10 Things I Liked About Australia

Billy’s Top 10 Oz Picks

Visiting the land of killer snakes, sharks and crocodiles had never interested me. Excessive heat, bush land and endless glasses of Shirazes are not my idea of a good holiday. Nor is a 30 hour plane ride. But I went ““ cashed-in the air miles, and now I’m a convert. Australia is fantastic. At least the bars and beaches in and around Sydney and Melbourne.

Over the next few weeks I’ll list my ten most memorable experiences ““ stuff that was different. Which is the whole point of traveling, and collecting ~ those air miles. My first mention is a bar, of course.

Imagine this. You wander into what looks like a small, neighbourhood liquor store, but something tells you it’s not. There are people sitting at tables ““ DRINKING. You play it cool and browse the shelves, thinking you might have crashed one of those private parties? Four people at a table shout at me, “Look after the drinks, we’re out for a smoke”. I spot a long haired guy who looks like he could be the owner and I ask, “How does it work? Is this a store or a bar?” “It’s both.”

If you’d like to drink here, it’s a dollar mark-up on the beers, and five on the wines. Need glasses?” “YES, please, I think I’m in heaven”.

Because not only can I taste (drink) everything on the shelves, the selection is amazing. “We seek out the weird and wonderful from all over the globe ““ beers, wines and booze that the big stores don’t carry”. And he’s not kidding. ~ I saw row after row of stuff I’d never hear of. Labels that said “I dare you to try me!”. It was like visiting the underworld of drinks. Or the private stash of an old rocker. Where was my friend The Deacon when I needed him. He would surely have spotted connections between twisted labels and twisted songs. I drank a few whacky beers, and thanked the Lord for this owner, and for Melbourne. And asked myself why not? Why not let people drink in a liquor store? Not on your life in Ontario, but maybe someone could pull this off in Buffalo!

CHAPEL STREET LIQUORS, South Yarra, Melbourne chapelstreet.com.au

P.S. Chapel Street is a shoppers/drinkers paradise located in the Melbourne suburb of South Yarra. More on South Yarra in another post.

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  • Billy’s Best Bottles,

    I just finished reading your short article about choosing the right wine for your mood and I found it to be very interesting. I’m 29 now and I’ve done nothing but party all my life, with Long Island Ice Teas being my drink of choice. Well I’ve finally come to the point where partying and seeing people getting hammered is no longer appealing to me.

    I didn’t grow up in a drinking family so I’m slowing trying to transition into wines, something good for date. I’m always generally in a good mood and I love to laugh and smile. What wines would you suggest for a nice night out with someone special?


  • G’day to all out on Chapel Street. Even if you’re nursing hangovers from Saturday night! Melbourne rocks. As do the Rocks in Sydney, but that’s another Aussie chapter.

    And now to Jason, who seems to be making the happy transition from ice tea to wine! Bravo. When you say a ‘nice night’ I assume you mean pleasantries and laid back times. On my Mood Spectrum you will see a category called Nice & Easy Whites and this is the wine style for you. It will not only be right for the mood you’re after, but also feel good to someone getting into the wine – such as yourself. Take my Spectrum Chart to your local wine shop, or better still download Billy’s Best Wine App and you’ll find dozens of picks in the Nice & Easy Category. Cheers!

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