Cruise ships dock at Station Pier in Port Melbourne. A very large terminal awaits, much of which must be traversed on the journey to shore.
The interior is large and offers a few amenities like a souvenir shop, rest rooms and a waiting room.
The austerity is more than made up for, however, by volunteer greeter in red shirt that make you feel welcome immediately and are very helpful.
A large information booth occupies a dominant position in the terminal.
A large attractive gate separates the terminal from the street.
The environs of the terminal are pleasant, safe, and a favorite place for dog walking.
Outside, volunteer greeters in blue shirts are waiting to direct you to transportation or help in any other way they can.
They will provide you with a map that shows the whole region,
As well as a map of the city center.
More volunteers off a free ride via a three wheeled pedaled vehicle to the Port Melbourne shopping precinct a 10 minute walk away.
The Queen Mary II offered a free shuttle bus to Federation Square in the city center, a 25-30 minutes ride,
Federation Square is the Civic Center and hub of activity with shops, cafés, bars, restaurants, a Visitor Center, art galleries and theater. Daily, 24 hours; free;
The city tram #109 also goes between the pier and the City Center.
Free Bus Tour around the City
Take the free City Circle Tram (#35) that loops around the CBD in a forty minute ride and get a feel for the layout of the city, using the free map at given out at the pier as a guide. The route of this burgundy colored tram passes many tourist attractions as it goes along Finders, Spring, and Nicholson Streets to Victoria Parade, along La Trobe Street and down Spender Street, daily from 10am to 6pm. As you ride, notice the diverse architecture from Victorian,
Enjoy the open spaces where many lovely gardens flourish,
Victorian Arts Center
Easily identified by its tall spire, the Victorian Arts Center includes four theaters, a performing arts museum, and a gallery of local and international artists. Tours Monday-Saturday, noon and 2:30pm; backstage tour Sunday 12:15pm; wwwtheartscentre.net
National Gallery of Victoria
The museum houses 70,000 historical and contemporary works of art from overseas.
It is worth visiting for its water wall and large stained glass ceiling. Wednesday-Monday 10am-5pm; Free
Located in the Melbourne Central, a large shopping complex build around it, the building was erected in 1889 and was the site where molten lead was poured through sieves at the top and hardened as it fell to the ground.
If you are there on the hour look at the large clock near by and watch an automated band emerge from its bottom and play ‘Waltzing with Matilda” as the birds chirped.
Nearby, the Royal Arcade was build in 1869 and is the oldest arcade in town.
The giants Gog and Magog strike the time on the hour.
Among the best gardens to visit are:
Royal Botanic Gardens
Includes Children’s Garden, cactus gardens, fern grottoes, rain forest, camellia garden ornamental lake, vast lawns, and hundreds of native and exotic plants. Good place for a picnic or lunch at one of the two indoor/outdoor cafes. Daily November-March 7:30am-8:30pm, April-October 7:30am-5:30pm; Free
Laid out in the shape of the Union Jack in the 1850s, the gardens include Captain Cook’s cottage, the Model Tudor Village, Fairies’ tree, ponds, waterfalls, and duck pond.
Unlike Sidney that was settled by convicts, Melbourne was established in the mid-1800s by thousands of free settlers that were looking for a good life. After the gold rush starting of the 1850s the immigration of people into the area from, Britain, the Americas, Asia, and Europe catapulted the fledgling city to prominence with many Victorian-style buildings of note. After World War many immigrants from Italy, and Greece came to Melbourne and later were joined by many Asians. Today, Melbourne, with a population of over three million people, is the second largest city in Australia after Sidney, and capital of the state of Victoria. It is considered the food capital and cultural center of the country and also boasts hosting events such as the Australian Open Tennis.
The center city is pedestrian friendly with wide sidewalks and its famous and19th century arcades where many shops and cafes can be found. Gourmands can enjoy diverse foods,
Melbourne is a good place to find genuine aboriginal art sold in Aboringal art centers and galleries.
Melbourne’s cultural diversity can be enjoyed in Little Italy, the Greek Precinct, or Chinatown all of which offer numerous ethnic restaurants.
Quaint restaurants are tucked away in charming alley streets.
Even with all the urbanization, Melbourne remains a city of many open spaces and garden so take notice and stop long enough to smell the roses.
The currency is the Australian dollar (Aus $1=US $.76). ATMs provide case 24 hours/day.
Banks are open Monday-Thursday 9:30a. to 4pm, Fridays 9:30am-5pm, and are closed on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays.
MasterCard, Visa, American Express and diners Club are widely accepted.
Tipping is not widely customary but is appreciated although in hotels and restaurants it is common for good service. Taxi drivers do not expect a tip but appreciate loose change.