Eye on Travel

Radio Guest List — Virtuoso in Melbourne, Australia — May 11, 2019

Locations in this article:  Melbourne, Australia

Eye on Travel is broadcasting from Melbourne, Australia and the annual Virtuoso Symposium. Joining Peter is Alex Lavelle, Editor at The Age, who talks about how 2,000 people a week are moving to Melbourne. Initially, Melbourne was going to hit 5 million people by 2020, but it hit that number last year from the Virtuoso conference in Melbourne. Matthew Upchurch, CEO of Virtuoso, shares how travel and tourism is one of our greatest exports and how this growth can be seen in Australia, where for every 18 visitors to the country, it creates one job for an Australian. Donna Demaio, Broadcaster at Melbourne’s top radio station, 3AW, shares her top spots around Melbourne, and how to avoid the almost inevitable queues there, ranging from ChinChin, Neil Perry’s Rockpool, the Stokehouse on the beach for the views, and then Lune, the hottest, cutting-edge bakery that makes arguably some of the best croissants in the world. There’s all this and more as Eye on Travel broadcasts from the Virtuoso Conference in Melbourne, Australia.

Click here to listen to the show streaming live from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 11, 2019.

Have a travel question? Then ask Peter. E-mail him at peter@petergreenberg.com, or tweet your questions to @petersgreenberg (include #AskPeter).



Donna Demaio, Senior Journalist, Editor, Writer and Broadcaster at Melbourne’s 3AW, shares her top spots around Melbourne. She doesn’t like waiting in a line or as they say in Australia –a queue– but there are definitely some places worth waiting for in the city. Her favorite restaurant in the city is ChinChin, a Thai-inspired Asian restaurant that always has a line but is well worth it. She also recommends Neil Perry’s Rockpool, the Stokehouse for the views, and The High Bar on Chapel Street. Then, she describes the theatres including the Region and the Forum. She also eases visitors’ minds by letting them know that Melbourne is on a grid and is easy to navigate.


Francesco Galli Zugaro, CEO of Aqua Expeditions, speaks about his company’s specialization in experiential small ship cruising. One of the routes it has launched is the Peruvian Amazon, an underserved area that you can now sail through. He decided to go into this market because he saw the future of small ship cruising and introducing parts of the world to soft adventurers from key markets like the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The company is pioneering small ship luxury cruising and is aiming for the affluent experiential traveller who would be interested in similar expeditions like safaris or cruises to Antarctica.


Matthew Upchurch, CEO of Virtuoso, explains how travel agents are travel advisors. You can find any answers on the internet, but are you asking the right questions? Advisors give a curated and hands-on experience and partners are by invitation only. He explains how travel and tourism is one of our greatest exports and why the U.S. government needs to acknowledge that more. He wishes more Americans would realize what an important industry travel and tourism is and how it gives people a huge ability for economic growth. This growth can be seen in Australia, where for every 18 visitors to the country, there’s one job created for a young Australian.


Alex Lavelle, Editor at The Age, talks about how 2,000 people a week are moving to Melbourne. Within the next 10 years, it is projected to be a bigger city than Sydney. Initially, Melbourne was going to hit 5 million people by 2020, but it hit that number last year. As Melbourne grows, the transportation system must keep up, and it is progressing. One of the initiatives that displays a move in the right direction is a rail line between the city and the airport. This was something talked about over the last 50 years, but thanks to the city’s exponential growth, it’s finally happening. He also talks about how the city has changed since he moved here from London 20 years ago. The city was a deadzone when he first got to Melbourne. But now, it’s packed and vibrant. One of the biggest changes you can see is in the food options and how you can get great multicultural food in the city.


Allan Campion, Founder of Melbourne Food Experiences, talks about transitioning between making food to writing about it, including what’s changed in Melbourne’s food scene. Victoria is the food bowl of Australia. You can have a salad that was picked yesterday. Melbournian’s are open to new foods. He also talks about Amman and Julie Mai’s Australian Vietnamese food, where there is creativity like brazing oxtail in sarsaparilla. And plus, you can be in a wine region within 45 minutes.


James Shillinglaw, Founder and Editor of Insider Travel Report, explains that you can’t do Australia in a week. It’s a continent and you need much more time here. Australia is booming and promoting itself as a luxury destination and is aiming for more affluent travellers. He also reveals how reading Bill Bryson’s In a Sun Burned Country was his initial inspiration to travel to Australia for the first time. One of the best ways to still see the country is the way Bill Bryson did and take the Indian Pacific train from Sydney to Perth.


Ellen Fraser, Editor at Broadsheet, lets us know that when it comes to food, what Melbourne does really well is breakfast. One of the staples in the city is, Lune, where Kate Reid has developed a very specific croissant recipe that the New York Times has called one of the best croissants in the world. If you’re venturing out for dinner, head to Supernormal, Andrew McConnell’s restaurant that has been there over a year and it’s a very cool, very sleek atmosphere with great lobster rolls. If you’re looking for something more casual, head down to Chinatown and to the Dainty Sichuan for dumplings and fish-flavored eggplant.


Garrett Houston, American expat and Owner of the Mason Dixon Restaurant, shares what it was like moving to Australia for his job with Subway and then how he never left. After a few years of being here, he realized there was one significant item missing from Australian cuisine…the Reuben sandwich. What many were calling pastrami here was much closer to corned beef. Unable to get a suitable Reuben sandwich at other restaurants, he decided to open up his own sandwich shop. The sandwich shop took off during the right time because the American food craze has recently hit Australia, and Mason Dixon is a popular spot.