August 24, 2015

Things to See and Do in Melbourne

Things to See and Do in Melbourne

 

This page lists a variety of links on things to see and do in Melbourne and Victoria, Australia.

 

It talks about a variety of activities in Melbourne and Victoria (within 150km of the city) suitable for new residents and/or visiting friends and relatives. If you have found this page via a search query, please choose ‘Edit’ and ‘Find’ in your Internet Browser Program and it will take you quickly to that word on this page.

 

It has been compiled by David Lording who says:

I have lived in Melbourne all my life (although I have travelled extensively overseas and within Australia). Many years ago a friend who had moved from Sydney to Melbourne complained to me that if had had friends down from Sydney, he would in his ignorance tell them that there was nothing to do in Melbourne and nothing of interest for him to show them. This spurred me on to making up a list of some of the things which I felt would interest a visitor to Melbourne. It reflects many of the places to which I have taken friends and overseas visitors. Within the last 6 months (Jan. – June 2005) I have vastly expanded and revised it, trying, among other things, to arrange the material in a more logical fashion.  It was first published in March 2002 and additional website links were added by Rita Soares in March 2003 and by Sue Ellson in October 2005.

Two things the visitor to Melbourne must realize are: that there are many interesting and appealing events held during the year such as the Comedy Festival (usually held in March) and such events as the Fringe Festival. There are so many special things going on throughout most of the year that one critic has, rather sourly, referred to Melbourne as ‘Events-ville’. Secondly, that there is an immense amount of material available to help you find – and find out – about places of interest.

Tourist Information Offices http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/info.cfm?top=94&pa=873&pg=874 are readily available. In Melbourne the most important one is the Melbourne Visitor Centre at Federation Square, downstairs on the corner of St Kilda Road and Flinders Street (opposite the Flinders Street Railway Station entrance).  There is also an On Street Tourism Information Booth in Bourke Street Mall.

Another place to visit, particularly for maps and information about walks to do in inner Melbourne or in the older suburbs is the National Trusthttp://www.nattrust.com.au Office in Tasma Terrace (very close to St Patrick’s cathedral) at 4 Parliament Place East Melbourne.

A very useful booklet which I have consulted quite a lot is Blair’s Travel Guide to Victoria and Melbourne (details at the end).  It follows through places of interest in alphabetical order. Like the European Michelin http://www.viamichelin.com, places are rated as no stars, one star, two stars or three stars. Not having any stars is not a put down as the mere fact that a place is mentioned indicates that it has something to offer. Obviously the places with the best offerings are those which receive two or three stars.

FEIP booklets setting out the full range of spring to autumn activities can be obtained from such places as the Melbourne Visitor Centre at Federation Square.  FEIP used to stand for Free Entertainment in the Parks and Gardens. Now the F stands for Fabulous as some items on offer are no longer free.

Other publications include the ‘melbourne events’ (produced monthly) and ‘Official Visitor’s Guides’ (produced quarterly).  These publications list information from the ‘That’s Melbourne’ website http://www.thatsmelbourne.com.au and are published by Destination Melbourne http://www.destinationmelbourne.com.au and are available in the arrivals hall at Melbourne airport and at Federation Square.  You can also look at the Visit Victoria http://www.visitvictoria.com, Visit Melbournehttp://www.visitmelbourne.com , Tourism Victoria http://www.tourism.vic.gov.au, Tourism Accreditation Board of Victoria Inchttp://www.tourismaccreditationvic.com.au and the Cultural Tourism Industry Group http://www.victoriaculture.org websites.

Most country towns which have some points of interest for the visitor have a Tourist Information Office. These are easy to find because there are big signs at the roadside bearing the letter ‘i’ (blue background, yellow letter – this means that it is an accredited Visitor Information Centre).

Both in Melbourne and also in the country, hotels, guest houses, Bed and Breakfast’s (B and B’s) http://www.visitvictoria.com/bnb caravan parks, motels and tourist attractions also have a space where a large number of tourist information pamphlets are available.

Some accommodation, tourism and visitor services do not have websites – but they do usually have a listing in the Yellow Pages Directory.  As you may know, you will have a copy of the Yellow Pages http://www.yellowpages.com.au for your own local area, but you can see other local directories by looking at the Yellow Pages website.  If you are looking for some information that you cannot find on the internet, why don’t you do a search of the Yellow Pages with the location you are wishing to visit and type in some of the following categories:

. Tourist Attractions
. Tours or Holidays
. Caravan and Tourist Parks
. Accommodation

Major providers will also have their website listed or once you find the name and location of a local service, you can repeat your internet search with more accurate information (this will save you from always being directed to aggregate websites which only provide basic information and booking services).

 

Things to see and do in Melbourne, Victoria Australia (close to the city)

This section talks about a variety of activities in Melbourne and Victoria (within 150km of the city) suitable for new residents and/or visiting friends and relatives.

 

1. Melbourne’s Trams

Apart from providing a reliable form of public transport, these are really enjoyed by tourists who find that taking trips on trams is a fine way to explore and get to know the city. Quite a few of the trams are brightly painted, the result of artists being commissioned to paint trams, a practice which started in 1977.

One small disadvantage with them is that the automatic ticket selling machines take only coins so that if you only have notes you run the risk of not being able to buy a ticket, and thus run the risk of being fined by an inspector. But one big advantage is that, once you have bought your ticket (if it is a day ticket) you can use it on any form of public transport without further expense (provided you are travelling within the correct Zone or Zones).

Metlink Melbourne http://www.metlinkmelbourne.com.au has information on tickets (called Metcards), timetables and links to trains, trams and buses.

On offer to tourists and residents is the Free City Circle Tourist Tramhttp://www.metlinkmelbourne.com.au/city_circle/ (coloured red) which continuously does a circuit of the Central Business District. It takes you past a very large number of Melbourne’s tourist attractions which can be better appreciated with the excellent map which is available. You can get on or off at any point on the journey and listen to the pre-recorded audio guide.

There is also the Melbourne City Tourist Shuttle Bushttp://www.thatsmelbourne.com.au/info.cfm?top=259&pg=2183&cID=51 that leaves every 15 minutes and takes a larger tour of the city and nearby suburbs.

One Melbourne novelty is the Colonial Tramcar Restauranthttp://www.tramrestaurant.com.au. Using Melbourne’s tram routes but helped by special stabilizing devices, these tram journeys offer gourmet meals with the chance to look out at Melbourne. (The glass is one way so that people outside the tram can’t look in). This service is so popular that four trams are needed to meet the demand for this experience.

 

2. The Yarra River

The Yarra River offers many attractions. For starters there is a walk along the river bank, including Batman Park and the old bluestone former warehouses by Princes Bridge and the Yarra River Turning Basin which features Enterprise Wharf, the site where the first settlers landed.

Then there is the old sailing ship, the Polly Woodsidehttp://www.nattrust.com.au/properties.asp, which is permanently moored near the Clarendon Street bridge over the lower Yarra River. Next to it is the Maritime Museum. Close to the Polly Woodside is the World Trade Centre and the Crown Casino.

The interior of Crown Casino http://www.crowncasino.com.au has a very special water feature that takes on different themes at different times of the year (free in the foyer).  The Casino also offers a range of restaurants with those at the budget end often offering very good value. The Crown Casino complex also offers a lively shopping promenade, bar venues and a variety of gaming and entertainment offerings. These venues all fit logically into a walk along the Yarra River between Princes bridge and the Centra Hotel (on Spencer Street).

Located beside the Yarra is the recently built tourist attraction, the Melbourne Aquarium http://www.melbourneaquarium.com.au. At the corner of Queenswharf Road and King Street, it is open seven days a week.

