John Batman, the son of a Sydney convict, arrived in what is now Melbourne in 1835. He met with the local Aboriginal tribes from whom he purchased the land. In just over two decades Melbourne grew from a small tent encampment to a sprawling metropolis. This rapid growth was initially due to finding gold in the rich gold fields in the region surrounding the city.
Today it is thriving as the second largest city in Australia and is the capital of the state of Victoria. It is an exciting and interesting city where you will find every cultural and artistic venue that competes with international capitals. We spent six wonderful days in Melbourne.
As a forwarning, regardless of the time of year you visit Melbourne, be prepared for what Melbournians know, that you can "experience four seasons in one day". So dress in layers.
HILTON SOUTH WHARF
Needless to say, there are many great hotels to choose from in Melbourne. We decided to stay at the Hilton South Wharf. Although it is about a mile from the center of the city, it is right on the Yarra River and is one of the newest hotels in the newest developed area of Melbourne.
We had a fantastic suite facing the Yarra River with a terrific view of Melbourne.
Some unique artwork in the hotel.
There was a wonderful exhibit of Aboriginal artwork in the hotel.
Fotios Gillias, the Duty Manager, and Claire Scott from the Ambassador Lounge, were among the terrific staff and management at the Hilton South Wharf that helped make our stay in Melbourne so very enjoyable.
From the Hilton South Wharf to the city center, there is a wonderful walk along the river past the Convention Center, new shopping centers, restaurants, hotels, etc. It is where the action is, day or night!
Although we love to take long walks of 6-8 miles in a day when we travel, there are definitely times we don’t mind other modes of travel! Australia is very consumer/tourist friendly when it comes to getting around their cities. Melbourne has two free types of city transportation, the City Circle Tram and the Melbourne City Tourist Shuttle. Each has frequent stops where you can get on and off. It is a great way to see most of the major areas of the city.
Flinders Street Station is the “anchor building” of the city. It is the city’s central train station. With its unique architecture and colored brickwork, you can’t miss it.
Just across the street from Flinders Street Station is Federation Square, an amalgamation of several museums housed in the architectural antithesis of Flinders Street Station. This juxtaposition of the traditional versus the ultra-modern is seen throughout Melbourne and gives a special experience to visitors.
Another example of the old versus new.
Known as “Melbourne’s Palace of Dreams”, the Regent Theatre opened in 1929. Its lavish interiors emulated both the glamour of Hollywood and New York’s most impressive theaters. It was restored to its former glory in the 1990s and now stages world class shows.
Treasury Place - a street with classic architecture and sculptures.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is one of the best examples of Gothic Revival church architecture in the world.
Built in 1884, the Hotel Windsor is the grandest surviving hotel of its era in Australia.
Originally built in the 1880s and recently refurbished in 2000, Her Majesty’s Theatre is a true icon of Australian theatre held in great affection by audiences. It’s location is on the corner at the entrance to China Town.
Entrance to China Town
Mebourne Cricket Ground
Eye-catching live marketing on one of the main shopping streets.
We finished our walking tour of the city with lunch at the oldest pub in Melbourne, Young and Jackson’s, a 19th century pub, protected by the National Trust, known for its nude portrait, Chloe.
PARLIAMENT OF VICTORIA
During the 19th century, Melbourne was flush with cash from the benefits of the gold rush in the state. The Parliament of Victoria was a beneficiary and was equal in grandeur to those in the Europe, well worth the time to take a tour. The guided tour is at specific times and you have to be there about 15 minutes prior or they will not let you in. Have the concierge check on the exact days and times the tour is available.
We had the opportunity to meet Representative Paul Weller, who represents the district of Rodney.
ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS AND KINGS DOMAIN
These adjoining gardens, established in 1852, form the green heart of Melbourne on what was originally a swamp on the edge of the city. It is a great way to spend some time in Melbourne. Although we walked to it from our hotel which was about a three mile walk, we took the City Tourist Shuttle back and were treated to about an hour ride through the city.
Whenever we visit a large city, we always try to take a day trip outside the city. After speaking with the concierge about our options, we decided to visit Williamstown as it was about an hour away by ferry and is a popular weekend destination on Port Phillip Bay.
The town center is only a few blocks long, so a walk along the waterfront just outside the town was a real plus. There are so many great little restaurants in town, be sure to give yourself time to have lunch.