Melbourne, the arty city of Australia

Melbourne, Australia

© Damien Bouhours

I loved my stay in Melbourne. The capital city of the Australian State of Victoria is one of the most fascinating and relaxing city. With its parks, bikes, river and tram, you can feel its municipality is dedicated to the environment. It is also an arty fartsy’ paradise with its musems and vibrant street art. Don’t forget to visit St Kilda’s district for great restaurant, bar and nightlife scene (especially gay one).

Melbourne is Australia’s cultural capital, with Victorian-era architecture, extensive shopping, museums, galleries, theatres, and large parks and gardens. Its 4-million residents are both multicultural and sports-mad. Melbourne has many art galleries, film festivals, orchestras, choral and opera productions, vibrant live music scene, and a strong food, wine and coffee culture. People in Melbourne tend to dress up more than in Sydney, partly due to the colder climate. Many bars and clubs have strict dress regulations, such as requiring collars and dress shoes for men.

Particular events to note include the Melbourne International Film Festival in August, the International Art Festival in October, and the Melbourne Comedy Festival in April. There are also many concerts and exhibitions throughout the year. In addition to the Melbourne Museum, there are special museums dedicated to subjects such as science, immigration, Chinese history, Jewish history, sport, racing, film and moving image, railways, police, fire brigades and banking.

Reasons to visit Melbourne include to attend major sporting events (Melbourne residents love their sports!), to use it as a base for exploring surrounding regions such as Grampians National Park, The Great Ocean Road, and to visit Phillip Island to view the penguin parade. Many UK visitors come to Melbourne for tours of filming locations of soap opera Neighbours.


How to go there?

By plane
Melbourne is served by two airports, Melbourne Airport, which has international and domestic flights, and Avalon Airport , which only has domestic flights.

There is no train connection from Melbourne Airport to the city. Taxis between the airport and the city CBD cost around $55-65 and take about 30 minutes in clear traffic.

Skybus, ☎ +61 3 9670 7992, runs a 24/7 shuttle to and from the Southern Cross Station Coach Terminal on Spencer Street at the west end of the Central Business District, just north of Lonsdale Street. There are two airport pickup locations. One is outside the Virgin Australia/REX terminal (T3), 50 m (55 yd) from the international terminal (T2). The other is outside the Qantas/Jetstar domestic terminal (T1). There are ticket desks at both T1 and T3, and if unattended, tickets can be purchased electronically or from the driver.

The trip takes around 20 minutes (in good traffic) and runs directly using the freeway with no stops. It costs $17/28 adult one-way/return, $6 child one-way (between 4 and 14 years of age). There are also several family ticket options available. Frequency ranges from half-hourly between 1:00AM and 4:00AM, to every 10 minutes from 5:30AM to 11:00PM. They also run a connection service between the terminal and central hotels/hostels during the day (Mon-Fri 6:00AM-10:30PM, Sat-Sun 7:30AM-5:30PM), and this is included in your fare. Otherwise, you can board any train at Southern Cross Station, or take a tram down Collins St through the city centre. Bookings are not needed for travel from the airport to hotels, but on the way back, book hotel pick-up at least 3 hours ahead.

Alternatively, if heading to southern Melbourne (St Kilda and points beyond), the Frankston and Peninsula Airport Shuttle (FAPAS) [16] runs roughly-hourly minibus services, advance bookings required either online or at +61 3-97831199. Full adult fares from $18, but there are group discounts and some hostels even offer free rides if you stay for three or more nights.

For the Cheapest Way to from CBD to Airport :
The airport recently got a new SmartBus service, which offers long operating hours, and high frequencies (minimum 15 minutes during the daytime). If you are economising, a 2-hour Zone 1&2 Myki Card cost you less than $7 weekdays or $3.5 weekends Get Myki card from many newsagent, convenient stores, etc. Catch bus 901 to Broadmeadows (sign will read “FRANKSTON”), and switch to a train. A bus towards Moonee Ponds (Essendon) 478 & 479 will also get you to a railway station, however, operates much less frequently.

From Melbourne CBD to MEL Airport (Vice Versa) : Get a 2-hour zone 1&2 ticket at Flinders Street – Metro Station for $7 to Broadmeadows Station (Craigieburn line). From Broadmeadows Station, you can catch either bus 500 to Melbourne Airport, or bus 901 to Melbourne Airport (which is a SmartBus service). The Bus Stop in the airport is 2 minutes walk across from Terminal 4 – Tiger Airways Terminal.

