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Travel Your Way

Melbourne City Attractions for First Timers (Part 2)

Updated 29 June 2016

In Melbourne City Attractions for First Timers (Part 1), there are five attractions you can visit while taking the free City Circle Tram. There are many more places worth going that I will mention over here. You can take the Melbourne Visitor Shuttle Bus to go to all the following except the last one.

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Melbourne Visitor Shuttle Bus

The full trip takes about 90 minutes and it includes on-board commentary. Ride in comfort while listening to stories about the city’s colourful past and current quirks.

Update: Melbourne Visitor Shuttle service has now closed. From Friday 1 September 2019 onwards, visitors can use alternate services to explore Melbourne such as the City Circle Free Tram and the Free Tram Zone.

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  • A$10 for two consecutive days, free for children aged 9 and under. It used to be free before 2013, and it became A$5/day in 2013. There are free service days when certain stops are closed. Oh well, at least the tram is free for now.
  • Where can you buy tickets? Online, or at Melbourne Visitor Centre, Fitzroy Gardens Visitor Centre and Melbourne Airport arrivals hall (terminal two).
  • Daily except shuttle closure days
  • 1st service leaves stop 1 at 9.30am and the last at 3.45pm, departing every 30 minutes.
  • 13 stops: Route Information

Tip: City Tram doesn’t go to these Visitor Shuttle Stops: 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13.

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1) Arts Precinct


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Stop 1 of the Melbourne Visitor Shuttle Bus is the Arts Precinct. 

This is my favourite part of Melbourne City. I love visiting museums and appreciating art as an amateur. Heh. p.s. The free city circle tram doesn’t make a stop here.

Step off here for plays, pictures and performances:

We only went to NGV and ACCA and that took out quite a bit of our time as we walked through the various exhibits.

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Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)

This is a contemporary art space, and the only major gallery in Australia focused on commissioning rather than collecting. The admission is free, unless otherwise stated for special exhibitions. We didn’t spend much time here, because we didn’t want to pay for the major exhibition which was going on at that time.

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Opening Hours
10am – 5pm, Tuesday to Friday
12pm – 5pm Weekends & PH (except Good Friday, Christmas Day & Boxing Day)
Monday closed

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National Gallery of Victoria (NGV International)

There is an extensive collection from Europe, Asia, America, and Oceania.

NGV’s Australian art collection encompasses Indigenous (Aboriginal) art and artefacts, colonial art, Impressionist art, 20th century, modern and contemporary art.

And its international art collection comprises European and international paintings, fashion and textiles, photography, prints and drawings, Asian art, decorative arts, Mesoamerican art, Pacific art, sculpture, antiquities and global contemporary art. It has strong collections in areas as diverse as old masters, Greek vases, Egyptian artefacts and historical European ceramics, and contains the largest and most comprehensive range of artworks in Australia.” – Wikipedia

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General entry is free (but you have to pay for special exhibitions or programs)

Opening Hours
10am–5pm, Daily (including Public holidays)
1–5pm Anzac Day
Closed Christmas Day
Weekend hours might be extended for special exhibitions.

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“Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4

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 2) Federation Square


Stop 2 of the Melbourne Visitor Shuttle Bus. 

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia

After touring NGV International, you can head to its other branch – The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia
at Federation square. Here, you can look at Australian art encompassing Indigenous and non-Indigenous art from the colonial period to the present day. We didn’t have the time to visit this centre. :(

Opening Hours
10am–5pm, Daily (including Public holidays)
1–5pm Anzac Day
Closed Christmas Day
Weekend hours might be extended for special exhibitions.

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At the Federation Square, you can also drop by the Melbourne Visitor Centre, which is full of useful brochures and information and helpful staff.

You can also join the free Federation Square Tours which depart from the Melbourne Visitor Centre, Monday to Saturday at 11am (except PH). No booking is required. Max 15 per tour. For more info and group booking details, visit fedsquare.com/shopvisit/guided-tours.

Flinders Street Station, St Paul’s Cathedral

And if you haven’t been on the City Circle Tram to visit Flinders Street Station, St Paul’s Cathedral, you can also drop off at this stop.


3) Queen Victoria Market


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Stop 8 of the Melbourne Visitor Shuttle Bus. 

Queen Victoria Market (“QVM”) is Melbourne’s oldest market and a major tourist spot. There are a few detractors of this place, saying it’s over-hyped, etc. But if it’s your first time in Melbourne, you got to see it for yourself. :) You can buy many things here, from local fresh produce to gourmet foods, to cosmetics, clothing and souvenirs.

Other than QVM, you acan also visit the Melbourne Zoo (not so near) and Hellenic Museum around the area.

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QVM is quite big and we were abit lost without a map. The fremantle market in Perth pale in comparison to QVM’s size. So arm yourself with QVM’s map to navigate the market. Will be posting more photos of food at QVM in the next post.

Australia’s shops are famous for closing early, so if you are looking for something to do in the night, check out QVM’s Winter Night Market (1 June – 31 August 2016, Every Wednesday, 5-10pm). You will find foodies, artisans and performers amidst crackling fires, mulled wine and a revolving line-up of roving entertainers and live music. There will be many food vendors, designer and artisan stalls.

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Opening Hours
Sun 9am – 4pm
Closed on Monday & Wednesday
Hours vary much for other days, hence visit their website for the trading hours.

www.qvm.com.au

Getting to QVM. Other than the bus, you can take the tram or train:

  • By Tram: Located within the free tram zone.
    • Tram 19, 57 or 59 to Stop 7, Elizabeth St.
    • Tram 55 to Stop 9, Peel St.
  • By Train: Only a 7 minute walk from Melbourne Central and Flagstaff Stations. Walk north along Elizabeth or William Street.

