It was the tail end of winter when our media group went to Melbourne, Australia. We woke up to a fair weather with a cold breeze and crisp air on our last day there. The sun was shining in the morning. Coat and sunglasses were necessary. Then, before we had our lunch at Queen Victoria Market, it rained.
Melbourne is known for having four seasons in one day. A day may start off bright and sunny, but come afternoon it might be overcast with a bit of light drizzle.
“The typical Australian weather changes every five minutes; it rains then it’s sunny,” said Nigel, our tour guide.
According to locals, the tug-of-war between seasons is due in part to its location in the mid latitude. Being in the temperate zone—or the zone between the tropics and the polar regions—it is influenced by both the cold weather in the south and the warm weather in the north.
For reference: summer in Melbourne is from December to February, autumn is from March to May, winter is from June to August, and spring is from September to November. The city enjoys warm summers, lovely springs, mild autumns, and crisp, snow-less winters.
Thanks to its Mediterranean climate, erratic weather notwithstanding, Melbourne grows high quality grapes for light wines.
Wines and chocolates at Yarra Valley
An hour away from Melbourne CBD is Yarra Valley, home to several boutique wineries and the biggest handmade chocolaterie in Australia.
The upper region which surrounds the Yarra River was Victoria’s first wine growing district. Yarra Valley’s official website said vines were first planted in the region in 1838 by the Ryrie brothers on their property known today as Chateau Yering. It is recognized for producing some of the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the country.
De Bortoli, one of the internationally known names in the region, is the second largest winery in Yarra Valley, covering 200 hectares of vineyard.
The 90-year-old winery let our group try its reds and whites, including its award-winning dessert wine, accompanied by cheeses.
We tried their light-tasting Riesling paired with Meredith Goat Cheese and citrusy Chardonnay paired with Le Dauphin from France. De Bortoli’s Pinot Noir has a strawberry-like smell, which paired perfectly with Piave. We also took a sip of its Shiraz, marked by a slightly spicy taste, and its peppery Cabernet Sauvignon, or as Aussies call it, “Cab Sauv.”
De Bortoli’s flagship wine, Noble One, features lush honey, apricot, and citrus characters. It has a rich syrupy taste and goes well with blue cheese.
Aside from cheese, wine goes perfectly well with chocolate. And Yarra Valley Chocolaterie has it in hundreds of kinds and flavors.
It has a showroom where customers can choose from over 250 Belgian chocolate products—from spreads to bars, a chocolate production area, and an all-day café set on 16 hectares of orchard and landscaped gardens.
Chocolate lovers must try its single-origin gourmet chocolate collection, available in 12 flavors, including Mango and Passion Fruit, Roasted Nuts and Dried Fruit, Sesame and Poppy Caramel Crunch, Strawberry and Vanilla Bean, Praline and Coconut and Macadamia, Violet and Forest Berries, Lemon Lime and Mint, Crunchy Choco Malt and Honeycomb, Ginger and Lemon Myrtle, Cookies and Cream, Orange and Almonds, and its bestselling Macadamia and Salted Caramel.
Each chocolate bar, priced at 11,95 Australian dollars, makes for a perfect gift or pasalubong as its packaging features lovely artwork of the surrounding areas in Yarra Valley.
Colorful houses and laneways
There is so much that has been said to Melbourne’s multi-cultural population. Of its 4.8 million residents, about 36 percent are immigrants—mostly coming from the United Kingdom, India, and China. Its cultural diversity is reflected in its restaurants, which serves a variety of cuisines.
Being a melting pot of cultures, the city is home to the best-known cultural institutions and has been recognized as a global center for live music, theatre, and street art.
Its most colorful alley, the Hosier Lane is a popular landmark due to its graffiti walls, showcasing the active street art scene in the city. Tourists come here to take photos of the walls, while locals working in cafés go here for their cigarette break.
Another vibrant sight in Melbourne is the row of 82 distinctive bathing boxes, featuring classic Victorian architectural features, lining the shore of Brighton Beach. They may be small, made of timber, and have no electricity and running water, but these boxes are not cheap—you will need about AUD$300,000 to own one. It sure is pricey to own a room where you can change and store your beach equipment.
A mix of old and new
Melbourne offers the best of both worlds—where contemporary buildings such as the modern Federation Square, a venue for arts and public events on the edge of the CBD, and Victorian-designed Flinders Railway Station and St. Paul Cathedral are just an intersection away.
It is also a place where people can shop at outlet stores in DFO South Wharf and at hundreds of stalls in the Queen Victoria Market. Looking for branded items and local goods? A pair of Uggs and packs of juicy winter-grown strawberries? They’ve got it.
There’s so much to see and experience in this city. All you need is an open mind and a light parka in case it rains.
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Cebu Pacific now flies non-stop from Manila to Melbourne on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 6:00 a.m., and from Melbourne to Manila on the same days at 5:00 p.m. Melbourne is Cebu Pacific’s second Australian destination, after Sydney. For inquiries and reservations, call Cebu Pacific’s hotline at (02) 702-0888 or log on to www.cebupacificair.com.Photos by Rosemarie Razon
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