Belgian and French Chocolate in the Yarra Valley

chocolate factory jennyJust outside of Melbourne, the Yarra Valley unfolds in a delightful show of Australian countryside. While it is most famed for its wineries and contribution to the international wine industry, it is also renowned for something a little sweeter – chocolate.

At the Yarra Valley chocolaterie and ice creamery, you can sample local flavours amongst the sprawling expanse of the stunning scenery. Here, you can indulge all your senses with free chocolate tastings and over 250 different varieties of chocolate products to try.

The on-site café is perfect for relaxing in and trying a treat or two, and the surrounding lawns are the ideal spot to soak up the Australian sunshine.

The Chocolate of the Yarra Valley
The team at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie are made up of experienced Belgian and French chocolatiers, who have created a delectable range of chocolates exclusive to the Yarra Valley.yv choc

In the showroom, visitors can marvel at the 250 handcrafted treats as well as learn more about the chocolate making process and see the chocolatiers in action. 

The ingredients are all freshly picked on-site, too, with delicious additions like fruits and nuts from the orchard making the chocolates that little bit more delicious.

With such an expansive range of chocolates, there is something for everyone. Try truffles and pastilles, as well as chocolate-covered creations, clusters, rocky roads, and macarons. There’s also nougat, chocolate sauces, and chocolate spreads to enjoy as well. For younger members of the family, the chocolate covered jelly snakes and baby animals are a firm favourite.

The Chocolaterie is also home to a delicious ice creamery, where you can taste and ever-changing line up of flavours on-site or to takeaway.

yarra valley chocolaterieThe Great Wall of Chocolate
Perhaps the most popular part of the Chocolaterie is the Great Wall of Chocolate, where you can see 34 different varieties of chocolate that have been made using fine ingredients from the kitchen garden.
For Easter, the Chocolaterie comes to life with more than 30,000 handcrafted chocolates ready to share with all the family.

For any chocolate lovers, a trip to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie is a must-do, whether it’s to learn all about how your favourite chocolate-y treats are made or to pick up a souvenir or two. 

It’s easy to incorporate into a day out in the Valley and, with the abundance of wineries and local restaurants around, it’s the perfect addition to a cultural experience.

The History and Events of Etihad Stadium

etihad michaelSport is such a huge part of the cultural landscape in Melbourne, so it makes sense that one of the city’s top attractions is a sporting ground home to numerous different games as well as other festivals and events throughout the year.

Etihad Stadium, which is also known as the Docklands Stadium thanks to its location, and its previous sponsored names of the Colonial Stadium and Telstra Dome, is set in the bustling and vibrant Docklands precinct in the heart of Melbourne.

Work began on the stadium in 1997 when it was given its working name, “Victoria Stadium”. It was completed three years later in 2000 after a spend of $460 million in Australian dollars.

The stadium was first built as a replacement for Waverley Park, and was intended to be used predominantly for Australian rules football. Today, it remains a key sporting venue in the city, but is also the headquarters of the Australian Football League, which has exclusively owned the arena since 2016.

As well as Australian rules football, Etihad Stadium is also home to a number of other events, both sporting and otherwise, including Twenty20 cricket matches, Melbourne Victory Association football matches, rugby league and rugby union matches, and special cultural events and concerts.

The History of Etihad Stadiumetihad afl michael

The first conceptualisation of the stadium was on the 31st October 1996 when it was planned to replace the larger venue of Waverley Park as the headquarters of the Australian Football League.
The first match ever played on the ground was a momentous occasion and saw Essendon take on Port Adelaide. Crowd numbers reached more than 43,000 at that game and marked the start of the 2000 Australian Football League season.

etihad concert michaelWhat to See and Do at Etihad Stadium

As well as seeing one of the city’s most beloved venues that plays host Australia’s most beloved teams, the stadium is also home to a number of other cultural and sporting events throughout the year.
Huge football games are played at the stadium throughout the season, and you can buy tickets to watch one of them while visiting the city. You can also watch events like the Australian Speedway Grand Prix and attend festivals like the Transmission festival and other concerts by big names in the entertainment industry.

