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This Month's Hot Deals

She's Solo in Female-friendly Melbourne

Evelyn Hannon

Melbourne is terrific -- the food, the places, the people, and the creative way they look at the world made my heart sing. I spent five days there -- not nearly enough -- I look forward to a return visit so that I can experience some of the goodies I missed. Yet in that short time I could see that being in Melbourne as a solo traveller is not really difficult. In fact it was downright fun!

Take time to smell the flowers...

Just about every woman in Melbourne I questioned about their favourite "summer pastimes in the city" suggested the Royal Botanic Gardens. Entrance is complimentary so you can go anytime you are aching for some green space. Imagine 100 acres blessed with 12,000 types of plants and trees then enhanced by several artificial lakes. Besides all the guided walks or solo meanderings, there's always something watchable happening here -- the mama ducks and ducklings on parade, the bats flying out in the evening and the very popular Moonlight Cinema series. Take time to smell the flowers, ladies. Further information: Contact 03.9252.2300

A go-alone Italian treat...

I found the small, bustling Il Solito Posto restaurant quite by accident. This Italian treat is located off Collins Street (#113), in a basement, down St. George Parade, one of Melbourne's many little lanes. It's actually two little restaurants in one -- a moderately priced cafe with the day's specials on a chalk board, and in the back, a trattoria with more formal service and wider menu. I chose the cafe and enjoyed it tremendously. There were lots of younger people and a smattering of older couples here and there -- everyone, including the servers, laughing and joking from table to table. The decor definitely adds to the easy atmosphere -- brown lacquered tables, metal and wicker chairs, tiles in earth tones and exposed painted pipes running along the ceiling. Il Solito Posto serves swell crusty bread, the by-the-glass wine selection is good, and pricing is fair. I chose a chicken salad on greens with a delicious balsamic dressing, my lemon tart dessert was yummy and coffee just right. The folks to my right were enjoying Spaghetti Carbonara with great gusto. Highly recommended as a solo dining experience.

P.S. Prior to my departure for Australia, I received a note from a JourneyWoman reader who explained that she would be in Melbourne at the same time. My second visit to Il Solito Posto was with her and we had an equally good eating adventure. It was also fun meeting a reader face to face.

Don't miss the zoo...

I wasn't travelling with kiddies; I chose to visit the Melbourne Zoo just for me. A smart move -- I needed a short break from pounding the city pavement. The zoo is easy to get to by city tram and my morning visit proved to be a very relaxing, educational, perfect go-alone experience. It's hard to get lost here. Complimentary maps are available at the entrance allowing visitors to choose the exact route they'd like to follow. JourneyWoman opted for the Australian tour which took me through typical bush track and I visited with some of the Aussie species I had only read about or seen on TV before -- cuddly-looking koalas, red kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, platypus and little penguins. At strategic points along the trail, zoo keepers were stationed ready to answer all visitors' questions. A lovely learning experience!

Next, I made my way to the African rainforest enclosure where a gorilla group was raising their young and where visitors can quietly observe the "family" dynamics. By chance, I arrived in time to hear a great deal of commotion and watched three screaming female primates in hot pursuit of a young male gorilla. He climbed up a hill and sat glowering at the trio who waited angrily at the base. I asked one of the zoo hands what the problem seemed to be. He laughed and explained,"This little guy keeps flirting with these older ladies. I guess they've finally had enough and they're teaching him a lesson." Ah, the politics of male-female relationships in the rainforest!

For further information about the Zoo and it's late night musical evenings, visit:

A lively brunch stop...

It was Meera Freeman, Melbourne food maven who introduced me to Babka Bakery Cafe (358 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy). Run by Sasha (the woman with fiery red hair and wonderful jewelry), this little place (25 seats) was absolutely buzzing at breakfast and brunch. There were croissants, French toast, yoghurt and fruit available as well as lunch sandwich specials posted on a board. The coffee, homemade preserves, vibe and food were all delicious and well worth the visit. But, there's a bonus, as well -- Babka is also a very well-known bakery producing such goodies as whole meal with sunflower bread and the best little challeh (egg loaf) in town. I couldn't resist a take-away treat. Perfect female-friendly solo food stop!

A Melbourne Hostel...

The Friendly Backpacker Group are members of our JourneyWoman Network of classified advertisers. I thought this would be the perfect spot to highlight their facilities.

The Friendly Backpacker Group currently consists of two properties in the heart of Melbourne. Offering a quality product and unmatched service, our aim is to provide the entire "Melbourne Experience". You have the opportunity of meeting other travellers, as well as a comfortable place to stay. Safe, fun, clean and central we offer gender specific dorms or double/twin rooms at budget prices. Visit for more information, or make an inquiry via e-mail: or

Ed. note: Ask about the hostel that's located right next door to the police station. For women, especially, I imagine this would increase your safety factor.

If you stay at either of these locations, please send along your feedback. and put "The Friendly Backpacker" in the subject line. Other readers will definitely be interested in your opinions.




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