Melbourne is a really wonderful city. It is the cultural hub, sports capital and artistic centre of Australia. Its population diversity ensures that you get plenty of great food from all over the world. Melbourne and its surroundings are packed with things – natural and human created – that delight the senses. It is an exhilarating city with live music, exciting sporting events and other things happening all the time.
The place has so much to offer whether you are a resident of this architecturally appealing city or a visitor from another country. There are plenty of great things to do in Melbourne and places to see within easy reach of Melbourne City Centre. Once experienced, Melbourne never quite leaves you.
Ride the skies in a Hot Air Balloon
Melbourne at dawn is a marvellous picture with the morning sun lighting up the skyscrapers and putting a soft golden glow on the cityscape. Melbourne is only one of a handful of cities in the world that permit Hot Air Ballooning over the city limits. However, you could choose to go the other way and float over the gorgeous Yarra Valley. The beautiful rolling hills and green vineyards below and the blue skies above make for an entirely breath-taking spectacle.
The Dandenong Mountains and Puffing Billy
Go east out of Melbourne and you will find yourself in the majestic Dandenong mountain range. It is lovely area to spend the day, have a great meal and stroll through charming, picture postcard little villages. Besides their beauty, the Dandenongs are where you will find huge and soaring Mountain Ash trees. It is a fabulous place of nature lovers.
The Dandenong Mountains is also the route of Puffing Billy, the famous narrow gauge railway train. A ride from Belgrave Station to Gembrook is an experience both you and the kids will enjoy as you steam past breathtaking forest scenery. You can also opt to have a meal on the train.
Drive The Great Ocean Road
This is one road trip every visitor to Melbourne should take. This 250 km or so stretch of road is one of the most scenic in Australia, indeed in the world. Starting around Torquay south west of the city, The Great Ocean Road provides spectacular views and scenery. The sunsets and the iconic Twelve Apostles rocks being the most stunning. So terrific is the experience that it is often voted as being among Australia’s Top 10 Destinations.
Phillip Island is just under two hours away from Melbourne. It offers a wonderful mix and variety of options for the day tripper. It has an impressive coastline and a famous blowhole where incoming waves rush into a sea cave below erupting in spectacular spout. There is the Koala Conservation Centre, where you can see the cuddly little fellows up close and personal. Then there are the Seal Rocks, home to Australia’s largest seal colony. The coast is also populated by numerous sea bird gardens and nests.
There are plenty of lunch options on the island. You should hang around till sunset when the best treat of Phillip Island has to offer, occurs. It is the Penguin Parade when thousands of Little Penguins make their way to shore every night at the home of the world’s largest Little Penguin colony.
Mornington Peninsula and Hot Springs
About two hours from Melbourne’s city centre is Mornington Peninsula and the Fingal Hot Springs. This is a place to relax. You can melt away the pressures and stress of modern life by wallowing in a number of outdoor pools and thermal springs. You could spend half the day soaking in a Turkish steam bath and then have a relaxed lunch in scenic surroundings. Not far away are the Red Hill Markets and its host of excellent craft shops.
The Many Charms of Melbourne City
Melbourne is a city of mixed attractions – modern, forward-looking and a futuristic world city. It also possesses many charming alleys, streets and Victorian era buildings and markets. Its numerous delightful side streets are filled with art galleries, shopping arcades, indie theatres, little eateries and bakeries.
You could take a walking or bike tour, guided by a passionate local and discover the arty and cultural side of the city and its fascinating architecture and parks. Or simply take a Melbourne tour coach, sit back and enjoy its many splendors.
Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo or Healesville Sanctuary
Melbourne offers more than any other major city of the world in terms of wildlife attractions. You could choose to visit Melbourne Zoo (4 kms north of the city centre), Healesville Sanctuary (an hour away) or Werribee Open Range Zoo (half an hour away). All three have a large number of wildlife attractions native to Australia and from other parts of the world.
Melbourne zoo has gorillas, elephants, lions, meerkats and orang-utans. It also offers close up experiences with elephants and other animals.
Healesville Sanctuary is a bush setting filled with Australia’s recognisable and not so familiar wildlife including koalas, kangaroos, emus and dingoes.
Werribee Open Range Zoo is set in 225 hectares of open savannah. Among other indigenous creatures it has some spectacular African wildlife.
Yarra Valley Wine Tours
This is a more laid back activity that offers wonderful pleasures to the visual senses and the palette. A trip to Melbourne should include this activity. Just an hour from Melbourne is the wine-producing region of the Yarra Valley. The entire area is pristine, characterised by gorgeous views and stunning mountains. It has a richly deserved reputation as one of the world’s great wine regions producing excellent Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and sparkling wines.
The Macedon Range
The Macedon Mountains are a spectacularly beautiful range formed by volcanic activity many millions of years ago. It houses the unique and amazing Hanging Rock, which is an attraction by itself. You could spend the whole day happily exploring and playing in its caves and crevices. The area offers wonderful spots for picnics or you could visit the many wineries in the region.