We rented a car during our stay and decided to head out of the CBD for a road trip. Now let me start by saying that driving in Australia is quite different than in the US. Adjusting to driving on the other side of the road was the easy part – however figuring out what signs mean and where toll roads began, was an adventure on its own.
Here is a common parking sign found in Australia – good luck figuring it out. Another big difference was the toll roads. What we encountered was a small blue light on the highways that designate it has become a toll road, with no other notifications. Thankfully we bought a daily toll pass with our rental car because it turned out we would have had to pay over $50 in toll road charges (more than the cost of the rental!)
Our first stop on the road trip was St Kilda. This is a must even
if just for a photo op of Luna Park. St Kilda is a beach suburb and one of the most attractive destinations in Melbourne. There you will find people cycling, skating, reading a book or simply sitting by the beach watching the world go by. We strolled down the main road and found a nice little restaurant to get some lunch.
Next we were on the road heading to Brighton Beach. We had read about the colorful bathing boxes and wanted to see them in person. The drive was fairly fast from St Kilda and the parking lot made it very accessible to visit the beach for a short time. The entire area was filled with the bathing boxes that are lined one by one on the sand. We wandered the beach admiring all the beautiful designs then headed back to the car to continue our trip.
Our next stop was dinner in the town of San Remo, the last stop before crossing the bridge to Philip Island. It was a tiny village but had a street full of cafes. Most of them were closed by the time we arrived however we found a nice seafood cafe by the water. Walking in I was instantly reminded of Santa Monica Seafood which is one of my favorite places back home. The shop was half market and half cafe, meaning you could buy fresh seafood or order it cooked.
The fishermen took their boats out daily to catch the items for the menu.Since we love trying local food we decided to get the seafood plate for two, which included a combination of scallops, shrimp, flake, salad and fries. The food was delicious and we were curious what flake was so after a bit of research we found out it was a gummy shark that is found in Southern Australia. Quite interesting as it just tasted like a perfectly seasoned fish.Next we got back on the road and crossed over the bridge to the highlight of our day. Phillip Island is a place you head in the afternoon to view the famous Little Penguins Parade later in the evening. At around 9pm every night, these small penguins come out of the water and return to their homes onshore. We arrived quite early as I am obsessed with penguins and wanted to get a great view. Within the facility you can watch videos about the penguins, learn about the experience, and shop for souvenirs. Right at 7pm the doors opened and we were able to go to our assigned section to wait for the adorable penguins to come out.
We were very excited to see the world’s smallest penguins in their natural habitat! It was fascinating seeing them wait till darkness for their exit from the water. They do this so it is a safe expedition away from the birds who try and attack them. At 905pm we started watching the penguins come up in groups usually with a leader in charge. They waddled their way up the beach in order to check their surrounding, then would continue on. This pattern went on for nearly an hour!
Melbourne is a beautiful city but it is nice to explore its surroundings as well. We had an incredible time on our road trip and have several other planned throughout the country. Off to explore Queensland next!