For volunteers working overseas at one of our placements in Australia then the metropolitan city of Melbourne is somewhere you will definitely visit! Every Lattitude volunteer arriving in Australia will spend their first few days in Melbourne for their orientation where they will take part in workshops, meet fellow volunteers and explore the sights. Having spent some time in Melbourne myself, and in conjunction with some former volunteers, here are some suggestions of things to do whilst you are in this wonderful city.
1. Eureka Sydeck
Visit Eureka Skydeck on Level 88 of the Eureka Tower for awe inspiring views of Melbourne! The observation deck is the largest public vantage point in the Southern Hemisphere and is the only observation deck in the world to feature The Edge – a glass cube which projects 3 metres out from the tower!
2. City Circle Tram
Trams are a major form of public transport – in fact, the Melbourne tramway is the largest urban tramway network in the world! Hop on the City Circle Tram (Route 35) to travel for FREE around central Melbourne! The City Circle route stops at many of the city’s landmarks and major attractions such as the City Museum, Parliament House, Docklands, Federation Square and Melbourne aquarium. An audio commentary means that you can use the City Circle Tram as a ‘hop on – hop off’ tour and spend all day visiting Melbourne’s attractions completely for free!
3. Street Art Laneways
Look up and look about you when you’re walking around! Melbourne’s street art is internationally renowned so be sure to explore one of the world’s biggest (and free!) living art exhibitions. Once you’ve experienced the city by tram, hop off and explore Melbourne on foot to discover the notorious street art laneways, alleys and arcades. Street mural hotspots include Hosier Lane, Union Lane and Rutledge Lane, amongst many others. Why not go on a free walking tour to ensure you don’t miss out!
Melbourne is known as Australia’s cultural capital and its mix of international influences certainly make the city a serious culinary hotspot. Head to Degraves Street to sip coffee in one of the many alfresco cafés, try Lygon Street in Little Italy for delicious Italian restaurants and for dumplings visit the various dumpling houses in China Town! Chocolate lovers – I highly recommend Max Brenner Chocolate Bar for thick hot chocolate, milkshakes and desserts… and if you’re on a budget looking for something cheap and familiar from home there’s always Macca’s (McDonald’s in Melbourne even says “Macca’s” on the sign)!
5. Queen Victoria Market
Visit Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne’s favourite shopping destination, where you can wander round the heritage sheds for an authentic bustling inner-city market experience. Spread over two city blocks, ‘Vic Market’ is the largest open air market in the southern hemisphere. The market is a historic landmark and has been the heart and soul of Melbourne for more than a century. You can shop for everything from Australian fruit and vegetables, and local and imported gourmet foods, to cosmetics, clothing and souvenirs. There’s even a 90 minute ‘Ultimate Foodie Tour’ – a small group walking tour for food lovers where you get to sample the best food the market has to offer.
6. Visit Melbourne’s Beautiful Gardens
Make time to visit Melbourne’s abundant parks and leafy gardens. Stroll through the Treasury Gardens adjacent to Old Treasury House or go to Fitzroy Gardens to check out Cook’s Cottage (which was transported from the Yorkshire village where Captain James Cook was born!). The beautiful landscaped Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne attract over 1,800,000 visitors annually and are well worth a visit. If you’re in Melbourne in the summer be sure to keep an eye out for events held at the Royal Botanic Gardens and experience the lawns come alive with outdoor cinema, theatre performances and exhibitions.
7. See some Sport!
In addition to being the cultural capital, Melbourne is also recognised as the sporting capital of Australia (or even the world!). The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is Australia’s largest, oldest and most popular sporting venue. It is often used to host many blockbuster music concerts and also houses the National Sports Museum, which includes some of the most priceless pieces of memorabilia in Australian sporting history. If you’re in Melbourne in January make sure you see the Australian Open! When I was in Melbourne a few years ago I was able to purchase reasonably cheap tickets for the first week of the competition without knowing in advance who was likely to be playing on the days I had tickets. By chance, I was able to see Andy Murray and Roger Federer both playing in the Rod Laver Arena early on in the competition, as well as Tsonga and Venus and Serena Williams on other courts in Melbourne Park! If you’re not able to purchase tickets, the matches are broadcast on a big screen in Federation square where you can watch for free!
8. St Kilda
Just 6km from the city centre, St Kilda is Melbourne’s seaside playground and most popular beach. Whether you want to be next to or in the water, St Kilda is full of fun things to do. Rollerblade along the foreshore, go kite or paddle boarding, sky dive onto the beach, rustle up a game of beach volleyball, enjoy an ocean swim or lie on the beach and read a book! If you fancy shopping, the Sunday St Kilda Esplanade Market is one of St Kilda’s, and Melbourne’s, most celebrated markets selling creations from sauces and jams to paintings and drawings. It stretches from the Luna Park ‘big mouth’ all the way down the Esplanade, making its location among the beach and the palm trees unique and picturesque! If you’re more of a thrill seeker then Luna Park is a historic beachfront amusement park that has been attracting visitors since 1912! Once you’ve finished your adventures for the day head over to Fitzroy St or Acland St where you’ll find a mix of wine bars and summery outdoor terraces that will certainly satisfy every taste bud with the array of cuisines on offer in this foodie paradise. If you’re not ready to stray too far from the beach then why not grab stuff for a ‘barbie’ as the sun sets with the communal BBQ located on the beachfront! Don’t forget to take a stroll along the pier to catch a glimpse of the penguins!
9. Drive the Great Ocean Road!
Drive the Great Ocean Road and experience one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives. See the world-famous waves at Bells Beach and the towering 12 Apostles are not to be missed – craggy limestone stacks that rise majestically from the Southern Ocean. Get up close to native wildlife, pristine rainforest and misty waterfalls as you go. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for Koalas in the trees as you admire the stunning coastline! The Great Ocean Road begins a 90 minute drive from Melbourne’s city centre and spans 400 kilometres (249 miles) from the town of Torquay to Nelson on the South Australian border. There are plenty of Great Ocean Road tours available ranging from day trips, 3 night stays or complete packages from Melbourne to Adelaide stopping at the Grampians National Park.
10. Yarra Valley
Located just over an hour’s drive east of Melbourne, the Yarra Valley is a wine region home to more than 50 wineries, cute country towns, markets and even microbreweries. The region is best known for producing Chardonnay, sparkling wine and Pinot noir. Book onto a cheap Yarra Valley day-trip to taste wine at a selection of wineries, or if wine isn’t your thing visit Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery!
Did you find this article informative? Is there anything else you would add? We always love to hear from former volunteers or fellow travellers. Please comment on our Facebook page!