Melbourne

Posted on October 16, 2019



Visiting Melbourne: Happiest City in the World



If you're looking to visit an urban city renowned for its art and diversity; you've got to check out the beautiful city of Melbourne. Located in the southeast of Australia, Victoria's coastal capital is vibrant and packed with attractions suitable for everyone's enjoyment; making it an excellent destination for all ages and budgets.

Regularly voted as one of the most liveable cities in the world, and the happiest city (2019), Melbourne is a must-visit.

[Links and opening hours are listed at the bottom.]



The City



Explore around the CBD to find beautiful architectures and artsy laneways where each corner is an insta-worthy spot.

Highlights (Must-Visit):

  • Flinders Station
  • St. Paul's Cathedral (For photo-taking in the cathedral, it's $5 for phones and small cameras; and $10 for DSLR's and tripods)
  • Hosier Lane
  • Block Arcade
  • Victoria State Library
  • QV Market

Although the streets in the CBD can get pretty crowded, feel free to take a walk around the city as the sights are mostly within walking distances. However, you may also opt to take the trams available (it's free within the city and docklands). Keep an eye out for vintage trams and carriages pulled by horses passing by whilst you're on the streets!

The streets are lined with various cafes and restaurants for you to choose from. Brace yourselves as the portion sizes tend to be larger than average (compared to the portions in most Asian countries).

Melbourne is also well-known for its coffee so do give it a go when you're in town!



Southbank



Check out the Yarra River that flows right through the city of Melbourne. From the city, you may get to the banks of the river and visit SEA-Life Melbourne. This interactive ocean adventure is a great experience for your friends and family.

Cross the river from the city and explore the Southbank.

Take a look inside the National Gallery of Victoria when you're in Southbank. Do plan your visit and check for events/exhibitions that may be going on during your visit.

Next to the gallery, you'll be able to spot the State Theatre and the Gardens across the street.


Take a short walk east (less than 10 minutes) to the Eureka Skydeck and enjoy the gorgeous view of the city from the tallest building in Melbourne (second tallest in Australia). You may go during the day or choose to take a night trip (like I did) and enjoy a sunset from the height leading to watching the lights from the city illuminating the now-dark skies.

For those of you who may be interested, the world-famous Crown Casino (and Crown Tower) is also located in the area (10 minutes walk from Eureka Skydeck). Located on the south bank of the Yarra River, this luxurious establishment is a sight to see.

[Note: Please check the dress code and the minimum required age to enter is 18 years old.]



Docklands



West of the CBD (15 minutes by tram), Docklands is perfect for a relaxing stroll to enjoy the beautiful view. Take a walk by waters and be sure to have your camera ready to get some nice shots.

Melbourne Stadium (A.K.A. Marvel Stadium) is located across the streets from the docks. Check for events happening at the stadium on Google or on their website.

North of the docks is where the Melbourne Star is located (next to Costco; 10 minutes by tram from Marvel Stadium). Take a ride and enjoy the view of Melbourne in an observation wheel.

If you're looking to do some shopping, go south and across the river (10 minutes by tram from Marvel Stadium; 10 minutes by tram from the city) to DFO South Wharf (west of Crown Casino) for some great deals! Available brands vary from Calvin Klein to Vans to Superdry to Tommy Hilfiger.



Beaches



Get your shades and beachwear ready as the weather warms up for the year end. Make sure you check the weather forecast beforehand as Melbourne weather is as unpredictable as the plot of GoT.

Going south from the city (25-30 minutes by tram), St. Kilda and Brighton are where the popular beaches are at. Head to the Kilda Pier for some photos by the pier with the city of Melbourne in your background. You should also try your luck to spot some penguins at St. Kilda Beach.

Check out the Yarra River that flows right through the city of Melbourne. From the city, you may get to the banks of the river and visit SEA-Life Melbourne. This interactive ocean adventure is a great experience for your friends and family.

Cross the river from the city and explore the Southbank.

Take a look inside the National Gallery of Victoria when you're in Southbank. Do plan your visit and check for events/exhibitions that may be going on during your visit.

Next to the gallery, you'll be able to spot the State Theatre and the Gardens across the street.


10 minutes drive (35-40minutes by bus/tram from St. Kilda) south of St. Kilda is where the dog friendly Brighton beach and the iconic Bathing boxes are located. These 82 colourful beach houses are a must-see. Be sure to get your cameras ready to take some shots by the huts as the area is usually crowded with tourists from all over the world.



