Keeping Busy
September 13, 2009 12:35 AM   Subscribe

Keep us busy in Melbourne. What to do for a few days in Victoria's Capital?

My wife and I are visiting Melbourne for four days in about a week. We've got a few things planned (art exhibit at National Gallery, dinner on one night, optimistically in the audience for Rove) but basically have three days free.

We were last there for a little under a week about three years ago, and did some of the most obviously touristy thing then, but are looking for some more inspiration this time around.

We're planning to visit Bridge Road, and maybe the museum, but that's about all we've got on our minds for sure this time around. We're staying in the CBD and probably planning to stick relatively central, but we're not afraid of a wee train or tram journey for something interesting.

Bonus points for a few great ideas in close proximity. And, I suspect, Mrs. Sycophant would be interested in other bargain shopping opertunities beyond Bridge Road and DFO.
posted by sycophant to Travel & Transportation around Melbourne, Australia (22 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Mrs Sycophant might want to check out Smith Street for shopping - factory outlets and so on. And if you haven't been to Chadstone, the largest shopping centre in the Southern Hemisphere, you can spend at least an afternoon there. As visitors, you even get discounts at a bunch of shops :)
posted by jacalata at 12:47 AM on September 13, 2009

Best answer: There's a Pompeii exhibiton running at the Museum which is supposed to be well worth seeing.

You say you're going to the Gallery, are you aware there's a Dali exhibition currently running there?

I think the Star Wars exhibition is still on at Scienceworks.

The north end of Smith Street in Collingwood has quite a few outlet stores as well, though not quite as many as Bridge Road and probably more sporty orientated - eg Adidas, Converse, Nike, Mountain Designs & places like that.

Queen Victoria Market is usually worth a visit if you're looking for bargains.

I love taking visitors on the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant

We went on the Haunted Melbourne Ghost Tour last year with a friend from interstate & we rather enjoyed it. The guy that runs it is quite a character and it's pleasant wander around the CBD up to the Queen Victoria Market where you learn some very interesting, if a bit gruesome, history from Settlement up to the present that most people would never know even living right here.

How about meeting up with some of friendly local Mefites? I'm sure some of us might be convinced to come out for a beer if you're into that sort of thing.
posted by goshling at 1:00 AM on September 13, 2009

Response by poster: The Dali exhibition is actually the entire reason we're traveling to Melbourne (making it a pretty expensive trip to see some paintings I guess).

The Pompei thing is on our short-list. I thnk my wife's deep love of Star Wars will probably see us visiting Scienceworks, although she's non-commital now :)

Meeting up with people - a distinct possability I suppose. We're in town 18th to 21st.

I think we were a little dissapointed by the shopping opportunities at Queen Vic markets last time - the food was good though.
posted by sycophant at 1:12 AM on September 13, 2009

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image and the Immigration Museum are both worth a look.
posted by embrangled at 1:40 AM on September 13, 2009

what dates exactly are you in melbourne?
posted by compound eye at 2:15 AM on September 13, 2009

Try the raptor show out at Healesville sanctuary. It's bit of a hike, but worth it if you like birds (eagles, tawny frogmouths, other carnivorous birds). And if you listen carefully you will find the cage (usually off limits to the public) where all the swearing cockatoos are kept :)
posted by flutable at 2:17 AM on September 13, 2009

i figure you can't hope to impress new zealanders with scenery, so I won't bother suggesting a trip to wilson's prom.

i'd suggest breakfast on brunswick street fitzroy before pompei.

acmi is great,

there are also great films on at the nova on lygon st (although the screen cinema 5 is not much bigger that a large plasma) , and dinner at ti amo (not tiamo 2 next door) across the road and a browse in readings bookshop.

explore the laneways along flinders lane, galleries at the top, shops down the hill.

st kildas great to explore, check out the community gardens on a sunny day and chat to the locals.

have fun!
posted by compound eye at 2:35 AM on September 13, 2009

The MCG tour is pretty cool; my wife, who is completely uninterested in cricket enjoyed it.

The Melbourne zoo is pretty cool.
posted by rodgerd at 2:42 AM on September 13, 2009

You may want to treat Mrs Sycophant to a cocktail or three at a place called 1806 on Exhibition St.
posted by carnival of animals at 4:36 AM on September 13, 2009

The Dali exhibition is great - make sure you have plenty of time as it's huge.