Yet another important building adjacent to the river (it is located between the Maritime Museum and Crown Casino) is the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre http://www.mecc.com.au.  It is known colloquially as Jeff’s Shed after the Premier of Victoria at the time it was built, Jeff Kennett. It is almost always in use housing all sorts of exhibitions. From the outside it is not a very attractive building but it is ideal for the purpose for which it was built.  It is 360 metres long.

Or you can choose to go further afield, going for example by boat from Princes Walk in either direction – to Como Island or under the Westgate Bridge to the Port of Melbourne. One company offering a range of cruises and outings on the Yarra River is Melbourne Tramboat Cruises http://www.tramboat.com.au. One of their trips goes, for example, from the Docklands area to Williamstown and back again. On the return trip it is dark and you can appreciate the city’s lights.

Most people find a trip down the Yarra River to the sea something of a revelation, not realizing how interesting it all is. On the way down you pass Scienceworkshttp://www.scienceworks.museum.vic.gov.au, the branch of the Melbourne Museum specialising in science and astronomy. It has many exhibits and offers many activities which have great appeal to children of all ages.

 

3. Federation Square

Federation Square http://www.fedsq.com is located at the corner of Swanston Street and Flinders Street, this complex features much striking modern architecture which most people either like a lot or dislike strongly. It also features a number of interesting spaces and probably the biggest Visitors’ Centre in Melbourne.

But there is more. Apart from having many cafes, restaurants and shops, it features a small but superb concert hall called the BMW Edge, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), and the Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria which holds the NGV’s complete stock of Australian paintings and other art works. Except for special exhibitions which are mounted from time to time admission is free. The ACMI has many displays relating to cinema as an art film along with a cinema which shows many fine films (usually one of historic interest from earlier eras).

Between Federation Square the river Yarra is a newly created park called Birrarung Mar which has a number of interesting features such as fine carillon.

 

4. Important sporting venues

The Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australian Gallery of Sport and Olympic Museumhttp://www.mcg.org.au. The great stadium offers a museum of sport and also guided tours of the hallowed ground. These are held every day and have always proved to interest to lovers of sports such as cricket and Australian Rules Football. Tours start at the main entrance of the Members’ Stand and go from 10-00 to 11-30am every Wednesday.

Just outside the ground is the Australian Gallery of Sport and Olympic Museum which is open daily from 10 to 4. This museum is Australia’s first sporting shrine. There are 19 designated sporting categories directing the exhibits and displays, eg. Australian Rules football and Olympic sports such as basketball, cycling, and swimming. Tours of the MCG (see above) are included in the price of admission.

Close to the MCG is Melbourne Park http://www.mopt.com.au, a complex of tennis courts which are used for the Australian Open http://www.australianopen.com.auheld every year here in January. The main stadium, the Rod Laver arena, is also used for concerts which require a large number of seats.

A relatively recent addition to the list of Melbourne’s sporting venues is the stadium, which lies between the Spencer Street railway station and Victoria Harbour, known both as Docklands and Telstra Domehttp://www.telstradome.com.au and it is used for a variety of sports, Australian Rules Football being the dominant one and also for concerts and other forms of entertainment.

 

5. The Southbank Arts and Leisure Precinct

Apart from the National Gallery of Victoria International (mentioned below), the two most important buildings in the Southbank Arts and Leisure Precincthttp://www.vicartscentre.com.au/venues/index.htm are the Hamer Hall and the Theatre Complex. Tours of these can be undertaken and are very interesting particularly the visit to the backstage area of the theatres complex. (There are quite a few free concerts – particularly at lunch time – in the Hamer Hall). They back onto Southbank (sometimes referred to as Southgate), a group of buildings which house many restaurants and cafes, a vast food hall and a number of classy shops.
Just below the Hamer Hall and on the banks of the Yarra, a very interesting market is held every Sunday morning. At the side of the Hamer Hall is the Performing Arts Museum which features displays related to Melbourne’s theatrical, musical and cultural life.

 

6. The National Gallery of Victoria

This are two museums which, although located relatively close to each other, have different histories and different roles to fulfil. The historic bluestone complex with a surrounding moat and located at 180 St. Kilda Road, is known as the NGV International http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/ngvinternational/ to distinguish it from the Ian Potter Centre: NGV at Federation Square (see below). It is not being parochial to say that the NGV International has easily the best art collection of any Australian city or museum. Its basic collection, built up to a great degree with money provided by Alfred Felton, a Melbourne business man, is free. It has recently been extensively refurbished and has been improved in two respects. It is more visitor friendly and it also has a lot more exhibition space. An admission price has to be paid for special exhibitions.

 

7. Some art galleries of interest

Other galleries you may like to visit include:

The Ian Potter Centre NGV http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/ngvaustralia/ at Federation Square. This relatively new gallery houses the NGV’s collection of Australian paintings and art works by indigenous Australians. Like the NGV International admission is free except when there is a special exhibition when an admission charge is levied. One regular mid year display which we never miss is the display of the top works submitted by the previous year’s HSC (Year 12) Art students.

Aboriginal Galleries of Australia – 35 Spring Street Melbournehttp://www.agamelbourne.com

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art – 11 Sturt Street Southbankhttp://www.accaonline.org.au

Craft Victoria – 31 Flinders Lane Melbourne http://www.craftvic.asn.au

Gallery 101 – Ground level 101 Collins Street Melbournehttp://www.101collins.com.au/gallery.html

Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi – 141 Flinders Lane Melbournehttp://www.gabriellepizzi.com.au

George Adams Gallery Victorian Arts Centre – 100 St Kilda Road Southbankhttp://www.theartscentre.net.au

The Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne http://www.art-museum.unimelb.edu.au
Swanston Street (between Faraday and Elgin Streets) Parkville

Not only does this Museum of Art contain many wonderful objects, but it is housed in a prize winning and very striking modern building.

VCA (Victorian College of the Arts) Galleryhttp://www.vca.unimelb.edu.au/art/gallery/index.html – 234 St Kilda Road Southbank

 

8. Important Precincts in Melbourne

There are many Precincts in Melbournehttp://www.thatsmelbourne.com.au/content.asp?Document_ID=10008.

There is a Greek precinct at the top end of Lonsdale Street where there are restaurants and cake shops specialising in Greek specialities, along with such things as Melbourne’s main Greek travel agency.

An even bigger precinct is the Italian one in Lygon Street Carlton with Italian restaurants, delicatessens and shops selling Italian wines.

The Bourke Hill precinct which contains an important number of Melbourne’s restaurants and theatres.

Part of the Chinese ambience in Chinatown http://www.melbourne-chinatown.vic.gov.au (Little Bourke Street) is a wonderful collection of Chinese restaurants, some of which are very inexpensive. There is also a Chinese Museum.

The move of most of the Port of Melbourne’s docks further downstream has left a large area which is steadily being developed and which goes under the general name of Docklands http://www.docklands.com. (One of the maps will be a great help here). It is being developed into a multi functional precinct with such features as a marina, a large number of massive tower blocks, the new stadium (already mentioned), a History Walk (where story boards bring to life the maritime and industrial past of this area) and a number of new restaurants and cafes.

Melbourne is an amazingly multi cultural city with food and restaurants covering all the world’s continents (except perhaps Antarctica). There is no South African precinct but South African food is readily available. As an example of the diversity of food found in Melbourne, let us consider the South African delicacy known as biltong. In the early days of that country’s history, biltong was a staple. What meat couldn’t be cooked and eaten, was cured and kept as a ready made food for long treks.

The most prized biltong is made from venison, but in Melbourne good commercial biltong is made from silverside beef. The best way of eating biltong is to get a sharp knife and cut thin slices across the grain. Where can you buy this mouth-watering product? Louie’s Deli in Elsternwick, Wood’s Deli at the Victoria Market, the Coffee Bazaar in Malvern, and finally Vince’s Deli at the South Melbourne market. It is not cheap as it costs about $45 a kilo.

