I would be looking for a new technical support company.

There are many apartment hotels, as well as motel accommodation, in and around the city centre, on Northbourne Avenue (city) and in the suburbs. Note that Belconnen is not in the city and is about 20 to thirty minutes out by car. Manuka, Kingston, Woden and Narrabundah, are suburbs fifteen to twenty minutes by car from the central business district. Barton is ten minutes from the central business district. Look on your map for hotel locations to get an idea

One of my favourite restaurants is a fine Italian called Mezzalira in Kingston. Restaurants in the city and a number in the suburbs will stay open late. There are
numerous clubs scattered throughout the suburbs. Rubicon in Griffith, the Yacht Club (Southern Cross Club), the Lakeside, the Ottoman, Dixon Street, Verve in Manuka, the excellent Lunica in Kingston and the very good Kingston Hotel.



Olim's Hotel is a heritage hotel located in Bradden taken over by Accor and renamed as a Mercure Hotel. This was formerly a four seasons hotel. This hotel is disabled and elderly friendly with ramps for wheelchairs and has one lift.

Olims has a range of accommodation styles and a restaurant and sports bar. There is a Gaming (Racing) Totalisator betting facility.

I stayed here for eleven nights and the the hotel was being renovated. (December 2011). Renovations are now complete and I have an expectation that the hotel will take on a typical Accor management profile. You can walk to the city centre in about fifteen to twenty minutes from Olims.

I have stayed at the Diamant (three times) before it had a fire it is a boutique heritage listed hotel
Diamant Hotel

I stay lots at the

The iconic Canberra Hyatt is a beautiful heritage hotel with a history. It has two bars, three restaurants and a stunning pool, sauna and gymnasium.

VIEW CANBERRA AUSTRALIA HYATT HERE



IS CAMPING YOUR THING?
budget, family, luxury and unique


Paperback Camp NSW



Big 4 Family Parks Across Australia
Caravans, camping, tents and cabins


Paperback Camp NSW (luxury tents)

Pebble Point bush retreat Victoria

Spicers Canopy Queensland

Sal salis Western Australia
where outback meets the reef


Wildman Wilderness Lodge

Ikara Safari South Australia - premium tents

Australian Camp Sites - all budgets and styles




QUEENSLAND

Brisbane


Brisbane Australia
Click here....for Brisbane City


The international and domestic terminals are separate. They are about five minutes or so apart. You might consider starting your trip within Ausralia, in Brisbane, a tropical destination with good domestic connections to other Australian cities. Brisbane is a lovely city, quite warm and is the gateway to the Queensland dream time and the Australian Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest.
Gold Coast
You can drive to the famed Gold Coast or fly to Coolangatta.


Great Barrier Reef
barrier reef
barrier reef

All images are courtesy
Click for the State Library of Queensland



MORE OF QUEENSLAND


There are theme parks between Brisbane City and the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast was once the icon of the Queensland dream but over time it has faded and the jewel is tarnished. To my mind it has gone down market in the main precinct of the Gold Coast.


Click here for theme parks



Turtle Beach Resort -
Blue Sky Holiday Group - Apartments
Gold Coast


The most well known locations in the nation, internationally, are not necessarily the best value, and experience, of what Australia has to offer. Queensland is diverse. The coast offers a sensational changing environment and varied experience. The Great Australian Barrier Reef needs no more commentary. I have stayed at Cairns and Noosa (a number of times), at Port Douglas, at the Hyatt Coolum, various locations on the Sunshine Coast and on Daydream Island and at Twin Waters.

For families I like Twin Waters and Daydream Island. I will not fly budget airlines to Noosa since Qantas (full service airline) no longer goes there relegating the location to using its down market subsidiary, Jetstar. Some say that this has condemned Noosa to down market clientelle. I tend to agree.



HOTELS IN BRISBANE AUSTRALIA


I like Brisbane and have stayed at the Point apartments at Kangaroo Point, the Heritage (renamed), the Marriott, the Treasury (Casino) and Crowne Plaza. I favour the Emporium Hotel at 1000 Anne Street and at the Treasury Hotel whihc is part of the Casino.

The cuisine is excellent and the restaurants in the hotel complex precinct are very good. There are all types of restaurantsa nd pubs, including fine dining restaurants of diversity across the city. many by the water. My favourite pub is below the Story Street Bridge (that is the hotels name) near Kangaroo Point and the river.




?tr>
Queensland is an idyllic paradise.

Port Douglas and the Daintre Rainforest are excelllent wonderful destintions. Daintree is a natural wonder and you can stay in the tree tops.





Click here to view these idyllic locations



WATCH A VIDEO OF NOOSA


Cairns, 60 kilometres below Port Douglas, and above Noosa, is also a transit point to the Barrier Reef though Port Douglas is closer. and some 60 kilometres up the road to the North. There is a little hamlet of hotels between Cairns and Port Douglas called Palm Cove. It is quiet and has hotels and apartments.



<WATCH A VIDEO OF BRISBANE


So what about the dining experiences in Brisbane and Queensland? They are great.



The Absynthe in Surfers Paradise on the Queensland Gold Coast is good. In Brisbane one might like the ambience, and style, of the Emporium Hotel at 1000 Anne Street, Fortitude Valley. It is very eclectic, over priced and small. It sits in a small alcove of restaurants that are at best passable.

Gpoing up market one can find the Batavia and Cafe Dellugo, La Dolcevita, Onyx restaurants, they are above average as is the Era Bistro in Brisbane.


(Stay and Dine) Emporium Hotel and complex, 1000 Anne Street, Brisbane
A touch of Paris


Dine at the Story Bridge Hotel and the Breakfast Creek Hotel.




