We made it to Melbourne! This city, home to over 4 million people, was ranked the most livable city in the world for the sixth year in a row. It had a bit of a New York City feel to us, with its mix of restaurants, modern sky scrapers, parks, and historical buildings. We opted to navigate our way around Melbourne via shuttle, walking, and public transit versus renting a car and dealing with the copious amounts of traffic.
Melbourne Public Transportation
They have a pretty slick and extensive public transportation network. To use their public transit, you just need to pick up a Myki card at any 7/11 gas station. There’s a 6 AUD charge for the card, and then a daily use fee so you can fill your card with as much money as you think you’ll need. It was relatively inexpensive and easy to navigate.
There is also an area downtown that is designated as a free tram zone, and there is no cost to use it as long as you stay within the area. We rode the City Circle Tram – route 35 (free tourist tram) around the loop and stopped at several places that looked interesting to us. The first City Circle tram we rode had audio playing describing some of the stops along the way. We thought this was a great way to explore the city and cover more ground.
Royal Botanic Gardens (Must See!)
This was by far our favorite part of Melbourne! We spend about 5 hours one day exploring the Royal Botanic Gardens, just walking around and taking pictures. There was a lot of ground to cover – about 38 hectares (93 acres) worth! Another big plus was that there is no admission fee, so a lot of natives to Melbourne go there to picnic or go running on the trails.
For lunch we ended up getting a Bahn Mi sandwich and a croissant from Moo Brew, a little coffee shop on the premises. They also have a little ice cream stand and a restaurant with indoor seating.
Near the entrance of the gardens, you can see the Shrine of Remembrance, a memorial to all Australians who have served in wars. A beautiful monument with very helpful and informative volunteers.
The majority of our time outdoors was spent swatting away pesky black flies. They were very annoying, but we were happy that they weren’t biting flies! Nevertheless, bug spray recommended!
Here are some of our favorite garden pictures:
Cute little beach town that is worth a visit! If you stay after dusk and go out to the pier, we heard you can see the Little penguins (yes, that is an actual type of penguin). We stopped at a great fish and chips place called Pink Flake, and tried the calamari and Blue Grenadier (both were excellent). There are a few parks, and a lot of shops in town to check out. We also saw a few Cockatoos and Rainbow Lorikeets!
QVM Summer Night Market
During the summer, each Wednesday night the Queen Victoria Market has a summer night market in the heart of downtown from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. There are two huge sheds filled with global street food vendors, free live music, and interesting specialty shops. We got there early, right around 5:00 p.m., and it started to get pretty crowded by the time we left (6:00 p.m.?). It was a bit like a mini state fair.