TWELVE APOSTLES & BRAE

Combine the icons of the Great Ocean Road with lunch at Australia’s finest regional restaurant

For the ultimate day of luxury and indulgence, combine the arresting coastal scenery of the Great Ocean Road and Twelve Apostles with one of Australia’s finest dining experiences – Brae at Birregurra.

Your journey begins in the heart of Melbourne where you will board a private helicopter.  Ascend through a canyon of skyscrapers then soar over the rugged beaches and coastal hamlets that dot the Great Ocean Road’s famed Surf and Shipwreck Coasts.

See the iconic Twelve Apostles from above before landing to stroll the cliff-top boardwalks for a vastly different perspective of these majestic limestone stacks. Your local guide will take you to nearby Loch Ard Gorge - one of Australia’s most dramatically beautiful beaches - to discover the tales of tragedy and heroism at the site where the Victorian-era clipper famously sunk in 1878.

Continue the journey in the comfort of a luxury vehicle as you travel through Australia’s rich dairy heartland to the bucolic setting of Brae at Birregurra. Chef Dan Hunter’s ever-changing menu incorporates organic produce from Brae Farm, the surrounding land and local, ethical, sustainable producers to showcase a unique Australian cuisine built centred around seasonality. Enjoy the multi-course culinary adventure complimented with carefully paired wines, before a relaxing drive back to your hotel.

 


ACACIA'S EXCLUSIVE COOKING EXPERIENCES

Victoria is home to Australia’s top chefs and restaurateurs and we believe that there is no other city in the world that can boast the diversity and quality of our food and wine.

Acacia's guests can enjoy hands-on cooking experiences with Victoria's leading chefs in the city of Melbourne or in beautiful regional locations such as Daylesford, Mornington Peninsula and the Dandenong Ranges.


Forage with Shannon Bennett

Protégé of Marco Pierre White and Alain Ducasse, Shannon Bennett is one of Australia’s pre-eminent chefs. He’s an author and head chef of the globally recognised restaurant Vue de monde, at Melbourne’s Rialto Tower. Shannon also frequently appears as a guest judge on the popular cooking show Masterchef Australia.

Spend a day with Shannon as he provides an insight to the history, present and future of his stunning Dandenong Ranges property ‘Burnham Beeches’ located a short drive from Melbourne. Explore the estates manicured grounds before venturing into the historic mansion to hear tales of eccentric past residents and famous guests such as the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Wander through sustainable gardens filled with wild strawberries, kale and red broccoli. See the properties emus, ducks and chickens that provide eggs for the café and venture into the Trufferie and if the season is right, enjoy a truffle hunt.

The day will be very hands on, offering an opportunity for to forage in the gardens with Shannon, roll up your sleeves and do some cooking before indulging in a delicious meal.


Daylesford with Alla Wolf-Tasker AM

An icon in regional dining, Lake House in Daylesford has long been considered one of Australia’s best restaurants, championing local seasonal cuisine long before it became a mantra for many. The hotel and all manner of indulgent facilities that have grown around the restaurant over the past three decades continue to delight visitors from near and far.

Culinary Director and visionary, Alla Wolf Tasker has enough national and international awards to fill virtually every wall of her fabled house on the lake from Two Hats in the national Good Food Guide to Australia’s Best Wine List Hall of Fall from Gourmet Traveller.

Widely credited for getting regional destination dining started in Australia against all odds; Alla’s tenacity and a belief in what was possible is indeed legendary. Her passion and enthusiasm to support and profile local Victorian producers is exemplary.

During this Acacia exclusive experience guests will meet the who’s who of agriculture in central Victoria. Alla will introduce the producers before stepping into the Lake House kitchen where she will provide an intimate and educational cooking demonstration that leads to an exceptional dining experience.


Press Club Projects

Since opening The Press Club in 2008, celebrity chef George Calombaris's flagship restaurant has established itself as one of Melbourne’s finest dining establishments garnering a host of culinary awards along the way.  With a nod to his own heritage, Calombaris elevates Greek Australian cuisine to a new level with an experimental menu featuring plenty of molecular theatrics.

