Visiting Melbourne, Sydney and more

By Deanna Palić
This item appears on page 11 of the September 2020 issue.
Aboard Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth. Photo by Josip Palić

My husband, Josip, and I headed to Australia in late January 2020. This was my fourth visit and Josip’s first.

With such a long flight, nonstop from Los Angeles to Melbourne, we splurged on Qantas’ business class and were not disappointed. Qantas is the only airline where I’ve experienced quilted seat pads for making sleep more comfortable.

We saved money by having our flights booked by Justin Troupe (, a travel agent in Miami, Florida. He was on top of everything, even keeping us apprised of the widespread wildfires in Australia and the air quality of the cities we’d be visiting.

In Melbourne, we’d booked two hotels: Fraser Place (19 Exploration Lane; and Causeway 353 Hotel (353 Little Collins St.; We would not highly rate either property.

Fraser Place didn’t have a restaurant, only a café for breakfast. Also, the neighborhood this hotel was in was not as desirable as others we stayed in in Australia. We were there one night at a cost of $196.

Causeway 353 had a good location in the heart of everything, but it seemed very basic, and, with its cramped lobby, its ambience was more like that of an inn than a hotel. We stayed there three nights at $100 a night.

We ate once at the Spaghetti Tree (59 Bourke St.; phone +61 3 9650 3174,, which is popular with locals in Melbourne. We thoroughly enjoyed this restaurant and the ambience. Two glasses of wine and two pasta entrées totaled US$50, including tip.

We also ate at Plus 39 Pizzeria (362 Little Bourke St.; +61 3 9642 0440,, which is like a place you would go to in your own neighborhood. Two glasses of wine and two pasta entrées totaled US$39.

Deanna and Josip Palić at Plus 39 Pizzeria in Melbourne.

I wanted to see Australian locales that I hadn’t visited previously, so we booked a one-week cruise on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth (800/728-6273, The ship was exquisite, with the most elegant décor we’d seen of the more than a dozen cruise lines we’d traveled with. We embarked and disembarked in Melbourne, Victoria, and the itinerary included Adelaide, South Australia, and Hobart and Burnie in Tasmania.

In Sydney’s upscale Potts Point area, we felt the Larmont Sydney by Lancemore (2-14 Kings Cross Rd., Potts Point, NSW; was in no way deluxe, but we liked the location, since it was within walking distance of good restaurants. We stayed there four nights, paying $178 a night.

The Larmont upgraded us to the 11th floor, which had been renovated.

Contributing Editor