Lives in Altona, Australia
Since Jan. 2009
25-34 year old female
Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites
Points of Interest & Landmarks, Gardens, Walking Tours, Nature & Wildlife Areas, Parks
History Museums, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Architectural Buildings, Military Museums, Historic Sites
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Bodies of Water
Neighbourhoods, Shopping Malls
Mountains, National Parks
Flea & Street Markets, Neighbourhoods
Parks, Bodies of Water
Nature & Wildlife Areas, Valleys, Zoos
Historic Sites, History Museums
Bars & Clubs
The Langham is the ultimate in luxury accommodation within the heart of Melbourne. It is the attention to detail from the staff which makes all the difference - from bringing a cake to the table when having buffet breakfast with a friend for her birthday (even as a non-hotel guest), to a cake and card in our room when I stayed for an anniversary. If you're wanting to indulge, or treat someone special look into staying here. If you're on a tighter budget, look into a meal at Melba's or their high tea.
This beautiful cathedral is a lovely example of the Gothic style and is a peaceful place to visit. The gardens around feature statues of prominent Catholic figures as well as a water feature and gardens. From the cathedral you have a lovely view back over the city (down the 'Paris end' of Collins Street). Some points of interest: one of the gargoyles on the outside of the cathedral is a caricature of our former Premier, Jeff Kennett - this was done during the restoration. Also, when walking down the main aisle, have a look at the two centre passages - they were completed by different architects and are distinctly different!
Brunetti's is a Lygon Street institution - famous for great coffee and wonderful pastries (and cakes...) it's a great place to stop and re-charge. There are other branches of Brunetti's located within the City Square and inside the Myer Building (3rd floor) which carry on the high standards.
The Melbourne Zoo features a fantastic collection of native and exotic animals in large, open plan enclosures set amongst beautiful landscaped grounds. Its a Melbourne tradition to take school trips here, have a picnic on the lawns or groove along to the Zoo Twilights concert series which runs over summer. Particular highlights (in terms of animals) include the Orangutan enclosure; the butterfly house (be warned that it is very hot and humid in there); the seal enclosure and the trail of the elephants
The Botanic Gardens (aka The Tan) are an oasis in the middle of the city. They sit within other gardens (e.g. the Alexandra Gardens) and are located right near The Shrine and the music bowl. Entering via the Observatory Gate is the best way to get started as you can pick up guides from the Visitors Centre - if you have little ones they'll love the childrens garden which you will pass. Meander along the paths, watch the ducks, enjoy the sunshine, or have a coffee at the cafe - it's easy to spend hours here!
Fed Square is home to the visitors centre, ACMI and the Ian Potter Gallery (Australian collection from the national gallery) as well as cafes, bars and restaurants. More than that, there is always something going on at Fed Square - from markets to cultural events to sports on the big screen, you'll find it. It's replaced the steps of flinders street as the place to meet and is good for loitering. I'd recommend checking out the gallery shop as well as the free exhibitions in ACMI and the Ian Potter centre..
KereKere Green is a lovely addition to the Fitzroy Gardens. Perfect for a quiet coffee or a family outing - stop and have coffee or a bite to eat. There are lots of activities for little ones and space for them to crawl outside. From here you can see Cook's Cottage and some of the other attractions in the gardens
The Old Melbourne Gaol is a very interesting place with lots of stories to tell... including the execution of the infamous Ned Kelly. The admission price includes access to the City Watch House (with a tour included - make sure that you allow enough time to do this) and the Old Magistrates Court (open in school holidays). There are also night time tours for those looking for a "ghostly" experience....
The Shrine holds a special place for Melburnians, and for Australians in general. Celebrating our war history and those who fought for us, this grand building stands at the end of St Kilda road (before it curves around) - so aside from the history, you get amazing views from its balcony back over the city and towards the bay. There are galleries and museums below, as well as the building itself to explore. Inside the main area is the tomb of the unknown soldier. The shrine becomes a focus for ANZAC and Remembrance day celebrations and is also often a place where marches/parades start and end.
The NGV is a fantastic (and free way) to see some world class art in a beautiful building - even the children will enjoy the big open spaces, water wall (on entry) and the sculptures which are often in the courtyard. Travelling exhibitions are ticketed and are often very popular, so be prepared for queues if you're heading to one of these. My personal favourites are the European collections - big canvasses with portraits. Modern art is also represented within the gallery, if that's more of your style as is sculpture
Collins Street features some of the best architecture that Melbourne has to offer, particularly the "Paris end". Begin your walk at the City Square and up past the Regent Theatre (I highly recommend seeing a show here if you can), you'll pass high end boutiques and get a great view of some of beautiful buildings. Walk up until you reach the Parliament Buildings, then it's up to you whether you walk back on the other side, or continue from here to places such as St Patrick's Cathedral or the Fitzroy Gardens. See my Tip below for a Melbourne must-do
Stalactites is a Melbourne institution for greasy greek food after a night on the town. Open all hours, its a welcome relief from a trip to McDonalds to satisfy your food cravings and ward off a handover. The food is always good, the place is always packed and there are usually taxis outside.