Less well known is that a recent remodelling of The Press Club restaurant incorporates an impressive test kitchen kitted out with about $200,000 worth of gadgetry that can do everything from freeze drying, steaming, to spray coating and evaporating.

Allow Acacia to facilitate an innovative culinary adventure dining at The Press Club’s test kitchen where the restaurant’s Head Development Chef and team experiment right in front of guests.  With a glass of wine in hand, guests sit at the chef’s workstation observing and consuming dreamt up gastronomic creations – some may even make it on the restaurant’s main menu for future diners to enjoy.

Included in the experience are luxury transfers to and from The Press Club and a pre-dinner cocktail at one of Melbourne’s premier laneway bars where guests will learn more about the city’s foodie credentials – the prefect orientation for further exploration.


Walter Trupp Market Tour & Cooking Class

As befitting Australia’s culinary capital, Melbourne is blessed with one of the country’s leading cooking schools.  In an impressive, designed for purpose kitchen facility a short distance from one of Melbourne’s inner city produce markets, guests can join private cooking classes with acclaimed chef Walter Trupp who has forged an international reputation at some of the most prestigious restaurants in Europe, including a stint as Head Chef of Marco Pierre White’s restaurant group.

Guests will first journey to bustling Prahran Market where guests will be expertly guided on the selection of quality seasonal produce suitable for the cooking class.  Then back to the kitchen for an entirely hands-on experience with plenty of laughs to be enjoyed along the way.  The culmination of this fun activity will be the consumption of your own culinary masterwork.


Italian-Australian Cooking in a Private Home 

While the history of Italian migration to Melbourne dates back to the 1850’s gold rush, it was the post war migrant influx that forever transformed our city in to the vibrant culinary hub that it is today.  Indeed, it is the fusion of Mediterranean and Asian cooking techniques with spectacular Australian produce, that best epitomises modern Australian cuisine.

For guests after an intriguing glimpse into the world of Italian-Australian cuisine, join Melbourne local home chef Sandra Del Greco on an authentic culinary adventure inspired by regional, seasonal and fresh ingredients.

Guests may first elect to join Sandra on a tour of one of Melbourne’s buzzing local markets where she provides insight in selecting the freshest ingredients for the feast ahead.  Then, in a private home kitchen and with a quality pinot grigio in hand, Sandra will create dishes that pay homage to both her Abruzzese heritage and her Australian homeland in an interactive, relaxed and conversational environment.


Paddock to Plate at Green Olive, Red Hill

Green Olive at Red Hill, in the heart of the spectacular wine country of the Mornington Peninsula just one hour from Melbourne, has established itself as one of the premier ‘Agritourism’ properties in Australia. Spend time on a walking tour though the olive grove learning all about biological farming, olive oil, and table olives. Wander through the vineyard and get a feel for why ‘terroir’ plays such an important role in producing great wines. Learn all about seasonal produce in the ‘kitchen’ garden, while touching, feeling, smelling and being a part of the food you will then cook.

This Food and Wine experience is all about rolling up sleeves and joining the farmer in the paddock and the chef in the kitchen. Guests will use their culinary skills and be guided by Green Olive’s expert chef to create a true “paddock to plate” dish. Once the hard work is done guests can sit down and enjoy their food creation with a glass of Green Olive at Red Hill Estate grown wine.


For more information on any of these culinary experiences or to make a reservation, contact Acacia Tours info@acaciatours.com.au  


DRIFT HOUSE - PORT FAIRY

About Drift House 

Drift House is one of the latest additions to the Australian boutique accommodation landscape. Located right in the heart of the beautiful coastal town of Port Fairy in south-west Victoria, it sets a new standard of design for luxury accommodation - one that relates to the history of site and the place, but from a contemporary perspective.

Drift House appeals to those looking for a luxury escape that is a little more individual and interesting.

