It was a bleak, grey day. I was sitting at the #13 tram stop, looking longingly at the huge, yellow station building standing proudly in its old age, on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets. The building was exactly 100 years old, and embodied everything I loved about this city – beauty, quirkiness, pride, grandeur, vitality, uniqueness. I turned to my mum saying “I’m going to live here one day.”
Six years later I peered out the window as we descended over the city. I wasn’t moving to the city, but only two hours away. I’m constantly heading into the city for whatever reason – concerts, festivals, marches, protests, performances, meetings, courses or simply because I want to.
Every time I step out of the train and into the streets from within that proud yellow building on the corner, I fall in love with Melbourne more and more. You’d think after hundreds of visits, a tiresome sameness would bore me, but Melbourne is constantly changing and evolving, yet somehow, comfortingly, remains the same. The sights of Melbourne are grandiose and spectacular regardless of how many times you gaze upon them. As someone who feels at home in Melbourne, here’s a snippet of all the amazing things you could get up to on your journey to Australia’s art capital.
The Flinders Street and Swanston Street intersection is the CBD’s most hustle-and-bustle corner, with four important landmarks all concentrated in one place.
Flinders Street Station
The Flinders Street station is Melbourne’s most iconic building. Flinders Street Station was built in 1909, and serves the entire metropolitan rail network. It is Melbourne’s busiest station with 92,600 services passing through the station every weekday. The beauty of this building (you know, other than its beauty) is the fact that it is in the heart of Melbourne.
Fed Square is an eclectic, bustling public meeting place which always has something going on. Fed Square hosts major cultural festivals, spectacular events, concerts, tourism experiences, and public gatherings. Fed Square has plenty of nice restaurants, coffee shops and free Wi-Fi. But most importantly, the Melbourne visitor centre is located below ground, in a square, glass building, where you can find out everything that is going on in Melbourne.
Saint Paul’s Cathedral
As soon as you emerge from within the train station, directly opposite, you will notice a beautiful old building piercing the sky with three pointed spires. This is the Anglican Cathedral which was built in 1836. Although it is gorgeous from the outside, it is worth perusing from inside, as it is just as spectacular.
Young & Jackson Hotel
The Young & Jackson is Australia’s most iconic hotel, and houses a stunning portrait affectionately known as Chloe. Chloe was a young woman whose modelling career came about in Paris. She features in a stunning, life-sized nude portrait which has been hanging in the Young & Jackson since 1909. She is well worth taking a look at.
Hosier Lane is a cobbled laneway opposite Fed Square on Flinders Street. Hosier Lane has been a graffiti street for decades. Melbourne has a reputation for being arty, and this is a fantastic spot to soak up the atmosphere, understand the artist’s mentalities, and take a few great photos!
City Circle Tram
The City Circle Tram is a free hop-on-hop-off tourist route, serviced by a heritage W Class tram.
The City Circle tram takes you past the Treasury Gardens, State Parliament, Docklands, Victoria Harbour, Melbourne Aquarium, Immigration Museum and many other Melbourne landmarks.
Grab the 35 tram from Flinders Street stop 5, or any of the other tram stops along the route and enjoy an hour of travelling around the city, or jump on and off to experience some of the things each stop has to offer.
Royal Botanic Gardens and the Shrine of Remembrance
The Royal Botanic Gardens are a short walk from Fed Square, down Saint Kilda Road. The Gardens are beautiful, calming and full of striking flora and structures. The most spectacular structure of all is, of course, the Shrine of Remembrance. The Shrine is a memorial dedicated to the men and women who fought for the State of Victoria in World War One, and all other wars since.
The Eureka Tower is over 297 metres tall, being the second tallest building in Australia. The observation deck is located on the 88th floor, this being the highest public vantage point in the entire Southern Hemisphere. There is a reasonable fee to enter the Eureka Skydeck, however, it is a great view, and worth doing it at least once.
Located on the corner of Little Burke and Little William streets, you will find a secluded little coffee shop. You’ll surely notice it because there will be customers lining up out the door, and for very good reason. Patricia’s produces incredible coffee and coffee berry tea, and locals flock there for their caffeine fix. There is no seating, so simply grab your amazing coffee, find a spot out on the street and enjoy watching the masses go by.
Melbourne is not only famous for art and coffee but is also known for its food. There are amazing restaurants everywhere, but one of my favourite things to do in Melbourne is indulge at one of the various chocolate restaurants. My favourites are Ganache (located on Collins Street) and Max Brenner (located in the QV building on Swanston Street.) Make sure you try a salted caramel hot chocolate at Ganache, and at Max Brenner indulge in a banana-praline-chocolate crepe. YUM!
Like the beach? Like penguins? You’ll love Saint Kilda Beach. Take the tram down to Saint Kilda Beach, and make your way down to the penguin viewing platform just before dusk, and you might be lucky enough to see a colony of Little Penguins waddle up the beach and settle in for the night. It’s a beautiful show of nature, so close to the city, but remember to treat the animals with respect – don’t handle them, or use the flash on your camera. The Southern Summer is the best time for Penguin viewing.
Where should I stay?
Greenhouse Backpackers in Little Flinders Street is my favourite place to stay in Melbourne. Greenhouse has a great atmosphere, comfortable rooms, free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, is close to town, and is an eco-friendly establishment.
What else is there to do?
There’s plenty of other things to check out like the State Library, the Melbourne Art Centre, Melbourne Museum, Old Melbourne Gaol and plenty others. Melbourne is an exciting city, which has everything you need within walking distance, or easily accessible by an intricate system of public transport.
Take a walk along the Yarra River, where there are plenty of beautiful sculptures lining the walkway, stroll along the main streets admiring the historic buildings, stop for a world-famous Melbourne coffee. There is so much to do in Melbourne – my advice would be to go with the flow, and see what Melbourne has to offer when you are there.