ROAD TRIP – What to see and do around Melbourne

Do you often explore your own backyard? When friends and family come to visit, this is an opportune moment to show them the best of Melbourne, and why it has consistently been voted one of the best cities in the World. Whether you’re exploring the unique gardens, shops, markets and galleries in Melbourne, or even going for short trips outside of the city, there is a lot to see in this great state.

Starting in the CBD at Flinders Street Station and Fed Square – no greater contrast proves the juxtaposing mixture of old and new in Melbourne. The central train station is a beautiful heritage building with a prominent Edwardian design and arched entrance. New features like a recently renovated ballroom/art gallery on the abandoned third floor offer something truly unique for a traveller or a seasoned local.

Meanwhile, across the road in Fed Square is the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, or ACMI. Here you will find multi-media art exhibitions and a tribute to both Australian and International film and television. Big events like the Melbourne International Film Festival screen here around July – August.

Other places to visit around the CBD include seeing the ever changing street graffiti art along Hosier Lane or browsing the art at the NGV. A short 5 minute stroll across the Rd from the Gallery will take you to Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens, one of the most varied and wonderous gardens in all of Australia.

Hungry mouths can check out the Queen Victoria Market and all the trendy modern dining along Flinders Lane. Restaurants including Supernormal and Chin Chin often have queues lining up.

Escaping the city is easily doable, with state borders ranging from two to four hours from the city. You can find used and new rental cars in Melbourne, and then explore the many unique historical towns and places around the state.

The most famous stretch of coastline in Victoria is the Great Ocean Road. It is a beautiful long stretch of freeway along the southern coast of the state. Stop by at historical towns like Warrnambool or Port Fairy for a bit of fishing history. You will love the fresh seafood and lobster in Apollo Bay. Want to get some surfing in?  Bells Beach, Torquay, Lorne or Anglesea are the places to be.

Most visitors visit the 12 Apostles National Park while travelling along the Great Ocean Road. It’s the top destination for most tourists coming out of Melbourne, and is a spectacular collection of tall isolated geological sandstone towers carved out by the ocean over thousands of years.

Ballarat has a heritage gold mining town called Sovereign Hill. It is one of the oldest tourist attractions in Victoria, opening in 1970. There are mining tours, blacksmiths, traditional candy stores, and lots of activities for the whole family including panning for real gold!

Day trips closer to Melbourne include the Dandenong Ranges which has some fantastic views, nature walks and Puffing Billy, one of the oldest operating steam trains in Australia. Don’t forget your stomach – have a traditional Devonshire tea and scones at one of the many tea-rooms or a freshly baked meat pie from Pie in the Sky.

A little further away is Phillip Island. This island has great fresh food and wineries, but it is most famous for its wildlife, the fairy penguins. Visiting at dusk gives you the chance to see hundreds of penguins crossing the beaches, and the underwater display shows you how they swim for food under the ocean.

If you’re seeking more nature, there’s Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Open Range Zoo. Both Zoos are within 2 hours of Melbourne, and while Healesville focuses on Australian indigenous animals, the latter has a lot of African safari animals like Lions and Elephants. Both Zoos are extremely well planned and fun for everyone.

When visiting Melbourne there really is so much to do in and around the city. It’s also worth checking local guides for upcoming events such as the summer noodle market or the Queen Vic Night hawkers. So next time you visit also check out some the fantastic tourist destinations in and around the state.

Abraxas Kane
the authorAbraxas Kane