Drift House consists of four very private and entirely self-contained suites. The use of innovative materials, salvaged timber and beautifully designed fixtures results in a modern, cutting edge and luxurious atmosphere. All suites have been appointed to a very high standard. They have beautiful and spacious modern bathrooms with walk-in rain showers, deep baths, quality towels and products.

Each suite has well equipped kitchen facilities, a relaxing lounge area and the very special Drift House Maxi-bar. Bedrooms have amazing king size beds with high quality linen, and a choice of pillows. Wi-Fi internet is available free of charge throughout Drift House.

For more information on Drive House, visit drifthouse.com.au 

About Port Fairy

A charming fishing village at the end of the Great Ocean Road, Port Fairy is the last destination on Victoria's famed Shipwreck Coast and an easy 1-hour drive from the spectacular Grampians National Park.

Recognised by the United Nations endorsed LiveCom awards as the “Most Liveable Community in the World”, this relaxed coast and river town boasts wide streets lined with nineteenth century cottages, great Norfolk pines and old stone churches.

With a buzzing local art scene, water sports and the ability to see native animals in the wild, from southern right whales, seals and dolphins to wallabies, kangaroos and emus - Port Fairy is the perfect destination for guests to be active or simply relax and take in the beauty of this quaint Victorian town.

Acacia's guests can stay at Drift House Port Fairy on the following tours:


GOURMET GREAT OCEAN ROAD

Recognised as one of the world’s most scenic coastal road journeys, the Great Ocean Road is rightfully a popular day trip for visitors to Melbourne. However, there is more to this destination than meets the eye. While the glorious surf beaches, lush rain-forest, and towering cliffs are unforgettable highlights, the region's gourmet credentials warrant attention. From acclaimed restaurants serving the freshest locally sourced ingredients to farm gates creating award-winning artisanal fare, here are some gourmet highlights that will reward a visit.


La Bimba

Well located in the charming seaside town of Apollo Bay, a halfway point on the Great Ocean Road, La Bimba is the ultimate epicurean lunch destination. The restaurant overlooks the foreshore with views to the beach and on a sunny day with windows retracted, the space is awash with natural light and fresh sea air.

Sourcing local fish, red meat and poultry is at the heart of La Bimba’s restaurant story. Ensuring ingredients are gathered from fishermen and farmers in the Apollo Bay region is an essential value to farmer, chef and restaurant owner, Steve Earl.

Highlights of the menu include a seafood paella, the superb Portarlington mussels, and baked whole fish which might be locally caught snapper or garfish.  The restaurant recently installed a wood fire grill, perfect for the mouth-watering grass-fed beef.  The wine list is replete with interesting Victorian wines including the highly recommended Otway wine producer, Heroes.


Apostle Whey Cheese

Venture just a few kilometres inland from the iconic 12 Apostles and you find yourself in the heart of the Heytesbury Settlement, some of the richest dairy country in the world supplying around 25 per cent of Australia's dairy needs. With lush green rolling hills dotted with Friesian and Jersey cows, it is a landscape reminiscent of the Irish countryside.

Julian and Dianne Benson are original settlers of the region having farmed in the area for over 35 years, and for the past 12 years they have produced award-winning cheeses on site.  The family’s dairy herd has been bred to produce milk with high butterfat and protein levels, which is critical to the flavours they achieve with their cheeses.

Apostle Whey Cheese offers personal tastings of their delectable range, including white moulds, creamy blues and, our favourite, marinated feta. And if the timing is right, you can watch the cheese makers in action from a viewing window in the tasting room.


Timboon Fine Ice Cream

The quaint hamlet of Timboon is perfectly located in dairy heartland and is renowned for its quality dairy farm gates and providores.  Any visitor to the town should make a bee line to Timboon Fine Ice Cream to sample premium boutique ice cream unmistakable for its creamy smoothness.

For the last 18 years Tim Marwood and Caroline Simmons have been making their famous ice cream on their property 7km from Timboon. Fresh milk comes from a neighbouring family farm and fresh cream from nearby Camperdown Dairy.

