Posted on: July 27th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
Very rarely does a city’s list of must-see attractions include “the alley behind Chinatown”.
Or “the dead-end street covered in graffiti”.
But Melbourne isn’t your usual city and you aren’t looking for the usual destinations.
If your idea of travel involves “doing as the locals do”, then head to Melbourne’s laneways and arcades and learn to love the city from the inside out.
What Are Laneways and Arcades?
Melbourne’s laneways (small, tucked away alleys) and arcades (covered shopping plazas) boast a diverse array of hidden, locally owned cafés, boutiques, shops, restaurants and bars. This cosmopolitan heart of the city is the true definition of a “hidden gem”.
In fact, much of the magic of the city is found in Melbourne laneways and arcades. We’ve pointed out some highlights, but while you’re in Melbourne there’s nothing like a walking tour with a local guide to show you around and chat you up in person.
See Amazing Street Art
One of the first things you’ll notice in Melbourne’s laneways is the large amount of street art lining the walls. Not even the dumpsters and trash cans are immune to being beautified by local artists. Here are some of the best places to see colorful works in person.
You may not even notice the entrance to Hosier Lane tucked between a handful of non-descript offices and apartment buildings on the south-east end. But once you enter the innocuous alley, you’re confronted by walls of bright, colorful artwork.
Photo: Roberto Seba
Hardly a single square inch of brick or stone is left unpainted. Much of the art on Hosier Lane has been commissioned and permitted, but the rest exists in a legal grey-area. You may even see an artist at work adorning the wall with a new piece. Regardless, we think you’ll find it a beautiful place to begin your laneways and arcades tour.
Photo: Roberto Seba
AC/DC Lane / Duckboard Place
These two laneways circle around a cluster of restaurants and the infamous Cherry bar. The walls on Duckboard Place are covered in great art, but the standouts are the larger than life pieces that adorn the western and eastern corners.
Photo: Robert Blackburn
Once you turn on to AC/DC lane, you can’t miss the mural of Angus Young from the Australian rock and roll band for which the lane was named.
This barely-there laneway is almost narrow enough to touch both sides with your arms outstretched. The wall to wall covering of paint makes this laneway one of the most covered in the city. At any time of day, you’re likely to encounter artists making their own mark.
Parts of the wall are covered in so much paint that you can press down with your fingertip without ever touching the brick behind it!
Shop Local Boutiques
Melbourne is a chic Aussie city. As such, they take their fashion and shopping very seriously. You’ll find some chain fashion brands, but Melbourne is best known for its boutiques and one-off shops.
Impressive arcades and tucked away lanes house some of Melbourne’s best boutiques to find unique clothing and other gifts. Check out local clothiers and artisan fashion shops to get decked out like a fashionable local.
Photo: Rob Blackburn
This shopping plaza is aptly named for its architecture that looks like it was pulled straight from Victorian royalty. The building itself is a true Victorian antiquity. It was constructed in 1870 and stands to this day as the oldest shopping arcade in Melbourne. Shopping at the Royal Arcade feels like you’ve stepped back in time.
Natural daylight fills the inviting space from overhead skylights supported by intricate arch-work. At the Royal Arcade you’ll find everything from bespoke clothing and tailors, jewelers, game shops and more.
In the past, this thoroughfare laneway served as Melbourne’s textiles manufacturing center for more than 100 years. These days, Flinders Lane continues its fashion tradition as the home of some of Melbourne’s best fashion boutiques.
Nearly 20 one-off shops are clustered on Flinders between Russell St and Elizabeth St alone. You’re sure to pick up a fantastic find from a local clothier.
Take a quick turn on to this laneway for high fashion finds. Somerset Place is home to high-end menswear staple Comme des Garcons. Just a few doors down, Belmore Australia is a local bootmaker that specializes in timeless design and craftsmanship. It’s rare to find a local shoemaker, but Belmore’s entire manufacturing process is done right in Melbourne.
While you’re trawling the laneways for local art and goods, grab a pick me up from one of the local, independent coffee shops that line the streets. There are so many cafes in Melbourne that you’re never far from a great cup of coffee. After all, this is the city that lays claim to inventing the flat-white! The latte like beverage recently rose to international fame when Starbucks began offering it at it’s locations worldwide.
Cafe culture in Melbourne is world-renowned and each space offers a unique and distinct local experience.
These hidden laneway cafés are easily missed and they like it that way. When you happen upon a good one, you’ll feel like a true “in-the-know” local. Skip the Starbucks this time and try a local brew from one of these cafes:
Good 2 Go: Blink and you might miss this endearing hole-in-the-wall, surrounded by and covered in Hosier Lane’s swath of spray paint.
Krimper: Look up “rustic charm” in the dictionary and you’ll find Krimper. A café where the clientele is as hip as the decor
Manchester Press: A small door opens in to an airy space in this tucked-away café. Manchester Press focuses on coffee at its purest, with featured single origin blends and no frills.
