Melbourne is a great city, perhaps the most European of all the cities in Australia. It rivals Sydney for nightlife, perhaps only lacking the splendour of the harbour and the bridge, no wonder that they built Canberra as the capital when they couldn't decide between Sydney and Melbourne. Melbourne's climate is warm in the summer but wet and rainy in the winter, although when I went there in July we had bright sunny winter days. The suburb of St.Kilda is also a great place to stay, with great bars and restaurants and a beach.
Places to Stay
Queensbury Hill YHA (Howard Street) - Nearer to the centre than the other YHA this hostel is large and can be a bit cold, but nethertheless it has everything you could possibly need from a hostel
The Nunnery (116 Nicholson Street) - Set in an old nunnery, this large victorian buildings offers reasonably priced rooms. The rooms are on the general in the need of a little bit of repair and the bathrooms could do with a little bit of work aswell. But apart from this it is a really nice, friendly hostel so don't be put off.
Places to Eat/Drink
Dantes Fitzroy Cafe and Bar (Gertrude Street - corner of Napier Street) - Old style bar with antique memorabilia emblazoned everywhere, art gallery upstairs and a nice cosy restaurant.
Deelish (Smith Street) - Elegant cafe/restaurant with local paintings, candlelit, wooden tables, sofa area. Beautiful seafood. Try the risotto, pumpkin and broccoli feta balls.
Tropica Juice Food Bar (Elizabeth Street near corner of Lt Bourke St) - Vibrantly coloured juice breakfast bar with amazing South American juices with top secret ingredients!! I definitely recommend this as the place to come for a BIG breakfast!
Banjos (Acland Street, St.Kilda) - Cafe serving pasties, pizzas and coffee with great focaccia.
Tien Tien (St.Kilda) - Vietnamese Restaurant with great rice dished, desserts, comfortable atmos BYO
Banana Palm (Little Bourke Street) - Friendly curry house in China Town with great food and atmosphere, better than the sterile place next door. BYO
Arrivederci Aroma (Queen St, nr Market) - Nice modern cafe with a wide selection of teas
Zanzibar (Beckett St) - cafe/deli run by italians, lovely cheap food.
Automatic (Crown Entertainment Complex) - Offering nice river and Rialto tower views this restaurant/bar serves great food, if a little more pricey for its location.
Bennetts Lane Jazz Venue (Bennetts Lane) - Small cosy smoke filled jazz club with cocktail bar, 10$ surcharge, see some great contemporary jazz here.
Esplanade Hotel (St.Kilda seafront) - Big pub/hotel with great sea views has live music most nights, big leather chairs. Downstairs there is a public bar doing cheap beer jugs between 5 and 7pm aswell as live music.
The Fringe (Aclam St, St.Kilda) - Cool candlelit bar with drinking and eating areas fused, very relaxed but full of conversation.
Zimmer (Aclam St, St.Kilda) - Great chilled retro bar doing Latino Nights on Fridays ("Del Arrio" with DJ Suave le Torre) open till late.
Vineyard (Aclam St, St.Kilda) - Popular late night bar when the restaurant ends, fills up with tourists and locals can get very busy
The Bullring (95 Johnson St) - Large club venue hosting trashy nights, but also doubles as a latino dance hall
Old Caledonian Inn (Johnston St) - Late night traditional local pub, ideal for finishing the night in a quiet way.
Stellar Bar (Exhibition St, corner of Bourke St) - Small living room style bar with art and a function room upstairs.
Things to do
Federation Square - Melbourne's new square completed at the end of 2002 with museum of moving image
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art - Showing up to date art shows, if a bit on the small side for a city of this size
Australian College of Art - Worth checking out for the local student shows
Botanical Gardens - Lovely gardens which can take 2-3 hours to amble around
Queen Victoria Market - Lots of stalls selling cheap souvenirs, clothing and food
Rialto Towers - The tallest towers in the Southern Hemisphere offering stunning views of Melbourne, has a cafe/bar at the top.
