Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Summer Lovin' in Australia: Melbourne & Sydney

After Bangkok, I did not take any leaves as I've used up my quota. Sad life of a daily paid intern :( 
Saving up all my leave for our Australia trip!! 


I reached Melbourne at around 4:55am. J arrived a few days earlier before me to attend his high school friend's wedding. So he offered to pick me up from the airport, which was a very sweet gesture as I arrived at wee hour, and he thought it was unsafe for me to be alone at such hour.
However, he was late and I waited approximately 20 mins for him at the airport entrance..and it was damn cold! I thought it would be blazing hot as December was supposed to be summer in Australia; truth to be told, the day I arrived, it was 9 degrees, and I was freezing! Inadvertently, I threw tantrum and made a big fuss out of it. Sorry πŸ˜…!! But it was only for a short while heheh

From Melbourne Tullamarine airport, we took SkyBus Express to Melbourne City; AUD $19.75 one way with wifi. They depart every 10 minutes, and it'll take approximately 22 minutes to reach the city centre. We then checked into our hotel, Pegasus Apart'Hotel.

After I freshened up, we met up with J's high school friend Z & had brunch at 
Humble Rays
71 Bouverie Street, Carlton, Victoria
Opening Hours: 8am - 4pm
Belly dancing: Homemade pancakes, sunny side up, grilled bacon, banana, nutella, sea salt caramel sauce, thyme & parmesan cheese (AUD $18.50)
Crab meat scramble: Crab meat scramble eggs, Asian herbs, fried shallot, Sriracha mayo, red chilli, chilli oil served with croissant (AUD $21.00)
Matcha Latte (AUD $5.00)
Flat White Single Origin (AUD $4.50)

Prior coming to Melbourne, I did a bit of research as I know Melbourne is the to-go-place for brunches! I didn't really come across Humble Rays, but J's Aussie friends highly recommended it. I have to say, the crab meat scramble was to die for. The silky smooth scramble with succulent crab meat was a great combo. Didn't regret coming here, and thanks for the recommendation! Also, we managed to get a seat without queuing which was really lucky! hehe

After brunch, we then toured around Melbourne. Our first stop was State Library of Victoria - Australia's oldest public library & one of the first free libraries in the world. It's so pretty~ 

St Paul's Cathedral

Flinders Street Railway Station

Hosier Lane Street Art
I was absolutely freezing!! 9 degrees despite the sun T____T 
Thankfully, J bought me a wind blazer from Uniqlo after that which I've used it for the entire trip.

Shandong Mama
Mid City, 7/200 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Opening hours: 11am - 9pm
Signature spanish mackerel pot stickers (AUD $18.80)
Stir fry lamb with spring onions and cumin (AUD $24.80)

Another highly recommended Asian dish by my friends. It was situated in the suburbs. Apparently, they said the dumplings are best eaten if boiled, but we ordered the pan fried pot sticker version instead. Service wasn't great. Food was decent, but not the best. 

On 3rd December, my 26th birthday, we started the day with brunch at 
Lune Croissanterie
Entrance on Russell Street at Flinders Lane, 
Shop 16/161 Collin Street, Melbourne
Opening hours: 7:30am - 3pm
We ordered:
Croissant: Traditional French croissant (AUD $5.90)
Pain au Chocolat: Traditional chocolate croissant, with two organic dark chocolate batons (AUD $6.60)
Lemon curd: Housemade lemon curd, citrus sugar & candied lemon zest (AUD $7.50)
Almond: The original croissant aux Amandes, prepared with almond frangipane & garnished with a healthy amount of flaked almonds (AUD $9.50)
Flat white (AUD $4.50)

