Americans in Melbourne and Sydney in October: Tips and Suggestions?
September 10, 2018 8:36 AM   Subscribe

My wife's company is sending her to Melbourne to close a deal, and she negotiated airfare and lodging for me to tag along. Right now the plan is to arrive in Melbourne 10/17 (from Southern California), spend several days there on business, then tack on a week to 10 days of vacation before departing for home 10/31. What should we definitely see/visit/try? What's the weather going to be like?

Three of those 10 days we want to spend taking sailing lessons in Sydney Harbor (we are not certified for bareboat charters quite yet, but do want to sail while there -- suggestions for schools welcome!). We enjoy wine, and will be traveling with another duo who really enjoy wine, so winery/vineyard suggestions also welcome. After that? We have no idea, but are open to almost anything: History art culture ecology industry shopping food.

Maybe you can help narrow this down?
posted by notyou to Travel & Transportation around Australia (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Brunetti's hot chocolate in Melbourne. It's not hot chocolate weather, but this is

The view from Mrs. Macquarie's Chair is one of my favorites for the Sydney skyline
posted by TravellingCari at 10:17 AM on September 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

At the end of the day, Melbourne and Sydney are major international cities. If I were you I would head out to see other parts of australia on your unaccounted for days.

Tasmania is pretty incredible with loads of distilleries and fantastic food and a nice nature reserve. The Museum of Old & New Art there is incredible (take the ferry from the main harbour and eat lunch at the restaurant). I especially recommend the tasting menu with the wine pairing at the restaurant Templo and the markets on saturday morning. There's also lots of good nature driving around there, and they have some of the world's best rated whiskey made right there on the island.

You could also fly to Brisbane and rent a car to drive to Byron Bay. Utterly fantastic beach, Incredible food, and very chill vibes. Absolutely cannot wait to go back.

The Whitsundays are also supposed to be incredibly fantastic if you like beaches :)
posted by wowenthusiast at 12:24 PM on September 10, 2018 [4 favorites]

I can't speak about Sydney but I did go to Melbourne a couple of years ago in November with my partner for about the same length of time as you're going. The weather was quite pleasant then, actually, not too hot or cold.

In Melbourne, we did what I would describe as pretty typical major urban area things. We went to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), shopped at the Queen Victoria market, and wandered around a bit in the Fitzroy neighborhood. We also ate a lot of food. In particular, we went out of our way to have some Malaysian food as we had heard it was better there than anywhere in the US (tl;dr it was pretty good and also pretty spicy).

West of Melbourne, we took the train to Geelong and rented a car, then went on a drive down the Great Ocean Road. Along the way, we carved out time for a day-long portion of the Great Ocean Walk. The Great Ocean Walk is normally multi-day, but we hired a shuttle to take us back to our lodgings at the end of the day, so you can commit to as much or as little of the walk as you'd like. It's a really relaxing walk (and drive) through beaches, fancy rock formations, and trees, and you can see koalas, etc along the way.

On the way back, we stopped at the Bellarine Peninsula for a wine tasting. It was fairly early in the day and we were a little bit pressed for time so we went to the first one that was open, which was Bellarine Estate. We were the only people there at the time so we were taken care of very well.

Dunno if any of this helped but have a great time!
posted by melvinwang at 2:18 PM on September 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you've got Sydney Harbour covered, spend a day in the Blue Mountains - about an hour drive or 1.5 hour train trip west. If you are up for active activities do a half day bushwalk there. Visit Echo Point to look at the three sisters (especially at sunset if you are driving). Get the day pass and do the Scenic Railway and the cable car.

Sydney will be perfect weather-wise. You'll need a jumper or equivalent for night time but not a coat or anything. Blue Mountains will be 5-10 degrees C cooler.
posted by trialex at 5:03 PM on September 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

What sort of wine? The Mornington Peninsular is lovely and has more wine-tasting than you can shake a stick at, but the reds are a bit meh, imho. Better would be the Yarra Valley if you're into red. I like Tahbilk, and the winery itself is very pretty.

A note about Melbourne's weather: it will probably be lovely. That said, it will vary during the day, sometimes quite significantly, so always carry easily added or removed layers.

If you're not enjoying the weather, wait ten minutes.
posted by pompomtom at 7:07 PM on September 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you are definitely going to Sydney, you could catch the train from Melbourne and break your trip at Rutherglen. I did this from Sydney, and it's a lovely trip. Logistics at the Rutherglen end may require hiring a car, we had one car, but then hired bicycles to get around with. There are also guided tours. The wine isn't the best in Australia, but it's great for fortified wines and big reds, the Durif is superb.

