Melbourne is Australia’s bar capital and hub of live music. It has a very European vibe about it. The central business district not only serves its after-work drinkers, but also attracts a young, trendy crowd. Many of the city’s smarter bars are tucked away in the city’s numerous narrow lanes.
Across the Yarra River, the district of Southgate provides the arts precinct with a strip of bars and riverside views. With plenty of culture, activities, art exhibitions, and live music, you could easily spend over a week here and not regret it.
I have been to Australia many times and Melbourne is by far my favourite city in Oz, but, also one of my favourite cities in the world.
A point to raise regarding transportation costs around the city. The bus to and from the airport with Skybus costs AU$18 (GB£11). In the city, it is a great idea to purchase a Myki card (it can be purchased practically anywhere and costs AU$6 (GB£4)).
Melbourne operates a zone based system. A trip on Myki is good for 2 hours of unlimited travel within your chosen zones. Within the CBD (Central Business District), there is free tram service. If you need to get around via taxi you are probably best to give it a miss. Taxi’s cost a minimum of AU$4.20 and fares are AU$1.66 per km.
What Can Melbourne Offer?
Melbourne ranks in my top Five World cities. Its just beautiful by day and night. Melbourne architecture is stunning. If you have ever visited Manchester, England it reminds me of that city! Head down to the Yarra river or Queen Victoria market by night for a sensational experience with all the smells and buildings illuminated in varying colours.
As of August 2015 Melbourne was ranked as the Number One city to live in in the World. There was so much to do/see and eat/drink in the city it would be silly to list everyone I saw and dined in. My all time favourites I had to mention.
Queen Victoria Market
With over 600 traders, the Queen Victoria Market is the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere and attracts thousands of shoppers. It is where the locals sniff out fresh produce among the booming cries of fishmongers and fruit and veg vendors. The wonderful deli hall is lined with everything from soft cheeses, wines and Polish sausages to Greek dips, truffle oil and kangaroo.
The market has been on this site for more than 130 years; before that, from 1837 to 1854, it was the old Melbourne Cemetery. There is a small memorial on the corner of Queen Street and Therry Street. A number of tours are run from the market, including heritage, cultural and foodie tours.
You either love or hate Federation Square. For me I embraced the area with open arms. Locals congregate here to celebrate, protest, watch major sporting events or hang out on its deckchairs. Occupying a prominent city block, ‘Fed Square’ is far from square: its undulating and patterned forecourt is paved with cobblestones from the Kimberley region, with views to Melbourne’s iconic landmarks.
I like to take lunch here and just watch the city go by. Below the square on the river are also a number of restaurants and outdoor bars. Federation Square for me was the best place to sup a few cocktails before evening dinner and people watch.
Melbourne Old Jail
Built in 1841, this forbidding blue stone prison was in operation until 1929. It is now one of Melbourne’s most popular museums, where you can tour the tiny, bleak cells. Around 135 people were hanged here, including Ned Kelly, Australia’s most infamous bush ranger, in 1880; one of his death masks is on display.
The dire social conditions that motivated criminals in 19th Century Melbourne are also highlighted. If you are curious to see how it would feel to be an inmate here, sign up for the City Watch House experience , where you get ‘arrested’ and thrown in the slammer (more fun than it sounds).
Flinders Street Station
is a major landmark and popular meeting place in central Melbourne. Built in the late 19th century, the station features Victorian architecture and large clock faces. It is said to be the busiest suburban railway station in the Southern Hemisphere, and it is a lovely imposing building to admire.
City Circle Tram
More than just a means of free transportation, the City Circle Tram provides a “hop on, hop off” service between Melbourne’s sightseeing attractions, including Federation Square, the Old Treasury Building, Parliament House, and the Princess Theatre. There is recorded commentary as you pass or stop at a place of historical, cultural, or architectural significance.
Food and Drink
The social scene in Melbourne, for me, is probably one of the best in the world. The city is sprawled with cafes, bars and bistros everywhere you look but the best place to head for is St. Kilda. There are two things I love about social drinking other than whom I’m out with and that is (1) trying new drinks and (2) the atmosphere of the bar. Melbourne offers everything anyone would possibly want.
Melbourne’s famous nightlife area is home to inexpensive restaurants, bars, and clubs — it is the place to see and be seen. If you want to find Melbourne’s wild side, this is where it will be. ‘Base Melbourne’ is one of my favourite places to go party if you want to hang out with other like minded travellers — and a few locals! Their downstairs bar is popular and has cheap drinks.
If you have enough time to explore Melbourne why not try these bars too.
A hideaway bar in a city alleyway, Bar Americano is a standing-room-only affair with black-and-white chequered floors complemented with classic ‘do not spit’ subway tiled walls and a subtle air of speakeasy. By day it serves excellent coffee but after dark it’s all about the cocktails; they don’t come cheap but they do come superb. This is definitely a bar for ‘Treats’.
Located in Collingwood: Its one of Melbourne’s most iconic live music venues, not only does this divey Collingwood pub have a great roster of local and international underground bands, but one of the best jukeboxes in the universe.
For me this has to be one of the city’s most sophisticated bars, Lui offers the chance to sample the views and excellent bar snacks. Professionals cram in most nights so get there early, claim your table and order drinks from the ‘pop-up book’ menu containing serious drinks like macadamia Martinis.
Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road
I am kind of anal when it comes to certain things. One of my big no’s with travel is backtracking. I knew I wanted to make my way up the entire coast of Australia from Melbourne to Sydney I thought I would begin the trip at the bottom in the State of Victoria, and, the city of Melbourne. The vast majority of people arrive in Sydney and then have to back-track at some point in their itinerary…..Why?? Make like easy for yourself.
Melbourne sits in close proximity to Australia’s Great Ocean Road, a thorough road along the coast that is as naturally beautiful as it is historically and economically important. It is one of those must do drives like Los Angeles to San Francisco in California, or Cape Town in South Africa.
Give The Great Ocean Road two days to appreciate it fully as it hugs the coast. The drive takes approx 12 hour’s if you were to do this in one run, covering 630 miles (1015kms)