The journey from Flinders Street Station to Broadmeadows station takes about 25~30 minutes. The route 901 operates from 4:54AM till 12:01AM, and has a minimum frequency of 15 minutes during the daytime. The bus from Broadmeadows to MEL airport takes 15 minutes.

Tullamarine has a more colder temperature but only by a few degrees. Tullamarine has a cold wider ranging as low as -1 degrees to even a 20 degree day.

Avalon Airport, (IATA: AVV), is situated in the Geelong outer suburb of Lara. The airport is located 55 km to the south-west of Melbourne, and is considerably further from Melbourne CBD than the Melbourne airport at Tullamarine. However, a shuttle to Southern Cross costs only $4 more than a shuttle from Tullamarine, and fares from Avalon are sometimes considerably cheaper. The terminal itself is about as simple as it gets, with just an ATM, car hire desks and baggage carousels in what looks like an old hanger at arrivals. The departure facilities are a little better, with a cafe and a bar, and a video arcade room.

Avalon Airport is serviced only by low-cost airline Jetstar. It also flies from Tullamarine, so be sure to double-check departure locations.

Options to get to the Melbourne CBD:

A taxi from the airport to Melbourne CBD will cost up to $100.

SITA coaches [18] operates coach shuttle service to Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station at $20 per adult and $10 per child one way. The buses meet every Jetstar arrival. An additional $7 per person charge is made for a transfer to city hotels. Only cash is accepted, not credit cards.

Lara station is around 8km from the terminal. Trains from there to Southern Cross station in Melbourne CBD run hourly, and cost $5.60. Children 17 years and under are half price. During off-peak times up to two children travel free with every adult. You will need to get a taxi to Lara station, as there is no public transport connection. A taxi should cost around $15, so there is no cost or time benefit for a single adult of the train over the shuttle.

The road connections are good. Hiring a car for a couple of days will usually be cheaper than a taxi, as long as you have somewhere to park it. It is about 50 minutes drive to the Melbourne CBD, but it can take longer in the morning peak, or on Sunday afternoons.

You can also use Avalon airport to Get in to Geelong and the Great Ocean Road. See those articles for the transfer information.

By train
All intercity rail services from interstate and intrastate destinations operate to and from Southern Cross Station (formerly Spencer Street Station), located on the western edge of Melbourne’s central business district. The station has recently been renovated and has excellent links to the rest of the city’s public transport network as it is part of the City Loop. Some services stop at Flinders St Station immediately prior to Southern Cross, which is a nice gateway to the city centre.

By car
From Sydney, the quickest route to Melbourne is the Hume Highway, which takes 10-11 hours. The Princes Highway (National Route 1) goes along the coast and is less crowded. It takes longer and the speed limit is lower, though.

Adelaide is slightly closer than Sydney and can be reached in 9 hours. The coastal route is scenic but slower.

A direct journey from Brisbane takes 21 hours of driving and takes you further inland along the Newell Highway. This makes for an interesting alternative to the standard Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne coastal route.

By bus
Bus services to Melbourne from out of state are provided by Firefly Express and Greyhound.

Bus services within Victoria are operated by V/Line, and operate from most major and many minor Victorian towns.
[edit] By ship

Melbourne can be reached from Devonport, Tasmania by car/passenger ferries run by Spirit of Tasmania [24]. The journey takes 10 hours and runs every night (in both directions), departing at 9PM and arriving at 7AM. During the peak of summer, there are also day sailings (departing 9AM, arriving 7PM) on many days – check in advance.

Ticket prices depend on time of year and your sleeping accommodation. A seat (no bed) is the cheapest, starting (in off-peak season) from $108 for adults and $82 for children. Bear in mind, the seat is most uncomfortable, equivalent to a cinema seat. Cabins with bunk beds start from $187 adults, $97 children. Peak season costs are about 25% higher. Cars cost $59 all year round.

Melbourne is also served by several cruise ships throughout the year (mostly in the summer cruise season). Check operators for further details.

All passenger ships serving Melbourne arrive at and depart from Station Pier in Port Melbourne which is located a short distance from the CBD. For those without private transport, the 109 tram departs from the old railway station across the road from the Pier and goes right into the heart of Melbourne (continuing to Box Hill in the north-east of the city).