A born and bred Melbournian, here is my list of must do attractions for Melbourne for a short stay
1. The Royal Botanical gardens
After 7 years of cultivation and care, the Titan Arun flower, which blooms only every 3 years, flowered in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne on Christmas day. The flower only lasts 3 days and I was lucky to see it in action today.
The flower is also known as the ‘corpse plant’ for the odour it omits, rather like rotting flesh. The queues were massive with Melbournians curious to catch a glimpse of the rare form and the bizarre smell. I too was impressed by this large, unusual and original-looking flower.
The flower originates from Sumutra, Indonesia, and grows in rainforest normally, however is becoming rarer and rarer as Indonesians continue to chop their forests. The flower is found in the tropical section of the Botanical gardens.
Aside from ‘very special’ guest flower appearances, there are plenty of activities for kids and adults, like Wind in the Willows which is an outdoor theatre that is set against the lake and park.
Or you can simply take a picnic on a warm summer’s day and enjoy all the beautiful flowers/plants and lakes in this oasis, that is within walking proximity of Melbournes’ CBD and Yarra River.
At nightime enjoy the Moonlight cinema which start as the weather becomes nice in December and runs through to March 31st. Bring your own picinic and drinks, and watch your favourite movies on a massive screen set against a gorgeous garden backdrop with views of Melbourne’s CBD skyline.
2. The Beach
There is nothing like going to the beach on a hot summers’ day. I like the cafe culture and walking the pier at St Kilda beach, where you can see view of the city. A good spot on the St Kilda beach is Republica, for a drink at night time or daytime coffee. For eating, I recommend the Stokehouse, also on the St Kilda foreshore.
Elwood and Brighton are lovely spots where the water is crystal clear and you can enjoy swimming easily.
3. Shopping on Chapel st
For the trendy fashionista to the punk rocker, you can find it all on Chapel st. The large street dedicated to serious shoppers, spans over a couple of suburbs. Start from the Toorak rd end of Chapel st for up market, posh fashion labels, and continue towards Prahran and Windsor where the vibe is grittier, with many shops on offer, from trendy fashion to pawbrokers to stylish vintage shops. There are many eclectic bars and restaurants that spice up this end of Chapel st, too.
I prefer the hipster end of Prahran, but Toorak has someting to offer also, with many good French restaurants on Toorak Rd. I recommend Le Petit Francais, a creperie/restaurant. The waiters are French and you can even practice your French with them! It’s well priced and offers traditional French food.
Toward the Prahran end, I like the pub, The Windsor Castle, just behind Chapel St. A great pub, with good food and a massive, lively beer garden.
4. The National Gallery of Victoria
‘Ballet and Fashion’ is now showing at the National Gallery of Victoria, a joint piece from NGV and the Australian Ballet Company. The exhibition displays the most successful fashion designer created costumes for the ballet world.
Designing for ballet requires a different look with designers trying to incorporate the classical tutu but with a twist, giving a modernised look, influenced by fashion. The costumes have changed dramatically from decades ago, where the classical tutu, was so heavily relied on. Many designers are featured, including the likes of Valentino and Christian Lacroix.
This exhibition is free and is open until May.
See a list of what else is on at the NGV, at the official site.
5. The Great Ocean Road
A famous strip of Melbourne coastland, frequented by tourists and Australians alike. The roads hug steep cliff edges and you can see spectacular views of the surf beaches from your car. If you have the time, its worth making it to the Apostles, where you can see amazing rock formations. On the way back to the Melbourne city, you may be lucky to see some koalas in the gum trees, if you looking hard enough!
How to get there
The Great Ocean Road is located about an hour or so from Melbourne. From Melbourne CBD, take the Westgate freeway and then the Geelong freeway. Check out maps on the official site for more details.
See the official site for accomodation if you want to properly see the Great Ocean Road and the surrounding towns