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4) Harbour Town


Stop 9 of the Melbourne Visitor Shuttle Bus. 

The Shuttle service stops at Docklands, at Harbour Town Shopping Centre’s Customer Service Lounge. It is supposedly an outlet shopping mall offering great discounts. However, on its website, there’s no sign of it being an outlet shopping mall under the ‘About the Centre’. The discounts were not that fantastic when we were there, but I managed to snag a pair of boots for a good price. Also, there were not much crowd and shops in operation. Not exactly an exciting shopping place.

However, just across the Shopping Centre is a nice pier to walk along in the light breeze, especially after dinner. If you are hungry, there are many dining options by the waters.

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Daily 10:00AM – 6:00PM. Shops might close early if there are not many shoppers around, so be sure not to go near the closing hour.

How to get there? Other than the free shuttle bus,

  • City Circle free tram stops right outside Harbour Town Shopping Centre, Docklands Drive.
  • Tram 70 (via Flinders Street) OR Tram 86 (Via Bourke Street) to the Harbour Town tram stop.
  • Bus Link’s route 220 will also drop you at Harbour Town’s doorstep. (Stop 6 – Footscray Road).
  • Train to Southern Cross Station and walk over the Bourke Street Pedestrian Bridge to Harbour Town Esplanade, then along Docklands Drive or the waterfront to Harbour Town.

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If shopping bores you, you can go to the nearby O’Brien Group Arena (ice skating centre) for skating lessons, ice sports and programs. Or you could walk to the ferris wheel called the Melbourne Star (book online for cheaper tickets, A$32.40).


5) Crown Casino & Eureka Skydeck 88 


Stop 12 of the Melbourne Visitor Shuttle Bus: Southbank and Yarra River. 

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The two main reasons people alight at this stop, one is for the Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex and the other is for Eureka Skydeck 88, an observation deck. We didn’t manage to go in and take a look because our passports were not with us. I guess, we didn’t look old enough as well to convince the bouncer. Oh well, nothing much to lose either.

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Yup, I am amazed by the corridor leading to the toilet that I took a photo. Anyway, it was nice to walk in the the open air spaces and laneways outside the casino. Too bad we didn’t have time to slow down and enjoy the view.

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6) The Shrine and Royal Botanic Gardens


Stop 13 of the Melbourne Visitor Shuttle Bus. 

Step off here for music, a memorial and meandering gardens.

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Shrine of Remembrance

Just outside the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne is the Shrine of Remembrance. The Shrine was originally built to meet as a memorial for the lives lost in the First World War, but is now also a memorial to all Australians who have served in war and peacekeeping operations. It is one of the largest war memorials in Australia.

There are exhibitions and events happening at the Shrine throughout the year. You can join one of the 55 minute guided tours which include a brief service of remembrance in the Sanctuary. All tours commence from the Visitor Centre reception desk at 11am and 2pm daily.

Because we were pressed for time, we didn’t go in. But we did walk around the exterior while waiting for the Visitor Shuttle Bus, which took a long time to come.

Opening Hours 
10am – 5pm daily, closed Good Friday and Christmas Day
Last admission to the Galleries of Remembrance and Balcony is 4.30pm

Admission is FREE, however, the Shrine welcomes donations.

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Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne is highly recommended by many others. Hence we tried to squeeze this into our tight schedule. If only we had more time. It has a beautiful surroundings to stroll in, to sit and laze around or to have a picnic in the nice weather.  

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Open Daily, from 7.30am to sunset.

Free Entry to Melbourne Gardens.

Be sure to the Visitor Centre located at the Observatory Precinct on Birdwood Avenue. You will find information on the gardens, tour bookings, umbrella hire, wheelchair hire, toilets, Jardin Tan and the gift shop.

  • 9am – 5pm weekdays
  • 9.30am – 5pm weekends and public holidays (closed Christmas Day and New Years Day).

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Other places to consider along the shuttle route

Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) (Stop 3), Chinatown Precinct (Stop 4), Melbourne Museum (Stop 5), Old Melbourne Goal (Stop 5), Lygon Street Italian precinct (Stop 6), Melbourne Aquarium (Stop 11)

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Other Popular Places not mentioned

♥ Bird’s eye view of the city: Eureka Skydeck 88Rialto Towers Observation Deck
♥ Animal lover?: Penguin Parade at Philip islandWarrook Cattle Farm (on the way to Phillip Island), Healesvile Sanctuary (Yarra Valley).
♥ Further South: St Kilda is Melbourne’s seaside playground.
♥ Further from CBD: Great Ocean Road (12 Apostles)Puffing Billy (Steam Train), Sovereign Hill @ BallartDandenong RangesYarra Valley, Hot air balloon, Healesvile Sanctuary

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Places I mentioned in other posts

Melbourne City Attractions for First Timers (Part 1)
4 Places to Eat and Drink Coffee in Melbourne City
Shop and Drink Coffee at Hipster Fitzroy

“Melbourne’s alternative side is full-force in Fitzroy, the inner-city mecca for all things cool and kooky.” – TimeOut

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WE WILL BE BACK.

WE LOVE YOU MELBOURNE.

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Do you have other recommendations? :) Do tell us below or on our Facebook Page or Instagram.


Other useful links:
Maps: ptv.vic.gov.au/getting-around/maps
Transportation: ptv.vic.gov.au/getting-around/visiting-melbourne/#3
www.visitmelbourne.com



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