Aussie Dopers: Melbourne advice.

My cousin and his family are moving to Melbourne this year for a 2 year stint.

He will be busy working alot and I thought I would ask the good folks here for stuff for his wife and four kids ( 8-12) to do.

What are the notable sights and hidden gems?


I live in Sydney, so bump - kambucta what do you remember before you ran off to the bush? :slight_smile:

I like the Immigration Museum. Ride the old trams (they are free) and it’s an easy way to see the city. Have coffee in a laneway. Do Chinatown. Shop.

The trains and trams aren’t expensive and are pretty easy to use, so it will be easy for them to get around.

Visit my inlaws, but I doubt that would work for you. :slight_smile:

The Hume Highway.

More seriously, to get the foggiest idea of how Melbourne works it is absolutely essential they begin following a footy team, elsewise they’ll have nothing to talk to the locals about on Mondays or Fridays. Pick based on familiar colours or location or the team your best mate follows. Go to a game. Avoid Collingwood and Carlton.

Melbourne’s cafe scene e.g. Lygon St in Carlton, Ackland St in St Kilda and Toorak Rd in Toorak are gems of the city, is European cosmopolitan style that you don’t really see in other Australian cities.

Jim’s Greek Tavern in Collingwood, best Greek food outside Athens

Drive the Great Ocean Road

See the Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges

Ride the trams, maybe even do the tour on the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant .

Join the throng at Flemington for the Melbourne Cup, whilst the rest of the country get a holiday.

Drive up to the Murray and then along the river from Wodonga to Swan Hill. It will give you are perspective of inland Australia.

The old goldfields towns of Ballarat and Bendigo including Sovereign Hill.

Weather in Melbourne is infinitely variable at short notice. It also gets bloody hot during summer and when they talk about high fire danger they aren’t fucking about.

These are great!

Keep them coming!

The Melbourne Aquarium and Healesville Sanctuary are good places to take kids, although 8-12 might almost be getting too old for them.

Outside of Melbourne, my favourite places are almost all to the south-west. There’s the Bellarine Peninsula, then the cool temperate rainforests of the Otway Ranges which is not far from the beaches and coastal towns along the Great Ocean road.

To the south-east is Wilson’s Prom which has great beaches and some very forthright wildlife, particularly the wombats. All of these places are probably 1-2 hours’ drive away from Melbourne, though.

Whereabouts are they going to be living? North/South/East/West? Melbourne is about 100 miles wide, edge to edge, so this is an important point!

There are three zoos , all completely different, all great. Become a Friends of the Zoo member and you get into all of them for free - well worth the cost, IMO (if you go more than 3 times a year, you make it back).

Similar package deal on museums - Melbourne Museum, Immigration Museum and Scienceworks (the last is my fav, and is squarely in their age bracket) - I think you have to go five times to make back your membership. Scienceworks also has the Planetarium and the Lightning Room (good for kids who like things that go BOOM!) and all the museums run heaps of kids activities over the holidays.

Collingwood Childrens Farm and CERES environmental park, for kids that like fluffy farm animals, and budding hippies.

They may be a little old for playgrounds, but if not the best playground in the city is Hays Paddock All Abilities playground, in Kew.

Also - buy fruit and veggies at the Vic Market at least once - it’s an experience (especially on a Saturday morning) and you also get the best edibles in the city.

How about Luna Park? I really wanted to ride the Scenic Railway, it was going to be a highlight of my visit to Melbourne. Unfortunately, the world’s second oldest operating rollercoaster wasn’t operating on the day I went. Bummer!

Luna park is pretty small and quaint as far as amusement parks go, but the area around there (St.Kilda) has a great market on the weekends - I forget which day, but probably Sunday, and lots of good restaurants.
Melbourne has great art galleries all over the place. Puffing Billy, and old steam train is a great day trip/picnic for the family. For historic buildings, there’s the Old Magistrates building, Captain Cooks cottage, Polly Woodside (ship), Rippolea, Como house. Also check out the Montsalvat artist community for a day trip. Oh, and go to hanging rock, but only after you’ve seen the film, Picnic at Hanging Rock.

There are also great wineries within driving distance, I might suggest down the penninsula, around Red Hill.

All the suggestions so far have been great, except for the one that suggested that the Melb Aquarium and Healesville Sanctuary might be a bit tame for the kids. :rolleyes: Both venues are brilliant for all ages, but ESPECIALLY for young’uns who have not grown up here. Being up close and personal to all the marine and other wildlife forms is a great hoot!

Some of the hidden gems though are getting up back of the Dandenongs during berry season: pick 'yer own, and maybe a ride on Puffing Billy on the way back.

Canoeing down at Studley Park: it’s a National Park within spitting distance of the CBD and again the local fauna is great…watch out for snakes in summer of course!

Check out the Queen Victoria Market, but even more interesting is the Preston Market (or the Dandenong Market) which don’t have the ‘cool’ factor but are grouse IMHO. Wogs everywhere, and bargains a’plenty. Sydney Road Brunswick is the Middle Eastern food centre for Melbourne, Victoria Street Richmond for Vietnamese (as is Springvale in the outer south east), Footscray is now the centre for African cuisine, and for all things kosher, Carlisle St in Balaclava.

Melbourne is an INCREDIBLY multicultural city, and different suburbs reflect the predominant ethnicities of the population there. The eastern suburbs tend to be more anglo, but on the fringes, you’ll get a veritable melting pot and the food is mostly to die for!

For a posh experience go to Toorak or Brighton. For working-class head to Frankston or Sunshine. In between you can go anywhere you damnwell like.