Their striking architecturally designed store is located in the heart of the township and offers guests the opportunity to sample ice creams before they settle on their choice.  And that decision can be a difficult one with innovative flavours such as Orange and Cardamom, Passionfruit Meringue, and Maple and Cinnamon.  Our favourite is Whisky Cream flavoured with the locally produced spirit from Timboon Railway Shed Distillery, a stone’s throw from the store.


Timboon Railway Shed Distillery

In a region with a history of illicit whiskey production dating back to the 1890’s, Timboon Railway Shed Distillery is now the home to some of Victoria’s finest locally, and legally produced, spirits.

The working distillery boasts not only single malt whisky, but a range of spirits as well - premium vodka, limoncello, strawberry schnapps and the very popular coffee cream. Visitors have the opportunity to talk to distiller Josh Walker (no relation to Johnny) about our distilling process and try some of their malts, which, according to noted whiskey reviewer Angelo Capuano of Malt Mileage, are “as smooth as new milk but with some ferocity and fire’.

The Timboon Railway Shed Distillery also houses a restaurant perfect for a lunch stopover. The menu is casual but classy and showcases the finest locally produced artisanal fare such as Western Plains pork belly, Beeac prime Suffolk lamb, and the delicious, aforementioned Apostle Whey cheeses.


GORGE Chocolates

Nestled between the Great Otway National Park and the rolling hills of the Heytesbury Settlement, GORGE Chocolates offers something of a country experience.  The shop itself is actually a farm shed in which one section has been fitted out for the shop and chocolate making room.  The rest of the shed still serves as a farm shed for the 100-acre property.  Cows, horses, a sheep or two, a goat, chooks & (friendly) dogs are also kept on the property and may be seen from the shops’ window.

GORGE’s chocolate treats are handmade on-site by expert chocolatiers and well-known locals Jason Spaull and Melanie Pollock, using a special type of Belgian chocolate often blended with carefully selected Australian ingredients such as Buderim ginger, our personal favourite.  We also recommend their hot chocolate, made with real Belgian chocolate of course – rich and delicious.


 


NEW YEARS EVE IN MELBOURNE

Visitors seeing in the New Year in Melbourne are in for a treat.  As the sun sets over the city on a balmy summer night the streets are abuzz in anticipation of the midnight countdown.  And on the stroke of midnight the skyline will light up in an unprecedented display of fireworks with the Yarra River offering dress circle seats. For an unforgettable experience, here are Acacia's suggestions for the hottest tickets in town. Bookings are essential and tickets are selling fast.

 

Elevation New Year’s Eve at Eureka Tower

Ring in the new year on Level 88 of Eureka Tower offering the ultimate views of fireworks across Melbourne.  An upmarket evening of live entertainment and dancing.

Cost:

Silver Ticket $210 – access to Level 88, canapes, beer, wine (8.00pm to 1.00am)

Gold Ticket $300 – access to Level 88 and exclusive Level 89, substantial canapes, grazing dishes, beer, wine, basic spirits (8.00pm to 2.00am)

Time:  From 8.00pm

Location:  Eureka Tower, 7 Riverside Quay, Southbank

Click here for more information 

 

New Year's Eve Luxury Catamaran Cruise

Make New Year's Eve a night to remember with a luxurious fireworks cruise on the Yarra River and Victoria Harbour.  Cruise guests have the advantage of being able to view the fireworks from a clear vantage point on the water in Victoria Harbour. The night includes a glass of French Champagne on boarding, wine, premium beers and soft drinks and gourmet catering.

Cost:  $750 per person

Time:  8.30pm – 12.30am

Location:  Melbourne City Marina, 8 New Quay Promenade, Docklands

Click here for more information

 

Taxi Kitchen NYE Oscar's Party

With an enviable location overlooking Melbourne’s Yarra River, Taxi Kitchen is always a hot ticket for New Year’s Eve celebrations.  Enjoy 5 delectable courses at this acclaimed restaurant and enjoy the perfect vantage point for viewing the fireworks.  The theme is Oscar’s glamour and the venue encourages all guests to dress to the occasion.

