Melbourne – it’s big, it’s bustling and it’s busy!

Modern Skyscrapers, a scary view of the city from a glass “cube” – Eureka! is the highest building in the city. From here, if you can bear to open your eyes and look down, is the city is mapped out – the Yarra River, the jogging trails, the bridges and the heart of it all Flinders Street station – Victoria Markets, the parks and gardens – all laid out below….a birds eye view!

Melbourne is the gateway to the famous Great Ocean Road, the spring-board to the vast Victoria Outback, the Grampians and Wilpena Pound, the home of the ferry to Tasmania, The Spirit of Tasmania, and much much more.

But my trip to the ATE  (Australia Tourist Exchange) Conference took me to the beautiful Yarra Valley.

Just about 90 minutes from Melbourne, the climate and the soil here is ideal for vines, and the Yarra has some famous labels to boast of. I’m not a wine connoisseur, but now I appreciate the trouble and toil that results in a successful year. They all told me about it! with a passion! A day touring the Yarra, involved visits to at least 6 wineries, and a tasting at each. Our visit included Chandon the famous “champagne label” ~ and we learned how the bubbles are put into the bottles and the years and years and meticulous care and attention that results in some of the most expensive “bubbly” in the world.

We had dinner at Chateau Yerring ~ now this is luxury and elegance, discretion and being utterly spoilt ~ I think at Chateau Yerring, they invented the words. Impeccable service and a delicious dinner, in a dining room filled with antiques, paintings and a large log fire to lend to the atmosphere!

melbourne ate june 2009 003

And cats! all sorts of fluffy toy cats ~ ginger toms, tabbies, tortoise shells …. a cat outside your door, means “do not disturb”. How cool is that?

Not in the least hung-over, at five next morning we took off in a hot air balloon ~ to see the Yarra Valley in all its glory as the sun rose over it ~ the whole experience was about 2 hours ~ as we gently and silently caught the breezes, our views spanned 360° of vineyards, rivers, farms and fields. It was a magical sight!

Next time you visit Melbourne – or if it’s your first visit – if you think The Yarra Valley is for you, let me tell you all about it first hand – I’d love to share it with you!

If you’d like to know more email me: charmaine@hallmarktravel.com

Meet me in the gallery!