No road is too long for a foodie in search of manna. The 16-hour-long journey to Australia — comprising two long flights — will feel like nothing if you think about the delicious meals you're headed towards.
For those who put their food and drink before anything else, the country offers an experience like no other. From a juicy steak to a flute of Chardonnay, the Southern state of Victoria has it all.
We explore the region and recommend experiences must not be missed.
Melbourne's café culture Melbourne puts you at ease the moment you set foot there.
No intimidating traffic or droves of formally dressed office-goers hurrying to work, this city will surprise you with its suburban breezy calm.
The food scene here, cannot be discussed without the mention of its café culture.
Melbournians love their coffee— from the creamy lattes and cappuccinos to the more intense cold drips for the strong of heart.
You will be surprised at the number of hole-in-the-wall cafés the city streets house, such as The Little Mule Co, lodged in a narrow lane with brick buildings on either side. You can start your day at a place like Cumulus Inc, a bustling eatery situated in the heart of the city.
Its minimalist menu features gems like an in-house speciality, Shakshouka baked eggs with roasted peppers and shanklish, a type of cheese.
St Ali in south Melbourne is quite a crowd-puller too; make a stop there and grab any of their quirkily named dishes (there's Holy Crepe, Mutton-in-law, and Pork Me on the menu) or the staggering variety of coffees they have.
For an early dinner, hop over to The Huxtable, which offers mouth-watering seafood and an impressive array of wines.
Wine trails in Mornington Peninsula Just a 90-minute drive from Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula is a mecca for wine enthusiasts. In fact, the area has witnessed a surge in 'agro-tourism' in the last few years, thanks to a number of vineyards, creameries and strawberry farms that welcome visitors.
If you're adventurous (or even if you aren't), take part in the horseback winery tours.
Most such tours — usually three hours long — take a group of people through the beautiful region and stop at a couple of wineries for tastings.
In a day's time, you will identify with accuracy the notes in your Chardonnay as crispy and those in your Pinot Noir as oaky.
If you choose to drive around, make sure you visit the Red Hill Estate Winery, which also houses an excellent fine-dining eatery, Max's, T-Gallant, Green Olive and Manton's Creek. Seafood lovers can indulge themselves at The Baths, situated at a place with a spectacular view of the Sorrento foreshore.
Try their sumptuous seafood platter which contains juicy octopus pickle and melt-in-your mouth prawns.
Phillip Island The isle will stun you with its sheer beauty —the beaches and the clear blue skies are the kind of stuff dreams are made of. Besides, the region also has great wildlife – from penguins and koalas to wallabies and seals. Gourmands will be spoilt for choice at the beachside promenade.
Harry's On The Esplanade whip up European style preparations with everything from scallops and kingfish to beef and pork. The experience of lazing at the eatery by the bay and watching the sun set is heavenly, to say the least.
(The writer travelled to Australia as a guest of Tourism Australia)
Penguin Parade What can be more delightful than watching a group of penguins emerging from the sea waddling across the shore?
Don't miss this attraction Koala Conservation centre If you're a first-time visitor to Australia, you will squeal with joy when you spot your first koala. These adorable, but lazy, bears will win you over with their innocence; some will even appear to pose for you as you click pictures.
While in Melbourne
Go on a walking tour of the city (We highly recommend Walk Melbourne, started by Monique Bayer who will keep you mesmerised with her stunning storytelling of the city's food and culture) n Visit Eureka Skydeck for a panoramic view of the city from its highest floor n Soak in atmosphere of the Victorian villas in the south.