Cost:  $195

Time:  Bookings from 8.00pm

Location: Federation Square

Click here for more information

 

New Year’s Eve at Ludlow Bar & Dining Room

This year Ludlow is taking you to fabulous Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve.   Located on the banks of the Yarra River, Ludlow offers wonderful views of the fireworks over Melbourne, entertainment & DJ’s until 3am.

For those wishing to dine, Ludlow offers a 3-course set menu on the terrace or a cocktail party offering 5-hours of sparkling, wine, beer, basic spirits, and canapes.

Cost:   Dining - $130 per person (dining room) or $170 per person (terrace dining)

Cocktails - $180 per person

Time:  Dining –  8.30pm to late

Cocktails – 7.00pm to midnight

Location:  6 Riverside Quay, Southbank

Click here for more information

 

Pure South Dining - New Year’s Eve 2017

Pure South Dining is a modern, special occasion restaurant in central Melbourne with iconic views down on the river with a stunning CBD backdrop. The cuisine draws inspiration from farmers, fishermen and artisan producers of King Island, Flinders Island & Tasmania.

Celebrate all the glamour of New Year’s Eve in the city and dine with front row seats to the spectacular fireworks show.  Pure South Dining offers a premium dining experience on New Year’s Eve.

Cost:  $229 p.p. Dinner & premium beverage package of wine, beer, soft drinks, and a cocktail

$269 p.p. Guaranteed Window Table

Time:  Bookings from 8.00pm

Location: Southgate Precinct

Click here for more information

 

Australian Pops Orchestra New Year’s Eve Concert

A long-held tradition in Melbourne, the Australian Pops Orchestra is again proud to present the keenly awaited 2017 New Year’s Eve concert in Melbourne’s outstanding Hamer Hall.

Under the baton of Australia’s celebrated conductor Warwick Stengards, and with gifted performer and Melbourne identity Denis Walter as Master of Ceremonies, the evening promises breathtaking performances of some of the most popular stage musical songs from past to present.

Joining Denis will be Australia’s leading lady of stage, Silvie Paladino, together with the talented musical theatre performers Simon Gleeson and Kane Alexander.  With the magnificent 65-piece Australian Pops Orchestra this is an event not to be missed.

Cost:  Tickets – premium seating $160.

Time:  8.00pm

Location:  Hamer Hall, Arts Centre

Click here for more information

 

Fireworks (Family Friendly)

Early evening fireworks extravaganza at Yarra Park.  With a feature screening of Disney’s Zootopia, live music and fireworks at 9.30pm, there will be fun for the whole family.

Cost: Free

Time: 6.00pm — 10.00pm

Location: Yarra Park (next to the MCG), bounded by Punt Road Oval, Brunton Ave and Wellington Parade

 

Fireworks (Melbourne CBD Live Sites)

Enjoy dress circle positions at Melbourne’s official fireworks at one of four live sites across the CBD.  With celebrations at Treasury Gardens, Flagstaff Gardens, Docklands and Kings Domain, there are plenty of options on offer.

Public transport will run all night and each site has food outlets, live music and a special multimedia countdown to ring in 2017.

Cost: Free

Time: 9pm — 1am

Locations: Treasury Gardens, Flagstaff Gardens, Docklands and Kings Domain

 

Federation Square Block Party

Melbourne’s rich and diverse arts scene will be centre stage at Federation Square as Multicultural Arts Victoria promises a fun, dynamic night to conclude 2016.

When the clock gets close to midnight, Melbourne’s own Quarter Street will get families on their feet for a rendition of Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk.

Cost: Free

Time: 8pm — late

Location:  Federation Square


HALAL RESTAURANTS OF DISTINCTION

Mamak (Malaysian)

366 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Mamak is an award winning restaurant that has garnered something of a cult following in Melbourne. Named after the roadside food stalls of Kuala Lumpur, Mamak offers great value Malay dishes with bold and authentic flavours with special emphasis on the roti, satays and traditional street eats made to order. Mamak's sweet roti dessert has fast become it's signature dish.

