day trips from Melbourne

Old Feb 9th, 2005, 12:56 PM
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day trips from Melbourne

HI, looking for advise on interesting day trips from Melbourne. Also, what not to miss in Melbourne itself. Children are 11 and 13 yrs old. We all love outdoors/wildlife. Thanks in advance. Mary
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Old Feb 9th, 2005, 02:09 PM
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Hello Mary,

CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT OR "THE CITY"

* When you first get to Melbourne, take a ride on the free City Circle Tram. It goes around the perimeter of the downtown core and provides a pre-recorded commentary on the buildings that you’re passing. It’s a good way of getting an initial orientation.

* Walk down the Burke Street Mall. Look out for the man who imitates a statue.

* Visit Queen Victoria Market, NW corner of downtown (closed Mondays and Wednesdays).

* Visit the Sunday Craft Market on the Esplanade in the seaside neighbourhood of St. Kilda.

* Visit Old Melbourne Gaol (pronounced Jail).

* Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens. Take some stale bread to feed the ducks and swans on the pond.

* Visit the Shrine of Remembrance next to the Royal Botanic Gardens. If you go there on a Sunday, there will be a volunteer guide who will explain the significance of Gallipoli in Australia’s and New Zealand’s history.

* If you are in Melbourne on April 25th, watch the Anzac Day Parade that goes down St. Kilda Road to the Shrine of Remembrance.

* Visit the National Gallery of Victoria on St. Kilda Road. Take the tour that explains the progression of Australian art. It may be a bit boring for your kids, but even they may appreciate the significance of the fact that people have been “scrubbing the news” for a very long time. Well, people have been doing it since Roman times and before that. However, in the Australian context, the first generation of artists who came from Europe did not paint the Australian landscape as it was, but rather as they thought their customers would want to see it. They painted crap that didn’t exist. It was only the next generation of artists of European origin who painted the real landscape. Aboriginal art, of course, has a very distinctive style, and is a topic in its own right.

* Walk along the banks of the Yarra River in Southbank. Visit Federation Square.

SUBURBS

* Rent a boat from the Studley Park Boathouse in Kew, and row up and down the Yarra River for a little way.

* Warrandyte (a suburb on the northern outskirts of Melbourne). Look through the cute craft stores. Go bush walking in Warrandyte State Park. Look up into the trees regularly. We’ve always seen Koalas whenever we’ve been there. This is a nice place to have a picnic, although there are some cute places in which to eat in Warrandyte little shopping district as well.

* Go for a ride on the Miniature Diamond Valley Railway at Eltham. Again, this is another nice place to have a picnic.

* Take in some Aussie Rules Footy or Cricket, depending on the season.

OUT OF TOWN

* Great Ocean Road. You seem to have that under control with your question about driving to Kangaroo Island. I’ll just make one recommendation. Go into the temperate rainforest behind the coastal town of Lorne. Walk down the steps to the bottom of Erskine Falls, and walk along the banks of the Erskine River for a little way.

* Find out about the Australian gold rush at Sovereign Hill. Can be done as a day trip, but makes for a nice overnight trip too.

* Go for a camel ride outside of Mansfield. It will give you a sore butt, but it’ll give you a taste of Australia like few other things can. Once you’re in Melbourne, phone Steve or Lise of High Country Camel Treks at (03) 5775 1591.

* See Australian native animals at Healesville Nature Sanctuary in the Yarra Valley.

* Take a ride on the Puffing Billy narrow gauge steam train. Drive to Belgrave or alternatively catch a regular train from Flinders Street Station, downtown, to Belgrave Station and then switch to the Puffing Billy line. Take Puffing Billy to the last station, Gembrook. Have lunch in the small town. Return to Belgrave. If it’s a Saturday, Sunday or Wednesday, stop on the way at Menzies Creek Station, and visit the locomotive museum. At Belgrave hop into your car or onto a regular train and return to Melbourne. This is a full day activity. The train ride from Flinders Street Station to Belgrave Station alone is 70 minutes.

* Drive into the Dandenong Ranges and see the inspiring sculptures in the William Ricketts Sanctuary. Have lunch at Olinda or Sassafras or somewhere in between. See the view of Melbourne from Mount Dandenong Lookout.