The City Circle tram is a good way to orient yourself to Melbourne and some of the highlights of the city. Stay on and do a loop, whilst listening to the commentary and checking out some of the advertisements for attractions in the city. Now that trams within the city centre itself are free, it's not so important to keep using the city circle tram once you've done it once, but some people like the old wooden carriage
I am not normally a fan of casinos, but I couldn't leave Crown off the list for a number of reasons aside from the gaming floors (which, frankly can be a little bit smelly and off putting). Crown has a lovely atrium with "jumping" fountains which will keep the little ones amused - plus, at certain times of the year (e.g. Chinese New Year and Christmas) they will set up massive sound-and-light shows in here for free. Similarly, along the river bank it's quite pleasant to walk; they often have attractions outside (the hawkers market is a particular favourite) and the cafes are fairly decent if you just want a coffee in the sunshine. The food at Crown is also surprisingly good - it's home to a number of very upmarket restaurants (e.g. Nobu) with price tags to match. If those aren't to your budget, the food court isn't too dire. Crown also features a cinema, a video game arcade as well as heaps of bars. If you're keen to stay out late and party the night away, the bars at the casino will help you do just that. Make sure you catch the flame towers outside (but don't stand too close, they're pretty hot!)
The Yarra is often considered to be the poor cousin of Sydney's harbour, but it does has its charm - particularly with the new developments and walking trails that are popping up in the city. Heading towards the MCG, it's a lovely stroll through Birrarung Marr towards the sporting precinct (and definitely quicker than the train or tram for a major event) - you'll pass Art Play, a good playground, some sculptures and a ferris wheel (which seems to come and go randomly). Heading along the river in the opposite direction, on one side you have Southgate and the casino - further along is the Polly Woodside and some new funky eateries and bars. Heading back on the opposite side of the bank, this is being newly developed and you'll find the aquarium and other sights.
An aquarium is always popular with the kids, and this aquarium featuring penguins, touch tanks and a walk through tank is no exception. If you're not planning a trip to Sydney, then consider taking the children to see this one. If you are going to Sydney, however, save your money for the much bigger (and better) darling harbour aquarium.
The shot tower and the "singing clock" used to be stalwarts of tourism in Melbourne with hordes of tourists waiting to capture pictures of the clock playing "waltzing Matilda" and chiming along.... clearly this is still a kitschy memory burned in my mind. Aside from the singing clock, Melbourne Central features not only the train station, but all of the usual conveniences expected in a shopping centre - food courts, relatively decent restaurants, some pop-up stalls and your typical high street venues. Walk through to get your shopping on, or consider a visit to the cinemas (and the restaurants up there are not bad)
I love a museum. I do not, however, love this museum. It's ok - and is a great place to take children (which is why I have kept it on my list), but it's not British Museum standard (I've been spoilt). Expect lots of displays with little information about them..... and lots of "modern stuff" with not too much old stuff. It combines a bit of australian history, natural history, science etc The displays I like the most are: the dinosaurs (I like old things in museums); the human body exhibit and the outdoor rainforest (not sure why it's in a museum, but it's pretty nice). Make sure if you have little ones to head to the children's area - they'll happily play away...
The Dandenong Ranges (not to be confused with Dandenong) are a leafy, green oasis within an easy drive of Melbourne (there is public transport to Belgrave, but it's buses beyond that) that combine beautiful forests, little towns, foodie delights and B&B's galore. Some of the highlights include Puffing Billy (a steam train that runs from Belgrave - a standard feature on any Melbourne child's memory), William Rickett's sanctuary (an outdoor sculpture gallery) and afternoon tea (scones with jam and cream). Whilst most visitors stick to the 'main towns' of Olinda and Sassafras, I love to explore the more forgotten haunts of the Dandenongs... Mt Dandenong is a lovely little town with nice cafes and shops; Emerald is another hidden gem (and great for the Emerald Lake park) as are Monbulk and Kalista. I also like to head out towards Silvan for the pick-your-own berry farms and farm door produce. Olinda and Sassafras are lovely, but not on the weekend...
