We had three stops in Australia (Melbourne, Tasmania, Sydney). Melbourne followed a wonderful 6.5 weeks in New Zealand, but an exhausting 6.5 weeks since we were changing spots every few days. Melbourne was a time for us to relax, rest, and prep for Tasmania via camper van. We played new board games (and some oldies). We cooked a lot! We watched some movies. And we slowly explored our surroundings. We rented a wonderful apartment in the Southbank District with tram and bus stops just a few minutes away. Here are some of the highlights of our days in Melbourne.
Melbourne Cricket Grounds
We didn’t know anything about cricket….but we figured it out as we watched. And we had a great time and Australia won! If you need a primer on cricket, check out this link (Guide to Cricket). By the way, that website would have made the game much easier to follow. Simply put, Melbourne Cricket Grounds is pretty impressive. And this is from a Dallas Cowboy Fan that has been to AT&T Stadium quite a few times. I just researched the stadium, and the “G” wins- sorry Jerry Jones. The Crick Grounds are located in Yarra Park which was walking distance from our apartment. It is the largest stadium in Australia, the 10th largest stadium in the world, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, the largest cricket ground by capacity, and the tallest light towers of any sporting arena. Also in Yarra Park are several other arenas/venues; so the night we were heading to the cricket game, others were heading to a concert.
City Circle Tram
Melbourne has trams as part of its public transport; that is not the cool part. The cool part is that the “City Circle Tram” runs along a loop through the CBD and is free! There is audio commentary along this route (think of the Hop On/Hop Off Tour Bus concept). We didn’t ride the complete loop at one time but over our 10 days in Melbourne, we rode the entire loop.
Walking up and down the alleys
Melbourne is famous for its laneways and arcades. Alleys would pop up as you walked down the street full of cafes and boutiques. It was wonderful to just wander around and explore. Each “alley” and street seemed to have its own personality. If you want to hit all the “big arcades” then find a walking tour or a map online. We just wandered!
Block Arcade- This passageway is a L-shaped corridor, connecting Collins Street, Elizabeth Street, and Little Collins Street and then connecting to a pedestrian lane. It is home to several boutiques and cafes. Every time we walked past, there was a line outside Hopetoun Tea Room. The arcade which was erected between 1891 and 1893 was designed by architect David C. Askew. The result is a beautiful interior with mosaic tiled flooring, glass canopy, wrought iron and carved stone finishings. The exterior façade of the six storey office has nearly identical facades on Collins and Elizabeth Streets and is one of Australia’s best surviving examples of the Victorian Mannerist style.
Royal Arcade- This arcade (which opened in 1870) is the oldest surviving arcade in Australia and connects Little Collins, Elizabeth Street, and the Bourke Street Mall. It is also replete with ornate decor and flooded with sunlight. It is well-outfitted shopping area with boutiques, gift shops, and cafes.
Queen Victoria Markets (both day and night)
We visited this open air market during the evening for a late dinner after a “Zoo Run” and during the day for shopping. At night, food stalls lined the open market and live music was heard everywhere. Each of us picked a different type of food stall for our “post-race” treat. During the day, there was an assortment of crafts, toys, fruit, vegetables being sold from stalls.
St. Kilda Beach
We headed to St Kilda’s Beach for two reasons. It was hot and the idea of swimming in the ocean sounded wonderful. And there is a colony of penguins! We found ONE penguin nestled between some rocks (which is better than any of our attempted penguin sightings in NZ). The colony is located between rocks at the very end of a pier at the beach. Although there is usually a few penguins in the rocks, it is best to go at sunset. And we went in the middle of the afternoon! But we were rewarded with a cool-down in the water.
Truth be told- this reservation was the driving force for adding Melbourne to the itinerary! We are foodies….undeniably. Netflix’s Chef’s Table introduced us to Ben Shewry and Attica. It is the only Australian Restaurant on the Top 50 listing (Worlds 50 Best). Many thanks over and over again to Stephen for securing this reservation. Chef Shewry embraces locally sourced food (including flora, fauna, proteins) but the food is approachable and quirky. We have eaten at many Top 50 Restaurants and several Michelin stars and I have discovered that I enjoy the dinners that aren’t just about the formality but present flavours in new and innovative ways. Central, Alinea, WD50 instantly pop into my mind as examples. The meal was incredible and simply the best BBQ sausages ever! We left our table and were led outside for this backyard grill course- complete with beer and music. We haven’t always brought our children along for the higher end dinner experiences- but the menu was approachable and our 15 yo and 12 yo both enjoyed the meal as well (except for the ants).
We spent an afternoon walking around the Docklands as we made our way to a small theatre for an afternoon magic show. Our son “dabbles” in magic tricks and we thought a small show would be fun for all. Three out of the four of us ended up on stage at some point. Stephen then spent the next 2 days dissecting the magic.
Several runs for Jeni. Priscilla Queen of the Desert for the family. National Gallery of Victoria for free! And we found a Target.