When it was Gold Rush time in the 1850s this wonderful city was referred to as “Marvelous Melbourne”. The city has a lovely location on the Yarra River right near to the entrance of Port Phillip Bay. Today Melbourne is a beautiful metropolis with amazing hidden lanes for strolling and tree-lined streets. There is amazing Victorian architecture and breathtaking gardens and park lands.
Federation Square opened in 2002, commemorating 100 years of federation. It has become a fantastic place from which tourists can start their sightseeing. The square is surrounded by awesome Victorian architecture. Every year it plays host to over 2,000 events and visitors to the city can find lots of entertainments in the central outdoor performance space. Federation Square is also home to the Ian Potter Gallery dedicated to Australian art and the Australian Center for the Moving Image. Residents call it “Fed Square” and it is the largest free Wi-Fi site in Australia.
Among the top tourist attractions visitors will find the Royal Botanic Gardens, stretching south along the Yarra River. The gardens were established in 1846 and has been rated as one of the finest of their kind in the world. Altogether there are 40 hectares growing over 50,000 plants, among them lots of rare species. Every year the gardens are visited by 1.5 million people.
To encourage children to participate in gardening there is The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden. For a look into the rich heritage of indigenous Australians take the Aboriginal Heritage Walk. In the summertime there is live theater and a moonlight cinema.
The spectacular Melbourne Cricket Ground or MCG dates back to 1853 and is considered to be one of the world’s greatest stadiums. It was the main stadium for the 1956 Olympic Games, the 2006 Commonwealth Games, birthplace of Test Cricket and it is home of Australian Rules Football. Visitors can take a 75-minute tour, reliving the greatest moments in sporting history and includes a look at the Australian Gallery of Sport and the Olympic Museum. In the wintertime you can catch a game of football and in the summertime a game of cricket.
Opposite the stadium is Melbourne Park – home to the Australian Open tennis tournament, held every January. Visitors can even book a tennis court. This venue is also a function center and many concerts are held here all through the year.
On the banks of the Yarra River you’ll find the Southbank and Arts Center. Southbank Promenade offers many indoor/outdoor cafes, restaurants and live entertainment. Every Sunday they hold a wonderful arts and crafts market. Lots of festivals are also held here.
The Arts Center includes different theaters and spaces among them the State Theater, Playhouse, Fairfax Theater and Hamer Hall, home to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
The National Gallery of Victoria is the oldest public art gallery in Australia, housing over 68,000 works of art in two city locations. The St. Kilda Road building is home to the international collection and is renowned for The Great Hall where visitors are encouraged to lay on the floor gazing up at the colorful stained glass ceiling.
The extensive Australian collection can be seen at the Ian Potter Gallery in Federation Square. Here visitors can get to know the history of Australian art from Aboriginal to the Heidelberg School and contemporary mixed media. One of the highlights is the large triptych format, The Pioneer by Frederick McCubbin.
Visit the amazing Eureka Tower which was named in recognition of The Eureka Stockade, the 1854 rebellion of prospectors in the Victorian gold fields. The tower proudly stands 91 stories above the city and its gold crown and gold-plated windows shimmer and shine in the sunlight. For one spectacular and awesome view ride up to the Skydeck on the 88th floor, this is the highest public view in any building in the southern hemisphere. For one spectacular experience try The Edge, a glass cube that slides out three meters from the building.
Take an impressive stroll through a labyrinth of lanes and alleyways around Flinders, Collins and Bourke Streets. This is Melbourne at its most spectacular. The jewel in this crown is the wonderful Block Arcade in Collins Street, with a mosaic floor, period details and unique shops. This is the place where late 19th century gentry strolled, coining the phrase “doing the block”.
Take the time to have some tea in the morning or the afternoon at the Hopetoun Tearooms, dating back to 1892, the only original shop in the arcade today. The oldest arcade is the amazing Royal Arcade and it is well-worth taking a closer look at Flinders and Degraves Lanes. There are companies which run guided walking tours through the lanes and alleyways.
The Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building is surrounded by beautiful gardens and parkland. The modern museum building houses a collection that depicts society and cultures. Among the highlights are the Aboriginal Center, Bunjilaka, the children’s museum and The Blue Box, a cube protruding from the side of the building. The gallery offers a series of hands-on activities that have been designed to stimulate and engage children.
Adjacent to the Melbourne Museum is the Royal Exhibition Building. It was built in 1880 and hosts Melbourne’s International Exhibition. This building was also host to the first Commonwealth Parliament of Australia in 1901. There are regular tours available and the building is used for exhibitions and special events.
