‘Marvelous Melbourne’ as it is popularly called by all natives as well as tourists, is indeed a city owned by God because all that one hopes for is so easily available here, thus making it one of the most livable cities of the world. The climate is excellent, the environment is very conducive to healthy living, the infrastructure is meticulously planned thus making every amenity readily available to the citizens at very affordable prices. There is also a free tram service running across the length and breadth of the city. To top it all the political scenario is extremely stable.
To make it economically self reliant, apart from flourishing business centers, the tourism industry has been explored in equal measure by providing and developing many attractive and exclusive sightseeing places and activities.
The places and activities that attract locals and tourists alike are many. The Melbourne museum, the Zoo, the famous Cricket Stadium, National Gallery of Victoria, Royal Botanical Gardens, Port Campbell National Park and Block Arcade to name a few.
1. Melbourne City Circle Tram
This is the most popular, preferred and convenient mode of public transport that is absolutely free and covers all the important commercial, shopping and tourist destinations in the city. Two sets of trains run on a circular route in clockwise as well as anti-clockwise direction at the same time while on the W class tram, you are guided by a continuous commentary informing you of the various locations on either side that you are approaching. It’s a ‘hop on – hop off’ service that makes your movement all the more convenient as it links you up with the metro train and light rail services as well, which you can board at the link points.
2. Queen Victoria Market
This 5 days a week market place (Monday & Wednesday closed) opens every morning at 6 am (except Sunday 9am) and function for 8 hours on Tuesday and Thursday , 12 hours on Friday and 9 hours on Saturday and it is the largest open air market South of Equator.
You can practically find almost any and everything under the sun related to fresh food (fruits & vegetables), fashion clothes, general merchandise and local or imported gourmet. The non-vegetarian section of mutton, chicken, fish and dairy products including cheese is in abundance in a huge hall.
You will find the most attractive dresses and jewellery, classic pieces of handicraft, most usable home ware and you could even carry back some very intricate pieces as souvenirs.
There are plenty of eateries where you can sit and enjoy delicious local recipes.
If you are the inquisitive type, you can even take the 90 minutes foodie tour where you will be guided through the best eating joints and shopping arcades.
3. Warrook Farm
Australia has a very rich history on farming which has now grown into a modern industry. However the hands on experience and demonstrations that you get to witness at warrook farm is something that you will keep talking of till you reach back home and narrated to each one of your friends.
The farm has a wild life Fauna Park where you can view Australian wild life and some other animals as well. You get a chance to feed kangaroos, bottle feed baby calves try your hands at milking a cow, see how the sheep dogs round up sheep, learn the art of whip cracking and much more.
There are tailor made tours that are chalked out for tourists that showcase the history of farming, the historical past of this 100 year old farm, homestead and gardens. This farm is also a popular venue for parties, weddings and group celebrations. If you are in a group, you can request for similar group activity which will be arranged.
This place is located halfway between Melbourne and Phillip Island. In-fact while on your way to Phillip Island a short stop over for a meal or snacks is ideal and during this short halt you can gather some farm experience as well.
This place is open 7 days a week between 10 AM TO 4 PM.
4. 12 Apostles At Great Ocean Road
From Melbourne this is a 12 hour tour with plenty of activity enroute to the 12 Apostles. In fact half way down you can stop at Apollo Bay for lunch (at own expense).
The entire journey will keep you admiring the coast line along which you travel till you reach the mammoth structures called the 12 Apostles (only 8 stands tall, the rest have collapsed due to erosion over the years) that rise 45-50 meters above the water line. These structures have apparently been cut off from the main land due to erosion of the softer lime stone over millions of years. Initially there were arches between these pillars which collapsed with time, yet they present awe inspiring views. You could get off the coach and take a closer look at these gigantic land mass structures.
You head further down to Loch Ard Gorge where you will get to learn about the history of this place and the dreadful shipwreck in 1878 of a British ship Loch Ard which left only two survivors to narrate the horrors they faced.
