Things to Do in Melbourne
All aboard Puffing Billy – Australia's most popular steam train ride! Running daily from the foothills at Belgrave to the mountain town of Gembrook, Puffing Billy is the most fun way to tour the Dandenong Ranges.
Puffing Billy's rattling red carriages run across three historic timber bridges, uphill and down dale through valleys and plains filled with tree ferns, and under the shadow of towering mountain ash.
The route runs through the eucalyptus of Sherbrooke Forest, past the steam museum at Menzies Creek and the picnic grounds at Emerald Lake, to the pretty town of Gembrook. The one-way journey is 24 km (15 miles), taking just under two hours.
Best known as the home of Formula 1 Grand Prix in March each year, Melbourne’s Albert Park is also a leafy inner-city retreat with a swan-filled lake, sports venues, playgrounds and a skyline view.
Only three kilometres from the city centre, Albert Park is crown land that stretches more than 188 hectares into the south of Melbourne, making it a popular place for runners, dog-walkers and those in need of some fresh, green space. There are three main picnic areas to enjoy in Albert Park, all with picnic shelters, electric barbecues, shady trees, toilets and tables. From Aquatic Drive, you can take a stroll along the lakeside boardwalk, enjoy fine service and a steak at The Point restaurant, and watch sail boats tack across the lake. Sports lovers can enjoy the public golf course within Albert Park, try their hand at sailing from the boat shed or take a dip at Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.
Few Australian beers are as world famous as Carlton and there’s no better place to sample the classic Aussie brew than Melbourne’s Carlton Brewhouse. The iconic brewhouse is only one of Australia’s largest breweries, producing more than 420 million liters of beer each year, including top beers like Carlton Draught, Fosters, Victoria Bitter and Pure Blonde.
As well as being a working brewery, the BrewHouse also has a dedicated visitor facility, where visitors can go behind-the-scenes and see the production rooms and bottling plant. As well as discovering the brewery’s 100-year history, visitors can also shop for souvenirs at the Beer Gear shop, enjoy expert-led tastings or pair food and beer at the BrewHouse Café.
Ashcombe Maze & Lavender Garden in Melbourne’s lush Mornington Peninsula is home to Australia’s oldest traditional hedge maze and features a Lavender Labyrinth and Circular Rose maze, planted with 1200 roses.
Set among 25 acres of wooded and sculpted gardens you can take a self-guided garden discovery trail, loose yourself in the mazes and enjoy a bite to eat in the fully licensed mud brick Ashcombe café.
Ideal for kids (who can join in the Great Ashcombe Gnome Hunt), adults will also enjoy getting lost the maze and lavender gardens. There is also a gift shop and plant nursery on site.
Ashcombe Maze & Lavender Garden is in Shoreham on the eastern side of the Mornington Peninsula, about 75 minutes from the city by car.
Ready to relax, rejuvenate and indulge? That’s what Daylesford is all about. An easy 90-minute drive from Melbourne (or a train and bus from central Melbourne via the historical gold mining town of Ballarat), Daylesford is a picturesque town perfect for taking time out and soaking up Australia’s natural environment.
With world-class natural spa treatments, a relaxing lake, walking tracks and fresh air galore, you’ll literally feel the stress drift away. Once you’re relaxed, it’s time to enjoy the amazing fresh produce and famous regional wines. Visit one of the town’s famous restaurants – The Lake House is regarded as one of the great fine dining experiences in Australia – or shop locally and prepare your own picnic by the lake. You’ll find plenty of B&Bs and beautiful hotels to stay in, or you can rent a fully-furnished house if you’re staying more than a few days. And, really, once you’ve spent your first day in Daylesford, why would you ever want to leave?
Williamstown is a historic port village at the mouth of Melbourne’s Yarra River. The town has rich colonial history and makes a charming Sunday excursion from the city.
Melbourne’s original sea port is characterised with heritage landmarks that have endured more than 150 years on the salty edge of Hobsons Bay and Port Phillip Bay. The Old Morgue is made of bluestone and was built by convicts in 1859. The Timeball Tower at Point Gellibrand was built in 1855 as a lighthouse and timeball, and continues to keep time today. The Mechanics Institute built in 1860 now houses the Williamstown Historic Society and is open to the public every Sunday between noon and 4pm. Williamstown is also a scenic spot for a walk along the promenade, some fish and chips by the pier and a view of the Melbourne city skyline. Finer dining and boutique browsing amongst Williamstown’s beautiful old buildings is another appealing way to spend an afternoon.
