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A city guide to Melbourne – families, galleries and wildlife

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Ancient heritage, world-famous wines, world-class performances and exotic wildlife are just some of the reasons to make Melbourne your next city break.  Join the cosmopolitan hive and soak up the ambitious atmosphere, or get to know the historic city, and pay homage to its past at the many educational sites.  As night falls, the city comes alive in a throng of activity, from high-brow plays to mixologists manipulating cocktails into enticing potions at the many local bars.

David Sherwin

My Destination local expert on


Vibrant Nightlife


Melbournians know how to have a good time, which is why visitors and Aussies alike flood to the city of an evening. Comedy clubs are in abundance, as are live music venues and dance clubs. Cinemas breach the confines of indoor theaters and take to roof tops all over the city in the summer months. At the Crown Entertainment Complex top chefs produce mouth-watering dishes, trendy bars break the night air with a repetitive beat and soft, consuming beds welcome heavy heads.


Family fun


Indoor or outdoor, families in Melbourne can relish a chockfull list of activities. Hands-on options provide endless fun, and at Maze’N Things, puzzles, optical illusions, (and of course) mazes will leave the children with eyes wider than their grins. Outings to the Old Melbourne Gaol educate as well as entertain while the Pannys Phillip Island Chocolate Factory is the ideal excursion for a mischievous treat. For a cool excursion or group outing, try the Medibank Icehouse in the city’s Docklands for a spot of indoor ice skating.


Arts and culture


Melbourne is a city packed with creative flair. Local artisans perform nightly in the area’s many art centers, theaters and clubs in catchy musicals, hysterical comedy shows and inspiring galleries. The National Gallery of Victoria is a staple art must-visit. A revolutionary in street art, Melbourne is a world-famous outdoor gallery of emotive and influential graffiti. Just walk the streets or take the City Circle tram to discover its colorful decorations.


Nature and wildlife


With reams of international wildlife in and around the city, the Melbourne Zoo, Aquarium, Phillip Island Nature Park or Healesville Sanctuary provide an exotic day out with penguins, wild cats and of course koalas. Wilder still, the Werribee Open Range Zoo brings a touch of Africa to Oz with its wildlife safari where rhinos, zebras, monkeys and cheetahs roam the grounds.




Melbourne is a mix of many European cultures, which is reflected in its food and drink. Wine is a staple beverage of Melbourne, and one that the city prides itself on. Copious vineyards surround the area, such as the Yarra Valley wine region or the Mornington Peninsular. Absorb the vast vistas of Melbourne’s immense landscape on a guided wine tour whilst sampling the smooth and sumptuous beverage.


Aboriginal heritage


Within the 21st century city walls lies a close-knit ancient community. Aboriginals are a vital piece in Australia’s historical puzzle and as a city, Melbourne (formerly known as the ‘Kulin Nation’) embraces its lineage, paying tribute to it in many ways. To get a tactile taste for its traditional practices, take part in an Aboriginal Heritage Walk, or take a tour of the Royal Botanical Gardens with a local guide to sample the bush foods. A short distance away and the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Culture Centre holds various exhibitions within the Melbourne Museum.