(Dine and stay) Stamford Plaza Brisbane




(Dine and stay) Sheraton Resort and Spa, Noosa, Queensland


(Dine and stay) Tingirana Apartments, Noosa, Queensland


(Dine and stay) Hyatt Coolum Hotel and Golf Links, Coolum, Sunshine Coast, Queensland


(Dine and stay) Twin Waters, (family oriented resort) via Maroochydore, Sunshine Coast, Queensland


(Dine and stay) at Day Dream Island... click, a family oriented resort island with an outdoor cinema and plenty of entertainment.





ARE YOU SEEKING AN ALTERNATIVE EXPERIENCED?

TRY INSPIRATION, HEALING AND PEACE


Heartland Retreat, is one hour in land from the Maroochydore Airport, Queensland Sunshine Coast.





Heartland Retreat
Queensland Australia



Les Dyer's Inspiration


Les' Inspirational
Weekly Newsletters



THE HOSPITALITY CAPITAL OF AUSTRALIA
VICTORIA



Melbourne Cricket Ground


Flemington Spring Racing Carnival
Flemington Spring Racing Carnival
The Melbourne Cup


Australian Tennis Open
Australian Tennis Open


Football
Australian Rules Football


CHOICE CHOICE AND MORE CHOICE


The hospitality competition in Melbourne is fierce and this brings with diversity, culture and a magnificent range like no other. Victorians have a heritage of dining out all year long and the cuisines of the worrd are all to be found in my home state.

Innovative, refined and exceptionally good cuisine delivered by world class chefs. I can not list all of the good, very good and exceptional restaurants, So I can tell you many of the locations, you can look for Richmond, Toorak and South Yarra, Fitzroy and Collingwood, Elwood and along the Beach road, either way, St Kilda, Albert Park, Brunswick, North Melbourne - around Errol Street, China Town in the city, Flinders Lane, the alley ways off Flinders Street between Elizabeth and William Streets also in the city.

The alley between the Post Office and the Myer Department store, where cafe De Vin can be found and four others, the restaurants at The Arts Centre, and Federation Square, the Melbourne Arts Centre next to Flinders Street Station, hundreds of establishments at Southbank including one of my very favourites, Walter's Wine Bar. Down along Southbank you will come to the very luxurious Casino, with something for everyone, lots of hotels, and hundreds of restauarants of all budgets, pubs, cinemas and shops.

The pubs in Clarendon (Cricket Club, Clarendon) and York Streets (The York), South Melbourne including, amongst others, Oconnell's Centenary Hotel, the Clarendon, the Rising Sun and the Water Rat, the Cricket Club, the York near the South Melbourne market. Lamaros in Cecil Street. This suburb, and those nearby, are full of wonderful examples of culinary arts and social environments.



The Sloany Pony off Bay Street, Port Melbourne, The London near the Tasmanian ferry terminal. The Pier Hotel and the Albion Hotels, are near Port Melbourne.

Up the beach from Port Melbourne you will find St Kilda. Here are The Pelican, Destasio's Italian, Karen Martini's Melbourne Wine Room, the Murka by Grossi, and many more along Fitroy Street. Go around the corner into Acland Street.


MELBOURNE CITY AND SUBURBS HIGHLIGHTS


The capital of sport, food, and hospitality, in Australia

hyatt
Luxury in the city, there are two
Park Hyatt Melbourne


hyatt
It's a Grand Hyatt on Collins Street Melbourne


Trendy, sleak, exceptional boutique hotel with brilliant bar, and restaurant, in the heart of vibrant Melbourne The Adelphi

One of the very best - fine hotels in Melbourne is the "Art Series", and of the two the Blackman on St Kilda Road is on of my favourites. It is very impressive and attention to detail and the art in the hotel is a value add that no other hotel in Melbourne (with the exception of its sister hotels and possibly Australia can match. It has an in hotel very good restaurant/cafe and a french style pattisserie cafe. Across the road from the front door of the Blackman Hotel is an excellent Italian restaurant.

The Grossi Family - Melbourne's innovative, dining dynasty


Grossi's Florentino Bistro ... click upstairs for the classic Italian fine dining, and next door is Cellar Bar, Bourke Street, Melbourne and then there is the Mirka at the Tolarno Hotel,.. click Fitzroy Street, St Kilda.


(Dining) Walter's Wine Bar, ... click behind the Art Centre spire, in the Southbank complex, Yarra River, Melbourne, Victoria just past Flinders Street station over the bridge on St Kilda Road


(Dine) The Montague Hotel, 355 Park Street, South Melbourne


(Stay and Dine) The Royce Hotel, St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Victoria


(Dine) The Provincial Hotel, Johnston Street and the many eateries along Brunswick and Smith Streets Fitzroy.


(Stay and Dine) Lamaros Bar and Restaurant, 273 - 279 Cecil Street, South Melbourne


(Dine) The Argo Restaurant, 64 Argo Street, South Yarra, Melbourne


(Stay and Dine) Park Hyatt Hotel, behind the Victorian Parliament, Melbourne



The best dining is not always in the city, it can be found out in the suburbs


Casalinga,
can be found on the Maroondah Highway, at Croydon.

Casalinga sits in a group of shops on a service road, at Number 11 on the left hand side. It was originally founded as an Italian Swiss restautant but today is a "fusion of Australian culture", Asian, French, Mediterranean, Middle East and more, and the Chef/owner does it very well. Croydon is about fourty five minutes by car (along the Eastern Freeway) from the city, on the way to my home, God's Country



the glorious, stunning, Yarra valley.


One hour from Melbourne by car, a six (6) star hotel
One of Australia's best



The Werribee Mansion


I stayed over Chistmas 2015 in this grand hotel and it was worth every dollar.

High level of service, by well trained, managed and diligent staff, under Cedric guidance, who are totally aware that people staying at the hotel ensure they have ongoing employment. Constant service, food, beverage 24 hours. excellent cuisine (take the High Tea on Sunday) under the dilgent and creative gaze of Nigel. The facilities overall are first class, rooms, the pool, sauna and spa and therapy centre are excellent.

