Melbourne City: Top Things to do
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Choosing hotel accommodation in a capital city can sometimes be hit and miss if you do not know the city well. On my last short break to Melbourne, The Crown Plaza
which is situated on the banks of the Yarra River
, became my home base for a few days. It is also a short walk across the bridge to the Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex
where hundreds flock on the weekend and evenings to feed birds, dine at the outside restaurants and cafes or just sit on the benches and enjoy the view of the Yarra River as they soak up the cosmic atmosphere that makes Melbourne famous.
The Crown Plaza was a good choice with plenty of space in the rooms. A king bed is provided for a couple and two good sized double beds for two people sharing. Rooms have flat screen TVs with satellite channel yet you probably will not get to see much of that when there is so much to do. There is however, a fee for Wi-Fi. Room service is available if that's what you desire, however I preferred dining in Clarendon Street Grill or popping into the Lobby Bar for a drink with friends before dinner. The Plaza has a heated pool and 24-hour gym in-house and is also well equipped for corporate meeting and events with a total of seven meeting rooms and informal lounge area if you are waiting for a client.
For holiday-makers with families, the Melbourne Sea Life Aquarium
is a short walk from the Plaza and provides three levels of displays, presentations and talks regarding the wild life housed in the complex. Times and locations are allocated for feeds and talks throughout the day with most having morning and afternoon schedules. Our favourite was definitely the Penguin Playground and I'm sure it was everyone else's too as the line-up was four deep getting to the glass to view.
Easy access between levels is provided with the use of lifts, escalators and stairs, with the Aquarium being wheel-chair friendly. A café is located on the ground floor. Cost for Adults is $40.50 and Children $26.00, however if you book on-line you will receive 10% off the ticket price. Children under 3 are free and family concessions are available.
A short walk at night took us to dinner on The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant
. The Tramcar Restaurant began in 1983 and providers lunch, early dinners, late dinners, vegetarian and gluten free options. Each tram can occupy 36 people so if you are thinking of organising a celebration outing for a middle sized party, the tram can accommodate. The table settings and service was perfect and the food amazing. We opted for a three course meal for $82 per person. This included all drink beverages. The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant runs seven days a week all year round. The route took us through suburbs and beach areas and it seemed in no time at all we were back where we began but we certainly did not feel that our meal experience was rushed.
I don't think a trip to Melbourne is complete without a visit to the Old Melbourne Gaol
where Australia's famous Bushranger, Ned Kelly, was hanged. A guide took us through the gaol explaining what life was like for criminals, petty offenders, homeless and mentally ill who were all sent there to see out their lives. The gaol was built in in stages from 1841 and until its closure in 1929, 133 hangings took place. Ned Kelly
was first admitted to gaol in 1870 at an age 15 from a charge of assault and obscene language. He served a six-month term. He returned again less than a month later for receiving a stolen horse and remained there until 1874.
As with usual practice in those days, after Ned was hanged in 1880 he was taken to the mortuary for an autopsy and his head was removed for a death mask to be made. Several of these were made and one is on display in the Melbourne Gaol. It definitely gives you an eerie feeling when standing in front of it. The Gaol was one of the highlights of my Melbourne excursion and a wealth of knowledge on the history of the prison system at that time. Cost of entry is $25 adults, $20 concession and children 5 to 15 years are $13.50. It is advised that young children may find the exhibits too confronting. Entry to the gaol will also provide entry into the City Watch House
and [LINK=http://www.oldmelbournegaol.com.au/old-magistrates-court/]Old Magistrate's Court.
If you are contemplating on a visit to Melbourne, it is best to visit the information centres
to find out what events are happening in the City and at what times, so you can plan your visit well.
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