Etihad Stadium forms a large part of the cultural happenings in Melbourne, and a visit not only uncovers its interesting history and key sporting fixtures, but gives you an insight into the burgeoning entertainment industry.

What to See and Do on Collins Street

CollinStreetChurch JennyCollins Street sits in the heart of Melbourne and is made up of impressive Victorian architecture and a collection of high-end boutiques and shops. Head here if you’re looking for some upmarket fun with a hearty dose of history thrown in for good measure – and don’t forget to end the day with a cocktail or two at one of the prestigious bars that line the street.

The street itself has been Melbourne’s traditional main street since the 1830s, and the eastern end has been dubbed the Paris End because of its heritage buildings and abundance of al fresco dining opportunities. To the west, New York End boasts glass skyscrapers and a reputation as the financial heart of the city.

What to See and Do Along Collins Street

Discover the History

Collins Street is imbued with centuries-old history that is evident in its stunning collection of buildings. You can marvel at the 120-foot spire and the impressive Gothic architecture of the Scots’ Church, and discover old books that date back centuries at the Kay Craddock Antiquarian Bookseller.Royal Arcade Melbourne Jenny

Elsewhere, Art Deco makes an appearance at the Manchester Unity Building, and you can wander through the Block Arcade that links Collins Street to Little Collins Street for some visual history.

Shop Until You Drop

Collins Street is famed for its huge collection of upmarket shopping boutiques. Set inside whimsical buildings, the high-end shops include Chanel, Giorgio Armani, and Luis Vuitton. There are also plenty of top-notch five-star hotels, private clubs, and glitzy jewellers in the Paris End of the street.

collins street jennyEnjoy a Drink

Between the high-end shops along Collins Street, you’ll find hidden away cocktail bars that offer the perfect backdrop for relaxing and unwinding at the end of a long day shopping. At the Gin Palace, you can indulge in numerous different flavoured gins, or head to Bar Ampere, which is open until the small hours of the morning. Grab a bar snack at Mamasita, and tuck into Thai at Magic Mountain Saloon, or, for live music, head to Boney to catch a band play.

There are plenty of things to keep you occupied along Collins Street, whether you’re looking to spend a pretty penny on some designer clothes, explore the fascinating history that imbues the area, marvel at stunning architecture, or kick back and relax with a deliciously refreshing cocktail in hand at one of the intimate hangouts hidden along the road.

Yarra Valley’s Great Wall of Chocolate

yv chocChocolate lovers listen up! There’s a delectable place in Melbourne in the heart of the Yarra Valley that will have your sweet tooth satisfied for weeks. The Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery provides visitors with an incredibly special experience surrounded by thousands of different types of chocolate.

Set amongst the sprawling scenery of one of Australia’s premium winemaking regions, the Chocolaterie is an experience best served up for the whole family. Free chocolate and ice cream tastings come together with sessions from talented chocolatiers and the chance to try more than 250 different chocolate products using a variety of home-grown and locally-sourced ingredients.

Once you step inside the store itself, you’re greeted to a chocolate-y haven filled to the brim with truffles, pastilles, and homemade flavours just waiting to be tried and tasted.

At the entrance, dig into the three free sample baskets that are piled high with white, milk, and dark chocolate so you can determine your preference before you begin shopping. And, once you’ve tucked into those, you can browse the aisles of chocolate-y goodness, picking up souvenirs for yourself and presents for friends and family back home.

The chocolates at the Chocolaterie are handcrafted by a talented team of Belgian and French Chocolatiers, and the produce is strictly exclusive to the picturesque hills of the Yarra Valley and its Chocolaterie. In the showroom, there are more than 250 different kinds of homemade creations to try and choose from, and you can also learn how the chocolates are made and packaged while you’re on-site.