Explore the Rose Garden, go visit the Wild Animal Zoo adjacent to the hotel or sit in a luxurious arm chair in the library or the main foyer, reading, play billiards, do what you want.

Explore the old seminary and the Mansion museum.


The stunning Yarra Valley is but a one and a half (1.5) hour drive out of Melbourne along the Eastern, or Monash, freeway to the Maroondah Highway.




Essenza
at Healesville, Victoria Australia

Get your foodie fix in
Healesville, a regional food and wine hub surrounded by stunning scenery, before experiencing iconic encounters of the wildlife kind.


Meet your favourite Australian animals Stare into the snarling jaws of a Tasmanian Devil and peer at a joey in its mother's pouch at Healesville Sanctuary wildlife park. Get up-close-and-personal to 200 species of native animals and birdlife on meandering paths and in walk-through exhibits.

Wine and dine any way you like You may be in awe of the iconic names of Healesville's wineries, including Domaine Chandon, Rochford Wines and Coldstream Hills, but the approachable winemakers ensure a visit to the cellar door is both informative and entertaining.


Visit Chateau Yering Historic House...click an idyllic accommodation venue with brilliant food and hospitality.

For all round entertainment it is difficult to go past the extraordinary
Rochford Estate... click

Fergusson Winery and Restaurant... click

For a very memorable experience stay and dine, at the Chateau Yering Historic Hotel, in God's country where I live


Yarra Valley Victoria Australia
Yarra Valley Victoria Australia
Yarra Valley Victoria Australia
The Yarra Valley, Victoria Australia




COUNTRY LIFE IN GIPPSLAND VICTORIA


Twitcher's Cottage... click in Gippsland Victoria. Less than two hours from the bustle of Melbourne, Twitcher's Cottage puts you back in touch with nature for a relaxing short or long break. It is affordable and comfortable for couples, families or small groups. Twitchers are a particularly keen (some might say obsessive) group of birdwatchers who actively seek out new birds to put on their life-list and the word is supposed to describe the uncontrollable spasms of excitement when seeing a new bird for the first time. Most birders are twitchers to some extent, but the degree to which the ticking of new species is important is a personal thing.

You certainly won't need to be that keen to enjoy the variety of birdlife and other native flora and fauna close at hand to Twitcher's Cottage, and with the delightful Mt Worth State Park within a few minutes drive, there is plenty to delight any nature-lover. Set in native garden with spectacular views and less than 3km from Mount Worth State Park, Twitcher's Cottage is a place to relax or get active in nature. While nestled in nature, Twitcher's Cottage is still just one and a half hours from Melbourne, and a few minutes to the regional centre of Warragul, and the big little tourist town of Yarragon. Catch a train to Warragul and Merrin or Paul will pick you up.


Woodend, Kyneton and Malmsbury and the Macedon Ranges are wonderful destinations... ... click here

Stay and dine in Geelong, Victoria

(Dine) The Parisien Restaurant, 15 Eastern Beach Road Geelong, opposite the Sheraton Four Points Hotel

(Dine) On the Bellarine Peninsula, down south of Geelong, you will find the Oakdene Vineyard Restaurant, 255 Grubb Road, Wallington, Victoria

(Stay and dine) Up at Beechworth off the Hume Highway, three and half hours from Melbourne is Beechworth Accommodation

ALONG THE MURRAY OFF THE HUME HIGHWAY TO ALBURY
take a diversion


Stay Awhile At Treverna, Wahgunyah, Victoria near Rutherglen, about 40 minutes from Beechworth


The Murray River meanders nearby to Treverna, a restored heritage overlay homestead, circa 1890, offering Traditional Bed & Breakfast hospitality with your live in hosts, Trevor and Verna, catering to your needs for a satisfying and relaxing stay. There are water sports on the river and safe swimming nearby.

Treverna Heritage Overlay Homestead
Click The Image


Ask Trevor and Verna to give you directions to the Pickled Sisters Cafe (10 minute drive):

"A relaxed, warm and welcoming dining experience.


As well get directions to Sam Miranda Winery

Treverna B&B accommodates a maximum of 6 guests situated in the quiet village of Wahgunyah (population of about 809), on the banks of the mighty Murray River and is an ideal retreat from which you have easy access to the Rutherglen Wine Region of Victoria and its myriad attractions. The nearby vineyards, and cellar doors, (of which a number have prominence in Wahgunyah) cover 150 years in the art of winemaking and have laid the foundation for the reputation that Rutherglen Muscat and Tokay enjoy as being of unsurpassed richness and unique among the great fortified wines of the world. Treverna is 3 and a half hours north of Melbourne on the Hume Highway via Wangarratta or Rutherglen. It is about 40 minutes away from Albury. Treverna is two minutes from Corowa, the home of Australian federation. Your hosts, Trevor and Verna, love to chat, they will share a bottle, or two, of wine and you can perhaps talk them into dining with you or at the local pub where you have to book! Experience true hospitality in rural Australia.

Yarrawonga and Mulwala


Billed as an aquatic paradise this location is 45 minutes from the Rutherglen wine region up past Shepparton, just under four hours drive from Melbourne. The huge lake provides the aqua. On the NSW side are the clubs, with accommodation, and on the Victorian side the service centre (town and shops) and the resdiential population. These towns are not hot beds of innovative cuisine, they are more family and young people who want to party in clubs, hang out on the lake and have a barbie and go to a pub. If you want gormet and cusuine take the drive to Wahgunyah and Rutherglen. and for polished service, elegance and sophistication stay at Treverna B&B above or find a great place here.

THE HIGH COUNTRY OF CENTRAL VICTORIA


Gems waiting for you to find them
click here


Nestled in the heart of North East Victoria is the veritable food bowl that is the Milawa Gourmet Region. A forerunner leading the way in regional produce and world class wines, explore the numerous providores amidst the scenic backdrop of Mt Buffalo. Milawa and Oxley are the centre of the Milawa Gourmet Region where you can enjoy the cafe and restaurant culture, meet producers of specialty cheese, mustard, bread, olives, berries and honey, as well as jams, pickles and preserves. Wander from cellar door to cellar door by car or "Pedal to Produce" on your bike. The events list across the year is impressive.