Have a Drink and a Bite
Melbourne holds the distinction of having the highest concentration of restuarants and cafés per capita than anywhere in the world. The large, multi-cultural population is represented by more than 140 nations. This means that Melbourne’s food scene is eclectic, diverse and never dull. Whatever you’re in the mood for, you’ll find it in Melbourne.
MoVida: A hip, Spanish-tapas bar just off Hosier Lane with a street-art covered façade – pure Melbourne.
Rice Paper Scissors: Other than the fact that we love the name of this Southeast Asian-fusion spot, the street-food inspired tasting menu is perfect for both a quick lunch or a date night.
ShanDong MaMa Mini: Located on the infamous Centre Place (one of the most photographed spots in Melbourne!), this dumpling bar is a Melbourne staple.
Lustre Bar: Right across from ShanDong MaMa mini on Centre Place, this chic cocktail bar is perfect for after-dinner drinks. The crimson, plush interior is like if David Lynch opened a cocktail bar. Upstairs location provides prime people watching to the street below.
Laneway Greens: A health-foodie’s paradise featuring salads, juices, smoothies, acai and grain bowls and more.
See Melbourne Laneways and Arcades
Want to learn more about Melbourne’s hidden gems? Let one of our Destination Specialists give you the low-down on more unique Melbourne finds. We’ll make you feel like a local and ensure you don’t miss out on any off-the-beaten-path sights.
Posted on: June 1st, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
Photo: Rob Blackburn
There is perhaps nothing more divisive to Melbournians than Federation Square. When the site was opened in 2002, some Aussies derided it as an architectural nightmare. They said that it was one of “the ugliest eyesores I’ve ever had the misfortune of seeing”. That “everything about this abomination speaks volumes of the ineptitude and inabilities of the architectural team that put this world class laughing stock failure onto our streets”.
But sometimes things just need a chance to grow on you. These days, Federation Square is visited by more than 10 million people per year. And it’s tied with Queen Victoria Market for the top tourist destination in the city.
Not bad for a building that was once named one of the ten ugliest in the world!
While some Aussies look through rose-tinted glasses about a pre-Federation Square Melbourne, others have learned to embrace and even love the public gathering space.
We’ll show you how this once ugly-duckling has flourished in to the must-see beautiful swan it is today as we show you the best things to do in Federation Square.
Australian Center for the Moving Image (ACMI)
Old-fashioned museums a bit too stuffy for you? Sick of seeing yet another exhibit of 17th century Victorian silverware? (It used to be made of real silver!) Then head on over to ACMI, an interactive museum of digital culture where video games are revered as high art.
Photo: Rob Blackburn
ACMI is the only national museum of its kind in Australia. Here, you can attend screenings of contemporary and experimental art films in one of several screening rooms. Stop by the production studios for hands-on workshops for film and digital video. Multiple screen galleries exhibit video art, sound installations, interactive film and more in a unique, underground space.
See rotating exhibitions dedicated to video games, the history of the moving image and more. Most exhibitions are free.
Alfresco Dining at Its Finest
Photo: Rob Blackburn
More than 20 bars and restaurants pack in to Federation Square. The large, open outdoor space is perfect for grabbing a bite to go and posting up right in the square. You can eat great food and watch the bustle of the city center.
The large outdoor patio of Time Out Café + Bar is perfect for enjoying Melbourne’s beautiful sunny weather as you dine. For a drink with a view, head to Transit Rooftop Bar where you’ll be treated to crafted cocktails and craft beer with picture-perfect panoramas of downtown Melbourne.
Ian Potter Centre
Photo: Rob Blackburn
All Australian art. All the time. The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) opened the Ian Potter Center to highlight Australia’s best artists and works. From Aboriginal Australian dot paintings to contemporary, experimental sculpture, the gallery covers a huge swath of Australian art. More than 25,000 paintings, textiles, sculpture, photographs and more pack the Ian Potter Centre.
You’ll also find the building itself to be a work of art in its own right. The metal, glass and concrete patchwork is an amazing site inside and out.
Cruise the Yarra River
Photo: Josie Withers
Federation Square was built to be a prime access point to the Yarra River. So what better way to utilize this entryway than by taking a river cruise. Walk straight over from federation square and jump on one of the riverboats. You’ll float the river seeing Melbourne’s beautiful cityscapes and gardens. Learn about this amazing city from the comfort of a river cruise liner.
Melbourne has a beautiful, urban skyline. As the most populous city in Australia, Melbourne has a cosmopolitan feel while retaining that distinct Aussie charm. From the city to the Outback, Melbourne perfectly illustrates the multi-faceted character of Australia.
Free Public Events
True to its purpose, if there is a convention or event worth attending, chances are it is held in Federation Square. Here’s the short list of happenings throughout the year so you can find something to do no matter when you make it to Melbourne.
Multicultural Festivals – Nearly 25 diverse cultures are represented in festivals throughout the year – from the Asian Food Festival to a Diwali celebration and more.