The Great Wall of ChocolateYarra Valley choc tasting

Perhaps the biggest draw of the Chocolaterie is the Great Wall of Chocolate. Featuring a selection of 34 different kinds of chocolate, including the unique Kitchen Garden range that uses only ingredients grown in the Chocolaterie’s kitchen garden, and Bush Tucker chocolate bars that are made using native ingredients and packaging created by a local Indigenous tribe.

In addition to tasty treats, the wall also boasts a collection of cocoa inspired beauty products.

yarra valley chocolaterieElsewhere, you can kick back and relax in the on-site café and admire the stunning views across the Yarra Valley. Tuck into indulgent desserts, fondues, pastries, and ice cream while marvelling at the picturesque scenery of the surroundings.

After you tried a tasting session, you can wander the grounds of the architecturally brilliant Chocolaterie, passing through the lush gardens and exploring the wetlands conservation area.

The Story of Loch Ard Gorge

Great Ocean Road 13Located near the impressive Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge cuts a pretty picture in the Port Campbell National Park just outside of Melbourne. This length of coast is known as the Great Ocean Road, and promises visitors an eclectic mix of stunning sea views, wild scenery, and breath-taking natural monuments. If you find yourself in the area, be sure to make a pitstop at Loch Ard Gorge to soak up the incredible rugged scenery.

The History of Loch Ard Gorge
Named after Loch Ard, a clipper ship that got washed up on Muttonbird Island back in the late 1800s, the gorge boasts a fascinating history. The boat itself makes up much of its past, where only two passengers survived the grounding – a 19-year-old apprentice, Tom Pearce, and 19-year-old Eva Carmichael, who was emigrating to Australia with her family.

Pearce rescued Carmichael from the water, but she returned to Europe just three months after arriving in Australia as she lost four members of her family in the sinking.

The nearby Island Archway, which once formed a natural bridge over the gorge, fell down in 2009, leaving two unconnected rock pillars guarding the frothing sea. The two pillars have been affectionately named Tom and Eva after the two survivors of the 19th century Loch Ard shipwreck. loch ard gorge victoria australia 14126

This stretch of coast is renowned for its collection of shipwrecks, where boats have washed up on the shores over the centuries thanks to the rough waves and indeterminable ocean. Loch Ard Gorge marks just one of the spots that saw boats get into trouble, but it’s not just history that makes the landmark a unique place to visit.

In fact, there is plenty to do in the surroundings, from gazing out at the spectacular views from the top of the gorge, to taking a stroll through the lush undergrowth of the Port Campbell National Park. Visitors can make their way down into the gorge via a series of steps. This gives you a unique viewpoint of the landmark and promises a different perspective to soak up.

Panoramic view of Loch Ard Gorge Great Ocean Road Victoria AustraliaWalking Around Loch Ard Gorge
One of the most popular activities in and around the gorge is walking, and there are plenty of routes to keep you busy. You can discover the geology of the region on a 900m return walk along the coastline, or follow the tragic story of Tom and Eva on a walk to the nearby shipwreck cemetery. This 1.4km route takes around 50 minutes and exposes visitors to the fascinating narrative that has made Loch Ard Gorge so famous throughout Australia and beyond.

Visiting the Eureka Sky Deck

Located on the Riverside Quay in Melbourne, the Eureka Skydeck offers a vantage point like no other in the city. From the top, you can gaze out across the stunning cityscape and spot famous landmarks as you go. eureka skydeck

Standing at an eye-watering 297 metres above Melbourne, the Skydeck is considered one of the best things to do in Melbourne – especially if you want to discover the city from a different perspective. In fact, the tower is the highest public observation deck in the whole of the Southern Hemisphere, offering views like no other across the city.

Whilst up on the deck, you can look out over the urban sprawl of Melbourne, pick out the different neighbourhoods, and explore the major attractions from an entirely new vantage point. At night, you can watch as the city comes to life beneath you. Keep your eyes peeled for the MCG and sporting precinct, Albert Park Lake, and Port Phillip Bay, as well as the impressive Dandenong Ranges that sprawl out in the distance.

