When the boys booked a footy weekend in Melbourne, Miss 7 and I decided this year we would make it a family trip. The boys could indulge in as much football as they liked and the girls would take in the sights.
Although we have travelled to Melbourne many times before, it surprises me that there is always a few hidden gems to be found on each return visit.
Here are some of our highlights and tips from a quick weekend away.
1. Melbourne Star
The Melbourne Star is a giant observation wheel located at the Docklands in Melbourne. One of only four observations wheels in the world, it is the only one in the Southern Hemisphere.
To get to the location, utilise the free city circle tram that takes you to the doorstep of the harbourside shopping village. The Star is located in the same precinct and a short walk from the tram stop.
We were so surprised at how quiet this attraction was. Lunch time on a Saturday and we walked straight to the ticket booth, purchased tickets and walked straight on. There was not a line to join at all! And, best of all, it meant we got a whole pod to ourselves. Unheard of on any of the other observation wheels around the world in London, Singapore or Las Vegas.
The “flight” takes 30 minutes to complete a full rotation and the views are pretty spectacular.
Savings tip: I googled discount Melbourne Star tickets before paying at the gate. I managed to purchase a Scoopon deal that allowed instant purchase and use. Gate price was $48 for 1 x Adult and 1 x Child - Scoopon price was $35.
2. City Circle Tram
The city circle brown tram does a great loop of Melbourne and is an excellent way to orient yourself if you have never been before. The trams run every 12 minutes, travels in a circle in both directions and is absolutely free.
Onboard you will also receive a pre-recorded commentary, occasionally you will board a tram with a live commentary which can be entertaining.
There is not really any major attraction within Melbourne CBD that can not be reached via the free city circle tram.
Savings Tip: ALL trams in the Melbourne CBD tram zone are free! I have been travelling to Melbourne for years and only just realised this. So if you need to get from one side of town to the other, you don’t have to wait for the circle tram and do a big loop, you can catch a tram going straight across the city - for free. Or if you are going 4-5 blocks down Spencer or Flinders street and have tired children with you - don’t make them walk when there is a tram free to take you.
3. Queen Victoria Markets
A trip to Melbourne is not complete without a visit to the markets. The sights and sounds of the fresh produce, butchers, fish mongers and providores is an experience not to be missed. We headed there first thing in the morning and started our day with breakfast at one of the many cafe’s and stalls serving freshly ground barista coffee and organic barn laid eggs!
Once breakfast was complete the kids entered what they described as “fidget spinner heaven!” after purchasing the craze items on e-bay and having to wait weeks for their arrival from China, they were overwhelmed by the plentitude of options available for instant purchase. Every colour, every style imaginable. Thank goodness we gave them a spending budget for the weekend - it was then up to them to seek out the best bargains to maximise their allowance which now became fidget spinner spending money.
And a visit to the markets is also not complete without indulging in hot jam donuts. We opted for the ever popular American Doughnut Kitchen located in a converted old bus that parks at the market. For $5.50 you get five hot jam donuts.
The quote of the trip went to the gentleman in the line in front of us arguing with the staff demanding donuts with “not too much jam, not too much sugar!” Both the staff and everyone in the line were perplexed by the customer’s request. Pretty sure we were all in line wanting sugary, jammy donuts!
4. Australian Rules Football
Melbourne is the home of Australian Rules Football - commonly known as AFL, if you are visiting during the months of play it is almost a sin to not take in a game. Both the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and Etihad Stadium host games and both are easily accessible from the CBD.
We were fortunate enough to time our visit during the AFLs annual Indigenous round and were treated to an Essendon Vs Richmond Dreamtime game at the MCG on the Saturday night.
Nearly 87,000 people packed the stadium which celebrated and honoured the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players of the game. A traditional welcoming ceremony provided pre-game entertainment that sparked the enthusiasm of the lively crowd.
Savings Tip: A family pass in general admission cost just over $50 pre-purchased online. Pack drinks, snacks and dinner purchased from outside the ground and get there early to secure a seat and enjoy your picnic dinner. Concession prices are over-inflated as with any stadium around the world. There are plenty of Coles Express and Woolworths Metro stores that you can pick up some snacks from in the city before you take the free tram out to the MCG.
5. Dumplings in China Town
On previous trips to Melbourne we have enjoyed amazing Yum Cha in China Town, this trip we did not manage a lunch time visit so instead thought we would try one of the many dumpling houses that receive rave Trip Advisor Reviews.
People queue for dumplings in Melbourne - we got there early so did not have to wait, but was it worth it……. they were just dumplings……
Sure they were tasty, the service was quick and the meal relatively cheap. But the dumpling house was pretty run down and unless you are a uni student wanting somewhere to hit a record for most dumplings consumed in a sitting - I probably would not line up for the experience.
But we can say we have done it, we did consume a large amount of dumplings for a relatively small amount of cash and were given the privilege of drinking our soft drinks and beers straight from the can - classy!
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
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Penny, an avid Trip Advisor Reviewer, is the author of ITCHY FEET FAMILY. A family of 4 living in Adelaide, Australia, and taking every opportunity to travel and explore the world.