I was in Melbourne, Australia for a grand total of three days, in between flying in and out of Gold Coast. With that short a time, I didn’t get to do very much, but what I managed to accomplish in these three days did give me a good glimpse of Melbourne. If you are pressed for time, just like I was, you might want to consider giving these five activities a shot!
1. Free Walking Tour of Melbourne (http://www.imfree.com.au/melbourne/index.html)
This was probably the best discovery of the trip. I can’t remember how I came across it, but this is honestly one of the best ways to be introduced to the city of Melbourne. The tour will bring you through most of the Melbourne CBD, and there will be a lot of walking with only one short break so make sure you wear comfortable shoes. (I wore my high-heeled boots because I had no time to change after I got off my flight. How smart.)
Our guide was a very nice young lady who called herself Flick. Surprisingly there was quite a sizeable crowd that also turned up for the tour, with most of them being Europeans. We didn’t get to interact much with the rest, but Flick herself was very approachable, friendly and helpful. In the short span of three hours, we saw and heard all there was to know about Melbourne – its history, laneways, art and people.
Along Hosier Lane.
Just a word of caution – the guide will go into quite a bit on the history of locations and provide quite a bit of information, so if you are totally not interested in that, you might just want to do your own sight-seeing. As for me, I loved the tour, it gave me not only a comprehensive crash course on Melbourne, but showed me Melbourne through the eyes of a local with the guide throwing in tidbits like “oh there’s a great cafe by the corner” and “this restaurant is really popular”. Best of all, it’s completely free! (We did give a small tip since it was within our means, but we did see some who did not give any, so I guess it’s all about what you are comfortable with.)
Melbourne is a coffee-lover’s heaven. Every corner we turned, we saw a cafe. And at every cafe I was, the cuppa would be an enjoyable one. Unfortunately, due to my limited time there, and limited capacity for caffeine (before I began bouncing off walls), I only managed a total of four cafes. Two of which are crowd favourites – Hardware Societe and Manchester Press. Both of these cafes also happen to be in laneways.
3. Day trip to Mornington Peninsula
This isn’t exactly in the city itself, but you can do it within a day! Nearly everyone who has been to Melbourne on a holiday will tell you, go to Great Ocean Road. If I had time, I would have gone too. But I didn’t, so we had to choose between a day trip out to the Great Ocean Road or a day trip out to the Mornington Peninsula. We chose the latter instead because we were enticed by the fact that we were able to head to wineries along the way.
The Mornington Peninsula is incredibly scenic and was definitely a welcome reprive away from the hustle and bustle of the city. As part of our day tour that we booked through Experience OZ, we visited the seaside down of Portsea the Point Nepean National Part, Cups Estate Winery, the Mornington Peninsula Chocolates (chilli chocolate anyone?) and the Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens. Several of the people we were with, took options such as the Peninsula Hot Springs or diving with the dolphins at Sorrento. I would have loved to do the diving option if it weren’t Spring and so cold! I’ll let the photos do the talking as to how scenic Mornington was!
This was an accidental addition to our itinerary, but a very pleasant one. I loved the architecture of St. Kilda’s and how it was full of cafes, bars and vintage stores, all brimming with their own character. We went there with an Aussie friend, who was working in Melbourne, by tram at about 3 in the afternoon on a Friday and grabbed some Froyo. When more of his friends came, they suggested that we begin bar-hopping, and so we did. Over the course of the evening, from five to nine, we weaved in and out of several bars housed near each other along the same main street. It was a rather interesting experience and something I’d gladly do all over again.If coffee is more your thing, you can also spend the morning cafe-hopping there, followed by visiting Luna Park and St. Kilda’s Beach.
I wasn’t intending to do any shopping, but with so many shops like Sportsgirl (which we no longer have in Singapore), Forever New and the departmental store David Jones beckoning to me as I walked down Bourke Street Mall, how could I not? It was there that I spent an entire morning and half an afternoon weaving in and out of the shops, crossing over the road to any shop that caught my eye. (Had to watch out for the trams that passed through though!)
The apartment was newly-opened when we first stayed there, so it was very clean, with the decor being very moden and minimalist. Almost every staff (save for one who gave us wrong directions) that we met were very friendly and provided us with advice very readily. There is also a cafe right at the ground floor of the apartment, so yay for all of us caffeine addicts! I’d definitely choose to stay there again if I head back to Melbourne.