Seconding the zoo, and the Melbourne Aquarium is also pretty good, if somewhat expensive. The botanical gardens are also worth a look.

If you are into outdoor stuff, the Dandenong Ranges are an easy day trip from Melbourne if you have access to a car (~1.5 hour drive each way) and lovely this time of year. The drive along the great ocean road is spectacular, but a bit further afield.

Collingwood Childrens Farm
is nice little place, if eating breakfast and checking out farm animals in a crunchy hippie environment is your thing (and easy access by public transport from the CBD).

I haven't seen the Pompei exhibition yet, as the day we tried to go the queue was outrageously long. However, you can pre-purchase tickets online (catch: at least one day beforehand) and dodge the horrendous queue. We'll definitely be heading there before it closes, and the rest of the museum is well worth checking out as well.

Enjoy your trip!
posted by procrastinator_general at 5:27 AM on September 13, 2009

Seconding a wander and food on Brunswick St, Fitzroy (a good mix of alternative and arty shops - take the 112 tram from Collins St in the direction of West Preston), and the little lanes off of Flinders lane, particularly the ones that lead to the Block arcade etc., between Collins and Elizabeth.

Visit the bar on the 35th floor of the Sofitel hotel on Collins St. Beautiful views of the city from the toilets!

I used to love lunch at Yu'u. They have gorgeous Japanese set lunches at pretty reasonable prices. Book in advance, and google to know exactly where it is, because it's pretty easy to miss.

Keep your eye out for street art - Melbourne is well known for interesting graffiti.

Oh, and try Lord of the Fries if you're passing - on the corner of Flinders and Elizabeth.

Bon voyage!
posted by Emilyisnow at 5:32 AM on September 13, 2009

Whoops, forgot the most important thing ;)

If you like pubs, check out the Great Britain hotel in Richmond, which is just near East Richmond train station (or walking distance from Bridge Rd, since you'll be there). It has a great selection of local beers on tap, is not too crowded and has really nice atmosphere.
posted by procrastinator_general at 5:33 AM on September 13, 2009

The Old Melbourne Gaol night tour was interesting.
posted by backwards guitar at 6:07 AM on September 13, 2009

HAH! Great Britain hotel in Richmond was the subject of it's very own AskMe.

I agree with booking ahead for the Pompeii expo, however I think the queues were at their worst a few months ago just after it opened, which coincided with the last school holidays so it was very popular for those few weeks but once the new school term began the queues disappeared. This current school term ends this Friday, the 18th, which means that from then on the traffic on the roads will be a bit lighter lighter, but there will be more families out seeing the various attractions.
The Royal Melbourne Show must be due to start soon, but I'd recommend avoiding that. You may notice lots of children on public transport, hyped up on sugar, carrying bags of loot & wielding inflatable toys & other novelties.

On Sundays there are artists markets on St Kilda Esplanade & alongside the Arts Centre at Southbank.

Visit ACDC Lane.
posted by goshling at 6:36 AM on September 13, 2009

A laneway tour or a public art walk or other walking tour. Given the number of lovely cafes in Melbourne, self-guided walks are a delightful way to spend a morning or afternoon. The Lonely Planet guide for Melbourne had some good general walking tour suggestions that used when my parents were in town, so having a glance at that might be worth your while.
posted by EvaDestruction at 11:14 AM on September 13, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers so far. I think we'll manage to keep ourselves pretty entertained. Hotel is right by Flinders Lane, so exploring the laneways seems like a likely option.

I remeber we'd considered the night tour of the Gaol last time, can't remember why we didn't do it.

My wife found what she considered the best Eggs Benedict she's had somewhere on Bridge Road last time, so I suspect we'll be devoting some time to trying to find that again, but Brunswick St sounds interesting too.