Your last stop is at port Campbell where you get to see the picturesque view of pine trees and cliffs with the sea in the back drop. You can explore the local shops for souvenirs before you get into the bus to return to Melbourne.
5. Phillip Island, Penguin Parade & Maru Kola Animal Park
This place is just out of the world, for what you get to see here is something extraordinary. Yes, it is the Penguin Parade that is being refereed to. Your tour for the day starts from your hotel where after being picked up, you travel by road for about an hour and a half on way to Phillip Island. Short of the island you get to take a break at the Maru Kola Animal Park where you mix around with native animals like Kangaroos, Kolas and also some Tasmanian devils (huge rats). They give you a feeling as though they have been waiting for you. Here on you move to Phillip Island by crossing a concrete bridge at the coastal town of San Remo.
Phillip Island is more of a protrusion of the main land into the Western Port Bay with just a small water gap at San Remo. Here you get to see a lot of sea birds, fur seals and of course the most popular penguins.
As the sun starts setting, the penguins start coming out of the water onto the shore marching in style towards their burrows. It is the most entertaining parade you would have ever seen.
In case you want to get a closer look from a platform made along the route followed by the penguins, you will have to get your tour upgraded with little extra dollars which is worth it. However the tickets are limited to just around 150. Hence, you will have to make up your mind in advance. These add on includes a small gift and a complimentary drink. Another upgrade to get a closer look is the Penguin Sky Box tower which has a limit of only 5 persons. This too is accompanied with free non alcoholic drinks.
There are two more upgrades which will take you even closer with limited tickets again: The underground view tour and the Ranger guider tour.
6. Healesvile Sanctuary
Healesvile Sanctuary is one of Australia’s most talked of wild life habitats due to its very noble agenda of environment conservation. This sanctuary spread over 30 hectares, offers visitors a very close interaction with some of Australians unique and exclusive wild life such as platypus, koalas, wombats, emus, kangaroos and Tasmanian devils. You also get to see a very interesting interactive show of platypus with their trainers and keepers in water.
While at this sanctuary a presentation called ‘Spirits of The Sky’ is also shown to visitors, that show case the elegant and endangered species of Australian Raptors such as the wedge tailed Eagle which is one of the most fascinating birds of prey as well as the intelligent and most beautiful creation of nature, the colorful Parrots.
As this sanctuary is located in the heart of Yarra Valley which is home to a number of vineyards you will find the best of wine and food in the café located here.
Visiting hours – 9 am to 5 pm
Fee Adult – 24 AUD
Child – 12AUD
Family (2+2) – 55AUD
7. Yarra Valley Wineries
A visit to this beautiful valley keeps your eyes glued to the surroundings while you are moving in the coach. The valley is only an hour’s drive away from Melbourne and as you roll down the hill side you get a full view of the enormous plantations of vineyards. You keep hopping on and off the coach from one winery to the other. Some of the wineries have a very classic history where wine is being made over ten generations and they produce the most vintage varieties which have an exclusive taste. You will be explained the complete process of growing grapes, plucking, crushing and then fermenting in cellars etc.
These vineries have excellent chardonnay and pinot noir crop which produce exclusive wines.
The complete tour lasts eight hours in two hours for the to and fro bus ride between the hotel and Yarra Valley.
8. Peninsula Hot Springs
These peninsula hot springs have been developed into an amazing facility controlling the water temperature between 35°c and 40°c that offers all possible/conceivable bathing experiences one can hope for. Coupled with this the existence of a beautiful nature environment around the springs has earned a name for itself as the world’s best Mineral Spa during 2014,2015 and 2016. It is also known to process therapeutic benefits that cures many muscular and joint related ailments.
The choices available at the Spa Dreaming Centre include the thermal mineral pools, Indoor private pavilion, private outdoor pools, sauna rooms, spa treatment programs for conditioning the body and mind as well as the Hamam of Morocco.
