Melbourne’s set to take the Australian tourism spotlight with an array of must-sees.
IT’S easy to overlook Melbourne in the presence of the livelier Sydney. However, throughout the years, Australia’s “Second City” continues to evolve – introducing many versatile attractions and activities that make it one of today’s must-do destinations.
From great Aussie roadtrips to the World Cup Cricket and retail therapy to fancy art exhibitions, we reveal some of the stuff you could do at the city by the bay this year.
Melbourne is eagerly awaiting the second White Night event. From dusk until dawn on Feb 22, the arts community will come together with an accessible and exciting all night long art and culture experience.
And it’s hard not to be intrigued by the Melbourne Now project when it’s being hailed as the largest and most ambitious project to be undertaken by The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). The exhibition which runs till March 23 showcases the city’s creative credentials to the world.
In April, brace yourselves to be wowed at Dreamworks Animation: The Exhibition. It will showcase the work of the animation studio from Hollywood heavyweights such as Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.
Luxury retail brands continue to migrate to Melbourne last year, much to the delight of shopaholics. Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana both opened flagship stores and this year, shoppers are eagerly awaiting the new Emporium Melbourne which is touted to be the city’s centre of style.
With a cornucopia of local design retail stores and artist markets throughout the city, finding a made-in-Melbourne gift is a breeze. Once or twice a year, the metropolitan hosts the Melbourne Design Market at Federation Square and Big Design Market at the Royal Exhibition Buildings.
In summer, the People’s Market in Collingwood, Suzuki Night Market at Queen Victoria Market and Style After Dark at South Melbourne Market and every weekend, the Rose Street Artists Market in Fitzroy are just a few of the names to look out for.
Destination shoppers can also flex their wallet for good – Melbourne is one of the world’s leading cities for social enterprise movements. Buy a beer at Shebeen Bar and your money will go directly to development projects in that country, grab a coffee at Streat Melbourne and you will be helping young people get off the streets.
New hotels and quirky cafés
The city’s on a hotel high with many new properties opened recently. These include Tune Hotel Melbourne, The Sebel Melbourne Docklands and Oaks on William.
Renovations include the iconic Adelphi Hotel as well as Pullman Albert Park. The new five-star Sheraton Melbourne Hotel is due for completion in March and a new Art Series Hotel is slated for December this year.
From an office staircase to a former switchboard, there is no such thing as dead space in Melbourne. Creative entrepreneurs have transformed under-utilised spaces into some of the city’s hottest eating and drinking venues adding yet more layers to Melbourne’s café culture.
Coffee connoisseurs can check out Flipboard Café, Switchboard Café and Something Tiny.
Dan Hunter of Royal Mall Hotel fame, has opened his highly anticipated first solo project, Brae. Described as a place to “interact with nature and eat from the land,” Brae is set to put the small town of Birregurra on the map.
Other new destination restaurants on the must-do list include Jack Rabbit Winery and neighbouring Terindah Shed in the Bellarine Peninsula, Broadgauge in the Murray River region, Gladioli in Inverleigh and Tani Eat & Drink in the High Country town of Bright.
Apart from that, regional food events in country Victoria are on the rise as the locavore trend gathers momentum. Grape Grazing Festival returns to the gourmet Yarra Valley region in 2014 from Feb 14 to 16 and in the Mornington Peninsula, visitors have some new help organising their gourmet itineraries in the form of the new Wine Food Farmgate website and trail kit with map highlighting the many delicious experiences available.
Sea Life or shoe shining?
The Melbourne Aquarium was recently given a new lease of life thanks to a five-month renovation. The all-new Sea Life Melbourne attraction features a multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art Croc Lair exhibit which houses a spectacular 750kg saltwater crocodile named Pinjarra.
If marine conservation isn’t your cup of tea, choose from an array of colourful activities that the city has to offer. Classes, workshops, discussions and lectures are emerging in locations such as cafés, clothing stores, pubs and museums.
From fine wine to writing, drawing to gardening, neuroscience to shoe shining; Melburnians have a noticeable thirst for knowledge and a great love for community. Wheeler Centre, Laneway Learning and Smartbar at the Melbourne Museum are a few examples.
Rock around to the Docklands
The Australia Day Fireworks have found a new home at Melbourne’s Docklands precinct this year, and that’s not the only newcomer to the area. The Sebel Melbourne Docklands opened in Oct and two other hotels announced construction timelines, M Docklands by Peppers and Altus by Pan Pacific, a spate of new eateries include Vietnamese Banoi.
The Melbourne Star Observation Wheel also in the Docklands is an attraction worth visiting. At 120m high, guests will enjoy uninterrupted 360-degree views of the city, Port Phillip Bay and as far as Mount Macedon, Arthur’s Seat and the Dandenong Ranges.
Road Trip Victoria
Marysville, just an hour out of Melbourne, has been completely rebuilt after being devastated in the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009. The town lies at the edge of the Yarra Ranges National Park and within easy distance to Yarra Valley wine region.
Walk, hike or take a drive to appreciate the majestic mountain ash trees, rainforest and waterfalls. Visit for the day or stay the night in one of the quaint B&Bs or self-catering cottages and enjoy the quality food and hospitality from the region.
As regular visitors to Victoria look to expand their horizons and newcomers are more independent than ever before, self-drive touring routes including Great Southern Touring Route, South East Touring Triangle and Sydney to Melbourne Touring are proving a popular way to see the many diverse regions around Victoria.
Cricket at the ‘G’
Cricket fans have plenty to cheer for as the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) will host yet another monumental sporting occasion. The English cricket team takes on Australia at the Boxing Day Test (Dec 26 to 30) as part of the 2013-14 Ashes test series.
After that, the MCG will host five games including the final at the International Cricket World Cup in 2015.