The Edge Experience

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you can opt to take the Edge Experience, which is essentially a glass cube that juts out from the side of the building with you inside. The glass-bottom means you have unparalleled views of the city below from a completely unique perspective. eureka skydeck 2

Alternatively, you can just stick to the Skydeck on a self-guided experience. If you get hungry along the way, there is a Skydeck kiosk that serves drinks and food throughout the day.
The Eureka Skydeck is open from 10 until 10 every day, giving you the chance to experience Melbourne at a range of different times.

Quick Facts About the Eureka Skydeck

•    More than six million visitors have been to the Skydeck since it opened ten years ago.
•    There are 3680 steps to get you up to the Skydeck if you choose to walk it.
•    There have been over 1,000 marriage proposals that have taken place on The Edge.
•    There are a whopping 12764 windows in the Tower.

Eureka skydeck view

So, if you’re ready to make your own memories on the Skydeck, now’s your chance! Get ready to view Melbourne from a different perspective and enjoy the incredible views from the Southern Hemisphere’s highest public observation platform. And remember, if you’re feeling adventurous, don’t forget to take your ride on “The Edge” to experience the tower from a whole different vantage point.

Local Flavours at the Napoleone Brewery and Ciderhouse

The landscape surrounding Melbourne City lends itself perfectly to not only winemaking, but beer production, too. The Napoleone Brewery and Ciderhouse is set in the sprawling green expanse of the Yarra Valley, one of the most verdant landscapes in the country. It was originally set up to act as a creative and collaborative space for the founders to share their passion about all things beer and cider. Brewery and ciderhouse 2 Michael

Though it’s not immediately known for its beer, the Yarra Valley has a history of beer dating back to the early 1800s when hops were a popular crop to grow. Today, many of the hop farms have disappeared (bar the odd hop kiln here and there), but Napoleone is dedicated to making sure beer and cider production remain an important part of the valley.

Beer at the Napoleone Brewery and Ciderhouse

The brewers at Napoleone are dedicated to creating innovative flavours against an old school structure. The beers produced here have classic flavours and are still created using traditional techniques.

Cider at the Napoleone Brewery and Ciderhouse

Cider is just an important part of the brewery as beer, and Napoleone remain pioneers of the drink in the region. Here, you can expect to taste crisp, clean flavours that have a fruity focus to them. There are no added sugars or concentrate in the ciders created at the Napoleone.

Meletos at the Napoleone Brewery and Ciderhouse brewery and ciderhouse 3 Michael

The in-house restaurant at the Napoleone Brewery and Ciderhouse doubles up as a regional café and a gourmet pizzeria that boasts both a pretty venue space for regular events and a boutique guesthouse, which is perfect if you’re looking for an intimate stay in the region.

The restaurant is run by Chef Neil Cunningham and serves up delicious local dishes with ingredients sourced from all over the Yarra Valley and Victoria. There are plenty of local wines to tuck into alongside your meal, too, all of which have been home grown on the lush vineyards around the valley.

If you’re a keen beer or cider enthusiast (or even if you simply want to try some local flavours from around Australia), a trip to the Napoleone Brewery and Ciderhouse is in order. While there, you can sample unique flavours at the Cellar Door, learn more about the beer and cider making process in the Yarra Valley, and buy some of your own tipple to take home with you.

Koala Spotting and Surfing at Kennett River

Located around 174 kilometres to the west of Melbourne City, Kennett River is a small, picturesque seaside town on the Otway Coast. Forming part of the impressive Great Ocean Road, one of the country’s best-loved attractions, it proves popular with visitors from near and far. Kennett River Michael

Sitting pretty between the charming towns of Lorne and Apollo Bay, Kennett River is close to the cascading Wye River and boasts a sprawling beach that has a reliable surf break.