I've read sooooo much reviews on Lune. Claimed to be the best croissant in the world, people queue in front of the store around 4am (when they open at 7:30am!!), and if you reach around 7am, you probably couldn't get anything left! However, the crowd was split after they opened their second store in the CBD. We went around 8:30? The queue wasn't that bad and we could get pretty much everything we wanted, except for the Kouign Amann (traditional pastry laminated with sugar & baked in buttered, sugared mold until caramelised). They changed their menu every day, so on the day we went, they did not have Kouign Amann. The founder of Lune, Kate Reid, used to be an engineer. She took 5 years to develop the machine to make all the croissant. Apparently, a single croissant takes 3 days to make and must be laminated, egg washed & proofed at highly specific temperatures; what a complex procedure! J liked the plain croissant the best, but he claimed that it tasted just like any other croissant he had in France xD My favourite was the almond. It's super crunchy (I have an obsession for crunchy food), and very flavourful. Wouldn't mind having a second piece, but $10 for a croissant was a bit pricy!!

Next on our itinerary was Brighton Bathing Boxes. It was in one of my must-go places in Australia. Apparently, one of these boxes cost approximately AUD $285,000 and above!! Someone even sold it for half a million..

The easiest way to get there is via train to Middle Brighton on the Sandringham line. From the station, we walked approximately 1.2km to the beach. The tide was high and it was drizzling a bit..this was the place that I got my white adidas soaked T___T Thankfully, I got it washed after I returned to Brunei and it looked brand new now hehe

Photo courtesy of J who took nearly every photo of the hut

The iconic Australian flag hut!! I had to suck in my belly for a nice photo lol 

After that, we went back to Melbourne and rested in our hotel. For my birthday dinner, J booked a Japanese fusion restaurant at Kazuki Restaurant, which was awarded 2019's best fine dining restaurant by Time Out Melbourne. 

Kazuki's Restaurant
121 Lygon Street, Carlton Victoria
We had the 5 course meals;
Bread with nori butter 

Radish, shio combo
Crab, tofu, nori
Quail egg, kimchi
Chicken liver, Paris brest
Ama ebi, corn

Salad / cold preparation:
Tuna, scallop, beetroot
Moreton bay bug, ponzu, sake

Pork, smoked eel, shitake

Cherry blossom, white chocolate, cherry

They also gave me a complimentary dessert with happy birthday & candle~
J and I loved the nori butter with bread and when they offered us another round, we happily accepted it. The nori was very flavourful and rich, which complements with the chewy round bread. 

J also bought mini cakes from Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio 
Thank you J for the dinner, cakes and gifts (:

We collected our car the next day as we're going to Moonlit Sanctuary to visit koalas!! One of the highlight of our trip!

Spot the baby joey in the pouch!!

The wallabies were friendlier than the kangaroos. J also has a soft spot for wallabies who have joey so we tend to feed them more. They're actually quite initiative. They would pounce and put their claws on our palms to secure the food! xD

The kangaroos are nocturnal animals and we actually waited for quite some time for them to come over..and we nearly gave up. However, we bought a second jar of snacks and tried again, and one of them eventually came!! The only shot we got! 

One of the highlight & bucket list ticked! Photo with koala! My first koala experience and I think J's as well? Their fur is soooooo soft and silky. Feels so great.
We were given less than 5 minutes to take photos with the koala as there's a queue. I didn't have an impressive solo koala photo, but that's ok because I think our group photo looks kinda cute. 
Also, I think I did a good job & took a natural photo of J & the koala locking eyes at each other.

Thanks for the amazing experience~

Our next destination was Philip Island & The Noobies. However, we did not stay for the penguin experience, as they usually come out around 9pm, and by the time the whole experience finished, it'll be 11pm+ and it would be past midnight when drove back. Usually, people follow tours, but since we drove ourselves, we decided not to risk driving at late night. We spent the afternoon trying to look for wildlife koalas, and tried to spot the penguins at the beach but to no avail. There's also the seal watching tour, which we didn't opt for as well.
J viewing seals at the rock

There was a summer night market at Queen Victoria Market with a variety of stores selling different cuisines. There's also live music~ Vibrant night. We eventually decided on grilled meat because J kept saying he did not have enough meat εƒδΈε€Ÿθ‚‰~ 

On the next day, J has chosen an off-the-beaten path to Top Paddock for brunch. Top Paddock, Black Kettle & Higher Ground cafe are all managed by the same management. They have really similar menus, with Higher Ground being the most popular one. My friends recommended Black Kettle but I was really indecisive on which to choose..
Eventually, J chose Top Paddock as he claimed parking was easier and since we had a car, might as well choose a place where it's only accessible with transport. Initially, I couldn't understand his choice as Top Paddock's ratings weren't that great, but it does make sense now that I thought of it xD
After all, it's the company that matters, not the place. 

