After touching down at the Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne at 7.05am, I got into the city, dropped my backpack off at a friend’s and headed back out to officially start my 3 month adventure. Bron who’s born and bred in Melbourne, had helpfully provided me with a personalised itinerary, to ensure I covered off the main sights and attractions Melbourne has to offer.
1. Flinders Street Station
Taking the tram into central, I stopped off at Swanston Street and walked along this main street towards the first photo stop of the day, the Flinders Street Station, at the corner of Flinders Street. Completed in 1909, this railway station (the first in an Australian city) is one of Melbourne’s most recognisable landmarks.
2. Federation Square
Once I was done with taking my obligatory tourist photo, I crossed over Swanston Street to check out Federation Square. Opened in 2002, Fed Square is a public square with a host of cultural facilities, including the SBS Television and Radio headquarters, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the Ian Potter Centre (part of the National Gallery of Victoria) and The Edge Theatre. Rather helpfully, the Melbourne Visitor Centre is also located in the square and provides pretty much all of the information a visitor would need.
3. Hosier Lane
Situated next to St. Paul’s Cathedral, Hosier Lane is just a street crossing away from Federation Square. If street art is your thing, it’s well worth a walk up Hosier Lane, as Melbourne’s most famous side street for high quality urban art.
4. Royal Botanic Gardens
Done with Flinders and Swanston Street for now, I crossed the bridge over the Yarra River onto St Kilda Road. Walking straight on, the Royal Botanic Gardens soon appeared on my left and I decided to walk through it, rather than alongside it as I make my way onto the next item on my agenda, the Shrine of Remembrance.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to spare and thus could not see a lot of the 38 hectares of landscaped gardens. What little I did see of the plants, trees and monuments in the sunshine was lovely and seeing some joggers along the way made me want to put my running shoes on to really explore some of the tracks.
5. Shrine of Remembrance
I continued walking straight on and soon reached the awe-inspiring sight of the Shrine of Remembrance. Built as a memorial for those from Victoria who served in World War 1, it is now a memorial to all Australians who have served in war. The Shrine contains the Stone of Remembrance, a crypt and a Visitor Centre. Prior to entering the sanctuary, visitors walk past a courtyard and Remembrance Garden, containing a field of visitor planted poppies.
Be sure to climb the steps for a great view of the city.
6. Albert Park
After a stop for lunch in the area, I decided to walk towards Albert Park to check out what I could of the annual Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix. The walk there was actually a lot longer than expected, and unfortunately for me, not much of the grand prix actually remains after the event. The only part of the Formula 1 race track that I could see therefore was the pit stop garages.
Whilst the views of the Albert Park lake was nice, I’m not sure it’s really worth the long walk there (perhaps consider taking public transportation if you’re going to visit).
7. St Kilda Beach
It was then just a short walk from Albert Park towards St Kilda Beach, Melbourne’s most famous beach. Spying a group of kite surfers in the water, I made my way towards St Kilda pier to get a closer look. The pier itself leads up towards the St Kilda Pavillion, an Edwardian building based on its English counterparts, and a long breakwater which houses a Little Penguin colony. Arriving in the middle of the afternoon, I unfortunately didn’t get to see any penguins which would’ve been a real novelty!
8. Luna Park entrance
After spending a fair bit of time enjoying the sea breeze and photographing the kite surfers, I made my way towards the Luna Park entrance for another tourist snapshot.
Rather helpfully, the tram back towards the city was located opposite the park entrance, so I was soon on my way towards the…
9. National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)
The NGV is a lovely art museum and one that I wish I had more time to spend in. Arriving with only 45 minutes to closing time, I had a brief look through their Contemporary Art section and really enjoyed browsing through the spacious, modern museum.
Interestingly, one of the more famous events in the history of the gallery was the theft of Picasso’s “The Weeping Woman”. It was returned in a railway locker a couple of weeks later.
10. The Southbank
Leaving the NGV, I walked back towards the river and decided to take a stroll along the Southbank. I passed by a notable landmark along the way, which I later found out was The Arts Centre.
As it was around 5.30pm on a Friday, the bars and restaurants by the riverfront were still empty though I suspected they wouldn’t be for long once the crowds from the surrounding high-rise buildings were done for the week.
11. Tram 35: City Circle Tram
Crossing the Southgate Footbridge back over to Flinders Street, I was lucky enough to catch the City Circle tram, a free tram route which runs through the central business district of Melbourne. Passing through a number of tourist attractions and main streets, along with helpful commentary over the loudspeaker system, this tram route is well worth a ride if you’re not in any rush.
12. Melbourne laneways and arcades
After a good dinner in a local bar in Brunswick and a wholesome breakfast the following morning, we set off for a wander round Melbourne’s famous laneways and arcades.
This being Saturday morning, the lanes were packed with people enjoying their coffees and breakfast. If it wasn’t cafes, sweets or chocolate shops, cute arts and crafts, clothes shops and jewellery stores lined the arcades and narrow streets. There were lots of lovely things to admire and desire, but as I didn’t plan on buying any souvenirs and lugging them along with me for the rest of the three months, I didn’t spend too much time in the shops lest I developed a change of heart!
13. Queen Victoria Market
Definitely one of the more famous of Melbourne’s attractions, there was no way I’d be leaving Melbourne without first paying a visit to the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere. The Queen Vic market offers a whole range of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, seafood and deli foods. There is also a section of the market devoted to non-food items such as clothing, shoes and handicrafts.
On Bron’s suggestion, we made a beeline for the hot jelly donuts upon arrival at the market. Costing AUD5.50 for a bag of 5 hot donuts, I scoffed two down in quick succession before we headed off to explore the rest of the market.
All I can say is, I wish I had a similar market near my flat in London! The range, quality and price of the produce available was just a winning combo.
14. Latin Festival
I was lucky enough for my 2 day visit to coincide with the Latin Festival that was happening in the Brunswick neighbourhood. The sun had come out whilst we were at the market and was set to stay for the rest of the afternoon, when we enjoyed perusing the street for what Latin / Spanish street food would take our fancy. The lovely atmosphere was a really great way to end my two days in Melbourne.
So there you have it, Melbourne city highlights in two days!
Have you been to Melbourne? What did you enjoy best? If not, what do you think would be your favourite highlight of Melbourne?