Ten places or things worth a visit in Melbourne...
1 Fed Square
Federation Square (or simply 'Fed Square' as it's known locally) was designed as a cultural and social hub for Melbourne. It sits close to the National Gallery of Victoria, the fantastic south bank food court, the Arts Centre and the Melbourne Theatre Company. It also houses a performance venue, multiple fun-looking eateries and bars, and the NGV's national collection. Apparently it's a bit of a Marmite (or should that be Vegemite) in that people seem to love or hate it. We are lovers.
... are everywhere in Melbourne. An integral part of the transport system, you can pay for one ticket that takes you into the city on a train, then gets you on trams once you're there. Mostly people use them to hop from one end of the road to the other, which, as we discovered, is probably the most sensible thing to do. We took the 109 from Balwyn on our first trip into the city, but could've cycled it faster! On the upside, there's a free City Link tram that circles the city centre. It uses old-style trams that look as if they've seen a journey or two.
3 Royal Exhibition Hall
Probably more spectacular than the hall itself is the surrounding Carlton Gardens, one of the city's numerous large green areas, all of which are worth your time. The flower beds are special, littered with Bird of Paradise flowers, which we are struggling to grow in the UK.
4 Eureka Tower
The tallest tower in Melbourne allows you to go (nearly) all the way to the top, using probably the fastest lift in the city. The 88th floor Skydeck is pretty spectacular: there are windows all the way round the tower, allowing you a 360 view of Melbourne, and a small, caged, open air section where you can watch the intense wind blow your ticket into the distance and mothers hold tight to small children. I enjoyed the scrolling lcd screens that showed fun local facts like: 'EVERY DAY 90 TONS OF DOG POO IS LEFT ON THE STREETS OF MELBOURNE'.
5 Queen Victoria Market
Much like our own Bull Ring Markets, the QV has a handsome range of fresh meat, seafood, and fruit and veg stands, alongside lots of suspiciously cheap clothes and other goods. Malc was pleased to find a spice stall that sold tea by weight for less than T2 (a nice chain of high street tea shops). He bought some Turkish Apple instant tisane, which rubs its smell onto anything it touches.
6 Hoiser Lane
The back streets in Melbourne have a reputation for their graffiti. We checked out Hoiser Lane and were not disappointed.
7 Fitzroy Gardens
A walk through these gardens includes a variety of experiences. We spotted three wedding parties, Captain Cooke's Cottage, people meditating, an orchid-filled greenhouse, the old treasury building and plenty of greenery. We couldn't find the fairy tree, but then again we had no idea what we were looking for.
8 The Art Centre
We didn't intend on spending much time in this landmark building. When we popped in to try and find a good cup of coffee it seemed mostly to be fully of theatre goers. We did stumble upon an impressive exhibition about a famous Aussie cross-dresser.
It might not get a mention on the tourist guides but this is a tea shop worth a visit if you like tea even half as much as Malcolm does.
10 The Nicholas Building
We visited to see a temporary shop set up for Christmas by Melbournia, and we were glad we eventually found the whole place. Many of the building's original details have remained: stained glass, arched ceilings, an old style post box and two manned lifts. The lift operators tell us that they are soon be replaced by a less exciting standard lift. After the end of January those lifts will be a much lonelier experience.