Top Paddock
658 Church Street, Richmond
Opening hours: 7am - 4pm

Blueberry & Ricotta Hotcake, Seasonal Berries, Toasted Seeds & Grains, Double Cream, Maple Syrup (AUD $23.00)
The Top Paddock - Poached Eggs, Bacon, Chorizo, SautΓ©ed Greens, Pickled Red Onions, Tomatoes, House Made Relish, Toast (AUD $24.00)

To be honest, I have such high expectations for the ricotta hotcakes. It's in all 3 cafes (Black Kettle, Top Paddock & Higher Ground), and is known to be their signature dish. It does look aesthetically pleasing, and the portion is generous, but flavour wise.. it was just ok to me. Perhaps my expectations were too high. I prefer J's Top Paddock which was a savoury dish. The latte wasn't pictured because J drank it wayyyy before I could snap a flatlay of our brunch 😠

We continued our journey to berries picking, something I really looked forward to doing. We picked Yarra Valley, so that we could all the touristy things at one go. There were a few orchards and farms, but we went to Blue Hill Berries and Cherries. The time we went was the season of strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. The cherries weren't ripe yet, but we plucked them anyways xD
It's eat all you can, and the fruits that we picked; for strawberries it's AUD $10 per kg, and the others AUD $12 per kg. We picked a container of strawberries for my childhood friend, and a mixed berries for ourselves :)

2nd destination in Yarra Valley -- De Bortoli wines 
I've actually researched on the different wineries to visit in Yarra Valley. For first time visitors, there are a couple of wineries that are 'must-visits' -- De Bortoli, Domaine Chandon, Rochford Wines, Yering Station, Yarra Bering -- just to name a few. I've narrowed down to De Bartoli and Domaine Chandon, but still couldn't really decide..
J chose De Bortoli. We didn't really discuss beforehand, I just went with the flow and trusted him. Domaine Chandon is really huge and photogenic, but De Bortoli is probably the most visited of all wineries. It has over 240 hectares of vineyards. They also have a cheese room and you can enjoy the wines together with a cheese board/platter at $15.
For just AUD $5 per person, we get to sample an extensive range of Yarra Valley wines. If you do purchase a bottle of wine, they will refund you the $5; technically free tasting if you do buy a bottle!
J later told me that the reason he chose De Bortoli was because they're famous for dessert wines, and I enjoy dessert wines. Thank you J! I ended up purchasing a Moscato & J went with their 'Noble One'. Cheers~ 

Asian flushed and tipsy

Our last destination in Yarra Valley was the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice creamery. You get to sample as many chocolate pellets as you want, they have dark, milk and white. J finally found & bought the ruby chocolate (the 4th chocolate flavour) that he mentioned when we were in Cork. 

That concluded our Yarra Valley experience. I had my first ever wine tasting experience, and my second berries picking experience (first was in Waterford with J as well!). I would like to thank J for being spontaneous with me, and being the best buddy / partner to experience all the touristy stuff in Yarra Valley. We then headed back to Melbourne to meet up with my childhood friend M and her boyfriend. 