Surfing is a popular activity here, and you’ll be able to tell if the surf is up by how busy the beach carpark is – the more cars, the bigger the surf! But that’s not the only thing the town promises. During the Winter months, keep an eye out for migrating whales as they pass through the bay in search of warmer waters.

If you want to gaze out at the stunning scenery, venture to Cape Patton, which is 5 kilometres away, and head to the spectacular lookout point as well as Carisbrook Falls which is just a short drive further. 
The History of Kennett River Cape Patton Michael

The river that runs through the small town was named after the River Kennet in Berkshire, England, by surveyor George Smythe.
In 1882, Alex MacLennan and his cousins were searching for a spot to farm and fish on and settled on the site of Kennett River. The cousins decided to cross stream and set up camp on the other side of the creek at the Wye River.

Things to Do in Kennett RiverThe small town is very peaceful and offers plenty of sightseeing opportunities, particularly if you’re interested in pristine beach views and charming local life.

It is best known for its stunning coastal views that form part of the Great Otway National Park and its extensive surfing opportunities.
It’s also one of the top places in the country to spot koalas in the wild, so keep your eyes peeled for these cute critters. Once you turn into Grey River Road off the Great Ocean Road, you’ll be greeted by lots of koalas as they bask and eat in the eucalyptus trees that flank the road.

As well as koala-spotting and surfing, you can check out the quaint selection of local restaurants and cafes, and kick back and relax on the stunning beach and soak up the peaceful atmosphere. If you’re travelling along the Great Ocean Road, Kennett River is the perfect place for a pitstop.



The Weird and Wonderful Attractions at the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory

Chocolate lovers rejoice! The Phillip Island Chocolate Factory is a short ride from Melbourne and provides visitors with the chance to indulge their sweet tooth. As well as plenty of opportunities to watch chocolatiers in action, you can make your own chocolates and browse the incredible selection of interactive displays and exhibits around the factory.

The factory itself celebrates all things chocolate, where you can dive into a sweet world of truffles, sweets, and everything in between. When you need a rest, head to the café, where you can tuck into a wide range of chocolate treats and a number of unique coffees.

Elsewhere there are a range of weird and wonderful exhibits for you to check out and enjoy, like:

Chocolate FactoryThe World’s Largest Chocolate Waterfall
This incredible sculpture literally oozes chocolate, producing more than 400kg of chocolate every three minutes.

Drive Through a Chocolate Village
The in-house chocolate village is a sight to behold, and you can be the train driver who chugs past the houses and shops.

One Tonne Challenge
See if you and your friends and family can lift the choc-block off the ground with your combined weight – a fun game for all to try!

A Chocolate Statue of David
See art in a unique form entirely with the statue of David carved completely out of chocolate.

Dame Edna Everage
If David wasn’t creative enough for you, head to the Dame Edna Everage chocolate art mural, which is made up of more than 12,000 truffles to replicate the face of Dame Edna herself.

Chocolate Carving Machine
Panny’s chocolate carving machine can carve pretty much anything you want in a slab of chocolate of your choice – perfect for a souvenir or a gift for someone back home.

Panny’s Family Window
View a range of animatronic scenes at the Panny’s Family Window, which showcases factories and machines creating all sorts of chocolate wonders.

Chocolate factory1Penguin Chocolate Attraction
This wacky attraction features a chocolate scene of penguins doing all sorts of weird and wonderful things.

Interactive Games of Skill
Test your skill at the numerous interactive games stations featuring vintage arcade games and old-fashioned funfair stalls.

Chocolate Shoes
Shoe lovers will want to check out the range of incredible decorated shoes that have been hand-decorated by Panny’s very own on-site chocolatiers.

Make Your Own Chocolate
You can’t leave Panny’s without making your very own chocolate creation. Put everything you’ve learned at the factory together to produce your own brand.


The Top 5 Things to Do on Phillip Island

PhillipIsland Penguin1For an animal-centred day trip just outside of Melbourne city, grab a ride to Phillip Island and prepare to be blown away by the sheer beauty of the wildlife and scenery that’s on offer.

