I visited Australia in November 2019 and spent half of my time in Melbourne and the other half in Sydney. Although November is springtime in Australia, Melbourne experiences unpredictable weather in the spring. Emphasis on “unpredictable.” For example, you’re walking outside in the sunshine and think to yourself “its a nice day” then out of nowhere you are hit with heavy rain, hail, high winds. Confused, you think to yourself “WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?!?” Then the sun reappears (as if nothing happened) and now it is blistering cold. I’m not exaggerating, this was my actual experience. In summary, when you visit Melbourne in the spring, brace yourself for all types of weather as it is very unpredictable.
I flew from Sydney to Melbourne on Qantas Airlines for free! I redeemed my AAdvantage miles with American airlines for a roundtrip flight. American and Qantas are partner airlines under Oneworld. Remember, If Melbourne is your first point of entry from the U.S., Australia requires that you have a VISA. Apply online for an e-Visa, it is a quick and easy process.
I stayed at the Holiday Inn Melbourne on Flinders. I chose this location because it was conveniently located next to the Southern Cross train station and a short walk to my hotel (3-5 minutes). The Southern Cross train station is the final stop and starting point for the SkyBus (airport bus) which leaves from the Melbourne Tullamarine airport (closest airport to the city). The Holiday Inn Melbourne on Flinders is also not far from the tram.
From the airport, I took the SkyBus to my hotel in the Central Business District (CBD). The SkyBus is an airport express bus that runs every 10 minutes. The ride from the airport to Southern Cross train station takes approximately 30 minutes depending on traffic. For my return trip, I booked private transportation with AXB Airport Express because I had a 6 am flight to catch from Melbourne back to Sydney. This was also the same day as my flight back to the U.S. which left from Sydney at 11:30 a.m.
As mentioned above, Melbourne has a tram that is free of cost as long as you travel within the city centre. If you go outside of the city center you will have to pay, using the commuter card (Myki). You can find more information here:
Uber, taxis, rail (metro), and buses are also widely available to get around in the city.
What I Did In Melbourne
Great Ocean Road
No trip to Melbourne is complete without a day trip to the Great Ocean Road. If you’re short on time, like I was, I highly recommend booking a full day tour with Go West Tours. If not, then you can rent a car and cruise down the ocean road on your own. If you decide to drive on your own, make sure to take some time to prepare for your drive, stops, accommodations, by looking up various itineraries, blogs, reviews, youtube videos, etc. to see how others planned their drive on the Great Ocean Road.
As for the trip with Go West Tours, the company provides pick up and drop off from hotels in the CBD. Once the pickups are finished, the guide will make the following stops: Kennet River Koala Walk (spot Koalas high up in the trees), Mait’s Rest rainforest (nice walk to a small waterfall), the Twelve Apostles, Gibson Steps, Loch Ard Gorge, and Apollo Bay (for lunch). My favorite part of this entire tour was seeing the Twelve Apostles. Prior to this trip I had seen so many pictures and screensavers of the Twelve Apostles that when I finally saw it in person it seemed so surreal! It’s beautiful! You could stand there for hours staring and in awe of the natural beauty of this formation.
The drive along the Great Ocean Road is also very beautiful. You will want to stop many times and gaze out at the ocean while admiring its beauty. I cannot state enough how beautiful it really is! While driving along the Great Ocean Road, we saw a Koala cross the street. I was concerned for the Koala because it was not in the tree, but the guide stated that this was fairly common in the area. Koalas cross the road all the time. Prior to this, I had never seen a Koala out of a tree, let alone crossing the street! Only in Australia will you see such unique things. Overall, this was a great tour and I highly recommend it.
Wine and Wildlife Tour
Since my bike tour was canceled, I decided to book the “Yarra Valley Food, Wine and Wildlife Day Tour” with Vinetrekker Wine Tours. This tour also included pick up and drop off from hotels in the CBD. The first stop was the Healesville Sanctuary which is about an hour from Melbourne. Here, we got to spend time with Kangaroos and wallabies (up close) to pet and feeding them. This was the highlight of my entire trip! It was such a cool experience and the animals were so comfortable around us. They are also very photogenic! Every time someone pulls out a camera, they look directly at the camera! While at the sanctuary, I also saw Koalas, Tasmanian Devils, a wombat, and various types of birds.
The second stop was Yering Station. Here, we sampled 6 different wines and had lunch. The lunch was accompanied by our choice of wine made exclusively by the winery. The lunch and glass of wine were included in the price paid for the excursion.
The final stop was De Boroli Wines which is a family owned winery. Here, we sampled 4 wines paired with different cheeses. My favorite wine was the Noble One, which is their award winning desert wine. Overall, this was a great tour with Vinetrekkers and highly recommended.
- Bring a wind proof/waterproof jacket with a hood.
- If you visit during the spring, dress in layers!
- Try the coffee! Melbourne is known to have really good coffee.
- Visit St. Kilda (Luna park and the beach) and Phillip Island (Penguin parade)
- Check out the Street Art (Hoiser Lane, etc.)
- Explore different restaurants! Melbourne is known for its food scene. The city has a variety of restaurants with delicious food that is sure to appease your appetite.