Chin Chin Restaurant 
125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

One of the highly recommended restaurants by my friends, and online reviews. They do not accept reservations, and we placed our name for a table at 7pm..but we only had a table around 8:30pm! We opted for the 'Feed Me #2 Chef's Banquet' which serves the best of the best dishes. It's AUD $88 pp & includes 9 dishes (with 2 desserts), in order:
Trout Miang - Hot smoked trout, pomelo, chilli, peanut & lime
Kingfish sashimi with lime, chilli, coconut & thai basil 
Beef tartare, pickled green chilli, crispy garlic, egg & sesame crackers
Stir fried diamond clams with XO sauce
Chargrilled brisket with sweet soy glaze, cos lettuce, shies & chilli vinegar
Soft shell crab & green papaya salad, scud chilli, shrimp floss, peanuts & tamarind dressing
Wagyu beef 'Crying tiger'
Khao son with rotisserie chicken, crispy egg noodles & mustard greens
Vietnamese iced coffee para cotta with cashew praline
Coconut & banana parfait, raspberry sorbet, coconut caramel & peanuts

Each dish actually ranges between AUD $25 - 35, so it's probably more worth if you want to try a variety of dishes with a bunch of friends. Chin Chin is a Thai fusion restaurant with hippy vibes. J was able to eat a lot of meat and had his cravings satisfied!
We haven't met each other after Secondary 5, but nothing seems to change. We reminisced the past and it seems we've picked up from where we've left off. 

Pandan croissant from Agathe patisserie for breakfast

The start of our Great Ocean Road Trip - one of the must do things when you're in Melbourne! J decided to drive all the way to Cape Otway Lightstation, and then reversed the journey back to Melbourne. There's an entrance fee of AUD $19.50, and hence we forfeited it. Never a fan of lighthouse, and we both agreed it's ok to miss it. Then we went to Port Campbell straight & checked into our BnB.

From Port Campbell as the base, we went to visit the Twelve Apostles which is the most famous stop in the Great Ocean Road. The rock stacks were formed by erosion of limestone cliffs from the Southern Ocean. Gradually, caves were formed and then arches, and eventually the stacks stood alone which are isolated from the shore. There's actually only 7 stacks (albeit the name!)

We also went to Gibson Steps, but they closed the stairs so we were not able to walk down the 86 steps. What a pity!! :(
5 mins away from 12 apostles, is Lord Arch Gorge Beach. There's a few marked trails, but I think we only went to the 900m Geology walk. There's the 3.7 miles trail and 1.4km Lord Arch Trial which we didn't go for. We did have a stroll on the beautiful beach and took some pictures. It was windy and I think everyone was looking at us as I was just wearing a spaghetti strap xD Immediately wore back my wind blazer after the photos (as usual :p) Anything for the pictures!! hahah

The Arch (10 mins from Port Campbell)

London Bridge (4 mins drive from The Arch)

The Grotto (4 mins from London Bridge)

We reached Apollo Bay for a pit stop. 

Lunch at Apollo Bay Fishermen's Co-op
Fish & Chips for 2 (AUD $17.00)
Dim sim (AUD $1.20)

J had dim sim when he studied in Perth during high school. Better known as dim sum in other countries, dim sim is meat & vegetable dumpling style snack food popular in Australia (and NZ to a lesser extent). Interesting, yeah? Brings back a lot of food memories for J xD 
The restaurant actually forgot our orders and we waited for a good 20 minutes..only when customers later than us already had their food served, then we realised they might have missed ours! There were a lot of sea gulls trying to snatch leftover food at the nearby tables as well. It was a breezy afternoon and we really enjoyed our time there. 

We then strolled around Apollo Bay, took some pictures at Apollo Bay Marriner's Lookout. Next, we bought groceries from a small store and cooked our own dinner (lamb ribs!! yummsss) & called it a day. Love groceries shopping and home-cooked dinner. Feels very homey and warm. 

The next day, we continued the road trip for more sightseeing. 

