Friday, July 18, 2014

Melbourne in a Day

Rachelle, the author of this post,
and her husband Josh,
at Chandon Winery in Yarra Valley.
I have moved around quite a lot as a child and adult, and recently had the opportunity to live in Melbourne, Australia for 2.5 years.  Although I'm now living back in the States, a part of my heart will always remain in Australia, and Melbourne in particular, for its coffee, culture and people.

Quick note: When I moved to Melbourne my son was 7 months old, and therefore most of the activities we pursued in the city were family friendly!

What to do in Melbourne if you are there for one day
Melbourne, Australia.

Southbank: One of the best things about Melbourne is that there are tons of FREE things to do in the city! One of my favorite places in the city is the Southbank area.  From here you can visit the Royal Botanical Garden (absolutely beautiful year round), the Shrine of the Remembrance (in honor of Australian soldiers who fought in the World Wars), and the National Gallery Victoria (affectionately called the NGV, an excellent and FREE art museum in the heart of the city). All of these places are FREE, and if you are looking to grab some food, the tea room on the 1st floor (2nd floor by American standards) has fantastic scones and is an excellent place to have morning tea. Melbourne is famous for its espresso, so feel free to grab a coffee instead of tea - the majority of Melbournians do!  You can't go wrong at basically any cafe in the city. If you're craving American style coffee, a "long black" is the closest you'll find, but the dilution of this drink can vary widely depending on the cafe, so brace yourself for a strong cup of (delicious) espresso.
Shrine of the Remembrance

Federation Square: Upon leaving the NGV building, cross over the river and head into the Federation Square, which is the heart of the city. Melbournians have mixed feelings on the aesthetics of Fed Square, but I always liked it. The Ian Potter Gallery, which houses all of the Indigenous art and works by Australian artists is here, and also FREE. There are several other FREE museums in the square, including the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, which houses interactive exhibits and movie paraphernalia.  Be sure to check the days and times you want to visit the art museums as many are closed on day/week.

Flinders Lane: Street art (graffiti) is particularly popular in Melbourne and the surrounding suburbs, and makes the city unique in that the scenery is constantly changing.  Flinders Lane and Hoiser Lane are across from the Fed Square atrium and are always entertaining to walk through. The graffiti changes daily, and in a matter of weeks the entire alleyway becomes an entirely new display of street art.  Even the dumpsters are painted!
Royal Botanical Garden

Vic Market: Another great place to visit downtown is the Queen Victoria Market (Vic Market). You could spend an hour or several days here depending on your capacity for shopping, but generally there is something for everyone. The market sells meats, cheeses, produce, clothing, souvenirs, and more, and is really something to see in itself. If you are feeling peckish (hungry), the delicatessen has some of the best bratwurst I've ever had (and I don't like bratwurst).

Cafe Vue: Since we had an infant, we rarely went out to nice restaurants, but when we did spring for a babysitter, we ate at Cafe Vue, a sister to the acclaimed (and expensive) Vue de Monde. While you won't get the spectacular views offered at Vue de Monde, you will get excellent food in a cosy environment, and a much smaller bill.

Getting around the city

Melbourne has the most extensive public transportation system in the world, and it shows. We lived there for 2.5 years with no car! For navigating through the city, take the trams, which come every few minutes. Kids 4 and under ride FREE on all trams, trains, and buses, and the word now is that adults will be able to ride free in the city center as well, so check the Public Transportation Victoria website before traveling within the CBD. Beware if you are toting a stroller as many trams are still not wheelchair accessible and it requires two people to get a stroller onto the trams with stairs (there is almost always a good samaritan who will offer to help you!).


  1. This makes me want to go to Melbourne, especially to Federation Square!!!

  2. Interesting! I'd like to also read about Sydney and Perth.