Melbourne, the capital of Australia’s southeastern state of Victoria. Vibrant with classical and modern architecture. Gleaming with cultural heritage sites, museums, galleries and theaters.
June marks the beginning of winter in Melbourne. Temperature averages from 7-14 °C. It may not be the best time of the year to visit the city, it certainly is the season to get air tickets at the best price.
During winter the sun rises as late as a little past 7 in the morning and sets as early as 5 in the afternoon. Nevertheless there are plenty of activities and sightseeing attractions to enjoy in short daylight.
I have listed 20 things to see and do in Melbourne. We will begin our exploration from Flinders Street, home to many of Melbourne’s famous landmarks, and journey further down under the outskirts of Victoria.
1. Flinders Street Station. The iconic early 19th century building serving the metropolitan rail network and several tram services operating around the city. Probably the most popular meeting place in town.
2. St. Paul’s Cathedral. An Anglican church built with a Gothic transitional design. Christian or not everybody is welcome.
3. Federation Square. A huge multi-purpose space opposite St. Paul’s Cathedral and adjacent to Flinders Street Station. The buildings are noticeable by their unique geometrical shapes. Its plaza is a center for public events and major festivals.
4. Melbourne Aquarium. Home to thousands of species of marine animals. One of the highlights is the penguin playground. Watch King penguins dance in courtship and see how fast Gentoo penguins swim without having to go to the Antarctic region!
5. Eureka Skydeck. Cross over to the south bank via the Rainbow Pedestrian Bridge and head up to the 88th floor of Eureka Tower for a magnificent 360° panorama.
6. Yarra River. Stroll along the Yarra walks or board a river cruise and be delighted by the spectacle river bank landscapes.
7. Birrarung Marr. A parkland at the north bank of the Yarra River few walks away from Federation Square. Featuring Elm trees, public indigenous artworks, the Federation Bells and a whopping 10 meter high three-legged sculpture Angel. Birrarung Marr translates to “river bank” in the aboriginal language.
8. Collins Street. Moving inner to the city is a stretch of Victorian-era buildings in this major CBD street. Still occupied today by banks and other commercial industries.
One great and cheap mode of transportation around town is the Melbourne Bike Share. With a number of stations everywhere, you can pick a bike from one and return at another.
9. Queen Victoria Market. A huge market and a famous tourist destination offering fruits, vegetables, clothes, accessories and food stalls. Time for shopping!
10. Shrine of Remembrance. A war memorial dedicated to the people who served on World War I showcasing thousands of war related collections. From the upper balconies you can catch a picturesque Melbourne skyline. Best of all, entrance is free.
11. St. Kilda Pier. Great for strolling, cycling, fishing and viewing the bay of Port Phillip. Another good spot to take pictures of the city skyline.
12. Great Ocean Road. Enjoy a scenic road trip along this 243 kilometers road stretching at the south coast of Victoria.
13. Cape Otway Lightstation. The oldest surviving lighthouse in continental Australia. It served the thousands of migrants coming to Australia by ship in the early 19th century. Climb to the observation deck for stunning views of the Southern Ocean and the towering cliffs.
14. The Twelve Apostles. Gorgeous pillars of limestones of about 50 meters high. Sadly there are only 8 apostles left today although originally there have only been 9. Ride a helicopter for a more thrilling sightseeing adventure.
15. Moonlit Sanctuary. Feed kangaroos and wallabies at this 10-hectare wildlife conservation park.
16. Koala Conservation Centre. Koalas spend most of their day at the trees sleeping and chewing Eucalyptus leaves. Stroll along the tree top boardwalks and see the koalas up close in their natural habitat.
17. Sheep shearing at Churchill Island Heritage Farm. At 3PM daily catch a live sheep shearing session on stage. Brutal as it may seem the sheep does not complain at all.
18. Penguin Parade at Phillip Island. Everyday as the sun sets colonies of small penguins come home ashore from the ocean. Watch them paddle out of the waters and waddle their way through the sand unto their burrows up the hill. Photography is not allowed and there is very less light around the area to protect these little creatures and ensure they return to their homes. Thanks to Photoshop the souvenir store was able to fit us in this memorable frame.
A trip to Melbourne will not be complete without having a taste of local food.
19. Flat White is the Aussie version of cafe latte. Only with a more dominant coffee flavor.
20. If you have the stomach for it why not try a Kangaroo steak? Took me a while to finish this plate.
On the flight home watch out for the captain’s announcement as the plane soars above Ayers Rock. Or as the aborigines call it Uluru. This massive rock of red sandstone in the Northern Territory is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Luckily I was able to quickly grab my camera.