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Smart Packing


She's Solo in Female-friendly Melbourne


Kudos to the cook...

It was my extreme good fortune to learn through the grapevine about Meera Freeman -- delightful cooking teacher, successful cookbook author and all-round wonderful woman. I called Meera when I arrived in Melbourne and she immediately invited me to join one of the classes she was giving. I'm so glad that I did!

Meera is an expert in Thai, Middle Eastern, Italian and Vietnamese cooking and one quickly senses that she absolutely loves what she does. She's a real performer, as well -- telling jokes, stories, sharing shopping secrets -- all while she cooks the menu of the evening. The night I was there Meera demonstrated Moroccan cooking -- how to prepare perfect couscous topped with an aromatic veggie stew. It was extremely hard to concentrate enveloped by the lovely scents of root vegetables intermingled with turmeric, coriander and cumin. Meera closed her class by serving her students the full course meal she had just prepared. It was a feast fit for a JourneyWoman!

The evening I attended there were ten other students and nine were women -- I was the only out-of-towner. How perfect for me -- I got the opportunity to network with locals who shared their ideas and insider Aussie travel tips with me. A perfect scenario! For further information, Website:, e-mail:

P.S. While you're Down Under, check out Meera's latest cookbook, Cooking Class. I bought a few for girlfriends. They make great gifts!

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!

Internet cafe promotes conversation...

I'm always on the look-out for interesting cybercafes along the way. In Melbourne I found one called e:fiftyfive at 55-57 Elizabeth Street and was impressed. I guess others have been too because this little spot has been featured on TV and in magazines. The facility itself is clean but ordinary -- not unlike others of its ilk. The lighting is funky with music to match and they have a liquor license so you can sip a glass of Chardonnay while retrieving your e-mail. But, what I liked best about this particular spot was their very large round table where you can open your maps right up, chart your next destination and chat with other travellers doing the same thing. Such a good idea.

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.




Back to GirlTalk Australia...



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