Those of you who’ve read my ‘Joining the team on the Great Ocean Road’ experience will know that I’m the marketing & admin officer for Your Exclusive Tours and that from time to time, they spring me from the office to do a ride-along with Rob and the team. Recently I accompanied Rob again, this time on a tailored ‘Melbourne Sights and Surrounds’ experience. Having learnt from my first day out that there’s a HUGE difference between exploring something myself and exploring it ‘the YET way’, I was very keen to see what secrets Rob was going to uncover about my home city of Melbourne.
Our first stop was Station Pier where we met a group of American tourists from a cruise ship. Introductions exchanged, we piled into our vehicle and were off to our first location, Queen Victoria Market. On the way we did a lap of Albert Park Lake, currently in the process of being transformed for this year’s Grand Prix, and our guests, used to NASCAR tracks, were surprised that were able to turn a regular road into a formula one track every year! While lapping the track, Rob started getting to know our guests and making them comfortable, and uncovered the fact that two of them had a wish to get a photo in front of Rod Laver Arena. Big tennis fans, they had photos in front of every grand slam stadium on the global tennis circuit worldwide, except Rod Laver. So, Rob quickly modified the itinerary to ensure we’d get there.
Queen Victoria Market’s famous food hall was a real eye opener for our international guests, who were amazed at the sheer range of food available, and fascinated by a) the beautiful smells coming from our iconic coffee suppliers and b) the fact that yes, we can eat our national mascot! A little shopping, a break for a jam / jelly donut, a few questions about the differences between Florida and Melbourne living and terminology, and we were off to our next location, St Patrick’s Cathedral.
St Patrick’s were running a service on the day, so while entering the church wasn’t possible, it is, nonetheless, a fascinating and beautiful place to visit. We had a little chuckle over the ‘Jeff Kennett gargoyle’ and explained his significance to our guests. Some more tidbits from Rob, a stroll through the beautiful grounds, and then it was over to our next destination – The Conservatory and Captain Cook’s Cottage in the Fitzroy Gardens.
Given that a few of our party were avid gardeners, they LOVED the conservatory. A haven of tropical lushness, there’s something new to see with every head turn. While I led our guests through the conservatory, Rob organised a special, and quintessentially Australian morning tea – coffee and a Tim Tam slam. Our guests, most of whom had not yet tried a Tim Tam at all, were a little bemused about the idea of a Tim Tam slam, but soon got into the experience, while noting that unfortunately, this wasn’t possible with the much-more-common-in-the-US Oreo biscuit. However, after Rob assured them that we did export the Tim Tam, they said the grandkids were going to love trying a slam with a hot chocolate!
Speaking of slams, our next stop was Grand Slam haven Rod Laver Arena as well as a drive by of the MCG. Our two tennis mad guests ticked the last stadium photo off their wish list and looked wistfully at the mighty arena, already mentally planning their next vacation come Aus Open time. 😊
From Rod Laver we crossed through St Kilda, past Luna Park and over to Brighton to the iconic beach boxes. This was one area where I truly learnt a lot – I had no idea about the stories behind the beach boxes and it was fascinating to know a bit more about them.
That was our final location for the day – the one thing that’s definitely not negotiable about cruise ships is that you have to be back on time! So, Rob headed back to Station Pier, said farewell to our guests and another Your Exclusive Tours experience was drawn to a successful close.
You too can have a Melbourne Sights and Surrounds adventure with the Your Exclusive Tours team, and remember, it’s Your Tour, Your Experience. To start planning your adventure, see our Melbourne Sights and Surrounds page here, or see our full range of experiences here.