By James Cook
Sightsee Melbourne For FREE
How do you ask? With the free bus! The free bus is perhaps one of the best ways to get around Melbourne. It runs every 30 minutes and takes a circular route through the city, stopping at the major tourist hot spots. Because it runs every thirty minutes, it is easy to see a little bit of each attraction in Melbourne. It is one of the best examples of public transport I have seen. There is even an onboard commentary!
There is so much to see along the free bus route – it will probably not be likely to see everything in one day. But hey – it’s free! So nothing is stopping you from coming back at another time!
So Lets Begin!
Stop One – Arts Precint
The first free bus leaves from the arts precinct at 0930. The arts precinct is a series of Theatres and Galleries located at the hip St. Kilda Road. While it is possible, and entirely reasonable to spend the whole day surrounded by incredible art and great live performances. Melbourne is a big place and if you want to see a lot in one day, you will probably want to hop back on the bus after a little while.
Stop Two – Federation Square
Federation Square is next. Federation Square is the tourism centre of Melbourne with the largest tourist info site located beneath it. Again Melbournes status as a world cultural centre is again proven here with the ACMI (Australian Centre for Moving Images) a creative museum of Australian Film with two cinemas. They screen many film festivals here. Federation Square is also a gathering point to watch big sporting events and on New Years is a prime place to watch the fire-works. If you get to Federation Square at 1100 you can partake in a free walking tour which explores the whole complex. It is an amazing example of architectural creativity, and definitely worth spending some time wandering the nooks and crannies.
Stop Three – Sports Precint
In case everything was getting a bit artsy for you the next stop is the Sports Precinct. Including the National Sports Museum and 3 arenas. Which are often used for big gigs as well.
Stop Four – Chinatown
Every big city worth its salt has a Chinatown. Melbourne’s is located at stop 4, which is right in the heart of ChinaTown, this is the second best place to pick up souvenirs and maybe even stop for a bit of lunch from one of the many fantastic vendors. There is also a Chinese Museum tracing the history of Chinese-Australians.
Stop Five – Melbourne Museum
You can explore the world renowned Melbourne Museum, which is the largest museum in the southern hemisphere (they are still not really in competition with some of the big ones in the northern hemisphere though!) it has 7 main galleries and a touring gallery which recently showed off mummies!
Stop Six – Little Italy
In an American city Lygon Street Precinct would be affectionately know as Little Italy. This is the centre of Melbournes Italian community. There are many great restaurants and cafes all serving the finest in Italian cuisine. There is also quite a large fringe/experimental theatre scene located here. Perhaps jump off the free bus to grab a great cappuccino! Or you can continue on to….
Stop Seven – University of Melbourne
For an interesting architectural stop, you can hop off at the the University of Melbourne. The campus has a museum of art and also the interesting Grainger Museum. It is dedicated to all forms of the arts, from rare musical instruments to a costume collection – it’s easy to get lost in here!
Stop Eight – Queen Victoria Market
Remember when I said that Chinatown was the second best place to grab souvenirs? Well The Queen Victoria market is the first. This covered market is incredible! From Kangaroo ball bottle openers (these taxidermic wonders actually exist!), to traditional Digereedoos. You can also grab some food from one of the vendors and it is a great place to just have a wander round and have a little break from the city.
Stop Nine – Marina
A great place to go for mid afternoon drinks is the Waterfront Marina. You can just sit and watch the boats going to and fro from the harbour – a nice relaxing break if you have been sightseeing all day!
Stop Ten – Docklands
The Docklands are anther area of Melbourne where you can get great food. It is also the departure point for many of the sightseeing boats. You can also see the wetlands area of the Docklands park which is home to many indigenous birds.
Stop Eleven – William Street
William Street is home to the immigration Museum and the indigenous cultural centre. However, if you want to get the blood pumping consider visiting the Melbourne Aquarium, where you can take a shark dive!
Stop Twelve – Southbank
The centre of Melbourne is structured around the Yarra river. The best place to experience the Yarra river is on the riverside strip of Southbank. The nightlife in Southbank is really great – with nightclubs, casinos and high end restaurants. It is also home to the Eureka Skydeck which offers 360 degree views Melbourne, as well as the Polly Woodside, an old tall ship which has been converted into a museum
Stop Thirteen – Botanical Gardens
The final stop is also one of the most sobering. It is the Shrine of Remembrance, a memorial dedicated to Australians who have lost their lives in conflict. This is also the stop for the Royal Botanical Garden a beautiful park with many different sections all dedicated to different types of flora.