Established in 1846, Melbourne's magnificently-landscaped Royal Botanic Gardens boast a superb collection of over 50,000 plants from all around Australia and the world. Spend a few hours strolling around, observing the beautiful black swans and water birds that grace these premises. The Plant Craft Cottage sells unique handcrafts, and the Observatory Café is great for light refreshments. The more formal Terrace restaurant is ideal for corporate and private functions.
A war memorial built as a token of profound gratitude for all the men and women who served Australia in wars and conflicts, the Shrine of Remembrance was built in 1934 and features permanent and special exhibitions. The monument sits on a grassy knoll with its design inspired by ancient Greek architecture. Every year, on November 11th, celebrated as Remembrance Day, a ray of natural light shines through the roof onto the Stone of Remembrance at 11a, illuminating the word "love" in the inscription on the stone. Two guided tours of the peaceful yet sobering landmark are offered daily. The Galleries of Remembrance showcases artworks, artifacts and medals of soldiers.
The National Gallery of Victoria, or the NGV, is a historic art museum in the heart of Melbourne. Established in the year 1861, it remains famous as the country's oldest surviving public art exposition space. The museum building was built to the designs of Sir Roy Grounds and remodeled by Mario Bellini. The expansive art display of NGV incorporates native artworks, contemporary art, Impressionist works, and colonial art items, apart from other genres. Various art objects on display chronicle the evolution of Australian works and the influence of European techniques. Notable exhibits include Shearing the Rams by Tom Roberts and The Pioneer by Frederick McCubbin. International artifacts on display at the NGV cover categories like Pacific art, European textiles, Asian art, and Mesoamerican art. The museum is also home to a dedicated photography section that showcases more than 15,000 items.
Located at the bustling Federation Square, you have to visit Ian Potter to get a glimpse of Australian Treasures. The building is a beautiful glass matrix structure which is visually appealing in itself. Housed here are beautiful paintings of Australian artists like Barak, Judy Watson, Emily Kngwarray and Uta Uta Tjangala. Known to be the first gallery dedicated to Australian Art, the centre has regular exhibitions on a number of themes. A permanent exhibition of Aboriginal and Tiwi Islands artists is on display here.
This huge, Victorian-era building is World Heritage-listed for its architectural and historical significance. Situated among the tree-lined avenues of Carlton Gardens, it stands as a Melbourne landmark. The scale and grandeur of the building reflect the wealth of Victoria's gold rush era, so does its richly painted interior. The Exhibition Building was constructed in 1880 to host Melbourne's first Centennial Exhibition, a display of inventions and arts from around the globe. It went on to become the seat of Australia's first parliament in 1901. Daily tours provide an insight into the building's history.
At almost 300 meters (984 feet) from the ground, Eureka Skydeck 88 is the highest public viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere. Located on the 88th floor of Eureka Tower, the viewing platform reveals sky-high views of central Melbourne, including the Yarra River and the Federation Square. For the thrill-seeker, an added attraction is The Edge, a glass cube which is gradually extended out from the building, giving the sensation of being suspended in space. Visiting the tower is highly recommended for an unforgettable experience.
Hay's Paddock bills itself as the first community playground in Australia designed for children of all physical and intellectual abilities. It certainly provides stimulation for all senses with lots of interesting things to feel and smell: listening tubes, brightly colored climbing equipment and even a treehouse with pretend binoculars for birdwatching. Some signs are in Braille and there are special swings suitable for disabled children. The playground takes up one corner of a large area of playing fields, bushland and wetlands that are home to many native birds.
It has often been said that Australians are so obsessed with gambling, they would bet on two flies crawling up a window! While their passion might not run to that extent in all cases, there is certainly an affinity with horse racing. At the Australian Racing Museum you can take a trip back through time, perusing art, photographs and memorabilia inspired by the champions of the turf. For statistics buffs, the museum houses the complete records of all races in Australia. The museum is a tribute to all the jockeys and trainers and has a huge display which focuses on Thoroughbred horse racing. The museum is open throughout the year.
Soar above Melbourne's skyline in your very own chartered plane. Ideal for those seeking a special experience or visitors with only limited time for sightseeing. Flights range from 15 minutes, which takes in the city skyline, beaches and botanical gardens, to two hours, an ultimate experience flying over the coast and enjoying lunch at Sorrento. Tailored trips are also available. The seaplane can take up to three adults and one child. Bookings are strongly recommended, especially on weekends and public holidays.
Run by dedicated volunteers of the Williamstown Historical Society, Williamstown Museum is a tribute to the precinct's heyday in the late 1800's. Housed in the Mechanics Institute Building, a National Trust listed building: the museum's exhibition features maritime history, model ships, furniture, costumes and general exhibits relating to life in Williamstown from the time of the early settlements. While the official opening hours are quite limited, the historical society is happy to arrange group and school visits during the week. Call ahead to know more.
Melbourne Sports Tours offers unique and fun half and full-day tours. See Aussie Rules Football live with a local host explaining all its rules, bumps and brawls. A Sports Lovers Tour allows you to explore the excitement and history of Melbourne sports by visiting venues that host Australia's favorite sporting events. On the Surf Coast Tour, you can visit Victoria's world-famous coastline and experience a day of more than just a beautiful view. Clean out your wallet on the Shopping & Brewery Tour as you explore Melbourne's best discount clothing outlets with a half-day of power shopping. You can then spend the afternoon at more shops or go for a tasting at a brewery.
If you only have a short time in Melbourne and want to see as much as possible of the city and surrounding areas, you cannot go past a day tour. Great Sights offers a great selection of activities ranging from morning or afternoon jaunts around the city center to full day trips to the Grampians National Park, Sovereign Hill, Phillip Island and the Great Ocean Road. The city tours cover themes such as The Garden City, Historic Melbourne and Downtown and can include a meal on the ColonialTramcar Restaurant or a visit to the Rialto Towers and Observation Deck , the tallest office building in the southern hemisphere. Call +1300 850 850 for details.