 

9. The Old Melbourne Gaol

It has seen 136 hangings. I have always found overseas visitors to be immensely attracted to this place if only because of its amazing atmosphere. A bonus which occasionally occurs is a display of Ned Kelly’s armour. If the visitors speak and read English well, the displays in the many cells, particularly the death masks, are quite fascinating. This is a NATIONAL TRUST property as is the Polly Woodside (mentioned below).

Three other National Trust properties in the city which are worth visiting are: the 19th century portable iron houses in South Melbourne, Latrobe’s Cottage in the King’s Domain and the Johnston Collection(which is associated with the National Trust). Visits to William Johnston’s house in East Melbourne are easily arranged and permit you to experience the house’s extraordinary collection of Georgian, Regency and Louis XV furniture, ceramics and decorative arts.

http://www.nattrust.com.au (go to section ‘What to see’)

 

10. Melbourne’s Golden Mile Trail

Guided tours of Melbourne’s Golden Mile run daily at 1:00pm from the new Melbourne Visitor Centre. (The $4 Self-guide booklets for those wishing to walk independently are still available from Best of Souvenirs at the Melbourne Visitor Centre). The tour will follow the Golden Mile from Federation Square, via the Town Hall, Scots Church, Gold Treasury Museum and Parliament House to Royal Exhibition Building and Melbourne Museum. The Golden Mile guide will be waiting in the Transit Lounge, the meeting point for the tours, from 12:45pm each day. While bookings aren’t strictly necessary, participants would do well to call ‘Best of Victoria’ on 9642 1055 to be assured a place, as there is a maximum of 10 per tour. Adults $20, concession $15, children $10, group prices by arrangement

http://www.melbournesgoldenmile.com and for some interesting background information, visithttp://www.arts.monash.edu.au/ncas/multimedia/gazetteer/list/melbournecity.html

This is the third part of the series on Things to see and do in Melbourne, Victoria Australia, talks about a variety of activities in Melbourne and Victoria (within 150km of the city) suitable for new residents and/or visiting friends and relatives. As so much information has been gathered, we have put it on several pages of the Newcomers Network website.  If you have found this page via a search query, please choose ‘Edit’ and ‘Find’ in your Internet Browser Program and it will take you quickly to that word on this page.

 

11. Important gardens in the centre of Melbourne

There are many Gardens in Melbourne http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/info.cfm?top=25&pg=1273 If you cross Princes Bridge (St Kilda Road) from the Flinders Street side of the Yarra River you will come to a wonderful group of gardens on the left. Separately they are the Alexandra Gardens, the Queen Victoria Gardens, the King’s Domain (with the floral clock) and the Royal Botanic Gardens (see below – some people still call it the Royal Botanical Gardens). Within these gardens there are many good things to see.

These include the Sidney Myer Music Bowlhttp://www.vicartscentre.com.au/sidneymyermusicbowl/, Governor Latrobe’s cottage http://www.nattrust.com.au/properties.asp (he was the first governor of Victoria), Government House http://www.governor.vic.gov.au/govhs.htm and the Shrine of Remembrance http://www.shrine.org.au. I have found that all overseas visitors have enjoyed a visit to the Shrine. It offers a fitting feeling of respect for those who died for us, two memorial gardens and a fine display of military matters but it also offers – on the upper terrace – a wonderful view of the Melbourne sky line.

The Sidney Myer Music Bowl is the venue for many free concerts, many of them part of the Free Entertainment in the Parks series. There is also in February a series of four free concerts presented at 7pm on Wednesday and Saturdays nights by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra http://www.mso.com.au

Tours of Government House are organised through the National Trust of Victoria and are conducted by the Trust on Mondays and Wednesdays depending on the availability of Government House. To contact the National Trust of Victoria and arrange a tour, phone (03) 9656 9800. This is an absolutely splendid Victorian building which was built between 1871 and 1876.

The Shrine of Remembrance is located in the King’s Domain gardens which adjoin the Botanical Gardens. The building, reminiscent of the Parthenon in Athens, is a memorial to all Victorians (not Australians) who have fallen in war, particularly the first and second World Wars.

Visitors are impressed by the way in which a feeling of respect for those who sacrificed their lives is created. It becomes a focal point for special services held on Anzac Day (April 25th) and Armistice Day (November 11th). On this day special services focus on the shaft of sunlight which, at 11am, shines through an opening in the ceiling to illuminate the word Love in the Stone of Remembrance located just below.

In the last 5 years a lot of work has been done providing the Shrine with an impressive new entrance and a number of new displays eg. medals awarded to Australian soldiers throughout our history. A new garden has been created and a new forecourt for those who perished in the Second World War. At one level a number of Books of Remembrance record the names of all Victorians who served in the first World War (over 110,000). Not the least of the attractions of the Shrine for me is the series of splendid views obtained from the balcony of the city centre of Melbourne and another view which looks down St. Kilda Road.

http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Parks/Domain.html (Queen Victoria Gardens, King’s Domain, Alexandra Gardens, Governor Latrobe’s cottage)

 

12. Other gardens worth visiting

The Royal Botanic Gardens http://www.rbg.org.au. One of the world’s best gardens of this type, they are of interest both to the stroller and also to the student of botany and feature a fine lakeside cafe/restaurant. Free tours are available at 10am from the Plant Craft Cottage, inside H Gate on Alexandra Avenue on Tuesday and Thursdays. Sunday tour also departs at 10am, but from the Herbarium at F Gate. The gardens also feature a number of art works such as the wonderful bronze statue of the 4 main characters in Norman Lindsay’s classic story The Magic Pudding. This will bring great pleasure to people of all ages.

The latest addition to the Botanic Gardens is a most imaginative Childrens’ Garden opened early this year and provided by the Ian Potter Foundation. It appeals directly to the interests and loves of children and has already proved a most successful addition to the gardens. It is located up the Observatory end of the gardens. It is open most days but is closed for restoration purposes for two months in the middle of the year. In other words it would be wise to obtain information about opening hours before going on a visit.

The Fitzroy Gardens http://www.fitzroygardens.com. Again we have beautiful gardens with many fine deciduous trees and many points of interest within them the Conservatory, Captain Cook’s Cottage, a model Tudor Village, and the Fairy Tree. Between the Fitzroy Gardens and the State Offices which face onto Macarthur Street and Spring Street there is the Treasury Gardens (the first such park to be established in Melbourne) which feature a fine memorial to president John F. Kennedy. There are also many free concerts in the Fitzroy Gardens.

 

13. The Queen Victoria Market and other markets

The Queen Victoria Market http://www.qvm.com.au functions as an ordinary market (open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday) and as a more general market (clothes, records, books) on Sunday morning. This market is very high on the list of the favourites places as judged by overseas visitors. Apart from enjoying its colourful aspect, they are always amazed at the range of produce on display and also the incredibly reasonable prices. Nearby are the Flagstaff Gardens which are established on the highest piece of land in central Melbourne and St James old cathedral (which preceded St Paul’s cathedral).

The Queen Victoria Market runs a number of tours, usually held on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday mornings at 10am and usually lasting two hours. Titles of some of the tours are Polish Deli, Curds and Whey, Andrew’s Bread Shop, Queen Victoria Market Cake Shop, The Happy Wishbone, Market Organics etc. The phone number is 9320 5835.

Another market offering really good tours is the Melbourne Wholesale Market which can be contacted as 03 5428 2228. The tour, which calls itself the Melbourne Wholesale Market Experience, is composed of three parts. The first part is a guided tour through the Melbourne Wholesale Fish Market, the second takes you on a train ride through the fruit and vegetable section, and the final part is a self guided walking tour through the National Flower Centre which was built specifically for the sale of cut flowers in Victoria. All three of these markets are located on Footscray road, only three km. from the CBD.

Near to the Queen Victoria market are the Flagstaff Gardens which are established on the highest piece of land in central Melbourne, and St James old cathedral (which preceded St Paul’s cathedral).