In Oxley you will find the
King River Cafe a menu that is original, inventive and will make you want to partake more than just once, the food is superb.

Then there is

SNOW ROAD PRODUCE
PLACING THE NORTH EAST REGION ON A PEDESTAL

A providore of fine foods, condiments, boutique beers, many wines and much more, there is a cafe and they have an amazing all day breakfast menu available 7 days and on Saturday and Sunday it is available all day from 7am-4pm


ACCOMMODATION I HAVE EXPERIENCED

Settlers Cottages


These are an apartment style accommodation with multiple bedrooms and a fully equipped kitchen and laundry.

There are exceptional restaurants in Milawa
Italy on a Plate

I spent a week in December at this exceptional highly recommended country house


Lindenwarrah


The epitome of service and attention, lovely rooms with king beds, two very comfortable spacious lounge rooms with views to vineyards and mountains. The restaurant serves excellent modern cuisine and wines. Lindenwarrah at Milawa Victoria has caring attentive staff and diligent housekeeeping staff. A solar heated pool and a spa centre for massage and pampering. Lindenwarrah can also handle conferences, special events and weddings. It is, in my view, one of Australia's finest regional hotels.

Lindenwarrah is adjacent to the legendary
Brown Brothers Winery




Countrywide Cottages


These idyllically located cottages, in the Australian bush, cater for singles, couples, families, groups and pets. One and half to two hours by car from Melbourne via Geelong - Colac or thirty minutes above Lorne on the Great Ocean Road you will find Deans Marsh.

Turn left in the town of
Winchlesea onto the Deans Marsh - Lorne Road and drive 12 kilometres. Countrywide Cottages entrance is on your left.



Countrywide Cottages offer 4 star, reasonably priced, pet friendly, self-contained cottages. Choose from secluded Great Ocean Road accommodation cottages spread over 26 acres of farm and pristine bushland. Ideally located in country Victoria only 25 minutes north of Lorne and under 2 hours from Melbourne, this is the perfect accommodation on the Great Ocean Road. One of the cottages provides purpose built wheelchair accessible accomodation Otway Ranges. Your host is Di. I stayed there with my wife Helen and our dog, Buddy Jack. Each cottages back yard has a picnic aarea and a fenced enc;losure perfect to let your pet run free.

The cottages have modern cons, excellent fitout, a wood fire for winter, aircon for summer and parrots that will arrive to greet you and eat (provided) seed from your hand. Local wines can be purchased along with some sweet treats for yourself and the pet/s. There is a common area with BBQ and leisure facilities and a yabby pond if you want to try and catch some.






CENTRAL VICTORIA


(Dine and stay) The Empyre Hotel Castlemaine, Victoria

(Dine and stay) Craig's Rotal Hotel, Ballaratt, Victoria

(Dine and stay) The Bellinzona, Daylesford, Hepburn Springs Road, Victoria

Gold field towns


Towns, Hotels and Features


Daylesford


(Stay and Dine) Daylesford Apartments on the Lake, and numerous restaurants, including Frango and Frango, and the Hepburn Springs and other spas, at Daylesford, Victoria


Mineral Springs Hotel, Daylesford Hepburn

Part of the Peppers Group
Superior Hotels and Resorts


Old world hotel, great food
service and attached health spa






MORE VICTORIA

GEELONG, GATEWAY TO THE WESTERN DISTRICTS AND THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD
Another travelogue


Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia
Photo Courtesy of Photos8... click


There is a large supermarket at the exit from Geelong as you travel to the Great Ocean Road. One cannot move in that supermarket in the summer holiday and Easter breaks. I wondered why and enquired. It is the last major supermarket before leaving Geelong for Torquay. The supermarkets along the Great Ocean Road at Torquay, Anglesea, Appollo Bay and towards Warrnambool are all small independents. They raise their prices dramatically and the range of offerings is quite limited when one considers that the Great Ocean Road traverses close to the Otways, a major producer of fine foods. I could not find any of the Otway products, such as Otway pork, in these small supermarkets along the Great Ocean Road. There are no butchers and maybe one, or two, green grocers between Torquay and Warrnambool. Driving the Great Ocean Road can take six, or seven, hours between Geelong and Warrnambool in high season.

I have stayed at the Sheraton in Geelong (January 2010) and highly recommend it for price, value, service and hospitality. Across the road from the hotel on the wharf is the La Parisienne Restaurant. Its prices are in the high range but the food, wine and service are excellent. There are many choices along this wharf and bay. Nearby wlaking distancefrom the hotel (5 minutes) are the National Wool Museum and Ford Discovery Centre. They are interesting and educational. Geelong has much to offer if you are looking for a holiday outside of Melbourne, short or medium stay. It is just over one hour drive to Geelong from Melbourne. Add a half hour if it is peak hour on a weekday eveining (4 - 7pm).

THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD


I have travelled the extent of the Great Ocean Road, to Adelaide, three times and stayed on the Great Ocean Road locations ten times. The coastline is rugged and it is beautiful. The resataurants and the hospitality is patchy. It is a pity that the mediocrity of the hospitality industry along the Great Ocean Road (compared to so many other places in Victoria) is not inspired by the beauty and captivation of nature. There is one exception, in terms of welcoming tourists, with high quality venues and service, and its is truly exceptional. An Exception - elegant Port Fairy. It has so many great restaurants and B&B's, the pubs are historic with character and their food, and wine, are high quality from simlple family fair and traditional to creative and and innovative. The town overall, excels and there is a developing river wharf, and marina, area and it is close to the ocean

There are three factors that make a destination very attractive. A story to tell, and tell well, a n umber of great hotels and accommodation options and great food and wine. The Great Ocean Road fails on two out of three.