Road Trip Day 1: Train & Wineries



About a one hour drive from the city, the Puffing Billy Railway (Belgrave Station) is a heritage railway located in the Dandenong Ranges. You may choose to take a look around the station and at the different types of trains operating/being worked on, or even hop on for a ride! There are also events occuring such as the High Tea Express and The Murder on the Puffing Billy Express so do check out their website for ongoing events.

I'd recommend to check out their timetables online before heading to the station(s). There are a few routes to choose from-Belgrave is the main operating station. You may also get tickets online to skip queues and have a quick and easy access to the rides.

[Belgrave-Lakeside takes about an hour each way]

Take a 40 minutes drive north from the Puffing Billy Railway Belgrave Station (or about an hour drive from the city) to Yarra Valley. This region is recognised as one of the world's premier wine grower. There are many wineries you may choose from to visit, have wine tasting sessions, and even purchase some quality wines to be savour later on.

Popular wineries include:

  • Rochford Winery
  • Yarrawood Estate
  • Maddens Rise
  • Helen & Joey Estate

Other than excellent wines, Yarra Valley offers fresh local foods, breathtaking sceneries, and many even come to this region for a getaway.

Another interesting place to visit whilst in the area is the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery (in Yarra Glen). Have a quick look around or you may even book for tastings and workshops.

Less than 5 minutes drive from the Chocolaterie & Ice creamery is the Alowyn Gardens. Located in the heart of Yarra Valley, this award-winning garden had its first tree planted in 1999 and is now a 4 acre garden of beauty.



Road Trip Day 2: Phillip Island



Take a road trip down to Phillip Island for a day and enjoy all the beauty this island has to offer. It is definitely worth the almost 2 hour drive from the city. There are a total of 5 nature parks for you to enjoy with your friends and families. (I got a 3-park-pass to experience the more popular parks.)

Once you cross the bridge on to Phillip Island, head north to Churchill Island and spend some time on the farm. Other than exploring the Amess House & Garden, and watching the farm animals, there are many other activities happening on the farm such as cow milking sheep shearing. Wagon rides are also available during the weekends and holidays (if weather permits).

Next, head to the ecotourism attraction about 10-15 minutes drive from Churchill Island-The Koala Conservation Centre. This conservation centre features two boardwalk trails (20-30 minutes each) allowing you to view koalas up close in their natural habitat. You may even take the longer trail to have a look at the bushland where you may spot some wallabies and echidnas.

Other attractions on Philip Island:

If you've got extra time, you may also check out A Maze 'N' Things (https://www.amazenthings.com.au/) located across the street from the Koala Reserve. This fun family attraction is open from 10am-5pm daily (last admission:3:30pm). Challenge your friends/families to a mini gold session or take a walk on the sky trail-these are amongst some of he activities you can do in this park.

Want to fly above the island and experience a scenic flight from a helipcopter? Check out the different flights available (9am-5:30pm daily) on their website (https://www.phillipislandhelicopters.com.au/scenic-flights/) and book yourself an adventure.

Another stop you might want to check out is the Phillip Island Circuit. Check out their website for their events and ticketing information (https://www.phillipislandcircuit.com.au/). Some fun activities to do in the circuit includes go-karting and racing your mates in their high qulaity race simulators.


Phillip Island is best known for their Penguin Parade-which is located in the west of the island. As photo-taking is not allowed for the penguin parade, enjoy the moment and have the experience kept in your photographic memory. The penguin arrival time changes throughout the year so make sure you check the timetable beforehand.

Before heading to the Penguin Parade, do take some time and check out The Nobbies (also where the Antarctic Journey park is located at) which is about a 10-15 minutes drive from the Koala Reserve (5 minutes to/fro Penguin Parade). Stroll along the boardwalk and capture some spectacular photos of the views along the rugged coast. The boardwalk overlook Seal Rocks, The Nobbies, and even a blowhole.



Road Trip Day 3: Great Ocean Road (Twelve Apostle)




Set a day aside and take a trip to the Great Ocean Road. It takes a little more than an hour from the city to get to the entrance of this famed road.

There are two main routes you may choose to take to reach the Twelve Apostles-(from the city) you may opt to not drive along the coast and have a slightly-less-than-3-hour drive, or drive along the coast which will take about 45 minutes more in comparison.

I chose to drive along the coast as I wanted to enjoy the astounding view of the shorelines and beaches. On top of that, there are some stops you may take to catch some fantastic shots by the coastline.

