In a few weeks when the weather starts to cool, it may be time to head south—way south. Spring will come to Australia in September and last through November, a perfect time to avoid the crowds and expensive airfares of the peak season.
Sydney may have iconic drawcards like the Opera House, but for a road slightly less traveled, visit Melbourne, the nation’s cultural capital. Here are our insider’s tips on where to start:
1. Get lost in the CBD. Amid the high-rises of Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD) are hundreds of restaurants, cafés, pubs, and boutique stores, many hidden down tiny alleyways. Wander on foot to Chinatown or hop on a tram to the Italian eateries of nearby Lygon Street.
2. Shop at Queen Victoria Market. For 130 years, vendors at this eclectic market have been hawking an array of produce and delicacies. Take the two-hour Foodies’ Dream Tour for a behind-the-scenes look.
3. Hike the Dandenongs. Just east of the city are the forests of the Dandenong Ranges, where giant ferns and towering mountain ash trees create a mystical atmosphere. If hiking isn’t your style, drop in to a café or head for wine tasting in the Yarra Valley.
4. Drive the Great Ocean Road. For a trip further afield, drive south from Melbourne to the surf town of Torquay, the starting point for the Great Ocean Road and some of Australia’s most spectacular coastline. Hit the beach in Lorne and don’t miss the precarious-looking limestone formations of the Twelve Apostles.
5. Barrack at the footy. Melbournians are religiously devoted to Australian-rules football, and the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is their cathedral. The footy season reaches its climax with the finals season in September. Grab a meat pie and add your voice to the MCG’s chorus of 100,000 screaming fans.
Traveled to Melbourne recently? What do you recommend?