Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What to Do in Melbourne

In two days time the 2012 Formula 1 season will kick off at Albert Park in front of thousands of eager Australian spectators and the international media. The Ferrari team began arriving in Melbourne yesterday and will now start the tough process of transitioning from European time to Australian time, which is ten hours ahead of us! I can say from experience that this is no easy task. When I flew out to Melbourne for the very first time in December, I had previously never been on a plane for longer than six hours, therefore the thirty plus hours that it took me to reach my destination felt like an eternity and by the time that I arrived in Tullamarine airport I felt like the day before yesterday’s breakfast that had been left out in the sun for too long.

Although I briefly mentioned my trip to Melbourne in my previous blog post all the way back on January 26th http://lovelifeandferrari.blogspot.com/2012/01/australia-and-italian-earthquake.html I didn’t really talk about all of my experiences in the uniquely charming city. Therefore the following are just a few of my favourite things to do in the city of Melbourne:

1. Take a ride on the tram. Melbourne is a lot like San Francisco simply because the city is home to an extensive network of trams that weave their way through the city and surrounding areas. One particular route that is geared specifically to tourists is known as the City Circle. You can catch this tram outside most of the main tourist attractions in the inner city and it does what is essentially a loop of the core area, stopping frequently at different points of interest along the way. The tram is articulated and tells you a little bit about each of the attractions as it passes by them. I found that it was a great way to get around the city, not only because it showed me what to do, but also because the service was absolutely free!

2. Treat yourself to some Shao-Long Bao. Hutong is one of Melbourne’s most popular dumpling bars. Located within the city’s enormous China town, locals have to make reservations days in advance just to sample this famous restaurant’s scrumptious offerings. Their Shao-Long Bao soup dumplings have gained them special notoriety and my particular favourites were the wontons with hot chilli sauce and the hot and sour soup. I ate there on three separate occasions during a two week period and still find myself craving the wontons to this day!

3. Make some aquatic acquaintances. The Melbourne aquarium is a must-see destination for people who are travelling with children in particular. Aside from a very popular room filled with some outgoing and cheeky penguins, you will find countless displays on Australia’s local marine life as well as a giant room that makes you feel as though you are under the ocean, with various fish and sharks swimming above and on either side of you. When I visited, there was a special display dedicated to sharks in particular and the aquarium likes to change its featured exhibits throughout the year. The gift shop is also fantastic with reasonably priced souvenirs that are both unique and fun.

4. Come face to face with Ned Kelly. The State Library of Victoria is located right in the heart of Melbourne and boasts not only a beautiful exterior but also some very interesting displays about the history of the city and Australia in general. Currently the library is home to a rather unique collection of memorabilia from infamous Australian outlaw Ned Kelly. Kelly has become somewhat of a legendary figure to the Australian people and the collection includes not only his suit of armour but also his very creepy death mask.

5. Take a stroll down Riverside. Near the casino is a beautiful path that is lined with trees and overlooks the Yarra River. It is from here that one can take the most stunning pictures of Melbourne and spend the day relaxing by the water.

6. Go Boutique and cafe hopping through Melbourne's lanes. Part of Melbourne’s charm is that you can find just about anything within its core area and there are a large quantity of boutiques and cafes that are located within the city centre. In the summer people sit outside in street cafes and one can easily spend the whole day exploring both the lanes and the eclectic mix of stores and cafes that occupy them.

7. Take in an inning at the MCG. Cricket fans will be more than aware of the Melbourne Cricket Ground and its significance to the world cricket scene but what many people may not be aware of is that the grounds are also home to the National Sports Museum. Amongst the museum’s many attractions are the skeleton of famous Australian racehorse Carbine and the preserved heart of Tulloch. Formula 1 enthusiasts will also be interested to learn that there Is an exhibit that is dedicated to the career of Jack Brabham and even includes his Brabham BT19.

8. Drink a glass of wine in the Yarra Valley. The Yarra Valley, which is located about one hour’s drive outside of the city, is one of the world’s most famous wine producing areas. With wineries such as Coombe Farm, Oakridge, De Bortoli and hundreds of others to choose from you’re sure to find something to stimulate your taste buds. It was at the Yarra Valley that I discovered that I have a fondness for desert wines in particular and many companies organise wine tours to help guide you through the vast selection available. Luca and I went with Wild Wombat Winery Tours and had a phenomenal day out! One thing to bear in mind while you are on your tour is that if you buy your wine directly from the cellar door, it is usually available at discounted rates. Friends and family will surely be pleased to receive a gift of Australian wine upon your arrival back home.

9. Have a magic moment at the Healesville Sanctuary. The Healesville Sanctuary is located in the Yarra Valley region and is a great day out to supplement your trip to the vineyards. The sanctuary is home to some of the regions most endangered animals as well as Australian favourites like the kangaroo and koala. In addition to being able to see the animals up close and personal, visitors have the option of purchasing what are known as Magic Moments. These ten minute time slots allow patrons to feed, pet and sometimes even hold these beautiful creatures. I had my own moment with a kangaroo and it is definitely something that I will never forget. The sanctuary also puts on informative shows about reptiles, birds of prey and traditional aboriginal culture throughout the day. Admission to these shows is free with the purchase of a day’s general admission to the sanctuary.

10. Wander through the gardens near Cook’s Cottage. Nestled within the busting metropolis of Melbourne is the large and luscious Fitzroy Gardens. In addition to being home to some adorable possums that seem to roam the area freely and without much fear, the garden is the site of Cook’s Cottage. The cottage was the boyhood home of English explorer James Cook and was transported from Yorkshire and reassembled in Melbourne in 1934. As well as the cottage the gardens boast a miniature Tudor village which was constructed in England and gifted to Melbourne after the Second World War as a thank you for food donations which were sent to England. Right beside the village there is a very beautiful tree stump with little storybook creatures carved into its bark. The stump is the work of author Olah Cohn, who enjoyed coming to the park and telling her stories to appreciative children during her lifetime.

Although I’m sure that the men and women who work in the world of Formula 1 will have neither the time or the energy to do even half of the things that I mentioned above, I hope that if you are making your way out to Melbourne as a spectator that you will be able to experience even some of them. For sure the Formula 1 race is by far the city’s major attraction for a motorsports fanatic, but you would be crazy not to take the time to get to know this high energy destination a little bit more intimately if you are lucky enough to find yourself there.

I hope that my recommendations have been helpful and if you have any suggestions for fellow readers, please feel free to add them in the comments section below!

1 comment:

  1. Yes, its my city and home, its not as beautiful as Sydney, but in a special way its a great place to live.
    Glad u enjoyed it, next time take in the Great Ocean Road.