Kenneth River, known as one of the best spots in Great Ocean Road to see koalas! Initially we took a nice trial but we only managed to spot one koala.. J was rather disappointed. However, we decided not to give up, and followed the crowd to the other side of the park..alas, we spotted 3 koalas in the eucalyptus trees lazing!! So..yes guys, follow the crowds!! There's also a cafe that sells bird feed and colourful parrots flying over to tourists; so you can grab a nice photo if ya want! The koalas sleep 22 hours a day - such a good life! #lifegoal

Continuing our journey to Lorne~
Teddy's Lookout at Lorne

Erskine Falls
15 minutes drive from Lorne, we walked through the secluded lush rainforest. It's really pretty and we managed to capture the rainbow below the waterfall. I really love taking photos at waterfalls. Thanks J for being patient :) 

Our room at Lorne, where we microwaved mi goreng for dinner!! I remembered when J first asked me out, he said he was really surprised that I like mi goreng xD Everyone likes mi goreng hello!! It's asians staple food <3

J was still hungry, so we walked around Lorne town and ordered a pizza to share :) Oh, I miss those days where we could eat out freely & chit chat (without phones and interruptions). Would trade anything for simpler days like these.

Our last day at Great Ocean Road trip, and then we headed back to Melbourne straight~ It was an amazing road trip!

Back in Melbourne, we checked into Travelodge Hotel Melbourne Docklands & after checked in, we strolled around Melbourne CBD, had lunch, shopped around & bought coffee from St Ali & souvenirs back home (yessss all the Tim Tams & Aussie snacks!!!) Spent the night repacking as well as we only brought one luggage to Sydney the next day. The remaining luggage with our snacks would be placed in storage near the railway station in Melbourne CBD.

Operator 25
25 Wills Street Melbourne
Opening hours: Mon to Fri 7am - 4pm / Sat to Sun 8am - 4pm
Salmon Aguri: Torched Atlantic salmon on sushi rice with furikake, pickled ginger, radish, soy poached egg, tare sauce and Japanese mayo (AUD $21.00)
Fried chicken burger: Cornflake crumbed fried chicken on charcoal bun served with yuzu, mayo, lettuce, tomato and potato crisps (AUD $21.00)
Flat white (AUD $4.50)
Iced Latte (AUD $5.00)

Honourable mentions (which we did not try): 
Ube waffle -- one of their specialties & I almost ordered it; but learning from previous experiences, I would probably enjoy a more savoury dish for brunch 
Charsiu Benedict -- something J almost ordered, but he switched to fried chicken burger afterwards

The soy poached eggs were really good and anything that's Jap fusion are great. 
Side track: I think both J & I enjoy Asian food, particularly Japanese food :) I remembered we used to have a Japanese night in Cork where we used to eat Ramen, hand rolled sushi & even bought Gari (Japanese pickled ginger) with green tea to complete our theme xD Good old' times.


The next day we took Jetstar from Avalon Airport to Sydney. As this is a domestic flight, we neglected the fact that Avalon airport is actually 70 minutes from the city centre, and they only depart every 30-40 minutes to meet major flights. Return ticket costed AUD $45 each. Luckily, we were smart enough to book a 12:15pm flight; learning from my previous experiences of missing flights especially when they're super early in the morning!! However, Jetstar decided to delay the flight..and we only depart around 2-2:30pm, hence reaching Sydney nearly 5pm! Our hotel was Sydney CBD Hotel.

Initially, we wanted to focus only in Melbourne. Then J wanted to visit Perth as that's where he studied during high school..but it makes more sense to travel to Sydney as Melbourne - Perth is a 4 hours flight, while Melbourne - Sydney is approximately 1 hr 25 mins. In addition, my grandaunt is residing in Sydney, J has friends from Sydney & Black Star Pastry is in Sydney!! I've always wanted to try their watermelon cake! I've seen it at IG around early 2010s because it was so popular & I've always linked Black Star's watermelon cake = Australia (lol). I'm actually surprised that J has never heard of it until I mentioned it to him, especially when he loves watermelon!! Without further ado, we headed to the nearest Black Star Pastry cafe near our hotel before they close at 6:30pm. We literally sat there for 10-15 minutes, ate 3 pieces of cakes (yes, we ordered 2 watermelon cakes because it's that good!!)

Strawberry Watermelon Cake: layered with almond dacquoise, rose-scented cream & watermelon, topped with strawberries, pistachios & dried rose petals -- made to represent the flavours of romance
New York Times declared it as the world's most Instagrammed cake!

