The capital of the Australian state of Victoria
Before we go to the second largest city in Australia, I would like to tell you the most important data about the smallest continent on earth. Australia with its capital Canberra is probably a good 20,000 kilometers away from Europe, but the more often you travel there, the shorter the flight route will be. I promise you! Australia is divided into 6 states: New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia. Sydney (capital of New South Wales) as well as the Blue Mountains (NSW) and Tasmania were introduced to you in my March blog.
Melbourne on the Yarra River radiates a European flair and is also called the Grand Old Lady or Paris of the Antipodes. You can easily do the following day´s program from Crown Towers.
On the first day I recommend a leisurely walk along the river, which is directly in front of the Crown Towers. Then you can explore Collins Street (10 minutes from Crown Towers) and check out the Block Arcade (1892). Supposedly, this historic shopping center with mosaic floors, marble columns and Victorian windows took inspiration from the famous galleries in Milan. Knowing the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan very well, I’m sorry to say that it’s grander and more elegant than the Collins Street shopping center at number 282, but you shouldn’t miss a visit to the Block- as well as the nearby Royal Arcade. Also check out Flinders Street Station, one of Melbourne’s most famous landmarks. It’s worth it! From there, hop on the famous streetcar (Tram 109) and you’ll reach St. Patrick’s Cathedral with its beautiful stained-glass windows in about 12 minutes. Afterwards you can relax in the Park Hyatt across the street.
Once you’re rested, head to the 26-acre park, Fitzroy Gardens. Here I recommend a visit of the Conservatory – a winter garden – with great exhibits and unique plants. An absolute must is a visit to the home of Captain James Cook.
The cottage was built in 1755 in Yorkshire. In 1933, stone by stone was removed and shipped to Melbourne. Also worth seeing are the fern gardens, the ornamental pond, and the diverse tree species that form breathtaking avenues along the roadsides.
You can end the day in the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens. The building and Carlton Gardens have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004.
If you still feel like seeing Melbourne from the air, you should visit Eureka Tower – a short eight-minute walk from Crown Towers. The sky deck at a height of 282 meters offers you an unobstructed view in all directions and the metropolis lies at your feet. Afterwards you can walk along the Yarra River to the Royal Botanical Garden. The path leads mostly along the river and the walk takes forty-five minutes. In the blazing midday sun, I would have loved to jump into the lake. Reason prevailed, we let ourselves glide over the lake in a kind of gondola. Almost like in Venice!
After an extensive visit to the Royal Botanic Garden, I recommend visiting the war memorial, the Shrine of Remembrance. Leave the botanic garden near St. Kilda Road and you are very close to this memorial.
Day 3: full day excursion
Today you will travel to Ballarat. The legendary gold mining town is located 90 minutes by car from Melbourne. The concierge will arrange a limousine for you. Sovereign Hill, with its gold museum is an open-air museum, a lifelike replica of a gold mining town from 1854-1861, offering visitors a unique chance to experience a unique period of Australian history every day. A real insider tip! Here every visitor gets an impression of life and work in the fifties of the 19th century. In the original reconstructed craft workshops (blacksmith’s shop, printing press, locksmith’s shop, saddlery, carriage workshop, candy and candle factory…) and mines, showmen in original costumes demonstrate how work was done with the original and centuries-old tools.
Furthermore, both in the streets and in the authentic stores or offices, you can see carriage drivers, bakers, hoteliers, grocers, postal workers, bank clerks, teachers and policemen in authentic costumes. But watch out: You must abide by the laws there, otherwise you will be arrested!
In the early afternoon you should visit the botanical gardens and especially the Ballarat Tramway Museum. Your private driver will take you there and wait for you again.
Day 4: full day excursion
A trip to Australia without wine region is like Venice without gondolas. Honestly, I have to admit here that I personally like the South African wines better. This is because I only like strong red wines. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the private wine tour in the Yarra Valley. We started at Melba Estate in Coldstream. This elegant estate – once home to the legendary Dame Nellie Melba, née Helen Porter Mitchell, an Australian opera singer of Scottish descent – is now not only one of the best gourmet destinations in the Yarra Valley, but also a unique cultural destination. During a perfectly guided private tour, visitors will learn all about the fascinating life of the opera singer. In addition, her paintings adorn the walls and her arias resound throughout the interior.
Continue to Yering Station, the very first winery (1838) in Victoria. This property includes a landmarked Victorian mansion, charming restaurant, café and beautiful gardens.
The next winery is Domaine Chandon.
Tarra Warra, another cultural icon, captivated me not only for its innovative art exhibits, but more importantly for its absolutely gorgeous location and breathtaking gardens. Since we had a lunch reservation at De Bortoli, there was no time to take photos. However, this winery offers a treat not only for the palate, but also for the eyes. A private meal at the famous Trophy Room is a must. You’ll need to make reservations in advance.
If you are still in the mood, you can visit the koalas in Healesville Sancturay.
Unfortunately, you are not allowed to touch the koalas there. In Australia there is only one zoo where you are allowed to touch them. Check out my report about Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane. After this eventful day, your private driver will tack you back to Melbourne.
Other attractions in Melbourne – directly opposite the Crown Towers – are the Melbourne Aquarium, SEA LIFE; the Arts Centre at 100 Kilda Road, a performing arts center, a breathtaking tower of delicate-looking steel and aluminum grids; the Queen Victoria Market; the Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit and the active arts scene, the ubiquitous street art.
If you have enough time, you can also experience the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne. The best way to do this is to book a private day trip at www.oceaniatours.com.au
with Emirates on First-Class www.emirates.com. I recommend for domestic australian flights Qantas Link.
Melbourne´s summer months are December to February. We stayed there for Christmas and it was not really hot. Melbourne´s winter months are June to August. The wettest month of the year is generally October.
Have a nice stay,