Day 1 - Panoramic Views
Melbourne’s CBD is sprawling with busy business men, local laid back city dwellers and backpackers exploring the bustling streets. Even though its streets are coloured with so many walks of life on a day to day basis, they aren’t as hectic as you would imagine. The ambience of those not as concerned about meeting that deadline or making it to the office on time overpowers here. Even the city’s flagship transport system makes its way round their routes at a leisurely pace.
A grid of approximately 14 streets makes up the city centre. The network of Elizabeth Street, Swanston Street, Bourke Street and Collins Street, all within 5 minutes walk of each other, is where most of the activity lies. A mix of shoppers getting their bits and pieces populate these streets, dodging the city trams which crawl through them at the same time.
For a bird’s eye view of the city, the Rialto Towers (admission AUS$12.50) at the western end of Collins Street has Australia’s highest observation deck and boasts breathtaking panoramic views of the city and its surroundings. On a clear day you can see as far as 60km to the horizon. Along with the vistas to take in, a 20-minute ‘sight and sound extravaganza’ shown in ‘RialtoVision’ gives you an insight into the city itself.
There are bars and pubs aplenty in Melbourne, and in the process of looking for one some rambling backpacker told you about, you’re bound to stumble across another one. If you want to know where to go without having to scour the streets, the city’s Irish bars Pugg Mahones on Hardware Street, and PJ O’Briens in the complex on Southbank are always full of those having a good time.
Day 2 - St Kilda
All of Australia’s largest cities have coastal suburbs which they are synonymous with - Perth has Freemantle and Sydney has Bondi. Melbourne has St Kilda. Overlooking Port Phillip Bay, it enjoys one of the best locations in the city which is why so many backpackers are drawn to it, whether to live there or to just to laze there for the day.
Spending an entire day here is effortless. If you are a sun worshipper the first thing you need to do is carefully select your spot on the beach, lay out your towel and top up your tan. If it is a bit windy to be lying amongst the sand, or if it is too busy, the beach is fringed by gardens which are perfect for lazing in also.
The suburb’s promenade called The Esplanade which runs the length of the beach is where to go when you want to stretch your legs. Strolling along here as local joggers, rollerbladers and others whiz by you is just the thing to do if boredom begins to kick in.
As going to St Kilda is primarily a summertime activity, what you can do there between March and September is quite limited. If you plan on visiting Victoria’s largest city during these months don’t miss an Aussie Rules Football Game. While it is a national sport, its true home is in Victoria and, of the 16 teams in the Australian Football League, 10 of them are based in and around Melbourne.
Day 3 - See all the sights
Like in any other city, the best way to see all the main tourist attractions in one day is by booking yourself on to a hop-on hop-off tour. Departing every 30 minutes during the summer (60 in the winter), Melbourne's City Sightseeing Tour which departs from Flinders Street has over 30 stops and takes 90 minutes to complete, although tickets are valid for 24 hours and you can hop on and off as much as you like within that time.
Set in the historic Carlton Gardens, the Melbourne Museum (Australia’s largest) on Nicholson Street is just one of the attractions you should avoid missing on the journey. This very modern structure was the cause of some controversy when it was first built but, due to the large number of ‘hands-on’ exhibits, it is extremely popular with the backpacking. Plus, its free. Other highlights along the tour include Victoria Square, the Botanic Gardens and Parliament House.
Not far from the city centre is Chapel Street, one of Melbourne’s most famous. Here is a wide array of cafés, restaurants, bars and nightclubs and it is the perfect place to bring any day in Melbourne to a close. And if you don’t want your night to end, instead continue it through to the very early hours of the morning, visit Crown Casino which the largest casino in the southern hemisphere and also is peppered with bars (some opened 24 hour) and nightclubs.