Pistachio Lemon Zen Cake: Lavish layers of pistachio ganache, white chocolate mousse, lemon curd and crunchy pistachio dacquoise, result in light texture & flavour profile featuring the tang of lemon & smooth richness of white chocolate

I met up with my uncle the next day, and he brought us to their original store for more cakes!!! 

No need further explanation for the strawberry watermelon cake!! We had a total of 3 slices in 2 days!
Raspberry Lychee Cake: Rich chocolate biscuit foundation, layers of raspberry marshmallow & rose scented cream topped with a layer of lychees and raspberries - sweet and fresh!

Dragon cake: Dragon fruit finely sliced & layered on a delicate sponge, with pineapple vanilla cream & pomegranate jelly ripples & biscuit crumb base

Everything is just so pretty. Aesthetically pleasing. Still love the strawberry watermelon cake, but I'm glad I get to try most of the cakes & had no regrets :)

When you're in Sydney, you just have to visit The Grounds of Alexandria. Every corner of it is IG-worthy. I'm not kidding; the amount of effort and details the creative team has put in. They changed their theme & decorations every now and then, and when we visited in December, it was "Frozen" Christmas theme. 

It's actually difficult to travel in Sydney without a car. In Melbourne, we usually use the free tram to go around the CBD, or drive for our road trip. 
To go to The Grounds of Alexandria, we took the train to Green Square Station, then follow signs to exit at Bourke Road & walk around 1km to reach the Grounds (approximately 10 mins). 

I'm in love with the fairy lights & the barn designs. It's also a very popular venue for weddings

My uncle did not recommend the Grounds because as I quote him - "It's all for the gram, but the food ain't that nice." So we left after taking all the pictures xD Thanks J for accompanying me all the way there just for pictures!! We then head back to Sydney CBD for dinner. We were recommended to go Darling Harbour and Darling Square for dinner as there's loads of options.. However, we ended up at Dixon Street and had Jap food - one of our faves :) Apparently Dixon Street is just 2 streets from Darling Square!

KURA at Dixon
6/12 Dixon Street, Sydney, NSW
Half and half Donburi (rice bowl set): Beef udon + chicken karaage curry (AUD $15.90)

Tori fish Bento & Sashimi (AUD $14.90)

Most of the customers in Kura were Japanese, speaking Jap & drinking sake. Made us feel like we're in Japan xD Also, I believe if there's a lot of Japanese in a Jap restaurant, it means they also approved of the restaurant, right? The staff were very friendly and patient.
Also managed to try Yomie Rice X Yoghurt drink!! I've been craving it; funny how I would have the cravings since I've never tried it?! I love yogurt since young (& had yogurt almost everyday in Cork!) so I just felt like I'll love it even before trying haha
Wanted to try the Jujube or Haw yoghurt..but eventually, decided on the original purple rice yoghurt - AUD $6.30 
Not too bad, the purple rice is very chewy and the yogurt drink was very rich, creamy & filling. 

We're only in Sydney for 2.5 days, so I was glad we get to the next whole morning & afternoon with my uncle & grand grandaunt. Starting the day at Campos coffee before Black Star Pastry cakes~

With Bear Bear <3 such a bubble active boy (but he's actually about 70s in human age??)

107 Addison Road Marrickvile, Sydney
Opening hours: 7am - 3:30pm

My uncle actually gave us a few options for lunch, but we ended up choosing a Japanese fusion restaurant (yes!! That's how much J loves Jap food!). Kurumac, which means "Cool Mac" in Japanese, is a combination of East meets West. The restaurant has a minimalist design and there's glass windows and doors which brightens up the whole store. J had the slow cooked 63 degrees eggs with Japanese style white toast (AUD $12.00). Onsen style eggs cooked perfectly, the egg yolk dripping out onto the toast.. was eggsasm. My uncle had assorted sashimi seafood with sushi rice (picture above) - AUD $24. It's super good!! The sashimi were fresh and juicy, with the fragrant Japanese rice with a mild tinge of soy sauce - PERFECT. I had seared salmon, avocado, yuzukosho salad (AUD $18), a bit of vegetables to balance it off. Finally had avocados! Australians and their avocados toasts hehehe