VIC100 Festival of Wine – The top 100 wines produced in Victoria make their way to Federation Square for public tastings and more.
Outdoor Cinema – Screening current films and seasonal favorites (check out the Christmas movie marathon in December!)
Federation Square has flourished in to the destination it was always meant to be. It’s become a popular meeting spot for locals and perhaps the number one visited site in Melbourne – despite some early derision from skeptical locals! Plan a stop at Federation Square and see for yourself why the “little square that could” might top your list of great memories in Melbourne.
Posted on: May 18th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
There’s simply no better way to spend a relaxing morning than a farmer’s market. Interacting with local farmers and artisans. Letting your culinary creativity run wild as you browse fresh, local, inspiring produce. Or just spending some time searching for the perfect, unique gift to take back home.
Photo: Queen Victoria Market
For that perfect farmer’s market experience in Melbourne, look no further than Queen Victoria Market. Since the 19th century, this market has been Melbourne’s go to street market for produce, meat, home goods, gifts and more.
So grab a cup of coffee from a local cart, dive in to some amazing street food and walk with us as we peruse Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne.
Queen Victoria Market spans nearly 20 acres. This makes it the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere, a record you probably didn’t even know existed. Victoria Market is huge, on par with other great markets in the world like the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, the Fish Market in Tokyo and Pike Place Market in Seattle.
Photo: Queen Victoria Market
Photo: Roberto Seba / Tourism Australia
With over 600 vendors selling their wares five days a week, this is not your average farmer’s market.
Queen Victoria Market is divided in to sections called “precincts”. Looking for great produce and natural products? Start things off in the “Organics Precinct”. There you’ll find local farmers and co-ops selling organic produce and meat. You’ll also find healthy, sustainable products created by health-conscious artisans. The largest and most diverse array of organic produce in the entire city is found right at this market.
Craving a bite to eat? Head to the Market Place Food Court. World-class chefs and family run establishments alike compete for your taste buds at the food court. For a real round-the-world lunch, grab a few small plates from different vendors for a sample of Melbourne’s eclectic cuisine.
Where else can you sip Chinese tea, snack on Japanese sushi, dine on curry from Sri Lanka and finish it off with Tiramisu from Italy?
Photo: Queen Victoria Market
Tip: Even though you’re all the way over in Australia, stop by the American Doughnut Kitchen. These confection-experts set up shop in a 1950’s travel van where they prepare world-famous “hot jam doughnuts”.
After you’re fueled up on amazing eats, you’ll have the energy to comb the “General Merchandise Sheds”. This precinct is a sort-of flea market meets farmer’s market, with vendors selling an immense variety of goods, gifts and kitsch. From clothing jewelry and handcrafts, to cell phones, electronics and movies. Spend enough time in this precinct of the market and you’ll find anything you could ever need and somethings you probably don’t. You can even buy a stuffed Alpaca made of Alpaca wool. We’ll let you decide whether you need that or not.
The Vic Market’s newest section is String Bean Alley, where vendors set up shop in rows of re-purposed shipping containers. Upscale, handcrafted arts and crafts by local artists are for sale in this boutique section of the market. Photographers, painters and other visual artists also have galleries set up in String Bean Alley offering paintings and prints.
Photo: Queen Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market is open Tuesday and Thursday – Sunday. During certain seasons, the market opens its doors on Wednesdays for the Night Market. Street performers, musicians and other live entertainment join vendors for a great night time destination event. The Night Market is a festive event that attracts thousands for a night out in Melbourne.
Make sure you carve some time out in Melbourne for the Queen Victoria Market. It’s the perfect spot to pick up some local veggies, shop for a unique gift, or simply for a lunch out in downtown Melbourne.
Posted on: March 7th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
Photos: Tourism Australia, Peter Dunphy and Ewen Bell
For the sixth consecutive year, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia has been named the world’s number one most livable city. This is according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), who each year compile a list of the most liveable cities. Not only that, Melbourne has taken a spot in at least the top 3 since the list began in 2002. So what makes a city “most livable” and what has given Melbourne an edge above in its six-year reign at the top of the list? It turns out that the answer may also make Melbourne the best city to visit in Australia.
Photo: Josie Withers Photography
No coincidence or luck of the draw, Melbourne’s spot at the top is based on real numbers and data. The EIU combine together metrics like culture and environment, education, infrastructure, stability, and healthcare to get a specific picture of what life is like for the average Melbourne citizen. Despite Melbourne’s perfect scores in things like education and healthcare effecting locals more directly, there is an overall benefit to the city in terms of tourism as well, making it one of the most visited cities in Australia.
Melbourne is the capital of the Australian state of Victoria and is the second most populated city in the country. Though it may not have the immediate name recognition of Aussie staples like Sydney, with its eponymous Opera House, Melbourne has consistently been recognized as a true global city. With a unique, rich cultural environment and renowned infrastructure and parks, Melbourne is not only a great place to live for locals, but the best city to visit in Australia for your next travel destination.