Within the inner city area there are some very fine markets. The two which immediately come to mind are the South Melbourne Markethttp://www.portphillip.vic.gov.au/southmelbournemarket.html in Cecil Street South Melbourne is open on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and the wonderful Prahran Market http://www.prahranmarket.com.au in Commercial Road Prahran. A Sunday highlight at St. Kilda is the St Kilda Esplanade Art and Craft Markethttp://www.portphillip.vic.gov.au/stkilda_esplanade_market.html on the Upper Esplanade where most of the goods on sale are handmade.

 

14. Some of Melbourne’s great buildings

Four great buildings of the Victorian era in Melbourne, all of which are all close together, are The Princess Theatre http://www.marrinertheatres.com.au, the Windsor Hotel http://www.thewindsor.com.au, Parliament Househttp://www.parliament.vic.gov.au (for which tours can be arranged), the Royal Exhibition Building http://www.museum.vic.gov.au/reb/ (not to be confused with the Melbourne Exhibition Building http://www.mecc.com.au which lies between Crown Casino and the Polly Woodside). If Parliament is sitting, it can be visited without prior warning. If the house isn’t sitting tours are available. The two parliamentary chambers are richly and magnificently decorated while there is a restaurant where visitors can have a meal.

The Royal Exhibition Building (which sits in another very fine garden next to the Melbourne Museum http://melbourne.museum.vic.gov.au and the Imax 3D theatrehttp://www.imax.com.au) was erected for the International Exhibition of 1880. The Victorian parliament sat here from 1901(Federation) until 1927 as the Australian parliament took over the Victorian Parliament building in Spring Street while Canberra was being built. Today trade fairs and important exhibitions are constantly being held here.

The State Library http://www.statelibrary.vic.gov.au with its famous domed reading room in Swanston Street The library building (which once housed the National Gallery of Victoria and also the Museum) has been magnificently refurbished and is now entirely occupied by the Library. In addition to the Reading Room (which is worth visiting for its architecture alone), the Library offers a wide range of library type facilities to the public free of charge. There is also an art gallery which features paintings of historic Melbourne and another gallery at the front of the building which offers changing exhibitions. One of its very first offerings was a fine exhibition of the cartoons of Michael Leunig.

 

15. Other significant buildings – just a small selection

The restored Melbourne City Baths http://www.melbournecitybaths.com.au – at the university end of Swanston Street. They are attractive to look at from the outside and offer good swimming possibilities inside.

The Australian Stock Exchange http://www.asx.com.au is opposite The Rialto Building at 530 Collins Street. Visitors are welcome.

A number of old blue stone former warehouses are to be found in King Street in West Melbourne.

The imitation Gothic buildings. The ANZ bank building at 386-388 Collins Street was built in 1883 and is of Venetian Gothic Revival style. With loggias and small balconies, it has been likened to the Doge’s Palace in Venice.

Further down at 497 Collins Street is the Rialto building which was constructed in 1890. It is a featuring many Italian architectural features and, in particular, polychrome brickwork. Beautifully restored, it has been turned into a luxury hotel, Le Meridien, with the open space between it and an adjacent building being roofed over and turned into a wonderful atrium.

At 473-477 Collins Street you find the Olderfleet building which was built in 1890 and which comprises 30 offices again in Venetian Gothic style.

The Law Courts and Supreme Court Library (1885). These buildings cover the block between Lonsdale and Little Bourke streets and are built around a cobbled courtyard with the central library being crowned by an impressive dome.

The Registry Office (1872) at 280 William Street. This building used to be the Royal Mint. It is a most attractive building which is very popular with those wanting a civil wedding service.

The i-Heritage http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/info.cfm?top=16&pg=694 website is the City of Melbourne’s online database of heritage places and it allows you to search the heritage details of individual buildings in the city and in neighbouring suburbs.

 

16. Some important Melbourne churches

The seven churches of greatest interest would have to be:
St Patrick’s Cathedral http://www.melbourne.catholic.org.au/cathedral/ is built of bluestone and one of the grandest Gothic revival churches in Australia.

St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral http://www.stpaulscathedral.org.au was built in 1891 and another Gothic revival cathedral. The peace and quiet inside it contrast with the hustle and bustle outside it.

St James Old Cathedral http://home.vicnet.net.au/~mccia/stjames.html was built in 1842 (already mentioned)

St Francis Roman Catholic Church http://www.stfrancismelbourne.org in Elizabeth Street is actually Melbourne’s oldest church.

Scots Church http://www.scotschurch.com

St Michaels http://www.stmichaels.org.au at the corner of Russell Street and Collins Street are two superb polychrome brick churches, Scots Church built in 1841 by David Mitchell (the father of Nellie Melba) and St Michael’s Uniting church (built in 1867)

Collins Street Baptist Church http://www.csbc.org.au was built in 1845 and is a fine example of the Classical style with a fine Corinthian portico.

City of Melbourne Synagogue http://www.melbournecitysynagogue.com is the only Shule in the inner city area, within walking distance from the City’s hotels and hospitals, it serves as the City’s Jewish Centre.

 

17. Some interesting museums

a. The Melbourne Museum. Housing a really fine collection of objects and displays, it is located in a strikingly new building next to the Royal Melbourne Exhibition Building. Although some distance away from the city centre the Red Tourist tram will take you close enough to it for a short walk being all that is necessary to get to it. http://www.melbourne.museum.vic.gov.au

b. The Immigration Museum in the Old Customs House corner William and Flinders Street Melbourne. This elegant building with a beautifully balanced classical facade dates back to 1873. The museum not only tells the story of this very important part of our history, but it also has special exhibitions from time to time.
http://www.immigration.museum.vic.gov.au

c. Gold Treasury Museum. Spring Street Melbourne. The focus is on the gold rush and the way in which this accounted for the rapid growth of Melbourne in the second half of the 19th century,
http://www.oldtreasurymuseum.org.au

d. The Post Master Gallery Museum at 321 Exhibition Street. Saturday – Monday 12 – 5. Tuesday – Friday 10 – 5.
(enter from La Trobe St.),  Phone (03) 9204 5021 or emailpostmastergallery@auspost.com.au

e. The Melbourne Fire Services Museum at Eastern Hill, corner of Victoria Parade and Gisborne Street – see the fantastic mosaic on the side of the wall of the MFB station. Inspection times are Sunday 10-4.
http://www.alphalink.com.au/~fsmvic/

f. Jewish Museum of Australia http://www.jewishmuseum.com.au at 26 Alma rd. St. Kilda. The Jewish community also sponsors the Jewish Holocaust Centre at 15 Selwyn Street Elsternwick.

g. The Post Office Museum – 90 Swan Street Richmond. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. 10-4. Sunday, 1-5.

h. Australian Racing Museum http://www.racingmuseum.com.au Federation Square Melbourne. Devoted toone of Melbourne’s oldest pursuits, this museum has only recently opened. Hourly tours include stories from the track, scientific information about horses and their jockeys, and a look at fashions, trends and the trackside antics of punters on race days. There is also a school holiday programme for kids. Open 10am to 6pm daily.

i. The Police Museum http://www.police.vic.gov.au/content.asp?Document_ID=66This represents a repository of the force’s triumphs and tragedies. It has a suit of the Kelly Gang’s armour on display but it is not the centrepieces as the Kelly Gang had a very antagonistic attitude towards the law. Other displays include police uniforms of the past, a retired police motor cycle and communications equipment. Amongst many other things you learn that the Melbourne police force became the first in the world (in the 1920s) to use wireless communications between station and its vehicles. Phone 9247 5275. Open daily from 10am to 4pm. Free admission.

j. The HMAS Castlemaine Maritime Museum. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am to 5pm This floating nautical museum is found in a former corvette built in 1941 it is located at the Gem Pier, Nelson Parade Williamstown.

k. North Williamstown Railway Museum. Champion Road North Williamstown. On display are steam locomotives, diesel and electric locomotives, railway carriages and wagons, a signal box and rail artefacts and photographic displays. A great favourite with older visitors is H220, the steam era locomotive affectionately known as Heavy Harry. The Museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 noon to 5pm and on Wednesdays during school holidays from noon to 4pm.

