For too long Melbourne was Sydney’s little brother. Starting out as a small settlement in New South Wales, it wasn’t long before it blossomed to reach city status and rising to become the capital of its very own state – Victoria.
But Melbourne’s progress hasn’t stopped there, with it currently holding the title for the World’s Most Liveable city, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability survey. Sydney currently ranks seventh.
Whilst top-rated healthcare services and infrastructure may be great for locals and expats, there must be a thing or two that draws in more than 2.1 million visitors to the state every year. After spending some time in the City, here’s my top five things a visitor to Melbourne must include on their to-do list.
5: Get chucked in the Slammer
Usually, being arrested is something most people want to avoid, but not when you’re in in Melbourne’s Old Gaol (jail, if you’re like me and have no idea what that word is); when getting locked up in a cell in complete darkness is all part of the experience. The Warden will then take you on a historic tour of the facilities, including the Watch House and the oh-so-creepy execution area. Great value for money, packed with history and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a bit of role-play? They do night-time Ghost tours too, maybe you’ll even see the infamous Ned Kelly!
4: Eat well, live well
Being a multicultural melting pot, Melbourne has more than its fair share of delicious cuisine. But Asian food is always better in Asia, Italian in Italy. So in Australia’s second largest city, eat like an Aussie. If you want to fine-dine, and your budget will stretch to it, Eureka 89 takes pride of place at the top of my list. Based on the 89th Floor of the Eureka Tower (see #3), you’ll be treated to a degustation to die for with amazing views. Moreton Bay bugs, locally sourced beef and even seared wallaby will all grace your plate. Not only the best food I’ve eaten in Melbs, but in my whole, entire life. Worth every cent.
3: Get Sky-high.
Take your trip to another level – level 88 to be exact – at the Eureka Skydeck. Standing at almost 300 metres above the city, it is the highest viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere and as you’d expect, the views over Melbourne are amazing (I’m a sucker for a good city skyline). Time your trip so you go just before sunset – you’ll get to see the transition from day, through sunset, and then the city at night. If you’re feeling brave, check out The Edge – where a little glass box pops 3 metres out the side of the building, with you in it. Pretty cool, huh?
As you get older, hangovers get worse, but it’s a fair trade to make for experiencing metropolitan Melbourne’s nightlife. From swanky cocktails with CBD views in The Lui Bar within the Rialto Towers, to the stick-to-the-floor backpacker haven of Brown Alley (hetero bar, despite its name), there’s a place for all tastes. The gay scene, as you’d expect, is buzzing. The Greyhound Hotel’s ‘Boylesque’ makes for a good night out, just don’t go on your birthday, unless being fed cake and vodka by a drag queen is your thing. On second thoughts, definitely go on your birthday!
1: Cruise the Great Ocean Road
Melbourne is the starting point for most Great Ocean Road trips. Whether you’re planning on driving it yourself or jumping on an organised tour, this should top your Melburnian itinerary. Pit stops at Apollo Bay (good spot for lunch), the 12 Apostles (typical tourist photo opp) and Loch Ard Gorge (my personal fave) come highly recommended. Despite 10,000 or so other tourists that’ll no doubt be around, the scenery will stun you. Words from the (un)wise, if you suffer from car-sickness, the roads are long and winding, but completely worth the suffering.
This is just a small sample of what Melbourne has to offer visitors, travellers and tourists – however you class yourself. Whether nature is your thing or you’re a complete city slicker, whether you’re on a shoe-string budget or making it rain, time in Melbourne is time well spent.