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Presenting ‘Melbourne, Australia’ according to Melchor Bernardo of English Teaching 101.
I skipped summer this year!
Coming from a tropical country where it’s always hot all year round, I thought I needed a break from the extreme heat. So, I flew to the Southern hemisphere where I found tranquility in wintry Australia.
Albeit short, my stay in Melbourne in particular is something that I will always treasure. This vibrant and thriving capital city of the state of Victoria is just full of cultural variety, historical activities and outdoor pursuits. As a melting pot of disparate rhythms and cultures, Melbourne offers several free attractions that I greatly enjoyed! I’m sure the second most populous Australian city has a myriad of sights to see and things to do that will pique everybody’s interest.
1. Immerse yourself in the city’s café culture
Melbourne boasts a lively café culture available in all shapes and sizes. Its alleys and lanes offer wide choices of beverage, food, and lively music to keep your legs moving from dusk till dawn! Between Swanston and Elizabeth Streets, Flinders Lane, along with the lanes around Center Way, you have the heart of the city’s food hub. I recommend trying out the cafes in Degraves Lane where I had the best pasta ever!
Grab a map at the tourist information area and explore the “labyrinth” that is Melbourne’s alleys, lanes and arcades. Starting at Flinders Lane, I enjoyed the 2-hour walk around the city. Aside from coffee shops and restaurants, you will be able to find some historical sites and cool shopping centers. Across Collins Street, you may enter the historical Block Arcade and the Royal Arcade that links right through to Bourke Street Mall.
The graffiti lane, though quite difficult to find, is also a must-see Melbourne for street art lovers!
2. Chill and relax at Queen Victoria Gardens
The Queen Victoria Gardens are only a few steps from the city just across St Kilda Road from the Arts Centre Melbourne. People who are drawn to nature will love this place! It was a fantastic place for me to unwind among lakes, towering trees, and countless flower beds. There are also a number of historically significant Melbourne artwork scattered all over the garden, which are also exciting to explore. Look further and you’ll find the monuments of Queen Victoria and King Edward VII and other sculptures although the Floral Clock, in my opinion, is one of the highlights at Queen Victoria Gardens.
3. Have a dip at St Kilda Beach
Although St Kilda is pretty standard beach-wise, it is definitely worth a visit when in Melbourne. For one, St Kilda is just a tram ride away and is probably the closest bayside beach from Melbourne CBD. It is a very good place for an enjoyable day out and a hotspot for visitors who just want to chill and lay out in the sun. A lot of people come here to have a dip or take a walk along the wide beach that has a tropical feel thanks to the palm trees.
St Kilda is also an ideal place for a short coffee break and to have some of the finest pastries around in Ackland Street. Cakes here are to die for! Shoreside cafes and shopping stalls are also relatively cheap. You might also want to explore around the Sunday Market that opens at 10AM – 5PM.
St Kilda is one of the best spots to take in the view of Melbourne’s impressive skyline and amazing sunset. Wait till sundown to see how the cityscape transitions into a lively night scene.
4. Learn war history at the Shrine of Remembrance
One of Melbourne’s free attractions is the Shrine of Remembrance located just right next to Queen Victoria Gardens. It is a popular landmark in the city that you shouldn’t miss.
Built as a memorial to those who served and died in wars, the Shrine has a gothic feel as the inspiration for its design came from one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and the Parthenon in Athens. Inside, you will be transported back in time as you learn about war history starting from World War 1 up to the present. I loved reading the war memorabilia and watching authentic videos of the events in the past. Although the museum mainly focuses on Australian point of view of the wars, the knowledge about wars and history I gained is invaluable!
The Shrine of Remembrance opens from 10am-5pm daily.
5. Spice up your nightlife and cruise along the Yarra River
Take a walk across to Southbank from Federation Square. On Sundays, there is the Arts Centre Sunday Market – a wonderful place for crafts and distinctive Australian memorabilia. This is where I got a cool souvenir for a bargain! Farther along, you will find the Crown Casino (where I gambled a little, wink!) and amusement complex with food courts, cafes, stores, and clubs.
At night, old buildings and warehouses are transformed into cool hangouts for locals and tourists alike. The choices are many and vary from cocktail lounges to underground dens, to the more unknown pubs bearing unsigned doors. One place that I liked was Meyers Place, an original no-signage pub. Tourists and locals who collect at this dimly lit corner are drawn merely via word-of-mouth so don’t be afraid to ask around! I also heard about this place from a friend!
I ended my night with a bang by taking a Melbourne River Cruise. From Southbank, get your pass to the ferry to get a trip along Yarra River, past the Docklands and Port of Melbourne, under the Westgate Bridge to Williamstown. I enjoyed the picture-perfect view of the Yarra and the scenic skyline along the way!
- From the esplanade, walk the St. Kilda Pier that stretches a considerable way into the Bay after viewing the sunset. It is during nighttime when the wild penguins come out of their nest. It is quite a long walk to the Breakwater where penguins are and can be very cold during winter so make sure you’ve got extra layer of clothes on!
- Visit the oldest Australian Chinatown in Melbourne CBD. It houses numerous Asian eateries and stores and the world’s biggest Chinese Dragon of over 100m long!
- There are excellent buys at Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne’s biggest outdoor marketplace, at the corner of Victoria and Elizabeth Streets.
- Check out Chloe, the naked portrait that has become celebrated in Melbourne! You can find her at the Young and Jackson pub in Flinders St.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Melchor Bernardo is a professional teacher from the Philippines based in Saigon. He loves both teaching and traveling and passionately blogs about them. Melchor enjoys being with nature, hiking mountains, exploring old cities, viewing sunsets and doing some thrilling adventure! If you’re looking for an ESL teaching resource, check out English Teaching 101.