Though modern Australia was originally settled by poverty-stricken convicts, you’d never know it from the aristocratic grounds of spectacular Rippon Lea. Only 20 minutes from central Melbourne, this manicured, refined, and immaculate estate is a throwback to 19th-century royalty and ornate, Victorian homes. The gardens span across 14 acres and were built in a style that was so advanced they actually harnessed their own water. The mansion itself was also constructed with features ahead of its time, and was one of Melbourne’s original estates with electricity and modern plumbing. When visiting the historic mansion today, stroll through 15 different rooms where each is more lavish than the last. Play a casual game of croquet on the mansion’s well-trimmed lawn, or lay out a blanket while sipping tea in a picnic from days gone by.
Racing glamour lives on at Melbourne’s historical horse racing site, Caulfield Racecourse. Since holding its first racing event back in 1859, Caulfield has earned itself a name as one of Australia’s premier racecourses. Known locally as ‘The Heath’, Caulfield Racecourse is eight kilometres from Melbourne city, and offers stylish members facilities, such as the glass Rupert Clarke Stand, three restaurants for member dining, and trackside marquees. The Caulfield outer circuit caters for 1,700 metre, 1800 metre and 2000 metre races, and hosts 20 race days in a season. Major Caulfield Racecourse events include the famous Caulfield Cup, as part of the three-day Caulfield Carnival in spring, and the Summer Classics Carnival.
Completed in 1997, the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Center (MSAC) is one of the largest athletic centers in the southern hemisphere. Home of the 2006 Commonwealth Games and the 2007 FINA World Swimming Championships, the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Center has a wide range of facilities for both serious swimmers and recreational users. Aquatic facilities include a number of indoor pools such as a 50-meter competition pool and 25-meter lap pool, a multi-purpose pool, outdoor 50m pool, wave pool including toddlers' play area, spa, sauna and steam room, water slide, dive boards, and hydrotherapy pool.
The MSAC also boasts one of three FlowRider machines in Australia. The FlowRider creates a static wave of water that gives riders a similar experience to wakeboarding or surfing.
Take a guided tour through the elegance of wealthy pioneer lifestyle captured in the antique furnishings and manicured land of Melbourne’s Como Historic House and Garden.
Established in 1847 by Edward Eyre Williams, Como House is a well-preserved example of aristocratic style, with fireplaces and chandeliers, gilded mirror frames and rich embroidery. Folktale suggests the house was named in memory of Italy’s Lake Como, where Edward is believed to have proposed to his wife, Jessie Gibbon. Over the years, the house survived the Great Depression and family financial ruin, before being passed through to the Armytage family to endure wartime and 95 years of family dynasty. In 1959, Como House and Garden entered the protection of the National Trust. Although the House only admits visitors booked in groups of 15 people of more, guided tours are free and allow access to the picturesque gardens after viewing the house.
More Things to Do in Melbourne
The Esplanade Hotel, or ‘Espy’ as it known by the locals, is a long-standing Melbourne institution and a much-loved live music venue in the seaside suburb of St Kilda. A cultural icon, the Espy has been serving drinks and promoting live music since the late 1800s. Almost all of Australia’s music legends have graced the stage at the Espy at some point in their career and in an average week the pub hosts over 50 bands and DJs. Depending on the gig, there is sometimes a cover charge to visit the Espy but most of the time it’s free to walk in and enjoy the views of the esplanade and St Kilda Beach over a beer. The popular and great value Espy Kitchen at the back of the venue has weekday specials and serves an all day breakfast on weekends.
Holding its own within Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne’s Scienceworks Museum is a great rainy day and family-fun attraction for all ages.
In 2013 this interactive science centre celebrates 21 years of offering hands-on science and technology, live demonstrations, cosmic adventures, electrifying displays and historical exhibitions. Highlights include the Melbourne Planetarium, with its 16 metre domed ceiling and high-definition video of deep space, as well as guided tours, dynamic shows and temporary science and technology exhibitions. Scienceworks Museum has an onsite café, as well as a barbecue area, covered seating and a playground, making it especially easy for groups, young kids and bring-your-own picnics.
Museum Victoria is Victoria’s largest public museum organization, with over 17 million objects in their collection. Museum Victoria is actually a collection of four museums in the city of Melbourne: the Melbourne Museum, Immigration Museum, Royal Exhibition Building and Scienceworks. Each center hosts temporary exhibitions as well as exhibiting permanent collections.
The Melbourne Museum explores life in Victoria. Permanent exhibitions include the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Center, the body of Phar Lap, a complete blue whale skeleton and a living rainforest. The Immigration Museum showcases the stories of the people who have immigrated to Victoria. The Royal Exhibition Building was the first building in Australia to be listed on the World Heritage register, making the building itself a landmark. It’s typically used for festivals, trade shows and community events. Scienceworks celebrates science and technology with hands-on exhibitions, shows, demonstrations and more.
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