Maha (Modern Middle Eastern)

21 Bond St, Melbourne

Recipient of an Age Good Food Guide Chef’s Hat award each year since 2009, Shane Delia’s opulent basement venue is home to the city’s most incredible Middle Eastern flavours.  Choose from two, four, five or six hearty courses served as shared banquets or degustation dining. All will feature Maha’s signature 12-hour lamb shoulder, perfectly yielding and perfumed with coriander and cumin.  Maha is also an excellent choice for vegetarian dining with a sumptuous and creative degustation menu.

Supernormal (Asian Fusion)

180 Flinders Ln, Melbourne

Andrew McConnell’s bustling restaurant on Melbourne’s esteemed Flinders Lane eating strip offers a wildly popular menu inspired by the great Asian cities of Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Seoul.  All meat dishes use halal certified meat with menu items designed for sharing.  Signature dishes include the very popular New England lobster roll and slow-cooked Szechuan lamb.

Gazi (Greek)

2 Exhibition St, Melbourne

George Calombaris’s delicious Greek hangout is a casual but arresting dining room featuring a ceiling lined with a wave of terracotta pots.  The unpretentious atmosphere is a perfect companion to the Hellenic street food on offer.  Everything except their lamb offerings is certified halal.

Sezar (Modern Armenian)

6 Melbourne Pl, Melbourne

Offering a fresh and modern approach to traditional Armenian cooking, Sezar’s kitchen skilfully combines a mouth-watering array of spices and flavours with fresh meats, fish, vegetables and fruits, to create the unique flavours of the region. Most meat dishes are prepared using halal-certified meat and while the kitchen itself is not 100% halal, utensils are strictly kept separately to avoid cross contamination. The Bastourma spiced beef cheek and famous triple cooked chips are excellent options.

Abla’s (Lebanese)

109 Elgin St, Carlton

Abla Amad’s homely restaurant in Carlton is something of an institution on the Melbourne culinary scene. Her kitchen brings together one hundred authentic Lebanese recipes that have been handed down from one generation to the next including time-honoured dishes such as kibbee, tabouleh, vine leaves, kafta and Abla’s famous chicken and rice – an aromatic meal of chicken flavoured with spices and almonds.

Epocha (European)

49 Rathdowne St, Carlton

Epocha is the perfect choice for old-school dining with top-notch service. In what has become a foodie’s favourite, the restaurant ethos is all about pairing super-fresh, locally sourced produce with traditional cooking techniques. All meat dishes are certified halal, including one of the best lamb shoulder roasts in the city.

 


VEGETARIAN DINING IN MELBOURNE

Attica (Award-Winning)

74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea

Ben Shewry’s legendary culinary establishment was recently ranked no 32 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the highest ranking of any in Australia. Attica’s 8-course vegetarian degustation includes his trademark “A Simple Dish of Potato Cooked in the Earth It Was Grown” and his high-brow reworking of the Aussie classic, “Smashed Avo on Toast”.  The ultimate special occasion vegetarian dining experience.

Maha (Modern Middle Eastern)

21 Bond St, Melbourne

Located in a lush subterranean parlour, Shane Delia’s esteemed Maha is not just for the carnivorous (albeit famed for its 12-hour lamb shoulder).  Using a fresh, innovative and unrestricted approach with Mediterranean influences, he skillfully redefines the ancient Middle Eastern cuisine through modern dining. Maha’s vegetarian offerings include menus of two, four, five or six courses served as shared banquets or degustation dining. And to cap off the perfect meal, savour Delia’s renowned turkish delight filled doughnuts, with maple syrup and walnuts.