Culture – Sights and Sounds
Melbourne received a perfect 100 in the EIU’s “culture and environment” score, securing its place as a culturally rich destination. Melbourne is also recognized as the “cultural and sporting capital” of Australia – and for several years was named as the “World’s Ultimate Sports City”. Lending to this distinction is a diverse array of cultural institutions and a large number of museums, sporting facilities, festivals, street art and music venues. In fact, with a larger number of music venues per capita, Melbourne has actually surpassed Austin, TX, current reigning “live music capital of the world”. Nearly 500 venues dot the landscape of Melbourne, making live music a more than $1 billion industry.
Photo: Paul Philipson
The value of such a large focus on the music industry encompasses more than just the huge number of jobs and money injected in to the city. It also means that Melbourne is committed to making itself a destination city for arts and entertainment. Local hotels, bars, cafes, and restaurants are all trying to cater to Melbourne tourists. In Melbourne, so much activity happening means you don’t have to wait until the weekend for a night on the town. Even on a Monday, you can catch dinner and a show.
Whether it’s an intimate 50 person affair at The Old Bar in Fitzroy or a 5,000 person packed concert at the Festival Hall, Melbourne’s music scene is a must-see cultural institution. With such a large variety of venues, even a short stay in Melbourne can be enough to intimate yourself with the locals. A live concert allows you to view first-hand the type of cultural experience that makes Melbourne not only the best place to live in the world, but also the best city to visit in Australia.
A sort of unsung hero in the foodie world, Melbourne is home to more than 5,000 cafes and restaurants. In fact, it has one of the highest numbers of restaurants and cafes per capita of any city in the world, more than even New York City. A large multi-cultural population, with residents from more than 140 nations, Melbourne’s food scene represents an eclectic and diverse smorgasbord of cuisine. Melbourne has hosted its own annual Food and Wine Festival since 1993. Each year, a growing number of attendees and chef-celebrities make their way to the city, solidifying its place as the food and wine capital of Australia.
First time visitors to Melbourne may in fact be overwhelmed by the array of options at their disposable. Full on foodies and the food-curious alike will find Melbourne to be the best city to visit in Australia, with no shortage of unique culinary experiences. Famed chefs and up and comers in the fine dining scene alike have found a place in Melbourne among a food landscape brimming with talent and options.
Photo: Josie Withers Photography
For those seeking a slightly more casual approach to dining in Melbourne, Melbourne’s café and coffee culture is also renowned the world over. Australia’s current coffee culture originated in the early 1950’s with an influx of European immigrants from places like Italy, France, and Turkey. Even though coffee has been available since the early 1800’s, it wasn’t until then that Australia and Melbourne in particular found its focus in high quality espresso drinks that were previously largely unavailable. A focus on unique, independent cafes and coffee shops over chains and franchises give each Melbourne café a unique impression of its surrounding neighborhood, giving visitors a proper feel of the local culture of the city.
The Garden City in the Garden State
Melbourne is known as “the garden city” within Victoria, which itself is “the garden state” of Australia. More than 1300 acres of green space are located in the city of Melbourne, nearly 15% of its total land area according to a study done by 202020 Vision. Public parks and gardens, some dating all the way back to 1862, account for a large percentage of green space in the city. Attention to green spaces is a quality of life metric that tends to be an important indicator of satisfaction to residents of cities around the world and Melbourne excels at providing them.
Photo: Josie Withers Photography
Photo: Josie Withers Photography
The internationally renowned Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne is a nearly 100 acre group of gardens on the bank to the south of the Yarra River that runs through center Melbourne. Attracting more than 1,000,000 local and non-local visitors every year, the Botanic Gardens contain over 10,000 species of plant, both native and non-native. Outdoor sculpture gardens that mix green space with art also dot the landscape of Melbourne both within and outside of the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Melbourne has a dense city center, along with an extensive network of public transportation, making its infrastructure some of the best in the world, with a perfect 100 EIU score. Progressive infrastructure and ongoing infrastructure improvements are a big reason Melbourne tops the list year after year. Visitors and locals alike largely prioritize a dense, connected public transit system. Featuring the largest tram network in the world, and an extensive network of regional and metro rail, Melbourne is the best city to visit in Australia especially for car-free touring.
Photo: Mark Chew
Photo: AAT Kings
The EIU also takes in to account more than 700 km of bike lanes and routes that were added in the past few years, with hopes to increase safety for those riding downtown or commuting by bike. While many of Melbourne’s outer suburbs are still car dependent, the city center is easily navigated and commuted by bicycle due to the lane upgrades implemented by the city. On top of the car-side bicycle lanes, there are a large number of cycling trails that go through many of the city’s parks, edging past laneways and hidden cafes.
These bike lane improvements make getting around the city easy for first time visitors, or those who return to Melbourne time and time again. One of the best ways to get around any city is by bicycle, and Melbourne is no exception. With the autonomy of a self-driven stay, the ease of not having to park and drive in an unfamiliar city, and the hop-on, hop-off convenience of a bus tour, both visitors and locals alike can enjoy this positive livability benefit. Melbourne may also just be the best city to visit in Australia by bike.
