A packed agenda of food, wine, sports and arts is your introduction to the best of Melbourne – from its creative, exciting city centre, to its buzzing neighbourhood hubs. It's the gateway to Victoria's world-class wineries, natural springs, peninsulas, spectacular coastline and alpine villages, making it the ideal destination for easy access to pre and post Conference touring.
Visitors will find Melbourne an exciting city to explore. Modern architecture and design is juxtaposed with heritage buildings reflecting Australia’s cultural history. But beneath the city’s impressive façade lies the true heart and soul of the city; laneways which snake the city grid to reveal cafes and bars, fashion houses, boutiques, innovative cuisine, galleries, theatres and museums.
Melbourne has a lively passion for social eating and drinking, which is reflected in the thousands of restaurants serving up gastronomic experiences from around the world. Uncover a vast array of fashionable cafes, where you can enjoy Melbourne's existential coffee and cafe culture to the fullest.
Melbourne has a reputation for its changeable weather. A tip for any visitor is to be prepared for anything – wear layers that can be worn or removed as needed. It will be Spring in October so the days will be starting to get longer and temperate and the evenings will be cooler. A full range of weather may be experienced within a few days, from warm, calm and sunny to cold, windy and showery.
Weaving a maze through the city grid, Melbourne's laneways have been revitalised with street art, lively cafes and atmospheric bars. There's always an exhilarating thrill to be had when entering Melbourne's hive of bustling, creative laneways with their covert boutiques, visual art, famed restaurants, hole-in-the-wall cafes and astonishing bars.
Idle the afternoon away by the bluestone cobbles at a Degraves Street or Centre Place cafe and become part of a Melbourne postcard scene. You're likely to find colourful street art as part of the annual Laneway Commissions. See anything from neon animals in Cocker Alley to video installations in Manchester Lane and paste-ups in Westwood Place.
How to get there
By tram: Any tram along Swanston or Elizabeth streets.
Forget you're in a city of four million people and slow-down in Melbourne's lavish parks, gardens and waterways. Surround yourself with age-old trees, manicured lawns and abundant wildlife in a pocket of calm and tranquillity in the middle of this bustling city.
Wander the tree-lined pathways through the Treasury and Fitzroy gardens or enjoy the sculptured terraces of Birrarung Marr, Melbourne's newest garden situated on the shoulder of the Yarra River. For a truly Alice in Wonderland escape, head to the Royal Botanic Gardens – an ornamental labyrinth of lawns, weaving paths and venerable old trees.
Melbourne's gardens are also home to a host of bird, animal and aquatic life, but for a more formal introduction to native Australian wildlife and other locally-found or more exotic species, visit the internationally acclaimed Melbourne Zoo. As well, the state-of-the-art Melbourne Aquarium harbours thousands of creatures from the Southern Ocean.
Scratch the surface in Melbourne and you'll discover a city buzzing with dynamic and cutting-edge arts and culture. Make your way along the Yarra River's south bank to St Kilda Road and begin your exploration of the arts precinct. Catch a premiering performance at the Arts Centre or international ballet stars in big-name productions at the home of the Australian Ballet. Take in blockbuster art at NGV International, and see the artists of the future in training at the Victorian College of the Arts.
At Federation Square, where art meets architecture, watch inspiring audio visual shows at ACMI, see the collection at the Ian Potter Centre, or catch a recital at The Edge theatre. Inside and out, you'll discover the innovation and skill of local artists and designers at hole-in-the-wall galleries and theatres across the city.
Dining out in this foodie town is serious – and seriously fun. Melbourne prides itself on its food and the city's dizzying array of dining options is testimony to its culinary reputation. Book ahead for award-winning fine-dining restaurants, queue up for iconic cheap eats, explore famous eat streets or track down the city's best food trucks. Whatever you do, come to town with an appetite.
Melbourne is Australia's culinary capital and has the numbers to prove it. Get the facts behind Victoria's love of all things food.
Escape the city and bask in the natural beauty of regional Victoria. Travel the Great Ocean Road and beyond and experience one of the world's most scenic coastal drives. See the towering 12 Apostles, iconic surf breaks and misty waterfalls. Admire the stunning coastline on the Great Ocean Walk, get up close to native wildlife at Tower Hill, and explore surf towns and seaside villages. Enjoy fine dining up and down the coast and stock up at local winemakers, dairy farms and fresh provedores along the way.
Combine the best of coastal living with Aussie charm on the Mornington Peninsula, just an hour from Melbourne. Pristine beaches and gloriously green hinterland – this much-loved holiday favourite is home to more than 50 boutique cellar doors and the region's renowned pinot noir. Explore the galleries, spas and cafes in breezy seaside villages, cool off with a day on the beach, or escape to the hinterland for gourmet delights at boutique wineries.
Cross into the different worlds of the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges. Escape to the Yarra Valley to indulge in life's great pleasures of food, wine and nature. Disappear from the bustle of city life into the Dandenong Ranges' secret fern glades, towering forests and eclectic villages.
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Extracted from Maggie's Recipe for Life by Maggie Beer with Professor Ralph Martins, published by Simon & Schuster Australia, RRP AU$39.99 or NZ$45.00.
Photography © Dragan Radocaj