Mordialloc is cute with all the old boats in the creek that comes in off Port Phillip Bay. Lot’s of old dinghies and couta boats, not too many ocean-going vessels (they’re mainly berthed down at Brighton hahahaha).

And just for the sheer buzz, stand under the clocks at Flinders Street Station or at Southern Cross Station between 8-9am and 4-6pm. It’s a steaming stream of humanity, and reminds me of a wilderbeest stampede on a David Attenborough doco. :smiley:

Double posted

You don’t have to do that. If you’re nerdy and geeky, and not into sport, avoiding AFL (footy) is still perfectly possible and acceptable. Most of my friends don’t watch any sport and we cope fine.

However, if you are into sport, or hanging around with matey blokey pub-goers, it might be best to learn the rules and join in. Some people are stupidly amazed that anyone may not be interested in football, even though it’s arguably the stupidest version of the game on the planet.

Check out St Patrick’s Cathedral in East Melbourne: it’s an awesome place even for atheists like myself, and on a calm day there’s a moat outside that does an incredible reflection of the spires. Nearby are the Fitzroy Gardens, a visit at night with a baggie of bread is sure to bring the brushtail possums out to say ‘hello’. I’d avoid the toilet block though…notorious for ‘cottagers’ apparently. :stuck_out_tongue:

Further afield, there’s (as mentioned) the Bellarine Peninsula and the Great Ocean Rd to the south. To the east, there’s Gippsland with masses of rainforest and quaint little towns like Walhalla, an old gold-mining village. There’s Phillip Island with fairy penguins, seals and koalas. North there’s the Hume Highway, a 4-lane freeway that runs from Melbourne to Sydney direct. One thousand kilometres of nothing much but bitumen and gum trees.

However, if you are feeling inclined, there’s some treasures to be had by detouring OFF the freeway. Euroa, Beechworth, Chiltern, Barnawatha, Yea, Mansfield (at the foot of Mt Buller) and Yackandandah are but a few of the towns just a brief sojourn away, and well worth a visit.

Generally the state of Victoria is quite large (albeit small by Aussie standards) - a bit larger that Utah, and it has very diverse ecological environments: Deserts, grasslands, rainforests, skifields, sufbeaches, lagoons, etc. etc. The temperatures range from a couple of degrees below zero (celcius) to 40+ (celcius). You should try and get around as much of the state as you can, if you are into car travel.

The state is going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment - if it’s not flooding then it’s on fire, so I hope it’s not completely ruined by the time your cousin gets there :stuck_out_tongue:

This post is full of lies Shirley. Do not believe GuanoLad for a minute. If the* kids* are to be accepted as even part-time, nominal Australians, they MUST have a footy team to follow. And I’ve heard on good authority that St Kilda is the best team in the league, so give your cuz a heads up, OK??


No fires here (one in Far East Gippsland a few weeks ago??), but lots of wet stuff which means that areas that were previously declared as Drought Disaster Zones are now green and lush. If you wanna see Victoria at her glorious best, now’s the time. :slight_smile:

Just make sure you pack yer’ gumboots. :smiley:

Before I forget, also tell them to keep an eye out for the seasonal activities - Moomba, film festival, comedy festival, etc. They’ll be listed at the Melbourne tourism website.

Lived in Melbourne for 5 years:
Puffing Billy - this old steam train on a scenic route
Great Ocean Road, Lakes’ Entrance, Wilson’s Promontory - if you like beaches, long drives and camping
Skiing in winter (Jul)

Royal Melbourne Show - in short, the farm comes to the city. Around Sept I think.
Melbourne Cup - racing public holiday. A chance to buy AUD$200 ladies’ hats with a feather stuck in them (called “fascinators”)
Tesselaar Tulip Festival - this Tulip farm opens for about 2 weeks in Sep.

I recommend you visit sites like, which have daily offers on attractions and restaurants (most restaurant deals are $50 for 2 people). is pretty good as well. I can post some places to eat if you want.

Hmm looks like there are lot of good suggestions here! There are a lot of places I haven’t seen yet!

I’ve forwarded this thread to my cousin to show how awesome all of you are.

Big questions to ask now are:

What team to follow and recommend a good beer to drink.

I say Western Bulldogs for a footy team.

I like 'em because they lack the showbiz glamour of the more popular teams, they’re more down-to-earth. Though it is a bit of an arbitrary choice; eventually you just get sick of explaining that you really don’t give a damn about footy and it’s easier to just name a team. So I picked Footscray (as they used to be called) because they’re unpretentious and they don’t tend to bring out the love/hate response in people who really do give a damn about footy. ETA: I chose well, though, in recent years they’ve started to play really well.

As for beers, there’s plenty of choice. My personal recommendations are the Tasmanian beers; Boags and Cascade.

Re footy teams:

It is illegal to support a team that is based outside Victoria (unless you either a) originallly come from that state, or b) the team is the result of a merger with the team you previously barracked for here, eg Sydney Swans, Brisbane Lions). :wink:

Melbourne Demons supporters are reputed to be nobs.
It is said that Collingwood and Carlton followers are actually nice, decent hardworking people who only transform in frothing ferals when they put their scarves and beanies on, but I’m not convinced about that.

Essendon has won too many premierships, so they don’t need barrackers. Hawthorn wear baby-poo brown jumpers, so that’s them out too. Ditto for Richmond. Geelong a just a bunch of pussies.

Yeah, go for the underdogs…Footscray (Western Bulldogs) or St Kilda Saints. To add a bit of spice to the season weekend, get everyone in the family to barrack for a different team. :stuck_out_tongue:

As for beer, provided you don’t drink Fosters, yer’ sweet to go.