Along the Victoria coastal highway just past Geelong, to Torquay and Anglesea, who will find the Great Ocean Road Here can be found some of the most stunning scenery in the hinterland as well as the sea. The coastline, the beaches and the environment nearby, are all stunningly beautiful. Like hiking around then this is the place for you. Lie surfing, exploring and wondering about the majesty of nature, then this is it.

Overseas tourists may well look on the net, and see this Great Ocean Road, as an enticing destination, particularly in summer. This is not a sophisticated destination promising the best of Victorian cuisine. The surf calls the dedicated. The destinations along the Great Ocean Highway would seem to try and make their major annual income in two tranches - summer late December through January and Easter. To do this they "rip the tourist". Prices asre much higher for goods and services bordering on mediocre value for money. They want to charge Melbourne cuisine prices for far lesser delivery and quality. I stopped in Torquay for breakfast (January 2010) at the Rocks. Ordered my large latte and got a small one. Ordered the benedict eggs, which came on a homemade has gold. No hasgolds and no hollandaise. A banana smoothie, sorry out of bananas. A mushroom omellete, sorry out of mushrooms. An earl grey tea, sorry out of that but they had a "erbal" earl grey. What is an "erbal" earl grey? It is actually earl grey tea infused with lavender. Time goes by, they forgot the coffe and then the earl grey. Fluctuating service is the hallmark of the Great Ocean Road establishments.


Lorne , an hour or so past Geelong, down from Torquay, is the first major town on the Great Ocean Road. It is a spectacular location between the hills and the sea. A popular destination in summer, reasonably close to Melbourne, and has all styles of accommodation. Its hospitality is mature and diverse, though lower graade than Melbourne. The Mantra at Erskine Beach is a mix of old heritage and new. This resort wanted full payment in advance. Do not be drawn by the pretty pictures, and the implied promises,of the resport's web site. I am not sure that it has ocean views from any of the apartments. Reality is often different to the glossy pictures and claims of the web site. What the Mantra calls a "suite" is far from that, alternativel they refer to a Resort Room, it is a basic small bedroom and bathroom with a balcony. The larger apartments are probably more relaxing. The room cleaning service, advised after you arrive, starts the fourth day in from when you book in. This apartment hotel wants a basic minimum of $A225.00 a night for the small room. This is not great value given competitive pricing for hotels in Australia, in 2009. The Sheraton in Gellong, with exceptional views, good cuisine and tp service and facilities asked $A175.00 for a better appointed suite.

The mantra at Lorne is an apartment hotel run by an operator on behalf of individual owners of those apartments. They have basic furniture and budget fittings. They offer cable television with two free (Foxtel showcase chaennels) which makes the entertainment far cheaper than the Sheraton at geelong and the Sebel Deep Blue at warrnambool, which charge $A15.95 for the movies. The Mantra formerly managed the Deep Blue at Warrnambool. The Mantra at Lorne, is not, in my opinion, a five star hotel. If you are seeking sophisticated ambience, and high quality/value for the dollar asked then I do not think the Mantra Erskine at Lorne delivers that. You might like to try a stylish bed abd breakfast. If however you are a young couple seeking a romantic location with typical summer events and environments, sun, surf and sand, a lap pool, gymnasium and sauna, close to the beach, then it is quite worthwhile.

If one stays here it is likely, in the hig season and on weekends, as I experienced, that you will be boarding with people whose regard for your comfort and amenity and sleep quality is low to no existent. During New Year this town attracts the not so attractive of Australian society and community. There are larger apartments here and they offer better views and faciities. The Mantra at Erskine Beach, to my mind, is a 2-3 star facility, no more. It has a spa centre, an indoor pool and recreation facilities such as tennis around the resort. It has a pub restaurant. At 3am some fool was climbing over my balcony to get to his room. he then engaged on searling, blasphemy and verbal violence with other residents. This is the crowd these Ocean Road destinations draw in summer. The Mantra unlike the Sebel Deep Blue at Warrnambool (see below) has furniture on an enclosed balcony and a lounge chair in its resport room.

If I come again I will choose another smaller residence provider at both Lorne and Warrnambool. For the money being charged I can get better value, and higher quality, in many other destinations in Victoria.

The, shopping, entertainment and cuisine in Lorne is not indicative of the best that Victoria has to offer. At Lorne there is one supermarket and, to my mind, it aims to maximise its profit during the high season. All of these coastal towns seek to earn their majority revenue in the summer months and can be very pricey for what is on offer. They are not close wtachers of their clientelle and thus go for the masses. Their dollar take is minimised, through a lack of knowledge of their audience and targetting. One can buy the accommodation in a block quite early and prepay. In my expereinec, that gives you no better location or amenities than nyother.

The scenery, along the Great Ocean Road, is spectacular and the great Southern Ocean is a brooding giant, waiting to swallow anyone who ventures out, as evidenced by more than 200 ship wrecks.

Appollo Bay, is another destination of the surfing addict, and families, the budget conscious seeking the value holiday. This town, like many others, specialises in rental accommodation with no significant hotels or resorts of note. A family, or group, can rent a three or four bedroom apartment or house for around $A2,000 - $A3,000+ per week in high season. Motels ar pricey at $A200.00 - $A250.00+ per day. The restaurants are passable and the town struggles with a growing population, utilities - water, communications and media) overpriced (limited season) accommodation. Like Lorne, it seems to me that Appollo Bay tries to make its annual revenue in a few short months, annoying the locals with increased prices in the two small supermarkets. Travel further down and it gets no better really. Try the B&B's for I think they offer better value and ambience. Warrnambool, has one glossy (acccording to its web site) hotel, the Deep Blue, by the sea, a Mirvac Hotel, operated by the Sebel. Poorly signed, it was difficult to locate from the highway, this is an 80 room hotel with a four star+ rating. I studied it on the web and was to lead to book. My confirmation staated 27 December to 2 january. The hotels reservation system stated 27th to 30th. maybe that affected the allocation of my room. This error of system was smotthly rectified by the front desk supervisor Duty Manager, Paul. Paul, Chloe and Sarah are among the people who make this hotel worthwhile to be in. But I think it is really a 3 star facility. This hotel has a spa treatment centre (not the best I have experienced in a hotel in Australia or internationally, and not all that well priced, a heated, if uninspiring mineral pool can be fiund in the spa centre (charging an exorbitant $A23.00 per hour), there is a compliemntary heated pool in the hotel as well, alos uninspiring in ambience. The brochure for the Spa Centre has an enticing vegetation surrounding the occupant of the pool. The hotel has its own separate pool also uninspiring in decor and ambience.