Otherwise, the vineyards near Melbourne are good day trip options, there isn't really anything close to Sydney. The closest is the Hunter Valley, and you would want to stay overnight.

Weatherwise, October is generally t-shirt and jeans weather. Bring a light jacket or jumper for the evening, an extra layer for cold days, and a pair of shorts in case there's a heat wave. Hat, sunglasses and an umbrella will also be useful at some point. Also suncream, though you can buy that easily enough when you get here if you forget.
posted by kjs4 at 10:05 PM on September 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

Host a Mefi meetup! I was lucky enough to be in Melbourne for the ten-year meetup and loved meeting fellow Mefites with tons of native advice about where to go.
posted by bendy at 11:39 PM on September 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

I second melvinwang's recommendation to drive out along the Great Ocean Road. I did this back in 2011 and it was amazing. Also, the Twelve Apostles likely won't be around for too much longer, so I'd take them in while you can. The train ride from Melbourne to Geelong will be about an hour. I spent a couple days on the Road, went out to Loch-Ard Gorge (a beautiful protected cove with a nice beach, very relaxing and a cool historical site to boot) before turning around and heading back toward Geelong. I remember there were a lot of small towns and wineries, eucalyptus forests, and neat lighthouses along the way. If you surf (or just enjoy watching talented surfers) Bell's is world-class.
posted by hootenatty at 10:27 AM on September 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

I am in Brisbane and have spent most of my time here but am Melburnian at heart. I am not a fan of Sydney and even less of a fan of Sydney Harbour so I'm afraid I don't have any advice to offer there.

Melbourne has a lot of fabulous art deco buildings straight out of BioShock and I would strongly recommend you set yourself up with two days to do walking tours of Melbourne. It is a city built for walking in.

Assuming you are situated in the CBD, your first day's walk (or tram ride) will be the south side of the Yarra, down St Kilda Road. You might visit the National Gallery of Victoria (recommended) and catch some Shakespeare at the Pop-Up Globe (highly, highly recommended, to the extent that I would suggest if you do only one thing while in Melbourne, it be this). Keep going down St Kilda Road to St Kilda itself, where you might like to visit Luna Park, the Esplanade Market, or a gig at the Palais.

General advice for Melbourne: while on a tram (get a Myki card and put say twenty bucks on it - a lot of the rides around the city are free), hop off anywhere that seems interesting, because it probably is. If it turns out it isn't, there will be another tram along in a moment.

While on foot, go down any alley that seems interesting, because it probably is. Melbourne is a city of alleys and a lot of them have cool shit. Even if they don't, there will be a place that serves excellent coffee, so you can hardly say it was a wasted exploration (if you are a coffee fan, get a Keep Cup and take it with you everywhere for a) coffee discounts and b) as a memento).

Day 2 of walking will be north. This encompasses Fitzroy/Collingwood (especially Brunswick Street and the Fitzroy Gardens, where Captain Cook's Cottage now sits) in the n-east, Carlton (Carlton Gardens and the Melbourne Museum) in the north, and Queen Victoria Market for the donuts. I guess you could go to the zoo - it's a nice zoo - but I find zoos to be very sad places. You might feel differently.

At a cooler time of year I would probably suggest a train ride north to Bendigo for a bit of a mooch about, but the weather will be disgusting in October so I'd probably steer clear.

Really, you could spend your whole ten days in Australia just in and around Melbourne and Victoria in general, and it would give you a favourable impression of the place.

I've never been to Adelaide but I hear good things about short visits, and South Australia is where all the good wine is at. In Adelaide there's always some kind of festival - you'll be there in time for the film festival, it seems.

Brisbane, in Queensland, has a few cool features, like our own Southbank (galleries, museums, good food and drink) and a few good walking areas like Teneriffe/New Farm. Mount Coot-Tha is a nice drive and has some good bushwalking routes, as does Brookfield. My favourite place in Queensland, however, is Tamborine Mountain, which is about an hour's drive from Brisbane. And from there you get to the Gold Coast, and from there you get to Byron Bay (as recommended above).

So in sum:

1) Melbourne. Walking and tram tours of the north and south inner- to semi-inner-city (2-3 days);
2) From there perhaps a (very lovely) Great Ocean Road drive to Adelaide, stopping in to visit some beautiful national parks on the way, as a gateway to wine country (3+ days);
3) From there a flight to Brisbane as a gateway to Mount Tamborine, Gold Coast, Byron Bay (3 days).

I'm afraid I didn't factor Sydney into my calculations, in this or in any other Australia-based exercise :-P
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:40 PM on September 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

« Older Should I give up returning to Spain (medical...   |   Fellowships to support public health research... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.