6 days in Melbourne, Australia
I'll be spending a couple of weeks in Australia at the end of July and beginning of August. Right now, the plan is to spend 6 days in Melbourne (5 of them with my spouse). The trouble is that I've been really busy lately and haven't had much of a chance to figure out what to do while I'm there. So, I'm asking for advice.
Current plans: take the train from Sydney to Melbourne.
Things we especially like to do:
Walk around and look at neighborhoods
Look for birds and wildlife
Drink coffee and tea
Eat good food (but not necessarily gourmet)
Visit historical, cultural, natural history, museums. Some art, too.
Check out geology and coastal ecology.
We are open to renting a car if it's necessary, but I'll put up with a moderate level of public transportation frustration to avoid that.
Thanks in advance.
My home town!
Originally Posted by snowbot
Here are some suggestions, based on your list of interests. I am assuming that you will be staying in or near the Central Business District, in which case many of these ideas are within walking distance if you are active. But it is a rainy time of year, so be flexible!
1. I would personally fly rather than take the train from Sydney (1 hour vs 12!). You should be able to find pretty good deals on airfares online.
2. Interesting neighbourhoods to wander around:
(a) St Kilda - seaside suburb - interesting mix of seedy/gentrified, great bars and restaurants - especially on Fitzroy Street but also Acland Street (also a couple of good restaurants down on the foreshore itself - Donovan's; the Stokehouse); then if it's nice you can walk along the foreshore on Beaconsfield Parade towards Port Melbourne
(b) CBD - There is a free tourist tram that runs on a loop around the CBD and the Docklands district, which is a pretty convenient way to get around those areas. Lots to do here. For example, get lost in all the old bluestone cobbled laneways looking for the cool hidden wine and cocktail bars. Take a tour of Melbourne's Victorian architectural gems. Check out Chinatown. Wander up and down Flinders Lane and visit the various galleries, exhibition spaces and cool boutiques. Also great coffee and food to be found along Flinders Lane. The National Gallery has two spaces in the city - one on Flinders Street (the Ian Potter Centre - for Australian collections) and one on St Kilda Road (NGV International - other collections) - also wander out along St Kilda Road towards the Shrine - a lovely boulevard. Southbank (just over the river from the CBD) has lots of cafes and restaurants, including, if you head along the river a little way towards the Crown Casino, lots of restaurants down there as well (you need not enter the casino to get to the restaurants). Just north of the CBD is the Museum (in the Exhibition Gardens).
(c) Fitzroy and Collingwood - Not far from Melbourne University, has a student-y, cool bohemian, seedy/gentrified vibe - wander along Brunswick Street, Gertrude Street and Smith Street. Gertrude Street has a lot of interesting independent fashion boutiques and an amazing specialist bookstore called Books for Cooks that is a must-visit if you are at all into cooking! No shortage of great coffee to be found around here!
(d) Wander around the Botanic Gardens (in South Yarra) - detour to visit the Shrine of Remembrance (easy to find! on St Kilda Road), then have lunch at one of the cafes on Domain Road for some people watching in very pleasant surroundings.
(e) Albert Park - a bayside suburb with an interesting little shopping strip and quite interesting Victorian and Edwardian residential architecture if you are into that sort of thing - has the Avenue Bookstore, which is one of my favourite bookshops in Melbourne. If you visit this area, make sure you have a look at St Vincent's Place, which is a gorgeous residential street with amazingly intact high Victorian architecture built around a lovely park.
3. If you rent a car you can take a trip to the Great Ocean Road (west of the city), which is a must see - spectacular coastal scenery - this would be a full day trip as it is about a one or two hour drive to get to the beginning of the road from the city. You can also drive out to Healesville (east of the city) and visit the Healesville Santuary - the best place to see Australian wildlife close to the city (about an hour's drive into the Yarra Valley). Have fabulous wood-fired pizza at Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander while you are out there. Otherwise you should be able to get around the inner city area easily enough by tram or train. You should buy a Myki card for public transport.
4. Food - visit the Victoria Market - amazing produce market. Check out when the night markets are open as these can be fun too (not sure exactly when - could be Wednesdays?) Have coffee at Market Lane there - a boutique roaster and cafe that makes some of the best espresso in the city.
5. Restaurants - Melbourne has a huge variety of cafes and restaurants with endless cuisines represented. Not sure what your preferences/budget are but here are some suggestions in addition to those mentioned above - in the CBD - hip bars and restaurants like Cumulus Inc, Chin Chin or Coda on Flinders Lane (and even some others that don't start with 'C"!); also Yu-u in Flinders Lane - very cool, hard to find basement Japanese restaurant that is worth the effort to locate! Mo Vida on Hosier Lane in the CBD (between Flinders Lane and Flinders Street) for fantastic Spanish food (but hard to get a table), Il Bacaro in Little Collins Street - one of my personal favourites - small, sophisticated Italian; The European in Spring Street is a very buzzy French place with a great wine list, right next door to the European (but upstairs) is the Supper Club and Siglo (rooftop bar) - Melbourne institutions; Also lots of good bars and restaurants in Curtain House in Swanston Street. Outside the CBD you could try one of the many fun places in Smith Street Collingwood, Vietnamese food on Victoria Street Richmond (cheap and cheerful and authentic), or Fitzroy Street St Kilda. If you want to pull out all the stops, you could try Taxi (in Federation Square - great setting in the evening but the food is not as good as it was), Cafe di Stasio in Fitzroy Street St Kilda (Italian), or Cutler & Co in Gertrude Street Fitzroy for a seriously pricey but great night out (better value if you eat in the bar here)!
Have a wonderful trip!
JLE, thank you so much! Food, drink, bookstores... This sounds great.
Last edited by snowbot; 07-13-2012 at 02:08 PM.
My home town too!
We have excellent museums, galleries, zoos and a good aquarium here, if those things are your thing. I would also consider a trip to Phillip Island to see the "Penguin Parade". Hundreds of penguins return to their burrows at/after sunset and waddle up the beach. Either rent a car and plan to stay overnight, or take a bus tour for the day. Consider splurging on one of the more expensive penguin experiences. There's also a koala sanctuary on the island and on the road back to Melbourne there are several "feed and pat a kangaroo" type places that overseas visitors tend to love. A lot of the bus tours will include one of these.
I also highly recommend the Great Ocean Road, if you're up for the driving. Head out as early in the day as possible, the drive doesn't get interesting until more than an hour out of Melbourne, and if you have time invest a night and do it in 2 days. Consider the inland route coming back on the B140 (not the A1 which is boring and has heavy traffic!) which takes you for a very interesting and little known drive through our volcano fields. The road goes right past Mount Elephant which is a rather dramatic scoria cone. All of Victoria's volcanoes are only considered dormant and not extinct, by the way.
I'm happy to answer any questions you have.
My thanks to JLE and falconea. Your recommendations were great and I had a wonderful time in Melbourne. I'm swamped with work right now, but I'll post some photos and trip details soon.