The Melbourne Zoo dates back to 1862 and is home to 320 species of animals. It is known to have the best of modern facilities in state-of-the-art enclosures. Some of the highlights are the award-winning Trail of the Elephants where visitors can get a look at the lives of Asian elephants in a traditional village-garden setting and the Orangutan Sanctuary where the orangutan live in their treetop home. There are also twilight music concerts and behind-the-scenes tours of some of the enclosures.
Captain James Cook’s native home in Yorkshire, England was brought to Melbourne – Captain Cook’s Cottage. It has been erected in Fitzroy Gardens. This lovely and quaint cottage gives an insight into the life and times of Cook’s seafaring adventures and exploration of Australia and other parts of the world. In the lovely gardens you’ll also find the impressive Spanish-mission style conservatory, always filled with a vibrant floral display.
Take a fun and relaxing Yarra River Cruise. It is a wonderful way to see different sights and to get to know the history of the Yarra River. Along Southbank visitors will find many cruise companies. You can take in places like Birrarung Marr, originally called “Birrarung” which means “river of mists and shadows”. This is a park that celebrates Aboriginal ties to the Yarra River. Another popular cruise will take you to historic Williamstown, a quaint seaside port.
The Shrine of Remembrance is located in Kings Domain gardens. It was built after WW I to commemorate Victorians who were involved in the war either abroad or at home. Today this shrine is the central focus for ceremonies on ANZAC Day held on April 25 and Remembrance Day on November 11. Daily guided and self-guided tours are available. The building is beautifully lit up at night.
Melbourne’s newest precinct is Docklands. Here you’ll find the highest concentration of green-star rated buildings in the southern hemisphere and the waterfront satellite village with many cafes, restaurants and park lands. Enjoy the awesome view from the giant observation wheel, The Melburn Star. The area is also home to Etihad Stadium and the Icehouse, a world-class ice sports venue. Every Sunday visitors will find an art and vintage market held along the waterfront.
A popular place with both residents and visitors is Queens Victoria Market, dating back to 1878. Here you’ll find impressive food halls, market stalls that sell everything from clothing to art and even toys and unusual souvenirs. Tours are available and special events are held like night markets, music concerts and other kinds of functions often held during the summer.
A strange and wonderful place to visit is the Melbourne Aquarium. The aquarium is home to thousands of aquatic animals, among them one of Australia’s largest saltwater crocodiles. SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium takes visitors on an interactive adventure from the depth of the ocean to the icy waters of Antarctica.
You’ll be amazed by the Croc Lair Exhibit which is one of the 12 new zones of discovery where you can see the world’s only display of Elephant Sharks in Bay of Rays. Experience rainbows of color at Seahorse Pier and laugh at the antics of the majestic King and Gentoo Penguins in Penguin Playground.
At the aquarium you can also find many interesting places for dining and that special occasion.
If you’re looking for some spectacular adventure and thrills head for Luna Park. This historic amusement park overlooks Port Philips Bay. The park celebrated 100 years of fun in 2012. One of the most popular attractions is Scenic Railway Roller Coaster. This is a large, wooden roller coaster that takes its passengers at high speed around the outside of the entire park. It holds the title of being the oldest continually operating wooden coaster in the world and the only one of its kind with a standing brakeman in control aboard its moving carriages. Not only will it provide you many thrills and chills but also fantastic views. Luna park provides attractions for all ages from mini roller coasters like the Silly Serpent to thrilling rides like the Pharaoh’s Curse and Power Surge.
If you want to get close up to nature and wild animals head for Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park. It was the winner of the Victorian Tourism Awards in Ecotourism, only 50 minutes from the center of Melbourne. Here you can delight in colorful parrots, water birds in the wetlands and sample the lush bush foods garden. You’ll meet the endangered orange-bellied parrots and regent honeyeaters. There are daily shows featuring dingoes, quolls, and owls each afternoon.
Moonlit Sanctuary was the inspiration of the work of famous British conservationist Gerald Durrell. It is now home to 50 Australian species. There are around 80 wallabies roaming free through the bush. Others are housed in large natural enclosures, including endangered creatures like the strange-looking bush thick-knees bird.
At night the sanctuary comes alive and you can experience it taking the world-famous lantern-lit tours. You’ll get to see owls and other night birds, tiny feather-tail gliders and giant yellow-bellied gliders, quolls, pademelons and bettongs.
Tasmanian Devils are also protected here and Moonlit Sanctuary has received the Sustainable Cities Award for Preservation of the Environment.