There is an excellent (but quite small) and good value restaurant. It is strangely positioned off and within the foyer. There is a modern casual dining section, and an adjacent tapas/lounge bar (very good value also) which is bright, and comfortable, if not a little clinical. I do not particularly like bars being situated in the foyer area of a hotel where one is to read, eat and drink. The room I was in was not equipped for comfortable reading either in room or on the balcony. Though I had an ocean view from the balcony I would have had to use the desk chair. There may have been chairs originally, but the furniture probably blew away, or someone chucked it over the edge I do not know. I seems that the management does not have this issue as a priority or perhaps have not yet invented a system to keep it anchored.

The hotel operator is mean with newspapers in the lounge bar, and the ambience is disrupted by the masses moving in, and out, and sometimes by noisy kids, adults who have money but too often lack sophistication, the atmosphere rent by disagreements, and problems, at the front desk. One might want to experience the passing parade. I do not. The location of the restaurant is directed by the kitchen which serves a conference/function centre of two rooms. Thus the management's focus may well be on the weding, bithday and corporet market. A coffee at the bar (take away)is $5.00. The wine selection is limited and the management gouges, I think on pricing, asking quite high prices for what I view as medium/low value wines. Australians will take being ripped off unlike Europeans and Americans. The room rate for a small room, in high season December 2009, was $A249.00. I do not recommend a long stay at the Sebel.

The hotel when I stayed (December 2009) suffered slightly from insufficient staff. This is pretty common in the Australian hospitality industry and the availability of people willing to work. Someone, living in the community, told me that there was a lack of work ethic amongst the Warrnambool population. It is hard work and long hours, particularly in housekeeping. The rates of pay in hospitality are not that flash and observation is that the housekeeping personnel in hotels are usually women of middle age from various ethnic backgrounds.

The area around this hotel is full of more apartments, and lower cost caravan, and park, style accommodation. However it is near the ocean and if one likes walks on the wild coast of Soutern Australia it is a perfect location. For the family, there is an itinerant carnival operation (similar to the one at Appollo Bay) in summer just down the road from the Sebel Deep Blue Hotel. The Deep Blue is isolated and one has to drive to get to the town, or walk, for some considerable distance. This may make it a challenge for the elderly.

There is one restaurant in Warrnambool, that you should visit. It is extraordinary for its range and diveristy, FishTails, in Liebig Street where the cafes can be found. It has a menu of hundreds of choices, at very good value. It is the best value in town. Next door is Bojangles whihc is also good value for money. There is a restaurant at the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, called Pippies. It advertises itself as a dining experience. Unfortunatley the hype does not meet the expectation. The view is aross the village to the ocean. The service was poor when i went as part of a Flagstaff night experience package. Then again what can one expect for two courses at $A26.00 with the choice of adding a third for $A9.00. The management of the restaurant may not have thought of applying the $A26.00 as a subsidy to offering the full menu?

There is a segregation between the hospitality/tourist area and the main town of Warrnambool. This is not conducive to developing an integrated community welcome for tourists. Warrnambool has the historical story, and the ever changing majesty of the ocean, but lacks the other ingredients that make it a great tourist destination, to my mind, wasting the potential.

Warrnambool is a large service town, the largest on the Great Ocean Road and such service towns, found in many locations in Australia, often detract from a focus on tourism and hospitality. The residents of some of these towns may not be all that inviting to tourists. Other such examples, in Victoria, are Swan Hill, and Echuca, on the Murray River in the north west of Victoria and fishing ports on the far south coast of New South Wales. I have spent and extensive amount of time in Echuca, and Swan Hill, including operating, and managing, hospitality venues. The locals are disengaged and when the tourists season is gone and the tourists are away they do not support their local industry condemning the operators to eek out a living and concentrate on the peak seasons and long weekends.

There are factors that make regions, and towns, great destinations. Daylesford, Castlemaine and places in between are fabulous and bring all of the factors together. The Park Hyatt Hotel in melbourne does it as a single venue. These factors include key human drivers, coupled with entrepreneurial quality and a feeling for what the client seeks and will pay for. Inexplicably most restaurants, including the serve yourself order at the bar, want to charge the same prices as full service, up market, restaurants. They want to rip the customer for a standard drink. Who decided that a main meal, in most restaurants, in Australia, should be priced in the $A30.00 to $A40.00 range as a standard? Then some want to add a side at $A7.00 - $A10.00? They also mark up the price of wine lavishly.

In Victoria, Appollo Bay, Lorne and Warrnamboll, Swan Hill, Echuca, Phillip Island and Wangarratta, among others, may have their enterpreneurial champions but they may be stifled, by who knows what, the local Council and/or the community at large?