As for the main stop on the Great Ocean Road, the most popular is definitely the Twelve Apostles. The Twelve Apostles are limestone stacks by the coast of the Great Ocean Road. You may park your car at the viewpoint parking area and take a short walk (5-10 minutes) to the boardwalk where you may get the best view of the stones.

Other popular stops include the Loch Ard Gorge (4km west from T.A.), the London Arch (London Bridge) (19km west from T.A.), and The Grotto (20km west from T.A.).



Tips



Here are some tips for your visit to Melbourne:

  1. Get a Myki card for public transportation (about $4+ each trip to/fro) and rent a car (I recommend using a car for 'Train&Wineries', Phillip Island, and the Great Ocean Road; free parking available)
  2. ALWAYS check the weather forecast as Melbourne's weather is known for its extreme changes (keep a jacket around just in case).
  3. If you're looking to get a local SIM card with loads of data, I used Lebara's 30-Day-Plan (Medium) with 24GB for $24.90 (https://www.lebara.com.au/mobile-plans/30-day-plans/)


Others (Renting a Car)



Many people are skeptical and/or afraid when it comes to renting/driving a car overseas. However, driving in Australia is a lot less scary than you might've expected. Drivers are generally polite and patient, but you do have to watch out for railroads (outskirts) and tram tracks in the city. In Australia, people drive on the left side of the road and the steering wheel will be on the right side of the car (same as Malaysia).

As for renting a car, I chose Jucy Car Rental as it is the cheapest I could find and really easy to book. The website was straightforward and the staff were very helpful as well. Picking up and dropping off the car was uncomplicated (comes with a full tank; return car with full tank). Cars available for rent from Jucy varies from small Fiat Punto's to 8-seater vans to camper-vans.

I took the mid-hatch option (Toyota Corolla; great for the crowded streets in the city and also for longer distances through the rural parts) which was $37/day (unlimited km) with the $20/day insurance plan.
*Check the petrol prices from Waze or Google as the prices differ quite a bit station to station.

[My total spending on fuel was about $100 (fuel priced at averagely 130c for unleaded) for 4 days (3 road trips + Kilda/Brighton beach)]

JUCY Car Rental: https://www.jucy.com.au/



Thanks for Reading~



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Information



The City St. Paul's Cathedral Monday-Friday 8am–6pm
Saturday 9am–4pm
Sunday 7:30am–7:30pm
Block Arcade Monday-Saturday 8am–6pm
Sunday 9am–5pm
Victoria State Library Monday-Thursday 10am–9pm
Friday-Sunday 10am–6pm
QV Market Monday Closed
Tuesday 6am–2pm
Wednesday Closed
Thursday 6am–2pm
Friday 6am–5pm
Saturday 6am–3pm
Sunday 9am–4pm
Southbank SEA-Life Melbourne Monday-Friday 10am–5:30pm
Saturday & Sunday 9:30am–6pm
National Gallery of Victoria Daily 10am–5pm
Eureka Skydeck Monday-Thursday 10am–9pm
Friday-Sunday 10am–6pm
Crown Casino Daily Open 24 hours
Docklands Marvel Stadium -
Melbourne Star Daily 11am–9:30pm
DFO South Wharf Monday-Thursday 10am–6pm
Friday 10am–9pm
Saturday & Sunday 10am–6pm
Beach Luna Park Monday-Thursday Closed
Friday 7–11pm
Saturday 11am–11pm
Sunday 11am–8pm
Train & Wineries Puffing Billy Railway Daily 9am–5pm
Yarra Valley -
Rochford Winery Mon-Fri 9am–5pm
Saturday & Sunday 9am–6pm
Yarrawood Estate Mon-Fri 10am–5pm
Saturday & Sunday 8am–5pm
Maddens Rise Monday 11am–5pm
Tuesday & Wednesday Closed
Thursday-Sunday 11am–5pm
Helen & Joey Estate Daily 10am–5pm
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice-creamery Daily 9am–5pm
Alowyn Gardens Daily 10am–5pm
Phillip Island Churchill Island Daily 10am to 5pm
Koala Reserve 10am to 5pm daily (First Sunday in April to first Saturday in October)
10am to 5:30pm daily (February 1 to first Saturday in April and first Sunday in October to Christmas Day)
10am to 6pm (Boxing Day to end of January)
2pm to 5:30pm (Christmas Day)
* Please note: last access to Koala viewing boardwalks is 15 minutes before closing time
Penguin Parade *Access doors to the viewing areas will open approximately 1 hour prior to estimated penguin arrival time.