For years, Melburnians have visited Europe to discover fun and entertaining free walking tours. Now Melbourne has its own free tour. The concept, which asks guests to simply "pay what they think the tour is worth," is more than a historic walk. Since the guides work for tips, they are highly entertaining, presenting history with a theatrical flair. On our tour, the guide finished with an amazing depiction of Ned Kelly's last stand at the exact site of his execution.
The company, Walks 101, was started by an American who has previously given Free Walking Tours in London and felt that there needed to be an Australian equivalent. The tours start at 11am daily (rain or shine) at Gordon Reserve, the park in between Melbourne's Parliament and Old Treasury buildings. The guide arrives at 10:45 with a blue umbrella and checks the group in for the tour.
At 11pm, the guides split the group up so each group has around 20 people per guide. The 2.5 hour tour includes the Yarra River, Federation Square, Melbourne's laneways, Bourke Street Mall, Chinatown the State Library and the Old Melbourne Gaol.
At the end of the tour, the guides give an option to bring you to a local pub, where I found the chicken parma to be amazing. Walks 101 doesn't require reservations for its free Melbourne tour, but they say that the reservations help them estimate the group size.
Whatever you do, make sure to bring some cash. On my tour, the guide gave the best tour I've ever been on and I was disappointed my partner and I only had $20 between the two of us. If we had it, we would have definitely given $20 each!
The Walks 101 group poses for a photo on the free tour