Quite a number of Victorian regional towns work their hospitality very well. Echuca, and Swan Hill, on the Murray, I think can be avoided if you are after a culinary, and hositality, experience. They were once showing promise, and were favoured destinations, but I think they have suffered from an uncaring, and some might say, short sighted local community and council. The places along the Murray River in Victoria should be world class destinations but they are not. The Grand Hotel, at Mildura, is very good. Daylesford, in central Victoria, is eclectic and diverse. It offers the budget and the expensive. daylesford is a spa region. The Lake House is a well known quality venue of accommodation and food. It is very pricey. I stay at the nearby Dayleford Apartments on the Lake at about half the cost.The Convent is worth a visit. Down the road is Castlemaine and the exceptional historic Empyre Hotel.

The Yarra Valley is near Melbourne. In Healesville there is the pub, cafe and butchery, all in one complex, it is fabulous. Throughout the Yarra Valley are many, many wineries, though the winery restaurants can be over rated. Debortolis I think is restrictive, and losing, its image and gloss. Yering Station, is like the Lake House, bordering on extravagance. Mt Rael, is between Yarra Glen and Healesville, and is a wonderful B&B and restaurant. It was was owned in 2008 by two boys who developed the Zartoa Restaurant in Elwood, but I think they have departed for New York. The Blue Tongue (bar and restaurant) in Elwood is a great pub with good food. Further into the mountains past the Yarra Valley you will find Stonelea. A wonderful, and peaceful, B&B and fine dining restauarnt. It has very good facilities.

There are stunning hotels and facilities, views, wineries and entertainment along the Mornington Peninsula.

This hotel is exceptional, views and facilities with a bistro and a tavern bar for meals Beck at the Royal
The Royal at Mornington


Below are a group of destinations in Victoria that are quite simply lovely


Woodend, Kyneton and Malmesbury. In Woodend you will find Campaspe House.
The Royal George Hotel, in Kyneton, built in the 1850s, is a venue of choice as is Annie Smithers Bistro. People come from all over to experience the art of these culinary wizards. Just as they do to go to the Royal Mail, in Dunkeld, which is 2.5 hours from Melbourne, some twenty kilometres from Hamilton. Tbis is a stunning rural hotel, and dining, experience. It is about the same drive time as going to Port Fairy.

Kyneton, one hour from Melbourne by car

The Royal George Hotel, in Piper Street, was booked out but the owner recommended the Star Anise across the street.
We discovered a gem of a restaurant.

The Daffodil, and Arts, festival was in full swing and I was told that there would be no available tables at the best restaurants in Kyneton. But we were in luck. There had been a cancellation at the Star Anise . And this luck would deliver a rare find. The Star Anise had been open only four months, since its creation, in September 2008. The intimate open fire, with the European atmosphere, and attentive service to the 22 guests. Here they do not try to turn covers, here they want you to experience the passion of the chef, I think her name was Jenny. The chef wants you to try many things so there are shared plates, a small number of main dishes and there and good things, I noticed for lunch. The cuisine is a blend of Asian, Italian and Middle Eastern influences. The deserts are a delight, Mr White, Mr gold, Mr Yellow and Ms Daffodil the special treat. They are $14 dollars for four servings that bring an innovation to the cuisine of this delightful example of the best Victoria has to offer. I generally do not like fish but am determind to experiment. Why go to a restaurant to have what you can have at home like a steak, chicken or a chop? The five spiced rockling was a dish that was exquisite. I only remember one other fish dish that stunned and that was Mahi Mahi at the Sheraton in Hawaii. Local wines were good though I found the Granite Hills sparling not all that inspiring. The Zig Zag Rd. Riesling from the Macedon Ranges was very good and erasonably priced. Victorian restaurants tend not to rip off consumers as do Sydney restaurants. The Star anise is open for dinner only on Friday, and Saturday, nights.


Craig's Royal Hotel, in Ballarat, is a beautiful heritage hotel full full of lovely art works and architecture. The ambience was spoilt by the presence of a gaudy "slot poker machine" area next to reception on the ground floor.

The
Storrier Hotel in Sydney claims to be in Potts Point. However I would think that it is more Kings Cross but this is rather academic. This is a theme hotel based on the art work of Tim Storrier and is an art deco hotel. Very interesting and modern with a bohemian decor. Service is excellent and the rooms are well equipped there is an IPOD base and radio receiver of very high quality in the room I had plus a small kitchenette with cooking facilities. Bathroom tiny but functional and floor tiles were a bit slippery in shower which was slight worry. Limited room service. The dinner, and breakfast, options menu and service was excellent. Good television with cable and movies. At this hotel you can have an alla carte breakfast which does not require you to choose the normal continental, and hot buffet, offerings at almost every other hotel which cost an arm and leg and are a threat to body mass. This is a relief and good positioning. Unable to deliver a paper which is a tradition in most hotels I stay at. But they apologised and gave me one at reception. Recommended.

There are apartments on the Lake at
Daylesford in Victoria. They are superb in both location and value with the same views, and ambience, as the Lake House at half the price. Daylesford is a small village in the spa country well worth visiting. It has fine food, art galleries and spas amongst its many attractions. Eclectic restaurants from five star to humble extraordinary value, caters for vegetarians and vegan. caters for people of all dispositions and bent.

Beechworth Victoria is an elegant location serving any budget and any lifestyle want. I stay at
Annabelle's with host Diane Gavan. It is among one of the best bed and breakfasts in Australia.



YET MORE OF VICTORIA


Travel into the suburbs of Melbourne to Prahran, and sample the restaurants all along Chapel Street, into Toorak Road, Toorka and South Yarra. Swan Street and Bridge Road, Richmond, are the hubs of good value Asian cuisine. In West Melbourne and Fitzroy you will find the budget, eclectic and very polished eateries of Brunswick, and Smith, Streets.

But you can travel into the regions to the Yarra Valley, into Mornington Peninsula and the wineries that exhibit style, max's restaurant Red Hill.

Travel along the Great Ocean Road to Port Ferry. This small village by the sea epitomises the capabilities of communities to ceate fine destinations. Oscar's along the river, the Victoria Hotel in the main street, the pubs ad restaurnats here are of the highest quality in food and wines.