* If you’ll be in Melbourne in the southern hemisphere spring, go to the Rhododendron Gardens in the Dandenongs.

* Go to Wilson’s Promontory (the most southerly point on the Australian mainland), and be sure to check if the sand really squeaks on Squeaky Beach.

* Visit the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island (but be sure to dress warmly – even if it has been a hot day!!!).

* Drive down the coast along the east side of Port Phillip Bay to the end of the Mornington Peninsula. Catch the ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliffe. Look around the historical town of Queenscliffe. Drive back to Melbourne up the west side of Port Phillip Bay, via Geelong. This would be a full day’s outing, at a minimum, although Queenscliffe is sufficiently interesting to warrant an overnight trip.

*** When you arrive in Melbourne, buy a MelWay, which is a book of maps covering Melbourne and the territory beyond. It is a "must have."

*** Once you're there, ask the locals. They'll tell you about more stuff that you can do.

*** Plug into sources of information about what is going on. Although Melbourne looks like one large city of about 3.5 million people, in fact it's made up of several municipalities consisting of about 150,000 each. They all publish newsletters announcing festivals and other events that will be taking place in their jurisdictions. The city newspapers also announce major events.
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Old Feb 9th, 2005, 02:30 PM
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Mary, it's just occurred to me that other Fodorites looking at my previous post will think that I've lost the plot it if they don't understand the context of my response to you.

Let me hasten to defend myself by saying that I read your other message, and gathered you would be in Melbourne for 10 weeks. That was my reason for supplying a more exhaustive list of activities than usual.
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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 10:23 AM
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It would be a long day trip, but we loved visiting Grampians National Park. Specatacular scenery, tons of wildlife, and we had the place practically to ourselves, even in peak season (we were there in late January a couple of years ago). We saw herds of kangaroos, flocks of cockatoos and Rosellas, kookaburras, a 3 foot goanna lizard, and an emu mom with 7 chicks - all at very close range! Have a great trip!
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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 07:08 PM
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The Grampians are my favourite place in Victoria but are not really a day trip - they're about 4 hours drive from the CBD. Try seeing them over a long weekend.
Judy - your knowledge/recollection of Melbourne is impressive, to say the least.
Great day trips from Melbourne are Marysville (superb drive through the Black Spur and you can drop into Healesville Sanctuary on the way), Dandenong Ranges, Wilsons Prom, part of the Great Ocean Road and the Mornington Peninsula. Also consider visiting Werribee mansion and zoo.
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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 03:58 PM
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An advert for my home town...

Bendigo, in Central Victoria, is about a 1.5 hour drive from Melbourne.

It was the sight of one of the world's great Gold Rushes in the 1850's, and as a result of the incredible wealth of the city, it retains some of the most spectacular and grand public buildings of the late 19th Century. The wide boulevards and leafy parks have a European feel. Relics from the gold mining era include Central Deborah mine, where you can travel several levels down the mine for a tour of the workings, a trip on the Talking Tram to get information about the history of Bendigo, the excellent Chinese Museum and Gardens, celebrating the Chinese contribution to Bendigo.
The local Art Gallery has a great and diverse collection, but with a real strength in 19th Cent Australian Art. It is located in the View Street Arts Precinct, amonst other private galleries, antique shops and cafes.

Also, importantly, Bendigo is the centre of a vigorous wine growing region, with Shiraz the local speciality (try "Water Wheel" at nearby Bridgewater), and there are some fantastic restaurants serving great local produce (try Bazzzani's).

A busy day-trip, but a very enjoyable and relaxing two day excursion (weekend or mid-week).
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 05:57 AM
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Judy that list is very impressive. But I'm curious about your comment re 'old Melbourne Goal (pronounced jail)'.

I thought goal and jail were two different words, albeit with the same meaning.

Could you enlighten me, please?
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 08:09 AM
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Hi Alice,

Thank you.

