Australia in a Campervan – Our Guide to Melbourne

Melbourne considers itself a melting pot of fashion, food, sport and culture. There’s no denying it, Melbourne is a city which caters to a wide range of tastes. It’s also a city full of attractions and activities at all times of the day or night, all year round.

Sport

Melbourne is a mecca for sport in Australia. The city of Melbourne hosts some of the largest sporting events in Australia.  The calendar year kicks off with The Australian Open, the only Grand Slam tennis event in Australia.

Or do you have the need for speed? Well, March sees  the city fringe taken over by Formula 1.

March also marks the start of the Australian Football League (AFL) season. With 10 teams in greater Melbourne, you will never be short of a game to watch. If you are in Melbourne on April 25, try and get a ticket to the Anzac Day Test between Collingwood and Essendon. It’s the largest match (excluding the September Grand Final) of the year.  Even if you know nothing about AFL, the venue, the Melbourne Cricket Ground,  holds 100,018 spectators; this is a game to attend for its atmosphere, if for nothing else. Join the locals and grab a meat pie, a scarf from your home team, and get loud

The Melbourne Cricket Ground is also home to the National Sport Museum. It holds a number of cricketing, AFL, horse racing and Olympic memorabilia.

There’s also the National Rugby League (NRL) team, the Melbourne Storm, and Australian Rugby Union (ARU) team, the Melbourne Rebels during the autumn/ winter months (March to August).

Late September marks the start of the Spring Racing Carnival (horse racing); 114 race meetings exceeding $40 million in prize money including the world famous Melbourne Cup, which is Australia’s premier horse race that is known because it “stops a nation”.  Workplaces and homes and clubs everywhere around the nation stop to watch this one race.

Soccer/football starts in October with both the Melbourne Heart and Melbourne Victory attempting to win the championship.

Then there is the cricket. In December the Boxing day test match held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is an Australian icon with capacity crowds attending each year. On December 26, The Australian Test Cricket Team play an opposing national team who is touring that summer. Every 4 years this match forms a part of the all-important Ashes series (Australia vs. England).

Melbourne Cricket Ground

Culture

Art is not just confined to art galleries, and you will find it all over Melbourne. In the streets, the parks, the laneways – you can’t escape it even if you wanted to. The laneways of Melbourne are filled with outdoor artistic expressions using stencils, paste-ups and murals. Some locations for these are Hosier and Rutledge Lane (near Federation square), Union Lane off Bourke Street Mall and Flinders Lane and Cocker Alley (Bansky art – Little Diver). Keep a look out because there is always something new.

There are also a number of traditional galleries you can visit. The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV Australia) features Indigenous works, ancient, modern and fine art.  The Melbourne Museum also offers aboriginal art and explores nature, culture and history in Victoria.  It features a gallery just for children (aged 3-8) along with other education programs tailored from kindergarten to grade 12. If you prefer something more modern, visit the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art at Southbank. It’s a spectacular building filled with spectacular work.

Melbourne Graffiti

Melbourne hosts a number of festivals throughout the year. The more popular ones include the Melbourne Writers’ Festival which runs from late August. It’s a celebration for writers, thinkers and readers and offers entertaining debates, film screenings, book launches and workshops from international and local guests. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival runs late March to mid April and hosts some of the hottest international and Australian comedic talent.

Melbourne is also home to the Australian Ballet which showcases both classical and contemporary pieces. Its unique style of dance is influenced by the ballet staff, guest dancers teachers and choreographers from around the world.

Adventure & fun

After you have had your fill of food, sport and culture, it’s time to get active. The Eureka Skydeck  offers an unforgettable panorama of the city both day and night from 88 floors (300metres) above the ground. Try ‘the edge’ a glass cube which slide out from the side of the building so you can view the city…between your feet.  Love the height? Visit Hard Rock Climbing. They are 37 climbing walls with a pinnacle of 17metres located right in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. If you prefer to be closer to the ground, you can visit Glow in the dark minigolf; It’s 18 holes of glow in the dark fun. The Kingswood Ute hole is a favourite! If you want to see some Australian Fauna up close, then find your way to the Melbourne Zoo. They have Kangaroos, wombats and platypus along with Tigers, Orang-utans, Zebra, Elephants, etc. For more Australian wildlife, Koalas, Echidnas, Emu, Echidna’s etc, you will need to visit the Healesville Sanctuary.  St Kilda, Luna park and beach.

Melbourne  Central Tower

Shopping

You are bound to find just about anything in Melbourne. From contemporary to classic. The Bourke Street Mall and its surrounding streets offer a large selection of shops.  The Melbourne GPO  building houses boutiques from Australian and International designers within a gorgeous neo-renaissance style building. Melbourne Central is the largest shopping centre in the Melbourne CBD; shopaholics will love the choices available from 300 stores. Harbour Town at Docklands specialises in outlet shopping and specialty stores in docklands. Bridge Road at Richmond is lined with outline stores of your favourite stores with a number of quirky shops thrown in for good measure. One of the renowned fashion precincts is Chapel Street – arty, vintage, contemporary, classic, stylish; you will find everything  fashionable you need on this street and it surrounds (Commercial road & Greville street). You can catch a free ‘Fashion’ bus from Federation Square to Chadstone, a shopping centre with 530 stores! Chadstone is known as the Fashion Capital but also contains cinemas, ten pin bowling and food.

Melbourne_yarra_twilight

Food

Speaking of food, Melbourne is a rich tapestry of cultural delights.  There are a number of pockets around the CBD that specialise in ethnic food. The truth is, you don’t need a list of places to eat as you will find something that catches your eye as you wander the streets. Feel like Italian? Head to Lygon street. Want some Greek?  Go to the corner of Russell and Lonsdale Street. Craving asian? Stroll on over to Chinatown.  But here are some anyway. Chin Chin is one of the few places where  walk-ins are preferred , they are open every day of the year except Christmas day and serve south east asian cuisine. Vue De Monde  offers classical fine dining from the 55th level of the Railto Building. it’s food is impeccible as is it’s view.  Little Cupcakes as the name suggests sells little cupcakes, but also normal sized along with something to wash them down with. That is all. Super cute and super tasty, get in early or you’ll be left with the leftovers. If you want something cosy and informal, try Cafe Vue. It’s a french inspired bistro with beautiful deco and delicious meals. Love meat? Visit Rockpool. Overlooking the Yarra River, the view and the food are impeccable.