 

18. City Shopping

Melbourne is generally regarded as the Australian city offering the best possibilities for shopper. Many people living in Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide come to Melbourne from time to time to do a lot of their shopping. It is essential to fit in a visit to Melbourne Central http://www.melbournecentral.com.au, and also to some of the stylish shopping Melbourne Arcadeshttp://www.melbourne.com.au/arcades.htm such as the Block Arcade and the Royal Arcade (part of the Magnificent Seven City Arcadeshttp://www.thatsmelbourne.com.au/content.asp?document_id=21907). Another interesting place to visit is the recently re-opened group of shops in the former General Post Office (GPO) http://www.gpomelbourne.com building at the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth Streets. Collins Street is where you go if you are looking for the place where you will find the largest number of the world’s best known boutique retailers.

Melbourne’s two biggest department stores are Myerhttp://www.myer.com.au/stores/vic.asp#melbourne and David Joneshttp://www.davidjones.com.au/services/stores/bourke_st.jsp, both of which face onto that section of Bourke Street which is designated as the Melbourne Mall. It does not have cars but the passage of trams could not be avoided.

 

19. Views of Melbourne

One splendid view is offered as you drive over the West Gate Bridge which rises 54 metres above the Yarra River. The best known is probably the views offered by the Melbourne Observation Deck http://www.melbournedeck.com.au which is at the top of the Rialto Towers at 525 Collins Street. This is not to be missed for an overall view of Melbourne, preferably towards the end of the visit when the visitor has some idea of the city’s layout – and on a day without too much cloud cover.

Another wonderful set of views can be found in the restaurant on the 35th Floor of the Sofitel Melbourne http://www.sofitelmelbourne.com.au (formerly known as the Regent Hotel) up the top end of Collins Street. It is often mentioned among Melbournians that there are marvellous views from the toilets. And don’t forget the view from the Shrine of Remembrance (already mentioned).

For the adventurous there is the possibility of balloon ride over Melbourne with Balloon Sunrise http://www.balloonsunrise.com.au . On landing you are taken back to the company headquarters for a Champagne Breakfast. My wife and I did this trip several years ago and were amazed at the wonderful views we had of Melbourne as we sailed serenely over our city. The same company offers a balloon flight over the Yarra Valley but, while I’m sure it is worth doing, people who have done both, have insisted that the flight over Melbourne is the better one – on the grounds that there is so much more to see.

The most recent observation point is the Eureka Building’s Skydeckhttp://www.eurekaobservationdeck.com.au with a special glass cube that seems to be suspended in the sky.

 

20. Melbourne’s beaches

They may not be the equal of Sydney’s but Melbourne is very well off in this regard as not many cities of 3.5 million people have good beaches within four kilometres of the Central Business District. From the Kerford Road beach at Middle Park there are many wonderful beaches as you head down to Sandringham and the Eastern side of Port Phillip Bay. On the Western side there are the very popular beaches at such places as Williamstown and Altona. If it is surfing that you want, more lively water can be found on the south side of the Mornington Peninsula or on the Great Ocean Road (just past Geelong and only two hours at the most from the city).

 

21. Music and entertainment

Melbourne offers a staggering range of entertainments, concerts of classical music, concerts of chamber music, opera, ballet, live theatre, jazz, rock, cinemas, night clubs etc. Information about all these activities is readily available in many places. One of the best sources of information is a special supplement which is part of the Age newspaper on Friday. It is called the EG, short for Entertainment Guide. For the young there are many night clubs particularly in the nearby suburb of Prahran and in the King Street area of the city. There are also many hotels which offer patrons rock music, pop singing groups and other forms of entertainment. Jazz is well catered for in Melbourne with a large number of Melbourne hotels offering regular concerts by a variety of Jazz groups. The best known is the Hotel Victoria in Beaconsfield Parade, Albert Park.

Equally well known is the Esplanade Hotel http://www.espy.com.au in St. Kilda, located on the Upper Esplanade of that suburb. This is a very popular hotel which offers pool (the game), refreshments, and ‘the spiritual home of Melbourne music’ on account of the number of popular bands which are featured there.

 

Things to see and do in Melbourne, Victoria Australia (within 150km of the city)

 

1. Some famous streets in the inner suburbs

Some of the streets famous for their shops, cafes, restaurants, and atmosphere are

Chapel Street, Prahran http://www.chapelstreet.com.au
Lygon Street, Carlton http://www.lygonstreet.com.au
Acland Street, St Kilda http://www.aclandst.com.au (food and pastry shops plus Jewish atmosphere)
Fitzroy Street, St Kilda http://www.fitzroyst.com.au
Carlisle Street, Balaclavahttp://www.portphillip.vic.gov.au/east_st_kilda_demographics_factsheet.html
Brunswick Street, Fitzroyhttp://www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/community/business/tradersgroups.asp
Victoria Street, Richmond http://www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/council/vision/vicst.asp

In Chapel Street make sure you visit The Jam Factoryhttp://www.thejamfactory.com.au a modern shopping complex in what used to be a jam factory. Lygon Street is particularly lively on Friday and Saturday nights. You can also find out more about your local significant streets by contacting your local council http://www.mav.asn.au.

 

2. Some interesting suburbs

There are many of these. A starting point could be Graeme Davison’s book ‘Melbourne on Foot’ which sets out walks – plus accompanying maps – for 15 or 16 of Melbourne’s older suburbs. If I had to choose several favourites I would nominate South Melbourne, Carlton and Williamstown. Helpful material is usually available. For example at the South Melbourne Town Hall a booklet can be obtained to guide you around this suburb. As for Carlton, it is covered by five walking or driving tours set out in brochures which are available at the National Trust Bookshop in Tasma Terrace.

Another visit which is strongly recommended is to St. Kilda which is based in the City of Port Phillip http://www.portphillip.vic.gov.au – (look up Things to Do). There is a wonderful promenade along the sea shore, there is Luna Parkhttp://www.lunapark.com.au , and you have what are probably Melbourne’s best cake shops in Acland Street. The atmosphere in many of the restaurants is very Eastern European and Jewish. On Sundays there is a much acclaimed open air street market. On another visit, come back and have a good look around the Australian Jewish Museum http://www.jewishmuseum.com.au – it is fascinating.

At Williamstown http://www.williamstowninfo.com.au (one of the historic walks in Graeme Davison’s book) there is a naval museum on board the minesweeper HMAS Castlemaine http://www.hmascastlemaine.com, antique shops, picnic spots and nearby, the Railways Museum, Champion Road, North Williamstownhttp://home.vicnet.net.au/~arhsvic/museum.html (which the kids always love). The Railway Museum is open Saturday, Sunday and Public holidays from 1-5, and on Wednesday during school holidays from 1-4.

The Australian National Aviation Museum http://www.aarg.com.au at Moorabbin is the oldest volunteer Aviation Museum in Australia. The free entry RAAF Museumhttp://www.raafmuseum.com.au at Point Cook can be seen (if you have time) on the same day you visit Werribee Zoo, Park, Mansion and Victorian State Rose Garden http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/1park_display.cfm?park=197 as they are all close by.

Eltham is very scenic and close by you will find Montsalvathttp://www.montsalvat.com.au It has interesting architecture and an artist’s colony on the grounds. Regular concerts are also held there in the Great Hall and there is now a good restaurant where you can have snacks or a full meal.

