If you're looking for a relatively inexpensive, but interesting day out in Melbourne, here are a few ideas that may stimulate your sense of curiosity. Start at The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia Exhibition at the Melbourne Museum. With over 170 artefacts that pre date the Egyptian pyramids, it is a fascinating story. These exhibits come to Australia on loan from the British Museum and focus on Sumer, Assyria and Babylon , all of which occupied the area now known as Iraq. Our current day writing originated in Mesopotamia as did the 60 sec/minute and 60 minute/hour time system.
At $ 24 Adult, $16 Concession and $14 Child entry fee, it is good value for money. The smaller children present on the day that I visited seemed interested enough in the artefacts to cope with the exhibition. However, as fascinating as it is, after several hours of browsing, you'll no doubt be at the "feed me" stage.
There is more than one cafe in the Museum complex, but the Mesopotamia Cafe, just outside the exit, offers fresh and tasty light lunches supplied with quick service and a big smile. The range is not extensive, but it is more than adequate and it is fresh. The Cafe remains open the same hours as the exhibition does.
Your ticket into the exhibition includes free entry into the Museum and this was certainly popular with families. With three levels to explore, you may wile away as many hours as you like at the various exhibits. Your admission price also includes a free copy of the Herald Sun.
Melbourne Museum 11 Nicholson St, Carlton Open daily 10am-5pm
On your way out as you head off further downtown, check out the heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building with its incredibly beautiful interior just next door. There is often an exhibition of some sort in progress (from Arts & Crafts to Motorclassica).
If you've travelled down to the southern end of the city, consider spending some time meandering around the various marquees at the Sunday Market, with some stalls now located around the lawn area at the base of the Arts Centre spire. It is still one of the most popular craft markets around and the variety of merchandise available is extensive.
Stop by the popular Dutch Poffertjes stand and smother your little light pancakes with maple syrup or lemon and sugar. Not good for the diet, but scrumptious on a cool Sunday afternoon, especially as you can spread out on the lawn and relax while you sample. If you are not really a mini pancake person, at one of the last stalls as you leave the Market, you may be enticed by some fresh, tasty cupcakes.
With still a few hours left in the day, visit the National Gallery of Victoria just next door and enjoy the exhibition on Napoleon Bonaparte: Revolution to Empire Examine over 300 exquisite items belonging to the Napoleonic era; from paintings to jewellery to furniture. It's a fascinating look at one of the world's most powerfully strategic, military leaders.
Your day can begin with a meander through the Middle East, include a Turkish lunch, some Dutch poffertjes for an afternoon snack and finish with a visit to the French Napoleonic era. In all, a varied and interesting cosmopolitan day out in Melbourne.
Whether you drive, train it or tram it into the city, with weekend fares and discounted parking, your pleasant day out can be achieved at a reasonable cost. Travelling from the Museum down to the Southbank precinct offers several choices. It's a really great walk if the weather is considerate, but there is always the tram, the train or for something a bit more exciting, a horse and buggy ride around the CBD, ending at the National Gallery. For the fitness fanatic, you may choose to ride your bicycle and if you didn't bring your own, there are several hire points around the CBD area.