January 1, 1970
by Felix Kiener
Insert catchy intro here! From all the places I’ve been to so far (which are not that many, to be honest), Melbourne (pronounced Melb’n) is definitely my favorite. Located in the heart of Victoria, it is the ideal place to start your trip to Australia. Before I go into detail about the fantastic stuff you get to see and experience there, here’s some general information about my visit:
I was there from the beginning of February until the middle of March 2016, the whole time staying at the Youth Hostel Australia (YHA) Melbourne Central (that I can highly recommend). I came to Melbourne via the Greyhound Bus from Canberra using a kilometre pass. The Wi-Fi didn’t work, but that was not a big deal as there was quite the beautiful scenery to watch during the trip.
The moment we were able to see Melbourne’s skyline in the distance, I knew in an instant: this is not going to be like any place I’ve been before. And I was right.
During my stay, I met so many new friends from all over the world: Belarus, Costa Rica, many European countries and also Aussies while having all kinds of great, sad, embarrassing and scary moments. That makes it even more important to write at least some of it down so that they don’t get lost, especially if it helps convincing people to go there too.
That’s already a huge plus in Melbourne: Using the tram in the inner city (where most of the relevant things are) is completely for free! There is even a classic wine-red tram especially for tourists with information about every stop. It passes by every twelve minutes at daytime. If you have to go beyond the inner city, you should purchase a rechargeable Myki card, available at pretty much every corner, for example at a 7/11 shop. This card can be used for tram, train and bus. Very useful. Now that you know how to get around in Melbourne, it’s time for some sight-seeing!
My favorite attractions
Queen Victoria Market
This unique market takes place every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Most of the vendors sell high quality, fresh food and vegetables and there’s also a huge meat and fish section you shouldn’t miss; actually, you get all kinds of food and drinks there. Premium quality, low price. There are also a lot of other shops there, too many to list, but all of them with their own charme. On Wednesdays in summer, there is the additional Night Market with music and different shops, mainly consisting of a giant food court with meals from all over the world.
The probably most beautiful thing I’ve seen in Melbourne. Not necessarily the tower itself, no it’s the view I’m talking about. For just around 20 dollars you’re taken up 88 floors in less than 40 seconds. And once you get out the elevator…you’ll be struck with the beauty that is expecting you there. You feel like a god looking down on ants. Okay I’m exaggerating. But still pretty awesome. You should check it out both at night and daytime, they’re both totally worth watching and you get a different feeling from seeing them. Just try it out yourself when you’re there and you’ll know what I’m talking about. By the way, the Eureka Tower has apparently “the highest viewing platform on the southern hemisphere” (for whatever that’s worth).
You can also book the so called “Edge Experience” in addition: They put you in a glass cube and push you 3 meters out of the building, making you believe you‘re in free fall. It’s nice if you have a voucher for it and get it for free as I did, but it’s not that spectacular.
Federation Square & Botanical Gardens
Whenever I didn’t know where to go (it rarely happened but it DID happen) there was always the Federation Square around the corner (next to the impressive, ancient Flinders Street Station) that is a really nice place to hang out as it provides all kinds of activities every day, special events from time to time and free Wi-Fi (yeah!). There is also a direct way to access the Royal Botanical Gardens. (Sorry, Skydeck I have to re-evaluate my opinion; these Gardens are probably the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in Melbourne. This time for real! I can’t really explain why, I just felt so comfortable there). Right at the Yamba River, there is the gorgeous Princess Walk connecting Fed Square and the Park. From there, you can walk down the beautiful riverside that is perfect for biking and jogging. Lots of places to relax there, making your heart feel at ease.
Queen Elizabeth Street
The main shopping street on the other side of the Flinders Street Station. You’ll find all the big brands there: Woolworths and Coles, the largest supermarket chains in Australia and the usual fast food stores like McDonald’s, Hungry Jack’s and KFC. There are, of course, also restaurants and cafés. A little bit down the street is the Melbourne Central Station, a pretty big shopping centre with a large food court, all kinds of clothes, electronic shops and so much more. Basically, you find everything you’ll need on this street. Go ahead and check it out yourself!
You will find them all across the city especially at Hosier Lane. Whenever I passed by, there was always someone taking a selfie in front of the art. Usually I’m not into that but it really is a great spot to take photos for your friends and family at home.
Worth a visit if you want to watch some of the water-loving creatures mother nature has provided us with like jellyfishes, sharks, frogs and penguins. Personally I think it’s a bit overpriced and that it’s probably not that good for the animals to live in an aquarium…but each to their own. And it IS quite interesting to see these animals you would probably never see in their natural habitat (and come back alive to tell anyone about it).
Crown Casino & Entertainment Complex
Australia’s largest casino (I think) with more ways to lose money than gambling. Night clubs, bars, food courts and fancy boutiques can be found here, too. Really impressive. Worth a visit, even if you’re usually not into casinos.
All of them are pretty much in the CBD and you shouldn’t have any problems finding them as there are signs everywhere. I could give you a more detailed description about how to get there but that’d be boring. Besides, you’re supposed to explore the city on your own!
Still not enough? Don’t worry, Melbourne has got you covered with a massive amount of events. Two very good examples I enjoyed a lot are:
St Kilda Festival, 14/02/16
A huge (free!) music event that took place at the lovely St. Kilda beach on Valentine’s Day under the warming sun. Apart from great live music at the beach (which would already be enough, wouldn’t it?) there were lots of other activities available to pass the time like a small amusement park, providing a lot of food booths with meals from all over the world.
The White Night, 20/02/16
This kind of event can be found in a lot of countries all over the world so you probably already heard about it. Shops in the area all open throughout the whole night while there are all kinds of art performances going on as the one by Circus Circus. They were “painting” the Royal Exhibition Building over and over again. That was pretty cool. Everyone was in a great mood (probably not on the next day though).
One more thing:
There are a lot of homeless people around and many of them have lost every sense of shame. They disturb you when you want to relax, grab you on the street or try to hit on you. Most of them are good people, but they can be unpredictable so keep an eye on them!
But that was definitely a small price, one that I was willing to pay for living in Melbourne. So if you haven’t been there yet, what are you waiting for? Get up from your sofa and go to this super ultra cool city
Sources: all of the pictures are from myself, except from the very first one on top. The text is based on my very own experiences and if there’s something you don’t agree on, then send me a message. Always open for criticism and suggestions. Btw this is my first article so be gentle:P