There is so much for expat entertainment and to see and do in Melbourne. Regardless of season or day of the week, you will always be able to find an event or activity to keep you engaged and entertained. Melbourne is a city of hidden gems, from unmarked bars and restaurants hidden down laneways and up staircases, to one-night-only performance art viewed only by those who happen to be in the right place at the right time to experience it.
While most Melbournians will have a strong opinion on which activities are the best, they will likely be the first to admit that even after living in the city for years, the astounding amount of going-ons, and esoteric or ephemeral nature of many of the city’s offerings will be unknown to them. Here are some tips on activities to help get you acquainted with Melbourne. Try a few of these and you will be feeling like a local in no time.
Discover Melbourne’s secret places on a Hidden Secrets Tour
These tours are eye-openers, even for residents of Melbourne who’ve lived in the city their whole lives. A walking tour in an intimate group, it is a bit like having your best friend show you all of the places you could never have discovered by yourself. You’ll be introduced to tiny boutiques and hole-in-the-wall coffee bars that you may have walked past before, completely unaware of their existence a few meters away. There are plenty of other gems that aren’t on the itinerary, but once you’ve taken this tour you will feel a lot more inspired to explore Melbourne and find your own favourite secret spots.
Hidden Secrets Tours
03 9663 3358
Learn about Melbourne’s history by Walking the Golden Mile
Some streets in the CBD have some odd-looking, gold discs set into the pavements at intervals. Although they often go unnoticed, these discs mark the Golden Mile, a one-mile walk that encompasses the historic precinct of Melbourne and explains its heritage. The city of Melbourne runs regular walking tours, with well-informed guides explaining landmarks and the meanings of each gold disc. While most locals have never taken the tour, it’s highly recommended as a great introduction to the history of your new town. Kids (younger and older) will likely be bored, so send them across the road to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Federation Square (details below).
Golden Mile information and tour times
Explore Melbourne’s love of film at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image
It’s no secret that Melbournians love cinema, and it’s no surprise that Australia’s largest museum dedicated to film is located here. If you have even a passing interest in movies, you and the kids (teenagers and little ones alike) will love the interactive gadgetry and behind-the-scenes exhibitions that ACMI offers. Stand out features are a chance to make your own special effects scenes in front of a green screen, and try your hand at editing footage from famous films. Frequent screenings of new Australian films, hosting of foreign film festivals, and regular talks by filmmakers make the ACMI a great destination at night as well.
Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)
Federation Square, Flinders Street, Melbourne
03 8663 2200
Get a sky-high view of the city from Eureka Tower
Take the ultra-fast lift to a platform a hundred floors above Melbourne. Though the fee to experience this viewing deck can be exorbitant, the rush of standing on a glass viewing platform sticking out over the edge of the tower, and the views of the city such a position provides, will not be soon forgotten. A word of warning though, this attraction is not for those with a fear of heights. The viewing platform changes from opaque to transparent, and gives you the uncomfortable impression that you are dangling over 300 meters of empty space. Screaming is permitted, and totally justified.
Go to the Footy at Melbourne Cricket Ground
If sports are your thing (and even if they aren’t), there is nothing more Melbournian than attending an Australian Rules Football match (among thousands of screaming fans) at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Frequently abbreviated as the MCG (or even further abbreviated by Melbournians as “the G”), this stadium is considered hallowed ground as the oldest cricket pitch in Australia, and birthplace of Australian football more than 150 years ago. Also home to the National Sports Museum, which can provide an afternoon of educational Australian sports history, if you are the type of person interested in knowing the name of the first Australian to bat a century in a 5-day test.
Melbourne Cricket Ground
Yarra Park, Melbourne
03 9657 8888
Get cultured at the Melbourne Arts Centre
Those with a passion for the arts are well catered to by this dedicated facility. Home to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and venue of many international performances of ballet, dance, and theatre, the Arts Centre has a well-planned schedule of events throughout the year. Easily located on Melbourne’s skyline by its distinctive (some would say Eiffel-esque) spire.
Melbourne Centre for the Arts
100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
03 9281 8000