 

3. University Gardens

Melbourne’s three longest established universities all feature impressive gardens. A walk through the grounds of Melbourne University http://www.unimelb.edu.au (plus adjacent Newman College http://www.newman.unimelb.edu.au ), reveals how it is possible for a very varied collection of buildings to be superbly unified by means of excellent gardens and landscape. Adjacent to the University are the residential colleges which feature some good landscaping and, in the case of Newman College, some fine architecture. This college was designed by Walter Burley Griffin who designed the layout of Canberra.

The grounds of La Trobe University http://www.latrobe.edu.au (walk from the lake along the river) and Monash University http://www.monash.edu.au are well worth inspecting – particularly for those interested in native plants. Such people should also visit the Maranoa Gardenshttp://www.boroondara.vic.gov.au/thingstodo/thingstodo.asp?PageID=163 in Balwyn and the Karwarra Australian Plant Gardenhttp://www.yarraranges.vic.gov.au/karwarra/ at Kalaroma in the Dandenongs.

 

4. Zoos

The Melbourne Zoo http://www.zoo.org.au is in Elliott Avenue Parkville. It is said to be one of the best three zoos in the world. It is easily accessible from the centre of Melbourne by tram or train. With few exceptions, the animals are housed in garden settings rather than cages. In addition to possessing fine gardens, it has a number of its displays which are quite exceptional. One is the Butterfly House.

Another is the Great Flight Aviary in which a lengthy walkway, enclosed by wire mesh netting, takes you over three separate environments from rainforest to grassland. In each case you will see the birds which are to be found in these environments. There are many chances to meet the animals, macaws, pelicans, lorikeets etc. or to be present at the feeding times of the baboons, meerkats or otters.  In the summer months the zoo offers many jazz concerts in the evening. Visitors can enjoy a picnic tea (of their own making ) as they listen to the concerts. A special membership program offers good value for newcomers to Melbourne.

The Melbourne Zoo link above links to the Werribee Open Range Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary. Many newcomers have heard of the Australia Zoohttp://www.crocodilehunter.com through Steve Irwin also known as ‘The Crocodile Hunter.’ It is based in Queensland (interstate and north east of Victoria).

 

5. Heritage Properties

A visit to the National Trust http://www.nattrust.com.au properties Labassa in Caulfield, Como in South Yarra and Rippon Lea (superb gardens as well as the house) in Elsternwick. The Polly Woodside, the Old Melbourne Gaol and Governor Latrobe’s Cottage (already mentioned).

Schwerkholt Cottage http://www.whitehorse.vic.gov.au/ourcity-schwerkolt.asp(just off Whitehorse Road in Mitcham). This is an historical house which incorporates a very good historical museum and which has, nearby, the Yarra Derhan Nature walk, which is excellent.

Heide Museum of Modern Art, Park and Gallery http://www.heide.com.au(Templestowe Road, Bulleen) has lovely gardens with many outdoor sculptures, a herb garden and river views. It also has a very significant modern art gallery to which has recently been added the house which belonged originally to John and Sunday Reed who established Heide. It has been restored and left as a museum to them. Heide occupies an extremely important place in the history of Australian art because the Reeds collected around them a number of great Australian painters, people such as Sidney Nolan and John Perceval who later went on to become very famous.

Montsalvat http://www.montsalvat.com.au in Eltham has interesting architecture and it is an artist’s colony. Regular concerts are also held there in the Great Hall.

Inner City Victorian terrace houses are scattered everywhere in suburbs like South Yarra, Richmond, Fitzroy, Carlton, Albert Park, etc. They always interest overseas visitors, particularly English. Many of these are covered in Graeme Davison’s book (see below).

 

6. Markets

There are a huge number of these; two examples are St Kilda Esplanade Art and Craft Market http://www.portphillip.vic.gov.au/stkilda_esplanade_market.html and Camberwell Market http://www.sundaymarket.com.au Station Street (opposite Target carpark), Camberwell  (run by the Rotary Club of Balwyn Inc). Another fine market is the Warrandyte Community Craft Market that is held on the first Saturday of the month from 9am “ 1pm, Stiggants Reserve, Stiggant Road, Warrandyte phone 03 9844 4495 .

Once again, check with your local council as many markets are run on a regular weekend each month and quite often they run more regularly closer to Christmas in December. They are regularly promoted in local newspapers. Australian Markets and Fairs http://www.marketsandfairs.com.au lists markets and fairs all over Australia sorted by date and location or you might like to visit some Farmers Markets http://www.farmersmarkets.org.au.

 

7. Suburban parks and gardens

Parks Victoria http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au links you to parks across Victoria.  Every suburb of Melbourne has fine gardens and parks. Many of these relate to the Yarra River with those in the inner city being matched by those further from the centre. Most of them feature tracks for walkers and cyclists so that it is possible, for example, to walk or cycle from the Yarra River at Princes Bridge out to Westerfolds Park in Templestowe (35 km). From here the tracks continue as far out as Eltham and Warrandyte. In fact Melbourne is blessed with an enormous number of inter-connected tracks for these types of recreation.

The Templestowe area also has a number of excellent parks such as Banksia, Westerfolds and Finns Reserve. Two other fine areas are Studley Park (with the Fairfield boathouse) and the walk along the Boulevard between Burnley Gardens past Leonda to the Yarra River.

Dandenong Valley Parks constitute four separate reserves which now combine as a playground for those living in Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs. Probably the best (and certainly most well known) is Jells Park in Wheelers Hill which has a Visitors’ Centre, a wildlife lake, a discovery trail, a tree trail, walking and cycling tracks, picnic facilities and a modest café-restaurant.

A drive or walk around the Bellbird District in South Blackburn (which is quite unique). The walk can be extended to take in the very pleasant environment around Blackburn Lake http://www.whitehorse.vic.gov.au/services-parks-blackburnlake.asp.

Caribbean Gardens and Market http://www.caribbeangardens.com.au at Ferntree Gully Road, Scoresby, is a large leisure centre complex with 120 hectares of lakes, islands and gardens. Rides include paddle steamer, Nautilus submarine, speedboats, five kilometre train ride, plus chair lift rides over the park.

 

8. Collingwood Children’s Farm

The Collingwood Children’s Farm http://www.childrensfarm.websyte.com.au in St Hellier’s Street Abbotsford. This working farm on the banks of the Yarra is not far from the city centre but you’ll feel as if you’re well clear of the big smoke. Visitors can feed the animals, have a picnic, do some farm chores, take in a tour or witness the twice daily milking routine. My main source of information considers it the ‘most enjoyable, well thought out, beautifully located produce market I’ve been to.’ Open 9am to 5pm daily.

 

9. The Heidelberg School Artists’ Trail

The Heidelberg School Artists’ Trail http://www.heidelbergschoolartiststrail.com is a 40 kilometre trail that pays tribute to a group of late 19th century artists who fell in love with the region’s rolling hills, river valleys and rustic architecture and brought them to life on canvas. It is possible to see this beautiful region through the eyes of artists like Arthur Streeton, Walter Withers, Louis Buvelot and Tom Roberts.

The Heidelberg School was the first significant art movement in Australia. The name originated in July 1891 when the art critic Sidney Dickinson wrote a review of an exhibition of works by Walter Withers and Arthur Streeton. He noted that since these artists had painted mainly in the Heidelberg area, they could be said to have created the Heidelberg School. Since then it has taken on a wider meaning and covers Australian artists of the late 19th century who practised plein air painting. The trail can be done by a combination of car and walking or else by cycling. Maps can be obtained form Parks Victoria telephone 13 1963. The trail features 52 interpretative signs located on or very near the site where the artist painted or lived.

 

10. Inner City Victorian Terrace Houses

Inner City Victorian terrace houses. These are scattered every where in suburbs like South Yarra, Richmond, Fitzroy, Carlton, Albert Park, etc. They always interest overseas visitors, particularly English. Many of these are covered in Graeme Davison’s book.