There’s plenty to get stuck into while you’re on the island, so here are some of the best ways to pass the time.

1. The Penguin Parade
Perhaps the most popular attraction on Phillip Island, the Penguin Parade lets visitors watch the colony of Little Penguins as they waddle up the beach after a long hard day of fishing. As well as observing the sunset parade, you can learn more about the cute critters in the visitors’ centre, where there are plenty of interactive and educational displays.

Chocolate Factory2. The Chocolate Factory
Got a sweet tooth? Hotfoot it to Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate for a delectable day out. Here, you can join in with the interactive displays, learn how the local truffles are made, and even create your own, unique brand of chocolate.

3. Nobbies Centre
Explore the incredible scenery of Phillip Island at the Nobbies Centre, where you can soak up the breath-taking views of the surrounding coastal scenery. While on-site, you can take a stroll along the in-built boardwalk and discover the blowhole. Get educated, too, with insightful displays, and experience the nesting birds that choose this wild and rugged landscape to breed in. Before you go, grab a sighting of the largest fur seal colony in the country at Seal Rocks.

4. Phillip Island Circuit
Motor racing lovers will want to check out the Phillip Island Circuit. The track has played host to some of the most famous sporting events in the world, including Moto GP and the World Superbikes championship. While there, you can drive a go-kart around the circuit at high speed and get a tour of all the best spots.

The Nobbies 15. Koala Conservation Centre
Get up close and personal with Australia’s cutest native creature at the Koala Conservation Centre. The eco-friendly attraction is dedicated to protecting and saving the koala population of Phillip Island, and you can learn more about the creature’s habitat, behaviour, and history. If the timing’s right, you can also watch the baby koalas taking their first adventure outside of their mother’s pouch.

The pristine beaches, wild coastline, and incredible animal encounters make Phillip Island the perfect backdrop for animal-centred encounters and adventures.








How to Experience the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island

Phillip Island, just off the coast of Melbourne City, is a haven of wildlife. Perhaps the most prominent animal encounter is the Penguin Parade, which takes place every evening and sees the local colony of Little Penguins make their way up the beach after a long, hard day of fishing.

You’ll be able to watch the world’s smallest penguin waddle up the shore line while learning more about their habitat, behaviour, and history on the island. As well as watching the parade itself, you’ll have a chance to explore the educational displays and stories in the Visitors’ Centre and admire the stunning natural beauty that characterises the island.

The Penguin Parade
The Penguin Parade itself takes place on Summerland Beach with its own viewing area for visitors. Tiered seating gives you a 180-degree view all around the beach and beyond, which means you’ll easily be able to watch the penguins as they come ashore.

5807394 3x2 460x307There are also a number of timber boardwalks that you can wander along to watch the Little Penguins as they bustle around their burrows.

Penguins Plus
For a more VIP viewing experience, the Penguins Plus platform is based on the landscape around it, giving visitors the chance to view the penguins from up close alongside a detailed commentary of the penguins and their lives. This area can only hold up to 300 people, but it provides some of the best penguin viewing spots on the beach.

Underground Viewing
To view the penguins from a different perspective, take the underground viewing experience where you can watch the penguins from above as they work their way through their natural habitat. From underground, you’ll be able to see them close up and at eye-level, giving you a more intimate experience than the other viewing options.

little penguinsThe Penguin Sky Box
Alternatively, you can watch the penguins from above on the elevated viewing tower. Up to five people each evening can watch the parade from the ultimate viewing point, where they can speak to the ranger and help count the penguins as they come ashore.

The Penguin Parade really is one of Australia’s most popular wildlife experiences, and it gives you the chance to watch this incredible show of nature and learn more about the fascinating Little Penguins and their habitat. It takes place every evening on Summerland Beach, a beautiful part of Phillip Island that is protected and conserved for the penguins.