>>>But I'm curious about your comment re 'old Melbourne Goal (pronounced jail)'.<<<

It isn't Goal. It's Gaol. That is the British English spelling of Jail, and Gaol is pronounced the same as Jail. According to Dictionary.com, the word started out as caveola in Latin, which is the diminutive of cavea, meaning cage or hollow. It then became gaviola in Vulgar Latin, gaiole in Old North French, and gaol in Middle English.

It confused me when I was a kid growing up in Swaziland, Africa. We lived in the bush, and my mom home schooled us for the first couple of years. When I occasionally accompanied my parents to the nearest small town to collect the mail, etc., I saw a sign, "Gaol" above the entrance to the prison. I was just learning to read. I guess I was about six. I thought the word was pronounced, "Goal." It was only later that I found out it was pronounced, "Jail."

By the way, back in those relatively more innocent times in Swaziland, the prisoners used to tend the public gardens in the town. A bell used to ring X length of time before dinner. Any prisoner who got back to the prison too late would find the gates locked and would miss dinner.

There was no concept of incarceration in black tribal culture, so the idea that a prison sentence represented any kind of disgrace was totally lost on the Swazi people of the time. They viewed the prison as the Kingy Georgie Hotel.

But I digress.
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 10:10 AM
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Judy's list is so good, and local residents knowledge is so much better than mine, that all I can really do is second the suggestions already made.

Phillip Island is a nice place for walks as well, while you're waiting for the sun to go down and the penguins to arrive. It is quite windblown - the dress suggestion is very true. On the opposite side of the island from the penguin parade is an observatory to watch the seal rocks below, as well as a small education center.

On the way down to Phillip Island, there's always the Giant Worm. It's a bit of a cheesy road-side attraction, but how could I find fault with a place where I got to hold a baby wombat?

Warrandyte is, as said, a nice little town. My wife's family lives there and she grew up there, so I've gotten to see all the little ins-and-outs of the place. We spend weeks at a time there. A walk along the river at dusk is so peaceful.

Bendigo is where her aunts live, so we've been up to visit and explore. Another dusk experience I loved - we visit the city park as the sun was setting. As light fell, possums (not the U.S. kind, they know how to put together an attractive little creature there in Oz) came down from the trees, and we spent time handfeeding them banana pieces. They'd take them and dash up to the low limbs just above our heads and hand from their tails to eat.

Healesville is much more an education center on Australian wildlife as it is a "zoo". Board walks take you through a portion of the displays there at Healesville.

On the way out, you'll be passing or skirting the Yarra Valley, where vineyards and wineries are readily available to visit.

The Melbourne Zoo in the city is great, by the way - very natural settings. They finished their Thai gardens as a setting for the elephant displays. Many of the pathways in the zoo have been reverted from pavement back to something akin to a jungle path, with an edge and canopy of tall, draping bamboo.

So much has been written about the Great Ocean Road, it probably goes without saying again. It seems to me though more of an overnighter to make a reasonably unrushed circle back to Melb, maybe taking in the Grampians as well.

The Dandenongs are great for a peaceful day getaway. I enjoy the winding road up, among all the tree ferns. My MIL's favorite place for tea and scones is at the top.


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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 01:03 PM
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'Fowler's Modern English Usage', quotes the Oxford English Dictionary, as giving preference to 'jail' over 'gaol'. It's also the preferred spelling in the newspapers I read, so you shouldn't come across 'gaol' too often in Australia.
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 03:39 PM
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The Yarra Valley has been mentioned and is quite scenic with its vineyards but maybe not as interesting for 11 & 13 year olds. An interesting stop-off in the Yarra Valley is Gulf Station, just out of Yarra Glen. This has the original house and outbuildings from a farm property that remained in the one family for may years, and is now managed by the National Trust. It was changed very little after the early 20th century and provides a good view of early farm life in Australia.