 

Things to see and do in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (within 150km)

 

1. The Dandenongs

Just a drive anywhere in the Dandenongs http://www.bluedandenongs.com.au(general information on the Dandenongs) is agreeable, with the lovely forests, lush vegetation, beautiful gardens, winding roads, and lovely views. There are also many specific points of interest. A map is absolutely essential for this area as the roads tend to wind around a lot.

– A trip on Puffing Billy from Belgrave to Emerald Lake Parkhttp://www.emeraldlakepark.com.au and now on to Gembrook (the original terminus of the line). As the trip is rather slow, a good idea is for one adult to drive from Belgrave to Emerald while the other members of the party go on Puffing Billyhttp://www.puffingbilly.com.au . You can then drive home from Emerald.
– Ferntree Gully State Park and the One Tree Hill lookout.
– Sherbrooke Forest, its walking tracks and waterfalls – you might even see a lyrebird.
– William Rickett’s Sanctuary at Kalorama. There are carvings of aborigines and aboriginal motifs, displayed in a wonderful area of rain forest.
– The Olinda State Forest.
– Silvan dam. A really pretty spot. Nearby is the famous tulip farm, much visited in spring.
– Kalorama Park – a good spot for a picnic with superb views of Silvan dam, and a most interesting nature walk.
– The Karwarra Australian Plant Gardenhttp://www.yarraranges.vic.gov.au/karwarra/ (which is superb) at Kalorama. Open Tues – Fri 10am – 4pm and weekends and public holidays 1-4pm or visit
– National Rhododendron Gardens near Olinda. These are absolutely outstanding. Open every day except, I think, Good Friday and Christmas Day. With the range of trees and plants they have, there is always something of interest for the viewer.
– The Ridge road, including Mount Dandenong and Burke’s lookout: also the Mt Dandenong arboretum and most interesting Edward Henty cottage (about 1km north of Olinda at the junction of Main Rd and Ridge Rd).
– The drive from Upper Ferntree Gully through Ferny Creek to the Nicholas Memorial Gardens (also known as Burnham Beeches). About 1.5kms away is the also superb garden known as the George Tindale Memorial Gardens. Open most days.
– Mont de Lancey at Wandin is a historic house with garden, museum, chapel and 1880s kitchen. The home dates from 1882. Phone. O3 5964 2088.

Parkweb http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au has a wide variety of information on gardens and parks in Victoria.

 

2. Geelong

Geelong http://www.geelongcity.vic.gov.au is is Victoria’s second biggest city.  It is only 70 km. from Melbourne has a lot to offer the visitor. Many of its attractions are close to the waterfront which has been turned into a most attractive area with a large number of attractively painted bollards which represent people who have played an important part in Geelong’s history. Close to or on the waterfront are the Geelong Memorial Art Gallery, the National Wool Museum, the Geelong Maritime Museum and the Geelong Botanical Gardens. There are also two very fine National Trust Properties Barwon Grange and the Heights.

Geelong is the gateway to one of Victoria’s most famous tourist attractions, the Great Ocean Road which is a really spectacular road with wonderful wild scenery, some beautiful rain forests and a great number of wonderful beaches, many of which are enjoyed to the full by surfers. Bell’s Bay near Geelong is where the World Surfing Championships are held each year. Close to Geelong is the resort of Torquay, also a centre for surfing and also for manufacturing surfing gear, particularly the Rip Curl brand. Torquay also has the Surfworld Surfing Museumhttp://www.surfworld.org.au which claims to be the world’s largest surfing museum and the home of Australia’s surfing heritage. The museum features surf and beach memorabilia, a wave making tank, interactive videos, a video theatre, hands on displays, the technology of shaping surfboards, and much more.

 

3. The old gold mining towns

It is impossible to understand the history of Victoria unless you have some idea of the incredible impact the Gold Rush had on this state (and country). Here is a small sample of recommended places to visit.

Ballarat http://www.ballarat.com – Sovereign Hill Folk Museum (probably the best of this type in Australia); the splendid gold museum which is opposite; Lake Wendouree, Montrose Cottage, Eureka Museum, Priscilla’s Cottage, Old Curiosity Shop, Paddle cruise on Lake Wendouree, Adam Lindsay Gordon’s Cottage, Vintage tram ride. Ballarat also has many lovely old Victorian houses and terraces.
A short distance from Ballarat is Cressy, itself an interesting old historical town. Just out of Cressy is the prehistoric park, which children always enjoy. Saturday and Sunday 9:30-6.

Bendigo http://www.bendigo.vic.gov.au (which is about 150 km. from Melbourne). This old gold mining town offers a lot to lovers of history. There are many fine civic buildings plus the chance to ride on historic trams, a visit to a gold wine (Central Deborah), a visit to a Chinese temple (Joss House), a visit to the Catholic cathedral etc.

Maldon http://www.maldon.org.au. This whole town has been preserved as a National Trust town and thus wonderfully expresses what a town was like in the Gold Rush era. Maldon also boasts the Victorian Goldfields Railway which, using steam engines except on days of total fire ban, runs trains between Maldon and Castlemaine.

Castlemaine http://www.maldoncastlemaine.com . Just two of the many attractions offered by this town and its surrounding district are its wonderful 19th century Market Building (now used to house a display on the Gold Rush era) and its superb regional Art Gallery.

 

4. The Healesville Sanctuary

The Healesville Sanctuary http://www.zoo.org.au/visiting.cfm?zoo_id=2 displays 200 species of Australian wildlife in 31 hectares of natural bush. Many wild animals also live in the grounds. The sanctuary started off as a research institute and opened to visitors in 1934. Today it has breeding programmes for more than 20 threatened species, conducts scientific research both in captivity and in the wild, and is developing new techniques for restoring wild life habitats. It offers a large number of special attractions eg. a presentation of Birds of Prey, the chance to meet the keeper of the Koalas, the keeper of the Platypuses, the keeper of the reptiles etc.

A suggested day trip to the East of Melbourne offers lunch at the Maroondah damhttp://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au, a drive up the Maroondah Highway to Black Spur, (taking in the superb Mountain Ash forest), and then back to the Healesville Sanctuary. Another lovely nearby picnic spot is the Badger Creek Weir.

 

5. Organ Pipes National Park

A visit to the Organ Pipes National Park http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au (near Keilor) and thus really within the metropolitan area.

 

6. Hanging Rock

A picnic to Hanging Rock http://www.macedon-ranges.vic.gov.au (look up tourism), site of events which occur in a famous Australian novel and film. This could be combined with the historically interesting and nearby town of Kynetonhttp://www.kyneton.org. There is an 1862 working mill Saturday and Sunday 11-5, Museum (Piper Street) Saturday 1:30-4:30, Carriage Museum 42 Piper Street, Saturday and Sunday 10-5.

 

7. Daylesford

A one day outing to Daylesford http://www.visitdaylesford.com (a picturesque old town with superb Botanical Gardens). Nearby is Mount Franklin an interesting extinct volcano and Hepburn Springs – an old spa town with lovely gardens and a wide range of spa facilities.

 

8. Warburton

A trip to Warburton http://www.tourism.warburton-ranges.net.au , taking in Mt Donna Buang and the Upper Yarra dam. A big attraction related to Warburton is the Warburton Trail which links Lilydale and Warburton and which has turned the route of the long closed railway line into a superb trail for cyclists and walkers. Having walked on it I can recommend it – it is certainly fully used by large numbers of people out to walk or cycle.

 

9. Werribee Park

The centrepiece of Werribee Park http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au is the stately mansion, the old home of the Chirnside family. It later became a seminary (it was here that the film ‘The Devil’s Playground’ was made) , before being bought by the State Government which in turn sold it to a hotel company which runs it today as a luxury Mansion Hotel http://www.mansionhotel.com.au. But it is possible to walk to  a tour of the building and also to wander in its excellent rose gardens and enjoy the other attractions of this district. The two principal ones are the Werribee Open Range Zoo http://www.zoo.org.au/visiting.cfm?zoo_id=3 and the National Aeronautical Museum http://www.raafmuseum.com.au at the Point Cook RAAF base (free entry). For anyone interested in aircraft, flying and Australia’s aviation history, it offers a lot. On certain days there are flying displays at lunchtime.