Best City to Live, Best City to Visit in Australia
It’s clear that Melbourne’s distinction as “most livable city” doesn’t just benefit people who live there already. The city’s diverse culture, progressive infrastructure, and focus on nature and green spaces prove to be important indicators of satisfaction to tourists as well. The best city to visit in Australia is one that combines cultural experiences with progressive transportation convenient for those traveling, and Melbourne has proven consistent at providing it all and more.
Make Melbourne a must-visit destination when you’re planning your next trip. It takes some of the best aspects of other Aussie cities and packages them in to a sort of condensed, greatest hits of Australia. Chances are you don’t have infinite time to spend on your next vacation and Melbourne is a great way to make the most use of the time you do have.
Start creating your memories of Melbourne now by letting us plan a trip for you.
Posted on: October 13th, 2016 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
Australia Open promises to be an amazing time for tennis-lovers, their families and those in search of fun
Image By: JoJo on flickr.com
In Melbourne, the Australian Open isn’t only about tennis. Although, that’s a huge part of it. The Australian Open is really about fun and entertainment. This year, Melbourne’s biggest party just got bigger with amazing news for tennis enthusiasts as well as those just looking for a good time! Experiencing the Australia Open is just one of many reasons to travel to Australia.
Tennis elites confirmed for the 2017 Australian Open tournament
According to the Herald Sun, “Grand slam record-holders Roger Federer and Serena Williams and defending champions Angelique Kerber and Novak Djokovic will lead a glittering parade [of tennis elites] from January 16-29.”
All of the other top players from 2016 have also confirmed their attendance at the grand slam of the Asia Pacific. There will be plenty of opportunities to see breakout players set their sights on taking out the big guns, like Angelique Kerber did last year.
“Coming back to Melbourne as the Australian Open defending champion will be incredibly exciting, I can’t wait! This is the tournament that set me up for my most successful year and I will never forget those amazing two weeks in Melbourne. It will be an amazing experience to walk out on Rod Laver Arena again, and relive such an exciting time in my life,” said Kerber.
Image via TrollTennis on Facebook.com
Free AO Festival at Birrarung Mar
Image via Australian Open on Facebook.com
The Australian Open will return with a free two day opening festival, providing entertainment and tennis viewing for the whole family on the upper and lower levels of Birrarung Mar – including access to some of Melbourne’s best food trucks. Those with ground passes to the Australian Open will also enjoy some of Australia’s biggest bands at “The Open Sessions” on the middle terrace.
Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley said, “We’ve seen that fans flock to the Australian Open not just for the world class tennis but also the fantastic party atmosphere as seen at the AO Festival in 2016. We’re excited by our new look to the site and know that the fans are going to love the carnival atmosphere that goes with it.”
For the first time, the AO Festival will be hosted at Birrarung Mar, a brilliant and well planned outdoor venue on the banks of the Yarra River with 3 levels. The venue also has many interesting pieces of public art, some celebrating the diversity of Victoria’s Indigenous culture.
A Great Time for the Whole Family – Kids Tickets are Just $5
Image via Australian Open on Facebook.com
This year, children are invited to attend the Australian Open for just $5 (apart for Jan 21 & 22). The $5 ground pass, for children 3 – 14 years of age, not only offers access to the sporting event but also provides entry into a mini theme park called “The Ballpark”. For the first time, the Australian Open will offer all-day entertainment to young tennis fans. Kids can look forward to things like:
ANZ Tennis Hot Shots Fan Zone
$5 Food Options
Free fruit from Woolworths
Kid’s Tennis Day will also return with free entry for children under 15 and access to the Kid’s Tennis Day Rod Laver Arena Spectacular featuring some of the world’s best tennis players.
“We want kids to be able to see their idols in action and inspire them to get involved in tennis. The new kids’ zone, the Ballpark, will have heaps of fun activities, kid-friendly food options, along with the opportunity to actually play tennis, as well as a few surprises. We can’t wait to welcome more kids to Australian Open 2017 and will continue to offer world class entertainment at family-friendly prices,” said Craig Tiley
The Australian Open will be in Melbourne from January 16th – January 29th 2017 with the AO Festival taking place on January 14th & 15th.
Would you like to travel to Australia to experience the Australia Open? We can help you plan your trip and book your Australian Open tickets.
Posted on: June 9th, 2016 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
How to see the best of Australia on a short vacation to Melbourne.
We are working on our Things to Do in Australia blog series where we outline how you can see all the major Australia Highlights in a short vacation, staying in just one or two Australian cities.
We’ve shown how you can see Beaches & Aquatic Life, Wildlife, Rainforest, Outback, Food & Wine, Modern City Culture & Art and Indigenous Culture in the city of Sydney. Today we look towards the world’s most livable city, Melbourne.
Here are things you can do in Melbourne to see major Australia highlights.