I made a visit to Lord of the Fries last time, but sadly my wife was unwell that night and stayed at the hotel, chip-less. So I think we'll be heading there (it's already marked as a favourite in the mapping app on my phone).
posted by sycophant at 2:49 PM on September 13, 2009

It's been a LONG time since I've been in Melbourne, but I had a great time going to Australian Rules football matches. I didn't have much trouble following it even though I knew very little about the game. Think it may be close to finals time....
posted by Noon Under the Trees at 8:47 PM on September 13, 2009

Response by poster: Last time we were there was Anzac Day 2007, they had the big Richmond/Collingwood game, and our hotel was literally right across the road from the MCG. It was interesting and we didn't even go to the game.
posted by sycophant at 9:10 PM on September 13, 2009

My wife found what she considered the best Eggs Benedict she's had somewhere on Bridge Road last time, so I suspect we'll be devoting some time to trying to find that again, but Brunswick St sounds interesting too.

If you can convince Mrs Sycophant to forego eggs Benedict in favour of another breakfast delight, you should visit Madame SouSou on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy. Their French toast is the breakfast by which all others should be measured - rich brioche bread, studded with fruit, perfectly egged and cooked with love. I'm sure the eggs are great too, but the French toast is spectacular.
posted by embrangled at 4:18 AM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

I was just in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago: the Dali exhibition is huge, I guess since that's what you're there to see you'll give it lots of time. We didn't know it was on and just wandered in on a whim an hour and a half before closing time on Sunday. It was packed with gawkers and we had to rush through the last few areas. Well worth the visit, I wish I'd gotten there with more time.

The Star Wars exhibit was great: models of the ships, replica wookies, costumes, videos explaining the "science" and special effects, interactive science-y bits like making your own video effects or controlling robots. I swore loudly in front of many small children when a staff member dressed like a Sith Lord spooked me. Very entertaining if you're a fan. We took maybe an hour to see about 90% of it at Sunday lunchtime, lots of kids but not too crowded to see what was going on. The train to Spotswood station will get you there with no trouble, the station has a map of which road to walk down to get to Scienceworks.

ACMI in Federation Square has a rather good Len Lye exhibit. New Zealand-born film artist and kinetic sculptor, lots of big metal sculptures that go boing every 20 minutes and videos to watch, all for free.

The Pompeii exhibit at the museum was crowded, but we didn't have to line up (this was on a Friday afternoon). We spent maybe an hour and a half there but I got frustrated with the standing-right-in-front-of-stuff-I-want-to-read crowds and skipped a few things.

De Graves Lane (off Flinders St) was great for breakfast, about 6 or 7 places to choose from that all looked great - we chose Cafe Andiamo and loved the french toast and Andiamo special. And Cafe 53 (looks like a hole in the wall with a coffee machine, but you can go upstairs for a seat) on Flinders Lane was great for a foccacia for lunch. Riverlands is a pub alongside the river in-between the NGV (Dali) and Federation Square, they do lovely gourmet sausage-inna-bun for $8, or all the usual pizzas, beers, wedges, wine, etc.
posted by harriet vane at 8:49 AM on September 14, 2009

Oh, and if you want a fancy meal instead of sausage-inna-bun, Cumulus Inc on Flinders Lane was a treat. The dishes are for sharing, my husband and I ordered 3 between us and a glass of wine each, came to about $70. I thought it'd cost more, and it probably would have if it'd been dinner, or we hadn't had a late brekkie. We had a charcuterie plate, duck and beetroot salad, and some kind of potatoes that have escaped my memory. Very prompt and helpful service too.
posted by harriet vane at 8:57 AM on September 14, 2009

How could I forget that day?
Yeah, how we walked along the Yarra
To the MCG, and then to the tennis centre
Through the Bourke Street Mall,
and down the Block Arcade
Caught the 96 tram to St Kilda Esplanade
Saw the Westgate Bridge,
from the top of Flinders Street clocks
Saw the You Yangs real clear,
from the foot of Mt Dandenong!

We've just run out of Melbourne cliches (oh no! oh no!)
We've just run out of Melbourne cliches (oh no! oh no!)

So we went along,
to the Victorian tourist bureau
Got heaps of ideas for places we'd never even been to
Like Sovriegn Hill and Healesville Sanctuary!
The Brighton Sea Baths and some kiosk at the end of a pier
We went down to a place,
I think it was Captain Cook's cabin!
We're not all that sure, but at least it rhymes with Moorabbin

Got no more Melbourne cliches! (oh no! oh no!)
posted by Sutekh at 4:04 PM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

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