The Open Range zoo is set on 200 hectares of grassy plains and sweeping river terraces. You can enjoy a 50 minute guided safari and thus gain close up views of animals such as rhinoceros, giraffe, antelopes, hippos etc. Or you can take a wander along walking trails. It is open every day of the year from 9 to 5. As for the Mansion and the open range zoo, there are tickets which combine both these visits. For other attractions in Melbourne’s West see http://www.wyndham.vic.gov.au andhttp://www.melbwest.com.au (look up tourism section).

 

10. Emu Bottom Homestead

Emu Bottom Homestead http://www.emubottom.com.au is near Sunbury. This is a historic homestead which functions mainly, these days, as a restaurant.

Also at Sunbury is one of the most important colonial homesteads, Rupertswoodhttp://www.rupertswood.com. Built in 1874 by Sr William Clark it is a truly grand mansion and, although it has been converted into a luxury hotel, can still be visited. Cricket lovers will learn that for many years all visiting English teams used to play a match here. It was during one of these matches in 1882 when the famous Ashes match took place in a paddock adjacent to the mansion. The burning of a cricket bail, the ashes of which were presented in a small urn to the English captain came about as a result of an obituary in an English newspaper following England’s first loss on English soil in a test match to Australia.

 

11. Yarra Valley

A tour of the Yarra Valley Wineries http://www.yarravalleywineries.asn.au, including the Kellybrook Winery http://www.kellybrookwinery.com.au Champagne Cider establishment, near Wonga Park. Most of them have tasting facilities and restaurants. If you drive from Lilydale you can access wineries by driving up the highway to Yea (Melba highway) or to Healesville or to Warburton. All these drives offer lovely rural views. Many of the Yarra Valley wineries have concerts, often jazz, in their garden areas.  Yarra Ranges Tourism http://www.yarrarangestourism.comand Yarra Valley Food http://www.yarravalleyfood.com.au websites offer more information.

 

12. Marysville

Marysville http://www.marysvilletourism.com and its surrounds. Many lovely walks, including Stevenson’s Falls. Cumberland Scenic Reserve. 16kms east of Marysville.

 

13. The Wilhelmina Falls

The Wilhelmina Falls http://www.cute.com.au/yea/attractions.html are near Yea.

 

14. The King Lake National Park

The King Lake National Park http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au is featured in the excellent book ‘Family walkabouts near Melbourne’ edited by Don Baker. This area offers magnificent rain forest, a superb waterfall (Mason’s Falls) and many lovely walks.

 

15. Yan Yean Reservoir

Yan Yean Reservoir http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au and also the nearby Kourrong Reservoir, both near Whittlesea.

 

16. Phillip Island

Phillip Island http://www.phillipisland.net.au and the evening Penguin Paradehttp://www.penguins.org.au.

Scenically the best parts are the coast near Cape Woolamai and between the Summerland Beach (the penguin beach) and The Nobbies (Seal Rocks).

Churchill Island http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au – access from Phillip Island – history and scenic beauty.

 

17. Trentham and Blackwood

The countryside around Trentham and Blackwood. Near Blackwood are the splendid gardens of St Erth, established by Tom Garnett, once the Age’s gardening writer. They now belong to the family who own the Herronswood gardens on the Mornington Peninsula.

 

18. The Lerderderg Gorge

The Lerderderg Gorge is near Bacchus Marsh and this is a favourite spot with bush walkers.

 

19. Mount Macedon

Mount Macedon http://www.macedon-ranges.vic.gov.au has a fascinating range of gardens and views. Also Barringo Wildlife Reserve, Barringo Road. Daily 10-6.

 

20. Serendip Wildlife Research Station

Serendip Wildlife Research Station http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au (Windemere Road, Lara). It is a research farm run by the fisheries and wildlife division of the Ministry of Conservation. Tours every Friday at 10:30 and 1:30.

 

21. Coal Creek historical village

Coal Creek Historical Village http://www.coalcreekvillage.com.au is near Korumburra, about 100kms SE of Melbourne, on the South Gippsland Highway.

 

22. Old Gippsland Folk Museum

The Old Gippsland Folk Museum http://www.gippslandinfo.com.au at Moe. Daily 9-5. 144kms east of Melbourne. If you visit Moe it is worthwhile also having a look at the historic gold mining town of Walhalla and the Thompson Dam.

 

23. Puckapunyal Royal Australian Armoured Corps Memorial and Tank Museum

The Royal Australian Armoured Corps Memorial and Tank Museumhttp://www.armytankmuseum.com.au hosts a collection of 79 armoured vehicles and indoor displays featuring priceless relics from the Light Horse era through to the Vietnam War. The Museum is open daily from 10 to 4.

 

24. Bylands Tramways Museum

The Bylands Tramways Museum http://www.railpage.org.au/tram/museums.html is near Kilmore. It is open Sun 11-5. Kilmore has many interesting historic buildings and was the first town to be established in Victoria inland from Melbourne.

 

25. Bellarine Peninsula Steam Train

The Bellarine Peninsula Steam Train http://www.bpr.org.au museum line is based in Queenscliff. Trains run every Sunday and public holiday throughout the year. Queenscliff is a lovely old town with many historic buildings and a magnificently preserved fort overlooking the Heads.

 

26. Mornington Peninsula

The Mornington Peninsula http://www.mornpen.vic.gov.au andhttp://www.peninsulapages.com is approximately one hour from Melbourne.

Coolart on Sandy Point Road, Balnarring is an historic estate and conservation reserve on the Mornington Peninsula, 80kms from Melbourne. 11-5 Sun, Tues, Wed, Thurs.
The Rosebud Marine and Reptile Park (Nepean Hwy Rosebud) Daily 10-5.
McCrae cottage – a historic settler’s cottage (National Trust).
Arthur’s Seat – great views and lovely gardens – can be accessed by a chairlift.
The Briars (near Dromana) – another settler’s cottage with a priceless collection of Napoleana; adjacent to it is an area with well sign posted walks.
Mulberry Hill (at Baxter) – A National Trust property it was once the home of the artist and Director of the National Gallery of Victoria Daryl Lindsay and his wife Joan Lindsay the novelist.
Herronswood gardens – magnificent gardens with views of the sea. The plants are all exotics and it is at its best from November to March.
Wineries. Most of them produce wine which is fairly expensive but many have splendid views eg. Red Hill Estate near Shoreham.
Point Nepean National Park – only open for 10 or so years, it covers the many fortifications built in the 19th and 20th centuries which were meant to protect (and which overlook) the Heads. Also covered in this end section of the Mornington Peninsula is the old Quarantine building which can be inspected on certain days only. The visit takes about two hours and is full of interest.
The Mornington Peninsula Gallery. Civic Reserve Dunns road Mornington.
Nedlands Lavender Farm. 500 Old Moorooduc Road Tuerong. Historic farm with expanding lavender fields. Pen Wed. – Sunday 10-30 – 5. Jan 7 days.

 

27. Langwarrin

Langwarrin near Cranbourne SE of Melbourne has two big attractions. The country branch of the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens. These focus on Australian native plants and The McLelland Gallery and Sculpture Park at 390 McLelland Drive, Langwarrin 03 9789 1671.

 

28. Gulf Station at Yarra Glen

Gulf Station at Yarra Glen is another National Trust property this is one of the pioneer farms of the Yarra Valley whose buildings date from 1850 and which constitute the most complete group of solid, timber slab farm buildings still to be seen in Victoria.