Beaches & Aquatic Life
Hang out on the coast of Port Phillip Bay with the peninsula’s iconic rainbow-colored bathing boxes providing a colorful backdrop.
A short tram ride from the heart of Melbourne, you’ll find St. Kilda Beach. It’s not only a great place for a swim, but a wonderful seaside community where you’ll find great bars, restaurants, shops and even some little penguins in the rocks.
Take a day trip out to Ninety Mile Beach, one of the most natural and unspoiled beaches in the world. It is ideal for a variety of activities, from beach fishing and swimming to walking, whale and dolphin-spotting or just relaxing in the sun…
Head to Healesville Sanctuary, a world-renowned spot to see Australian wildlife in their natural habitat. Located in the heart of the Yarra Valley, Healesville centers on local conservation and indigenous culture.
Just 45 minutes outside of Melbourne, see the wildlife in the wild. The national parks near Melbourne have a surprising diversity of wildlife: Kangaroos, Koalas, Emus, Swamp Wallabies, Cockatoos, Parrots, Galahs and more!
While Victoria isn’t the #1 destination for rainforest tourism, you can find rainforest just an hour outside Melbourne in the Yarra State Forest. Walk through myrtle beech rainforest to the Ada Tree, a giant mountain ash that is one of Victoria’s largest trees and also one of the largest known flowering trees in the world on the Ada Tree Rainforest Walk.
With a stay in Melbourne, you’ve hit the jackpot in amazing food & wine! Melbourne’s eclectic dining scene offers a wide array of the world’s great cuisines. Enjoy a wonderful dinner on the water with the Spirit of Melbourne.
Speaking of Federation Square… this famous spot hosts over 2000 events each year! It buzzes with cultural festivals, exhibitions, event launches, performances, forums, films, concerts and fashion shows. There’s sure to be something hopping at Fed Square whenever you visit.
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Things to do in Australia | A Adelaide Vacation with All the Australian Highlights
Things to do in Australia | A Cairns Vacation with All The Australian Highlights
Things to do in Australia | A Perth Vacation with All the Australian Highlights.
Posted on: May 19th, 2016 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
Our favorite ways to see all of the Australia Highlights on a short vacation
Last week we talked about how you can get the most out of a short vacation to Sydney. This got us thinking…What if you only had time to visit one or two Australian cities? What can you do and see in order to create the perfect been-there-done-that Australian vacation? So we’re putting together a blog series that takes all the main reasons people visit Australia and compresses them into an epic vacation comprising of just 1 or 2 destinations.
Here at About Australia, we work with hundreds of clients every week. Most Americans are aware that Australia is an amazing country with a vast diversity of beautiful sights, experiences and wildlife. They want to see the beaches, explore the Great Barrier Reef, experience Australian City life, see kangaroos and koalas, learn about the rich Aboriginal culture, check out the local food and wine and explore the Outback. Australia is on almost every traveler’s bucketlist.
What many people don’t realize is that Australia is a huge country – about the size of the United States to be exact. Once they wrap their heads around that fact, their next question is, “Do I have to travel all over Australia to see all the iconic sights?”
The answer to that question is both yes and no. It all depends on which iconic sights you want to see.
Sydney Harbour and access to the Great Barrier Reef are at least 1,000 miles apart. That’s a 2 -3 hour plane ride or over 20 hours by car. Then, if you have your heart dead-set on seeing Uluru (Ayers Rock), you’ll have to fly over 1,700 miles to the center of the country for a spiritual outback adventure. A similar trip in the US would take you from Orlando to NCY to Denver. So yes, if you want to see the Sydney Opera House, the reef and the Red Centre, you will have to do quite a bit of Australian Domestic Travel. And honestly, that’s ok! As they say in Australia, “No worries, mate!”
This type of trip is amazing! All of the once-in-a-life time experiences and amazing sights more than make up for the additional travel. But this type of trip takes time, a larger budget and quite a bit of patience, especially if you are traveling with young children.
But, you say, “I don’t have a lot of vacation time. Can I still travel to Australia and see the highlights without spending a ton of time and money?” Yes! With a smaller travel budget and just 5-7 days downunder, you can still get a great overview of Australia’s highlights just by visiting one or two select cities.
Or maybe you’re thinking, “I want to take my kids on an Australian adventure. But after that long plane ride to the other side of the world, I don’t want the stress of packing up the kids every few days and flying across the country just so they can get the full Australian experience.” You don’t have to!
Plan your trip to just one or two strategic locations and your kids will have an experience that is both educational and fun – one they will remember long after returning home to the rigmarole of everyday life. It’s one thing to spend your family vacation on the beach with playgrounds, kids programs and free child care. It’s quite another to live in an Australian city for a week visiting beaches, learning about ancient culture and cuddling kolas. I’d argue that the latter is much more engaging and educational.