The bath house area also has a variety of bathing choices that are very popular with tourists from world over like the cave pool, Turkish Hamam, reflexology walk and the 360 degree view hill top view pool which is just out of the world. All these bathing facilities offer you an exciting life time experience of fun, joy and relaxation. This is located only an hour and a half’s drive away from Melbourne on the Morrington Peninsula.
The place is open from 7 am to 10 pm daily and the spa centre from 8am to 9 pm. It also has a café that caters for breakfast and lunch on all days. Dinner is available only on Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays.
9. Yarra Valley Balloon Flight
This hot air balloon flight is also in the morning where you get a very enchanting experience of the rising sun spreading its sneaking sun beams through the branches of the forest trees over the crest of the hills surrounding the valley.
Here again the ride lasts for an hour and if you have opted for an upgrade you will be treated after touch down to a sumptuous breakfast menu with sparkling wine at Balgowine estate.
A maximum of 16 people can be accommodated in the hot air balloon basket and each one is seen busy consuming the excitement of viewing the expanse of the 30 odd vineyards along the rolling hill sides. The excitement grows further if you encounter pieces of clouds.
10. Sovereign Hill
This is a tourist attraction set on a former gold mining site where life was very busy during the 1850s. At the gold making area you can witness huge quantities of molten gold being poured out of its pot and converted into a bullion bar.
You are taken into the Red Hill mine about 13m underground using a life size moving hologram. You are told the story of the famous Cornish miner, Richard Jeffrey who bumped into the biggest ever gold nugget 69 kg heavy found here.
The town ship at Sovereign Hill is a very colorful place where you have many shops and the market is buzzing with activity ranging from buying and selling groceries, handmade candles, black smith workshops and jewelers to mention some. The market opens from 10 am to 5 pm every day. Visit to this place has a ticket of 55AUD.
11. Eureka Skydeck 88
Almost a thousand feet , 300 meters to be precise is the height of this iconic structure which gives you a panoramic bird’s eye view of entire Melbourne right up to the extent of Phillip Bay and Dandenong Ranges on a clear day.
This facility is open 7 days a week from 10 am – 10 pm and takes you to the top on a superfast lift that covers the 88 floors in just 40 seconds without you getting the feel of it till you step out on the upper deck awe struck and jaw wide open. The view is just amazing. To catch a clear view of different popular sites you have a row of long range binoculars and view finders.
There is a provision to upgrade your tour to the Eureka Skydeck experience at a little extra cost that includes ‘The Edge’, a secure glass walled cube that projects you 3m outwards from the main tower and gives you a thrilling sensation indescribable on paper.
12. Melbourne Balloon Flight
This is yet another thrilling activity that starts at sunrise and you can enjoy the natural phenomenon of the numerous high rise towers, gardens and sports arena bath in the morning sunlight when the lengthy shadows start dwarfing and hazy structures start acquiring a well defined outline as the air clears after the moisture in the atmosphere evaporates.
This one hour hot air balloon in colorful designs takes you across the city to give you a very charming bird’s eye view. The route though may vary based on the weather conditions, wind direction and speed.
You can upgrade your event to include a delicious breakfast with the best of champagne after you touch down and move to Pullman Melbourne near Fitzroy gardens.
13. Melbourne Aquarium
This is a panoramic Fish Bowl that has a capacity of 2.2 million liters and houses some of the most exquisite marine life. You will get to see the amazing varieties of fish like the rainbow fish, turtles, catfish, snakes and even the passion arrow frog. Look for the largest fresh water fish, the Murray Cod as well. The glass window makes you feel being under water and you can see the massive stingrays Sharks and hundreds of fish.
The most enchanting view is that of the majestic king and Gentoo Penguins which can be seen playing in the pool and sliding on the snow and ice slopes. This facility is open from 09:30 am to 06:00 pm on all days.
The entry fee is Adult AUD-32, Children AUD-18 and Family (2+2) – AUD-87.