... a dreamer, freelance writer, massage therapist, naturopath, mother & drop-out social work student living, working and writing in the Blue Mountains. When not occupied with the real world, she writes fantasy.
Published June 18th 2013
From catching a tram to what to do and where to go
For a newbie, the pleasure of visiting the Southern State of Australia can be fraught with mild anxiety. How does one catch a tram? Are those rumours of perpetual grey skies true? How does one get to the hotel from the airport? And, so on?
For those who are new voyagers to Melbourne, this article is your first port of call. Providing lists of things to do, transport information and more, reading on is a must if you want to avoid the hiccups and time-wasting that often befall tourists.
City bench at Southbank, Melbourne - looking out to the city over the Yarra.
Most people of moderate financial means catch the Airport SkyBus. This is an efficient, clean service, operating 24 hours a day including public holidays. During the day the SkyBus runs every ten minutes. The SkyBus departs from the kerbside of international and domestic "arrivals" at Tullamarine Airport. The excursion from the airport to the city centre takes approximately twenty minutes and is an express, single route trip to Southern Cross Station. You can get a return express trip back to Tullamarine Airport from Southern Cross Station.
Purchase your tickets online or pay (by credit card, cash or EFTPOS) at the SkyBus booths located where the buses depart.
At the time of writing this article, a single one-way adult fare on SkyBus cost $17 and a return $28. There are also family fares available.
SkyBus also offer a complimentary hotel transfer service. This applies to select CBD hotels and is inclusive of your ticket price. To check the list of hotels serviced, check the Skybus website. If you want to use the hotel transfer service, check in at the Hotel Transfer Service Booth at Southern Cross Station. The driver can point it out to you. A SkyBus mini-bus will then take you to your hotel.
Both SkyBus and the hotel transfer minibus are wheelchair accessible.
Another idea is to pick up your hire car from the airport. If you are taking this option, check in advance about parking in your hotel. Not many CBD hotels seem to have complimentary parking. Expect to pay extra for this. The inside advice is that parking on the street overnight in the CBD isn't an option, with ticket inspectors regularly doing the rounds.
For prices on rental cars visit Melbourne Airport Car Hire. This handy website has prices on cars available for rent from Melbourne Airport including those from Hertz, Budget, Europcar, Bargain, Thrifty, Cruisin' oz, Honk and other car hire companies.
Catching a cab is a further option. Melbourne Airport is 23 kilometres away from Melbourne CBD. Estimations on the driving time seem to range from a short fifteen minutes to a much longer hour, depending on traffic conditions. The World Taxi Meter website provides a rough quote of about $50 in cab fare for a trip from the airport to the city centre.
Things to do in Melbourne
Street art in the small lane-ways of Melbourne's CBD.
Sample the culture in eclectic Melbourne by exploring the vibrant restaurant / cafe scene, jazz clubs, comedy clubs, museums and cool bars. Check out Melbourne's creative under-belly and view street-art in the small lane-ways of the CBD. Markets and shopping will appeal to the inner shopaholic while the Royal Botanic Garden and the Yarra River provide scenic repose from the concrete of the city.
Incorporating all the above and more, here's a list of fab things to do in Melbourne:
I've dedicated significant time to this section as checking out the city and manoeuvring the transport system go hand in hand.
Using one's own legs and a map is an easy enough means for circumnavigating the CBD. Request a map of the CBD from your hotel. This will show you the main sections of the city, recommended places to go, tram routes, where the station is and other helpful information.
If you don't want to walk, catch the tram, train or bus. Which leads onto the complicated public transport ticketing system in Melbourne.
In Melbourne you cannot catch public transport without a special card, called Myki. This is essentially a reusable smart card read by a 'myki' reader, which one tops up with fare money. You can buy these at select retailers (apparently 800 or so) including 7-Eleven stores, the ticket office window at Premium Stations (those with customer service centres & staffed all day), from a myki machine (full fare myki cards only) located at all train stations and major tram and bus interchanges, online at Public Transport Victoria or by calling the latter on 1800 800 007 6am - midnight daily.
The myki card allows one to travel on trains, trams and buses in Zones 1 and 2 including V/Line services to Melton and Sunbury.
A myki Visitor Pack costs $14 and includes the smartcard and $8 worth of myki travel money - enough to cover you for a day of tram travel in Zone 1. Fares for trams, buses and trains are divided into two zones. Zone 1 covers the Melbourne CBD and inner suburbs and Zone 2 the outlying middle and outer suburbs.
In order to board a tram, you need to find a tram station. A map will help you locate these. Look out for what looks like a mini-station platform or bus depot in the middle of the road, with commuters waiting upon it. Before you board, make sure you have your myki sorted out. Be aware that public transport doesn't go all night. To check out operating times, see the Public Transport Victoria website.
Unless your trip is in the summer months, forget the shorts and midriff tops. I was there in late March (autumn) and the shorts in my backpack never actually made it onto my body. Shed the summery stuff and yes, think layers, jacket, leggings and do pack a coat. If the weather turns overcast you will need it. This is Melbourne after all. And, yes, (LOL) the rumours about that Melbournian weather are true.
For average seasonal temperatures in melbourne, check out the info on Weatherzone.
Melbourne weather is generally mild but often overcast.
Draculas is closing down soon or has done already. Also just for the record in Melbourne we call them tram stops. Add the Zoo to the list if you have kids and if you want a trip further out of town Healesville Sanctuary specialises in SE Australian native animals so is especially great for overseas tourists and Werribee open range zoo has mostly African animals with an Aussie section as well. A good chunk is seen by safari bus and the rest via walking trails.