Sydney Opera House & Harbour Bridge - iconic landmark of Sydney. You haven't been to Sydney if you don't have a picture here (:

We also visited Sydney Fish Market, and had the best calamari rings ever. The seafood were so fresh! Most calamari rings that I've had, even in renowned restaurants, are full of batter..but the ones we had in Sydney Fish Market were fresh, juicy and meaty. We even ordered a second plate, along with some oysters, and crayfish (yummyyyyy)!!! 10/10 would recommend dropping by at the fish market, although it's quite costly, but worth it!

Tried another purple rice yoghurt store - Koomi. My uncle & J liked this better. J said Koomi is more refreshing (i suppose it's less creamy & smooth), and I do feel so too. 

We spent our last night in Sydney with J's Korean friend since high school. They've rekindled their friendship through the wedding. We had some cocktails and finger food at Assembly Bar, and ended our night strolling at Darling Harbour. Finally, we get to visit Darling Harbour after missing it on the first night xD 
Night views of Sydney, which reminds me a lot of singapore. 
Come to think of it, we were never out late at night in Melbourne CBD - so I can't compare the night views

Unfortunately, our flight the next day was delayed again (ugh Jetstar!!), and I was super anxious because we were suppose to take the bus from Avalon airport in Melbourne to Melbourne CBD, and then catch another bus from CBD to Tullamarine Airport. Basically Sydney --> Avalon Airport --> Melbourne CBD --> Tullamarine Airport --> Singapore / Brunei. The express bus from Avalon to Melbourne CBD is not that frequent, which means with the delay, we might miss it. Our flight back to our respective countries were 7pm and 8pm respectively, which means we had to reach Tullamarine airport around 5-6pm. We also haven't packed our stuff as we used only one luggage to Sydney..so the whole timeline was a mess, and me being a control freak, became a bit anxious whenever things don't go as I've planned. J is more chilled, so I guess our personalities complement each other (somehow); it'll suck if both of us panicked together or being super chilled and disorganised. Thankfully, the bus driver waited for us!! Thank you kind driver, and we managed to reach Melbourne CBD on time for J to collect his luggage & for us to have our last brunch in Melbourne~

Higher Ground
650 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, Victoria
Minced Lamb Fry-Up, Miso eggplant, Fried Eggs, Barberries, Smoked Yoghurt, Pine Nut Dukkah, Sourdough (AUD $24.00)
Braised seasonal mushrooms, Fried polenta, Poached eggs,  Soft herbs, Hazelnuts, Truffle Vinaigrette, Sourdough (AUD $22.00)
Flat White (AUD $4.20)
Mocha Latte (AUD $4.50)

I am sooooo glad we finally get to try Higher Ground on our last day in Australia! Ending our brunch adventure on a high note! No regrets. I feel like this was probably the best brunch I've had in Melbourne (well either this or Humble Rays). The interior design is really sophisticated, and modern with their high ceiling. The food was amazing, and the whole menu looks really appetising. We had a hard time choosing our food, and only decided after recommendations from the waitress. She recommended me the braised seasonal mushroom and fried polenta, which she claimed was their best seller, even though it's a vegetarian dish. And oh boy, it didn't disappoint at all! Even J likes it. J's minced lamb complemented with the smoke yoghurt and fried eggs. We both love eggs and both our yolks were perfectly done. Gooey, just the way we like it. 

There's ups and downs throughout this trip, but overall, I really enjoyed Australia, although J wasn't a big fan of the heat. It became hotter towards the end of our trip, and hit up to 38 degrees on certain hours of the day! Nevertheless, Australia left good memories for me and I would love to visit other parts of Australia in the future, and go for more cafe hopping & brunches!!
Thanks J for planning everything. I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as I did. 

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