Luna Park is tacky and kind of sad in a run-down amusement park way. It is, however, a prominent feature on the St Kilda foreshore and I don't think you'd be able to head past with children in tow without going to visit. The park is free to enter and you can buy single rides, multi ride passes or day passes depending on how much of a glutton for punishment you are. I recommend that if you're passing by, without children, buying a single ride pass and going on the ferris wheel for a lovely view over the bay.
The Polly Woodside is an iconic replica tall ship, berthed along Jeff's Shed (for the non-Melbournians, I am referring to the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre) and conveniently near a great bar (the boatbuilders yard). Great for the kids (and for maritime buff's), this features a museum as well - and often interactive pirate-type shows
Degraves Street is one of Melbourne's iconic laneways. For me, its where I like to start my walking tours along the laneways to explore hidden gems. Degraves is lined with cafes on both sides (as you head towards flinders lane), but preceeding these are some quirky shops and a great place for cupcakes. Beware of where you sit if you're after a coffee - I recommend steering clear of Andiamo and heading towards Degraves Espresso From Degraves street, keep walking in the same direction through the lanes and malls to discover independent shops, street art and some interesting architecture
Newport Lakes is a former bluestone quarry that has been turned into some amazing parkland just minutes from the CBD. You'd never know it was here if you didn't have some inside knowledge, but it's worth a detour if you're in the area. Aside from the conservation area around the lake, there are 'stepping stones' across the lake which are a lot of fun, as well as a number of trails. Outside the lake itself you'll find a few sporting ovals, several playgrounds and BBQ/picnic/toilet facilities. There is also a native plant nursery which is worth a stop.
Scienceworks is a great, interactive museum that is super child friendly with more than enough to keep the adults occupied as well. In addition to all; of the techniology exhibitions, there's an outdoor area (with playground), regular shows during the day (lightning anyone?) and the old pumping station (situated by the water). Scienceworks is also home to the Planetarium which is well worth the time.
Though the Melbourne Zoo does feature some Australian animals, this is the place to go if you're keen to see as many Australian critters as possible. In a naturalistic bush-setting, it's a lovely place to wander. Pack your lunch and don't miss the Birds of Prey show
Sovereign Hill is unashamedly my favourite tourist attraction in Victoria.The goldrush was fundamental to the creation of Victoria as we know it and this outdoor museum is a fantastic place to learn more about it, whilst having fun. I know it's not super-authentic, as a lot of the buildings have been re-created but it's still awesome. Ballarat is about an hours drive away from Melbourne (give or take) and you really do need the full day to see all of the attraction here (if not two, as they just keep expanding) - consider staying the night, or getting up super early to arrive as the doors open (there is enough to do in the Ballarat area to justify the overnight trip) Do not leave here without panning for gold, watching the gold pour, eating boiled sweets and going in both of the mines. That is a bare minimum effort. Though it is expensive, there are lots of free activities running (especially over the holidays), so make sure that you try to see as many of these as possible to get the most our of your visit
Melbourne has many, many rooftop bars. This is one of the better ones, in my opinion. You'll feel like you've stepped into an English Lawn Tennis Club, with the fake grass and décor - complete with jugs of Pims. Take your life in your hands and walk up the steps for a great place to spend an afternoon or evening with friends.
The Flower Drum is an iconic Melbourne restaurant that has the honour of winning a Michellin Star (or two, I forget). It's super expensive, super luxe but you'll have an amazing Chinese meal with superb hospitality. Dress up and go to be pampered - and don't expect to get out of there quickly....
A day trip to the Hot Springs is worth the effort - the public bathing area features a variety of thermal mineral pools of varying temperatures and sizes and a great cafe. The private area allows you to get a bit more tranquillity without sacrificing your bathing experience. The springs also offer massages, facials and other beauty treatments which you have to book ahead for. You can also hire towels, robes and lockers - all of which I recommend. These are not Japanese springs - appropriate swim wear is mandatory. You can bring children, but they're not allowed in certain areas between certain times, in order to ensure that the other guests can have a bit of space
Located in gorgeous Woodend (which is worth a visit unto itself), the Holgate Brewhouse features great craft beer on tap, excellent pub meals and a place to stay. It's walking distance from the train station, so no need to take the care on this expedition. Get a tasting paddle, sit in the sunny courtyard and enjoy a parma. Child friendly as well, if you're with the little ones.
Daylesford is a lovely country town, located in the heart of spa country. The main street is packed with cafes, little shops and local produce. Further away are galleries and fantastic antique places (The Mill Markets have to be seen to be believed) - a short drive away is Hepburn Springs with its famous mineral springs park and quaint shops. There are also lots of walks in the local area, with some great parks around.