Hire a car and go to Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula, or drive about an hour, in the opposite direction, to Woodend, Kyneton, or north to Beechworth. I stay at Annabelle's Bed and Breakfast. It is a lovely B&B nestled at the base of foothills. Diane Gavin is the owner and she knows how to treat her guests to a relaxing time. I will cook dinner on Saturday night for her and Jack. I sleep in the loft. Beechworth is a great Victorian town with restaurants, and wineries, bush walks, entertainment, old and new world, it is like many others, an historic gold mining town.

I stay twice a year at Wangarratta (for a total of eight nights), you travel by car along the Hume Highway, about three hours above Melbourne towrads Albury. It is a gateway to the winter nosw lands in the Victorian Alps. This town is a service centre. I think it has mediocre hospitality venues with rather unimaginative cuisine. I think it would be very difficult to build a hospitality business in Wangarratta. I have eatn at many restauramts including martinis in the pub in the main street upstairs on the balcony and the Hollywood among others. There are two restaurants I favour, Tract near the river through the town and Bar Code Orange as you enter the town (from Melbourne end) near the rail crossing. Some thirty minutes away, in the rural area, is Millawa, with good food and wine and accommodation choices.









SYDNEY AND NEW SOUTH WALES


In Sydney the Tim Storrier Hotel (now the Quest) is eclectic. It is on the fringe of Kings Cross.

Sydney Harbour is the must see destination in Australia.


Cafe Sydney, perched high atop Customs House down at the Quay is a wonderful high quality restaurant with stunning views. The ambience, atmosphere, cuisine and service is excllenet. The Catalina out at Rose Bay is relaxing and the food is okay, the view up the waterway is placidly rexlaxing. The CBD Restaurant is in the city and is good but over priced for a pub restaurant. Most Sydney restaurants are overpriced and working hard to catch or equal Melbourne.

The hotels in the city of Sydney are diverse in terms of service and value. Among my favourite hotels are the
Sheraton Four Points at Darling Harbour and the Sheraton on the Park, Elizabeth Street, the Shangri-La Hotel at the Rocks and the Intercontiental Hotel at Circular Quay.

The Hilton Hotel in George Street Sydney has a great bar at the top. Darling Harbour is a tourist destination, it has a range of hotels with the Mercure with stunning views. This is a multi-apartment hotel. One restaurant stands out at darling Harbour, it is called the Coast.

Neil Perry is another celebrity Sydney chef who owns the, much praised, Rockpool at the Rocks, George Street, down near Circular Quay, on Sydney Harbour.

There are some good restaurants, and pubs, at Balmain, in Sydney, try the London and the Bistro Moncur nearby. A lot of restaurants will not accept bookings.


GREAT COUNTRY DESTINATIONS


Blue Mountains

Hunter Valley

Southern Highlands

THE SOUTH COAST OF NEW SOUTH WALES



The Historic Crown and Anchor Inn
at Eden New South Wales Australia
Hosts: Lynne & Lindsay Evans


far south coast











WESTERN AUSTRALIA


(Stay and Dine) The Esplanade Hotel, and the Quest Harbour Village, both at Fremantle, Western Australia. There is great dining, and accommodation, throughout Fremantle.




(Stay and Dine) in the Geographe Bay region, around Busselton and Dunsborough, Western Australia




(Stay and Dine) Margaret River, Western Australia
An eclectic region with hamlet towns and a slow, laid back lifestyle to suit all budgets. Some parts of this region are decidedly hippy particularly the town of Margaret River itself.





TASMANIA

An
island
that is so beautiful and diverse. From the heritage city of Hobart to the mountains and the rugged coast it is truly exceptional.

(Stay and Dine) Anywhere on Salamanca Place, and I particularly like the Grand Chancellor Hotel with the sunken foyer bar that looks onto the Derwent River, it can be found at the opposite end to Salamanca place, in Hobart.

I have stayed at the Mercure in Launceston and motels in Burnie. There are some very good caravan parksa nd facilities managed by the Tasmanian Hydro Authority if you are travelling in a camper van. One raea of particular rugged beuaty is Strahan at the mouth of the Gordon River.



SOUTH AUSTRALIA



The place they never came back from


There are a lot of apartment hotels, and the Hyatt (Casino) Hotel, located near the Adelaide Convention and Exhibition Centre on the river in Adelaide. Whilst staying at a number of them I find the Hilton Hotel, to be the best. However when I want to experience the best of hospitaity and food in gthis state I travel to the wine regions of the Barossa and Clare valleys and to the Coonawarra ... click


THE NORTHERN TERRITORY


A wonderland of nature, but not necessarily of hospitality, though there are pockets of excellence in Darwin. I like the restaurants at Cullen Cove. The best restaurant I have eaten at in Darwin, is the Hanuman, at the Bennett end of Mitchell Street near the Holiday Inn. The Hanuman is a group of restaurants with providers located in Cairns and Alice Springs. At Ayres Rock I have stayed at Sails.

"Named after the soaring white sails that crown its roof, this is Voyages Ayers Rock Resort's premium hotel. The interior decor focuses on Aboriginal heritage and culture, with a gallery in the lobby and significant artworks featured throughout the public areas and in the private rooms." Sails is a high end hotel that is I think the best in this tourist destination. I booked an evening dining in the desert with an astrology lecture thrown in. This was an experience as the sunset and the night came on. Highly recommended.

At Kings Canyon, in the Northern Territory I chose the Kings Canyon Resort. I sat in the spa looking into the night as animals passed by in the desert night. This is truly an amazing place where the stars are brilliant, twinkling in their tens of thousands, flickering against a black sky. It is so quiet here. I do not like Alice Springs and found nothing to reccommend it.





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Bernie Dingle


Visit and Learn the History of War
with Bernie Dingle,
Curator of the Light Horse & Field Artillery Museum, Nar Nar Goon, Victoria Australia
"Remembering All Animals in War"




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