The 7 major highlights of Australia are Beaches & Aquatic Life, Modern Culture & Art, Wildlife, the Outback, the Rainforest, Food & Wine and Indigenous Culture. A piece of these can be found in all major metro areas. You just have to know where to look…
…And thus the blog series has begun! Every week we’ll show you how you can see all 7 highlights in one city (or the surrounds). Browse through the series to help you pick a few cities which are best for you and your short vacation to Australia.
A word of advice:
Make sure you carefully plan every aspect of your trip. Know exactly what will be on your itinerary each day and book in advance. A lot of people believe they can book the flights and hotels then figure out the rest on the fly. This is a bad idea. The logistics alone can be quite daunting and after investing a lot of time and money into something, you want it to go well. We, of course, are proponents of you contacting us so we can use our expertise to help you plan the perfect trip. Sure, may be able to do it yourself, but you can avoid a lot of stress and worry if you let us do it for you! Get-A-Trip-Quoteor Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).
Posted on: August 26th, 2015 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
What places are on your Australian vacation wish list?
The Great Barrier Reef, our iconic Sydney Opera House and surrounding harbor, the breathtaking outback, the beautiful beaches or the luscious rainforests. These places are wonderful to visit and offer endless photo opportunities. But when they get home and return to normal life, most travelers find their most memorable moments not in ‘seeing the sights’, but in experiencing the culture.
The Aboriginal arts and culture are a very unique and interesting component of the Australian identity and one that can be experienced without traveling to remote locations. You can experience the human element of Australia in intimate and authentic ways in every state and not far from where you will likely already want to visit. Save on your trip to Australia with our deals on customized Indigenous vacation packages.
Aboriginal Australia is as diverse as the continent’s landscape; not one nation but many nation states speaking more than 250 languages. Each stop will provide you with a new and unique perspective and ground your tour of the infamous sites to the people of the land. You can also experience the culture by adding a few Aboriginal managed tours to your itinerary. Here are a few of our favorite places to visit in Australia to get a big dose of historic culture.
Places to Visit in Australia – New South Wales
Image by Dreamtime Southern X
The Rocks (Sydney) – Take a 90- minute leisurely urban walkabout with an Aboriginal guide in The Rocks, the historic area of Sydney’s city center. Your Aboriginal guide with show you how the ancient wisdom of Dreamtime is continuously weaved into the modern city to create a unique Australian culture.
Royal Botanic Garden Sydney – The Royal Botanic Garden is a great place to learn how early Aboriginal inhabitants lived as hunters and gatherers. Intimately associated with the environment they made poisonous seeds edible, created fishing line from bark, wove leaves into mats and baskets, and much more in order to survive. During a one hour tour an Aboriginal Education Officer will help you explore the rich Aboriginal heritage of the garden and give you a first-hand perspective of the its significance.
Taronga Zoo (Near Sydney) – Just short drive from the harbor you’ll find the Taronga Zoo. An Aboriginal discovery tour offers a chance to enjoy interactive experiences with unique Australian wildlife and a chance to discover more about Australia’s rich culture. An Aboriginal guide will tell you stories of Australian wildlife, the binding relationships between flora and fauna, and the Dreaming (the creation of various creatures and landscapes). You’ll also get a great photo opportunity with a Koala and ride the Sky Safari cable to discover why Taronga is known as “The Zoo with a view”.
Places to Visit in Australia – Northern Territory
Uluru, Australia’s Red Centre (Ayers Rock) – Visiting the heart of Australia is about more than just seeing a giant red rock, it’s about experiencing the Outback; its majestic beauty, its heritage and its essence. As the traditional owners of Uluru Kata Tjuta and the surrounding land, who better to help you capture the moment than the Anangu? Unlike many of us the Anangu still possess a strong connection to the past and thousands of years of accumulated knowledge, wisdom and law. Their traditions are maintained and passed on through stories, rituals, ceremonies, songs, dances and art. There are many opportunities to experience their culture and learn more during your stay at Uluru. Here are a few Indigenous tours in Uluru. Your Vacation Planning Expert can help you select the best experiences for your trip.
Sounds of Silence Dinner– A unique award-winning gourmet desert dining experience complete with a didgeridoo welcome, a beautiful Outback sunset, Australian delicacies, and a tour of the stars.
Image by AYQ
Camel Ride to the Sounds of Silence Dinner site (or just around the Outback) – Camel tours of Uluru are always an amazing experience. Friendly local guides teach and tell stories about the flora and fauna, the land, the indigenous people, their own lives and the history of camels in Australia in a fun and enjoyable way. The photo opportunities are always amazing and the camels, with their own unique personalities and cheeky nature, may also provide a bit of entertainment.
Tali Wiru Dinner – Another unique desert dining experience with a taste of Aboriginal heritage. This tour fills up quickly as only 20 people are allowed per night. You are taken to a large dune, well away from anything else. A majestic view of Uluru is in the distance as a local plays the didgeridoo and canapes are served as the sun sets. You will enjoy a three course meal with matching Australian wines, desert with port, and an evening of star gazing and Aboriginal stories.