Saravanaa Bhavan (Casual South Indian Vegetarian)

131 King St, Melbourne

The recent arrival in Melbourne of Saravanaa Bhavan, one of the largest vegetarian restaurant chains in the world, was a godsend for many of Melbourne’s Indian community, especially considering the dominance of North Indian and Nepalese dishes in Indian restaurants in Australia. The restaurant is simple, inexpensive, but renowned for extremely delicious and authentic South Indian food.  The masala dosa and sambar are especially popular.

Nirankar (Indian/Nepalese)

174 Queen St, Melbourne

While not exclusively vegetarian, Nirankar has an extensive vegetarian menu and delivers excellent North Indian and Nepalese flavours in an elegant CBD location.

Transformer (Modern Vegan)

99 Rose St, Fitzroy

Melbourne’s premier modern vegan restaurant is aptly located in a sophisticated warehouse just off hipster-friendly Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. The inventive menu is out and proud vegetarian devoid of mock meat dishes designed to appease carnivores. Signature dishes include steamed bao made from spelt and seeds, wrapped around crisp tofu with gochujang-spiced mayo and king oyster mushrooms with confit garlic & pine nut purée.

Smith & Daughters (Modern Vegan)

175 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Challenging the perception that vegan food is bland, chef Shannon Martinez’s Latin roots feature in this welcome addition to Melbourne’s burgeoning vegetarian dining scene. Signature dishes include the summer salad of melons with pickled pineapple, jalapeno and fresh mint and the paella fritters. And it’s not just the food that stars at Smith & Daughters, it also has a cracker cocktail list that should not be overlooked.

Vegie Bar (Casual Vegetarian)

380 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

From humble beginnings over 20 years ago, Vegie Bar has grown to become one of Melbourne’s most popular haunts for both the health conscious and the hungry. Serving a vast array of dishes inspired by the world over, Vegie Bar continues to treat the masses to delicious and accessible contemporary vegetarian cooking. This perpetually buzzing and casual restaurant does not take bookings.

Matcha Mylkbar (New Age Vegan Café)

72A Acland St, St Kilda

So hot right now, Matcha Mylkbar has recently come to the attention of New York Times readers following Thor actor Chris Hemsworth proclamation that he has fallen in love with the new age vegan café.  The menu’s inspiration is formed around the plant-based diets of the long-lived populations of the world’s so-called blue zones - Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; and Ikaria in Greece.


SOUTH MELBOURNE MARKET

It’s official!  Melbourne has just been named the world’s most liveable city by The Economist for the seventh year running, once again beating perennial rivals Vienna and Vancouver. While Melbourne received full marks in the important categories of healthcare, education, and infrastructure, we got to thinking about what attributes of Melbourne truly elevate its liveability compared to other cities in this nation.  Personally, we love Melbourne’s cultural institutions, quality restaurants and bars, trams, and proximity to such diversely beautiful regions as the Mornington Peninsula and Goldfields.  But above all, we love her inner-city markets!

For 150 years now, South Melbourne Market has been an integral part of the fabric of Melbourne's food culture. It is the quintessential village market that is not only a very pleasant place to pick up fresh produce and top-notch seafood, but it's also a go-to for morning flat whites, afternoon pastries and paella at night.

Here is a list of our top 5 gourmet food experiences at South Melbourne market:


Agathé Pâtisserie

Agathé Pâtisserie
It’s hard to miss the aroma of warm croissants made fresh on site at Agathé Pâtisserie - the ultimate allurement smashing best made diet plans in its wake. And while there invariably will be a queue, you can watch the pâtissers work their magic while you patiently wait. We love the almond croissants and escargots.

Claypots Evening Star
When it comes to seafood, how can it get any fresher than Claypots? Utilising produce sourced from the market fishmongers and cooked right there in front of your eyes, it’s a contender for Melbourne’s best seafood. Located on the corner of the market allotment, the eclectic internal dining area is essentially a long bar with stools and on a warm summer’s evening is reminiscent of a bustling Galician seafood house.
The menu is simple, fresh, and delicious with daily specials scrawled on a chalkboard. And as if you needed to be enticed, the ridiculously fresh Coffin Bay oysters are a steal at just a dollar a piece.