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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 07:22 PM
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check out st kilda pier at night, if you go to the end along the breakwater, you will most likely see penguins running about. the last portion of the breakwater is fenced off to protect the local colony of penguins, however they usually swim around the fence and say "hello" to curious onlookers... if you cannot be bothered going to phillip island for the penguins, then make sure you check out st kilda pier... federation square normally has events on (corner flinders and swanston streets), from a smallish farmers market on friday afternoons, to a book swap meet on saturday mornings... check out the casino on southbank for cheap meals- all you can eat for $5- one of the best deals in the city and excellent quality too! the aquarium (opposite the casino, on the river in the city on king street) may interest the children as well. the rialto observation deck (525 collins street) offers spectacular views of the city day and night... if you are interested in more things to see and do... a couple of VERY useful websites are...
http://www.thatsmelbourne.com.au
and
http://www.visitvictoria.com.au/
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 08:10 PM
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You could take the ferry down the river to Scienceworks - Melbourne's technology museum. Plus visit the Immigration Museum in Flinders Street, plus our new museum in Exhibition Gardens.
There is a boat trip from Southbank to see the penguins in Port Philip Bay. This goes late afternoon and, I think, includes a BBQ.
St Kilda Esplanade on Sundays is worth visiting for people watching and the craft market. Walk a bit further to Acland Street and check out the cake shops.
There are three zoos around Melbourne. You can get a three zoo deal which gives you one zoo free. These are the free range zoo at Werribee, Melbourne Zoo, and Healesville Sanctuary.
There are some great parks around Melbourne, both in the city centre and in the suburbs. Jells Park and Westerfields Park are two worth visiting.
The Queen Victoria market is a must - great food, clothes and souvenirs. Open most days.
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 10:33 PM
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I meant to say earlier that I would not recommend taking Puffing Billy all the way to Gembrook unless you are an avid train buff. It is very slow and takes a long time to get there - you can get the experience and see plenty of tree ferns etc going only as far as Emerald.
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 11:11 PM
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How could I forget the Possums in Bendigo - it's fantastic on a warm summer evening to take our kids to hand-feed the possums with pieces of fruit, or just wander through Rosalind Park licking a big, delicious ice-cream and watch others feed them.

By the way, Rosalind Park is close the the Bendigo Gaol - I, for one, think that this spelling is worth fighting for (along with colour, honour, realise, organisation, and, most importantly, HUMOUR!)
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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 11:29 AM
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Can you go to Philip Island on your own or do you have to take a tour?
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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 12:47 PM
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At the risk of straining the patience of other posters (so what's new?) ...

I don't know why we Australians should necessarily go to bat for British spelling conventions - that's a battle the British can fight for themselves, if they want to. What is there about 'gaol' (or for that matter any of the others) that's worth fighting for? They weren't handed down by God on stone tablets, after all.

Spelling is just a matter of convention, and conventions change over time - should we go back to spelling 'governor' as 'governour'? And why do we write 'honorary' and not 'honourary'? British-English is a mass of contradictions in this and many other areas.

The article in 'Fowlers' about '-or' vs '-our' endings is worth reading, if only for the comment that possibly the only reason the British didn't reform '-our' is that the dreaded Americans got there first!

I strongly recommend Melvin Bragg's excellent series "The Adventure of English" now showing in Australia on SBS-TV - also Bill Bryson's "Mother Tongue", which covers much of the same ground.
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Old Feb 14th, 2005, 09:58 PM
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Some has mentioned possums. You can feed possums in Melbourne easily. Walk down to Treasury Gardens (corner Spring and Flinders Street) about dusk with some pieces of apple. They will come running.
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Old Feb 16th, 2005, 01:28 PM
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>>>Can you go to Philip Island on your own or do you have to take a tour?<<<

You can go on your own. The drive from downtown Melbourne to Phillip Island is 130 km (about 80 miles). The Map Maker feature on the Travelmate.com.au website says it takes 1 hour 45 minutes, and that sounds about right to me.

The penguins come ashore at dusk. If you see the Penguin Parade in the summer, when the sun sets late, it makes for a late return to Melbourne. We got back after midnight.

The wind blowing off the ocean can be really cool at Phillip Island. Dress warmly (or take extra layers that you can put on), even if it has been a hot day.

Busloads and busloads of people go to see the Penguin Parade. I read recently that it was the most popular tourist activity in the state of Victoria. Another Fodorite mentioned a more exclusive viewing area that you can pay extra to sit in. I am guessing that the extra cost would be worth it.
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