Desert Awakenings Tour – This tour is a great way to view the landscape and learn about its history and its people. Travelers often describe their experience as powerful and spiritual as they learn the history of the land, take in the rock paintings and learn about the local lore of the Anangu people.
World Heritage Listed Daintree National Park (Pick-ups at Cairns, Beaches and Port Douglas) – This intimate tour allows you to not only learn about the Aborginal culture of the rainforest but also experience it. It’s a day full of excitement, learning, and fun. Some highlights include a smoking ceremony, mud crab hunting, a visit to your guide’s home to cook your catch, a lesson in ingenious art, and a swim in The Mossman Gorge.
Mossman Gorge Centre (A quick car ride from Port Douglas) – The Mossman Gorge Centre is managed by Aboriginal natives, Kuku Yalanji, whose natural history makes them perfect guides to the oldest rainforest in the world. Your guide will provide an entertaining narrative of the unique tropical environment while demonstrating traditional plant use, identifying bush food sources, and sharing their special relationship to the land. The Mossman Gorge Centre is a wonderfully pleasant way to enjoy the rainforest as you walk along a broad walk, swim in pristine water and cross the mighty gorge on a suspension bridge.
Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park (About 15 minutes from Cairns Airport) – Enjoy one of the most memorable dinner and shows in the world. This performance and tour truly takes you back in history and goes a long way to bring perspective to the culture’s 40,000 year history. The food is unexpected, abundant, tastefully prepared, and absolutely beautiful. There are plenty of opportunities for photos, fireside chats with the locals and a chance to take the stage and learn a traditional dance.
Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre (Melbourne) – The word Bunjilaka is a word created from two local Aborginal languages and means “creation place”. It is a place where Victoria’s indigenous communities can express their own history within the Melbourne Museum. It’s also a place where you can understand the aboriginal history of belonging to the land on the Yarra River, populated by the Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung people before the first Europeans arrived.
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne – The award-winning walk through the Gardens is often described as one of the most interesting walks in the city. A local Aboriginal guide takes you on a journey through the traditional camping and meeting place the for Kulin nation. You’ll experience stories, culture, plant lore, tools and ceremony.
Ngilgi Cave (About 40 minutes north of Margaret River) – Not many American tourists make it out to Western Australia. If you do, it’s well worth your time to visit Wardandi and Bibbulman Country. You can experience this great landscape and the caves through the eyes of the traditional owners. Take a 3-hour private tour which includes a bush walk, a trip into the Ngilgi Cave where your Aboriginal guide will play the didgeridoo, and a live demonstration of spears and boomerangs. All of this will leave you with authentic insight into the indigenous way of life in historic Western Australia.
Australia’s landscape varies from sandy beaches to rocky cliffs, from the desert outback to tropical rainforests and within each landscape is a unique historic culture, whose Dreamtime stories are as varied as the country they inhabit. A trip to Australia isn’t complete without experiencing at least a few of these ancient and mysterious cultures.
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What Should I Do and See During my Australia Vacation?
One of the hardest aspects of planning a vacation is deciding which tours and attractions to select; especially in Australia where the options are seemingly endless! Australia is one of the most diverse countries in the world, along with one of the most popular destinations for tourists. With everything from world-class wine regions to stunning scenery to vibrant cities, the choices for what to see and do in each individual destination can become overwhelming. Don’t worry, About Australia is here to help!
We have summarized the best tours and attractions in all of Australia’s most popular cities to make planning your Australia vacation as simple as possible. We’ve also summarized all the best wine country experiences, rainforest adventures, and more. Whether you want to plan a luxury vacation to the Great Barrier Reef or a rugged vacation in the Outback – About Australia will help you discover the very best of your chosen destination. Browse our suggestions for What to do in Australia.
Located just off the shore of Port Campbell National Park in Victoria, Australia, is this breath-taking limestone stack known as The Twelve Apostles. If you’ve ever heard of the Great Ocean Road in Australia – The Twelve Apostles is one of the monumental moments along the scenic drive.
These magnificent towers keep watch over the Southern Ocean and have become icons of Australia.
“Once upon a time – or up to 20 million years ago – they were connected to the cliffs of the mainland. The waves and wind carved them into caves, then arches, and eventually battered them down into columns that rise up to 45 meters high.” – Australia.com
As the years have come and gone the stacks have withered to the eight that remain strong and triumphant. This destination is one of those “can’t miss” moments because these limestone wonders are literally challenged daily to withstand the high winds and waters that relentlessly beat against them. The most recent stack that fell was in 2005.
When visiting The Twelve Apostles be sure to inquire about the shipwrecks and history that surround these natural wonders. If you’re taking a drive along the Great Ocean Road – be sure to plan extra time to take a romantic stroll at sunset to see the Apostles Stacks up close and personal. It’s a great once-in-a-lifetime photo moment.
A day trip to the Twelve Apostles can take a bit of planning. The best way to take the trip is from Melbourne. We’ll help you plan your stay in Melbourne and your drive on the Great Ocean Road so you don’t miss this spectacular sight.