The Cheese Room at Emerald Deli

The Cheese Room at Emerald Deli
One of the market’s best-kept food secrets is tucked away in a cool room at the back of the popular Emerald Deli. The impressive walk-in cellar has rustic wooden shelves stacked high with some 200 rare and exotic cheeses. Giant wheels of Comté and Camembert adorn the walls and deli owner, Maria, is often on hand to provide a sample of something new to push your boundaries. And if cheese is not your thing, the deli has an impressive range of macarons to satisfy any sweet tooth.

Atypic Chocolate
The new kid on the block, Atypic Chocolate, is creating quite a buzz. Established by French trained pastry chef-turned-chocolatier Charles Lemai and his business partner Chi, Atypic Chocolate is handcrafting single-origin, small batch chocolate from bean-to-bar in an innovative new stall.
Customers can watch it all - from roasting, dehusking also known as winnowing, and grinding the nibs, to refining the balance of flavour and texture (conching) and moulding the chocolate. The large viewing windows allow shoppers to see every detail, but nothing can contain the sweet chocolate aroma.

Atypic Chocolate

Simply Spanish Paella
South Melbourne market is not only the home of a famous Dim Sim – it now also can lay claim to the tastiest paella, outside of Spain. In late 2016, market favourite Simply Spanish’s humble seafood paella won the championships at the annual Concurso Internacional de Paella held in Valencia, the home of the famed rice dish. Watching the chef prepare the house special paella underneath his street side marquee is a colourful and mouth-watering experience with huge pans of steaming seafood, chicken, and spicy rice tempting passers-by.

 

Acacia Luxury Private Tours features the delights of the South Melbourne Market in its Melbourne Lifestyle Tour. It would be our pleasure to share a local’s knowledge of this culinary destination with guests.


PLATYPUS ENCOUNTERS

Australia's unique and wonderful wildlife has always been a major attraction to visitors to our shores. Our continent’s long geographic isolation, unique geology, and climate have given rise to perhaps the weirdest and most lovable collection of evolutionary oddities on Earth. Aussie nominees to the cuteness hall of fame would surely be dominated by any one of 140 pouch-bearing marsupials - from the handsome upright and hopping variants to the fluffy-eared sleepy tree-dwellers.

But of all the unique creatures that inhabit our wide land, one in particular stands out as the most unusual - the platypus. Indeed, when European explorers first described this furry, egg-laying, web-footed, duck-billed, beaver-tailed mammal, scientists back home thought the creature was an elaborate hoax. Even upon examination of the first preserved platypus body, the British zoologist Dr. George Shaw  took a pair of scissors to the pelt with the expectation that it was constructed from several animals stitched together.

The platypus, along with its Australian cousin, the echidna, are the only living examples of egg-laying mammals, or monotremes. A female lays typically 1-3 eggs which hatch after a 10-day period of underground incubation. For the next three months the juvenile platypus, commonly known as puggles, develop in a nesting burrow nourished only by mother’s milk before entering the water.

Ever elusive, it is rare to see a platypus close-up. Just over one-hour drive from Melbourne, in the heart of the spectacular Yarra Valley, the award-winning Healesville Sanctuary now offers the world’s only hands-on platypus encounter. In this unique experience guests have the opportunity to step into the shallow water of the platypus pool to hold, feed, and play with these fascinating furry creatures.  From all accounts they like having their bellies tickled.

For an encounter with platypus in the wild, Acacia can take you to Lake Elizabeth hidden deep in the Great Otway National Park, a place of inspiring beauty with heavily timbered flanks and calm reflective waters. To catch a glimpse of these shy natives, guests can join an ecologist-guided canoe tour at dusk or dawn.

Healesville Sanctuary features in Acacia’s Yarra Valley & Dandenong Ranges tours while Lake Elizabeth is a 30-minute detour from the famed Great Ocean Road.  Allow Acacia to tailor an itinerary incorporating a platypus encounter for you.

 

Photo credit: NSW DPI Schools Program