I'm a wine professional, living in Bangkok and travelling frequently throughout South East Asia. I'm a huge fan of Laos and Cambodia and off the beaten track travel. Feel free to contact me at: www.facebook.com/mil.elephants
Melbourne can be a pricey place for tourists and even for locals on a staycation, however as big international cities go, Melbourne does have a lot of free activities to not only fill your time, but also that are worthy of doing not just because they're free. These are my favourites.
1. I think the best freebie in Melbourne is public transport. As of the start of 2015, all trams throughout the Central Business District and Docklands are fee of charge. For years people were able to use the City Circle Tram for free, but coverage of the whole of the CBD and Docklands makes getting around to your other free activities a breeze. Just get on, and get off. Just make sure you're aware of where the free tram zone starts and stops. Signs indicating this can be found at all tram stops.
2. Galleries, Melbourne has a lot of Galleries, and some of the best are free, largely due to significant patronage that has subsidised art in the city for many years, but also as a result of genuine interest in the arts by the broader public. Three terrific and free galleries you should visit include the Australian Centre for the Moving Image at Federation Square, the National Gallery of Victoria on St. Kilda Road and The Ian Potter Centre for Contemporary Art, also at Fed Square.
3. Melbourne street scenes, or more accurately laneway scenes are really quite unique. I image that Melbourne's laneways at some time in the past were intimidating, dark and dingy. Today, they are anything but. They are filled with life and art and colour. Hoosiers Lane, ACDC Lane and many others have become the canvas for a generation of creative and challenging artists. There is not another city that I know of that has such easily accessible art and such an ever changing canvas.
4. Melbourne's parks and gardens are, weather permitting amazing and free. Fitzroy Gardens, just to the rear of the Parliament Building is a favourite, where you can walk through a conservatory and visit Sinclair's Cottage (botanist and horticulturalist). You can also visit Cook's Cottage. Although named after Cook, the Cottage wasn't his. It's a replica and a memorial of sorts. The Botanic Gardens, Birrarung Marr, Royal Domain and the Carlton Gardens are all easily reached from the city. If the weather permits, pack a picnic.
5. The State Library is my favourite building in Melbourne. Partly because as an undergrad I spent a lot of time in amongst dusty old tomes and breathed in half the stacks, I think it's in my blood. It features many free exhibitions, talks and lectures and has an atmosphere that only a great old library can.
Melbourne has many more free activities, these are just the ones I've been doing recently. I would love to hear suggestions from others.