Melbourne Museum (Nicholson Street) - If you've got a longer stay, it'd be stupid not too miss this, quite a steep admission charge, but apparently they have the set from Neighbours.
St.Kilda - A 15 minute tram journey from the centre takes you to the beach, Luna Park amusements and a lot of cool cafes and bars
Brighton Beach - A train ride from city takes you to brightly painted beach huts, beautiful black rocks along the beach with pretty shells and stretches of clean sand.
Middle Brighton - Nice cute shops and delis
South Melbourne Market - Larger than Queen Victoria Market but less busy and more food stalls
Albert Park (South Melbourne)
The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is not to be missed if you have time, the best way to do it is to hire a car for 3 days and drive it from either Adelaide to Melbourne or vice versa. Alternatively you can catch the Wayward Bus which winds it way between the two cities. This itinery is based on 3 days from Adelaide to Melbourne.
DAY ONE - Adelaide-Port Fairy: The drive takes about 4-5 hours, but its advisable to take longer so you can take in a few places on the way, Penola is worth a stop if you have time, it has some great vineyards that are generally cheaper than the Barossa Valley. Stop for coffee and lunch at Cafe Capri (Gray St) a great mediterranean cafe in Mt Gambier, the volcano is worth a look in summer when it is a beautiful blue. From Mt Gambier head to Warrambol, where the Great Ocean Road officially starts, there is opportunity to spot whales at the whale watching beach (follow the signs) before going to the Cheese Centre which allows you to sample some very interesting cheeses (including curried cheese and lavender cheese!) The road to Port Fairy takes about another hour from here.
Places to Stay
YHA - Beautiful hostel in an old victorian building with communial common room with log fire and pool table. One night in the huntsman's cottage double room cost us $23pp a night and $3 for breakfast, there are also dorm rooms available. Book ahead in the summer
Places to Eat/Drink
Victoria Hotel - Quiet drinking pub with pool table with a large selection of drinks, nice restaurant attached
Caledonian - Dating back to 1815 this popular pub serves fantastic food with free salad and veg. Book ahead in the summer as this place can get very popular
Ginger Snaps - Cosy bistro bar/cafe with modern menu in cool surroundings
DAY TWO - Port Fairy-Lorne: The drive takes a lot less than the day before but its best to leave early to get the most out of the day. Recommended stop offs are the Bay of Islands, The Grotto, London Bridge, Loch Ard Gorge and the 12 Apostles. At some of these places there are some nice walks to be had so you may decide to stay somewhere in between for an extra day so you can do one of these. It is worth spending a couple of hours in Apollo Bay which has a beautiful beach and seafront with lots of great cafes and restaurants. I recommend Nauticals which is a very chilled new age cafe serving great veggie food/currys with cool music (The Roti Wraps were great!). The drive to Lorne takes just under an hour taking into account slow traffic and winding bends.
Places to Stay
YHA - Once again the YHA is recommended, set on a hill in woodland just down from the seafront by the Erskine River. The rooms are clean and in a lovely setting. There is the opportunity to some great hikes from here.
Places to Eat/Drink
Reif's Restaurant and Bar (Seafront)- The main focus of Lorne's nightlife, has bands playing most nights, great food, outside seating
Mark's (Seafront) - Restaurant/Wine Bar on seafront with a large selection of spirits, chilled music and art on the walls. The food is a bit more pricey than Reif's.
DAY THREE - Lorne-Melbourne: Before you leave Lorne, check out the Erskine Falls which are only 8kms away, then head to Geelong going through Torquay on the way. At Geelong the Great Ocean Road ends, a stop in Geelong is worth it, its quite a big town and has a lot of nice shops as well as a Wool Museum and a pretty seafront. I recommend stopping for lunch on the Cunningham pier, we ate at the Buccaneer's Cafe and Bar which offers great sea views if in a canteen style atmosphere. From Geelong it is about 1-2 hours to Melbourne, it is worth a stop at the Victoria Zoo, which has zebras, rhinos, hippos, monkeys, kangaroos, emus and a wide selection of antelopes in large enclosures.
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Info supplied by Andy Webb and Helen Barlow