Melbourne Pictures Guide, Australia 2017-05-08T03:56:18+00:00

Melbourne Pictures Guide, Victoria, Australia

Melbourne, Yarra river, Australia

The Yarra riverside, loaded with eating places on the promenade to the right, servicing the city workaholics from across the river.

Melbourne Tourism

Federation square, Melbourne, Australia

Federation Square and its bizarre but pleasant collection of modernist architecture. Photo by Donaldytong.

Melbourne is perhaps the most  European-feeling city in Australia, an affluent and exciting city demanding cutting edge performances in the arts, live music and dance.

It’s an ultra-modern urban environment of  cool bars and cafés, buzzing with great food, avante-garde art, interesting architecture, lively music venues and surrounded by top class wineries, snowy mountains, lush ancient rainforests, and wild, beautiful coastlines including a pleasant beach at St Kilda and the attractive Great Ocean Road driving experience.

Originally a gold-rush town in the mid 1800s, Melbourne is Australia’s second largest city at 3. 5 million, a cultured and cosmopolitan place on the banks of the Yarra river in the far south-east of the country.

The city’s Victorian architecture is impressive and mostly blends well with ultra-modern buildings, plentiful green spaces and picturesque riverside walks that are a haven all year round for urban refugees..

Downside: the weather!

Winter is often decidedly chilly, grey and wet, while spring and summer weather can be extremely changeable and stormy.

Melbourne vs. Sydney

Comparisons are inevitably made with Sydney, particularly since the two cities were such equal contenders for the title of Australia’s capital in the early 20th century that the government was unable to decide which was more suitable, so they built a new capital in the middle of nowhere – Canberra.

Flinders Street Station in central Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Flinders Street Station in central Melbourne.

Just about everything in Melbourne is cheaper than Sydney, tourist herds far less obtrusive and there’s a free circular tram. Melbourne is more dynamic, Sydney more relaxed. Melburnians claim that their city is one of the world’s most liveable; could that imply that Sydney may be one of the most visitable?

Sydney certainly outshines Melbourne in two tourist areas. It has a more immediate, unique charm due to its wonderful harbour setting and those world famous icons – the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, while the climate is somewhat better. Winter in Melbourne is colder than Sydney though both cities can have excessively hot summers.

Melbourne is also gateway to the Great Ocean Road so an essential stop for thorough tourists.

Just about everything in Melbourne is cheaper than Sydney, tourist herds far less obtrusive and there’s a free circular tram. Melbourne is more dynamic, Sydney more relaxed. Melburnians claim that their city is one of the world’s most liveable; could that imply that Sydney may be one of the most visitable?

Sydney certainly outshines Melbourne in two tourist areas. It has a more immediate, unique charm due to its wonderful harbour setting and those world famous icons – the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, while the climate is somewhat better. Winter in Melbourne is colder than Sydney though both cities can have excessively hot summers.

Melbourne is also gateway to the Great Ocean Road so an essential stop for thorough tourists.

Things to Do in Melbourne

Royal Arcade, Melbourne,Victoria, Australia

Royal Arcade. Photo by Diliff.

Melbourne City offers plenty of things to do, whether cultural, sporting or pure entertainment the action is creative, varied and interesting. Bars are buzzing and restaurants are superb – especially with Asian cuisine, while both live music and club scenes are thriving.

• Take the free City Circle tram for a city tour but don’t bother with the dull boat rides. The line is free and rumbles past some of Melbourne’s best attractions, including the Docklands, Federation Square, Parliament House, the Princess Theatre and Queen Victoria Market. The hop on-hop off tram also broadcasts an informative description of stops on the way.

• Queen Victoria Market is the largest open-air market in Australia, with hundreds of traders bawling about their wares. On Sundays the food and flower stalls are replaced with clothing and knick-knacks. In summertime the market is open on Wednesday evenings from 5. 30pm to 10pm, with food stalls, music and dance performances.

• The Royal Botanic Gardens on the Yarra River are outstanding and while the city also has many other calm, green oases such as luscious, free and bird-packed Albert Park Lake, a couple of miles out of the centre.

• Melbourne Zoo was the first in Australia, it’s enjoyable, instructive and features the Platypus.

• Melbourne’s little wandering lanes and alleyways (such as Hardware Lane, Bennetts Lane and Block Arcade) are packed with window-shopping interest, strange boutiques, quirky cafés, lively eateries and seductive bars.

• Night tours of old Melbourne Goal (Ned Kelly’s place of execution) are a giggle.

• The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCC) offers lively and unusual works from both local and international artists. It’s free and a 10-minute walk from Flinders Street Station; open Tuesday to Sunday.

• St Kilda, with its beach front walks, market, gardens, funky cafés and bars and red light district.

Travellers seeking a more off-the-wall shopping and partying environment than central Melbourne high life should take the first tram to lengthy Brunswick St where weird needs are more likely to be met than elsewhere. Goth central, new wave, neo-hippies and such.

City Transport

Melbourne trams, Victoria, Australia

City trams. Hop on the white one to get down to the beaches and promenades of Melbourne’s St Kilda suburb. Photo by Bahnfrend.

The city has an excellent integrated public transport system of trams, trains and buses, with the especially free and fun City Circle Tram (more info above).
Biking is popular and easy except for the tram tracks.
Driving a rental car is NOT easy here, with complicated rules governing tram/car interaction.

Things to Do in outer suburbs

Melbourne city view over the Yarra River and Princes Bridge, Victoria, Australia

Melbourne city view over the Yarra River and Princes Bridge. Photo by Diliff.

Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Royal Exhibition Building. Photo by Diliff

Albert Park art, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Albert Park art.

The Royal Botanic Gardens on the banks of the Yarra nearby are beautifully laid out, diverse and interesting, just one of the city’s grand green spaces, along with huge bird-packed Albert Park Lake, a couple of miles out of the centre.

The suburb of St Kilda is a classic seaside resort with pier, pavilion, amusement park, market, beach and endless establishments to service the hordes that descend on the town on warm sunny days.

Port Melbourne, Beacon Cove beach, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Port Melbourne, Beacon Cove beach. Photo by Donaldytong.

Like other major Australian cities Melbourne is park and water-oriented. The Yarra is the main focus with rowing and river cruises figuring high in things to do around the centre – apart from eating and drinking of course, while further downstream the Docklands provide a new focal point for more conspicuous consumption.

Weather

Best time: Autumn (February-March, highs about 25C, lows 13C).
Worst: May-September, winter. Night temperatures average about 7C, daytime about 15C and statistically half the days will see some rain while sunshine may be in short supply. However, due to its location the city is prone to sudden changes of weather and severe storms, especially in spring and summer months.
November-January mid summer temperatures average highs of around 25C but 30C-40C is not infrequent and becoming more common.

Food

Like Sydney the mix of cultures in Melbourne make for a diverse selection of foods, though many Australians believe that Melbourne offers the country’s best eating out, and at the right price too.
Greek, Italian, Vietnamese, and Chinese dominate, but there’s a good cross-section of most world cuisines available

Arts and Culture

Museums: The outstanding Melbourne Museum is a wacky new millennium showpiece and covers Australia in depth, while in contrast the Immigration Museum is based in the restored Old Customs House; it’s very well designed.

The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCC) offers lively and unusual works from both local and international artists. It’s free and a 10-minute walk from Flinders Street Station; open Tuesday to Sunday.

Classical Music/Opera: see the world renowned Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at the Melbourne Concert Hall.

Dance: at the University; the Melbourne Ballet; the performing Arts Museum.

Live Music & Clubs: There is a lot happening with live music, comedy and theatre all over the city.
Check The Age on Fridays or Beat Magazine. Warehouse, The Lounge, Metro and Revolver for clubs.

Regular Melbourne Festivals and Events

Late January-mid February, Midsumma, a wild 3 week gay fiesta.
February, 1st weekend, Melbourne Blues Festival, excellent.
Early March, a weekend, Melbourne Moomba Waterfest, an extravagant family festival.
March, from 4th Thursday for a month, Melbourne Comedy Festival.
June, 2nd Saturday/Sunday, Melbourne Good Food & Wine Show.
October for 2 weeks, Melbourne Festival. A city-wide arts and culture event.
November, 1st Tuesday, the Melbourne Cup – the biggest horse race in the southern hemisphere.

Short Trips Out of Melbourne

Mornington Peninsula National Park, snorkel or just swim with dolphins. Near the city.
– For walks around weird rock formations head for Organ Pipes National Park (20kms NW) and/or Hanging Rock NP, just past Organ Pipes.

– Stagger around and sample top class plonk at Yarra Valley wineries. 60kms (37mls).

– The hilarious and totally natural Penguin Parade at dusk on Phillip Island is wildly popular, and there are wildlife walks, seals, koalas and good surfing. 120km (75mls) SE.

Wilsons Prom National Park is a world ranking national park, busy but unspoiled and alive with native fauna and flora. 170kms (106mls) SE, past Phillip Island.

– Surfing. The Surf Coast, from Torquay to Lorne, best season March-August. Pro-surfers love (inconsistent) Bell’s Beach but there’re more than enough amateur action spots too.

Great Otway National Park (200kms/125mls), a temperate rainforest with wildlife, camping, beaches, swimming, surfing, fishing.

Great Ocean Road. Travel along one of Australia’s most famous coast roads, visiting the limestone chimneys known as the Twelve Apostles (well, not 12 any more and, in truth, the GOR trip is pleasant but not extraordinary), whale watching at Warrnambool (June-September), then circling back via the gorgeous Grampians NP – good for hikes, bikes, adrenaline activities and wildlife viewing – and old gold Ballarat town (1. 5hrs from Melbourne).
The GOR circuit needs about 5 days, but don’t expect too much, it’s not really spectacular by global standards.

Massive beaches (one of them is 90 miles long) with fine surfing, excellent wildlife parks (e. g. Hall’s Gap), the spectacular Great Ocean Road (GOR) driving route, great hiking in the Grampian Highlands and skiing in the winter.

Driving Distances

From Melbourne to Sydney on a direct route is 963 kms (600 miles), taking about 9 hours.

Alternatively choose the beautiful coast road, with endless views of beaches, lakes, national parks, wildlife and some cute little resort towns en route. This is 1160kms (719 miles) long and takes about 14 hours.

On the way some of the best sights are Croajingolong National Park; the southernmost point of Australia at Wilson’s Promontory – with attendant wildlife and panoramic scenery; the Phillip Island Penguin Parade at dusk when thousands of the little chaps head for their burrows. It’s a hoot.

Driving to Adelaide is 728 kms (452 miles), taking about 9 hours.

Driving to Canberra is 647 kms (402 miles), taking about 7 hours.

Driving to Perth is 3430 kms (2, 130 miles), taking about 39 hours.

Share
Share