How much do you know about Melbourne? Did you know that it is consistently voted as the worlds most livable city? Or perhaps that it is the only city to have FIVE international standard sporting venues? (Hisense Arena, Docklands Stadium, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne Cricket Ground, and Olympic Park in Melbourne Park. There’s also Albert Park Racecourse, which hosts the Australian Gran Prix!).
Enough of that. Let’s look at the stuff that’s free! Because nothing says a good day out than having enough spare change at the end of it to buy yourself a few bevvies.
Go penguin hunting! Melbournes beaches are known for the wild and native penguins that paddle about there. As surprising as it is to non-Aussies that the little critters are actually from here, there are no shortage of the penguins that call Melbourne home. They roll in at around sunset to go to their homes for the night, waddling their way up the beach! The best time of year to see them will be summer, but you’ll be able to catch a few in winter.
Want to learn? If you’re here for a while – or indeed if you live here, and want to try something new – then check out the Melbourne Free University! Join a 6 week course and learn a bit more about a topic that interests you. They also hold talks on a wide variety of subjects in cafes and bars all over the city at random intervals, so check out the MFU website for more information.
Check out the galleries. Give it a go, even if you think you’re not “into” art. You might surprise yourself by how much fun you have. If you discover something new that you like, then it was totally worth it! Art galleries have such a diverse selection in them that it would be surprising if you didn’t see something interesting.
Take a wander around Melbourne’s Royal Botanical Gardens. While you’re there you can visit the Shrine of Remembrance – originally a tribute to those who died in WWI, but now stands as a memorial to all Australians who have lost their lives to war. Alternatively, spend a little money to join in the Aboriginal Heritage Walk (though, booking is required in advance).
Visit the Dandenongs. Not to be confused with the town of Dandenong, which is over an hour away. The Dandenongs are a range of mountains set in the Dandenongs Ranges National Park (makes sense, right?). There are quite a few of picnic grounds to hike to and beautiful views to see while you’re there, as well as bush walk tours or horse riding for a fee.
1,000 steps is another way that people get out and about. Known for being popular with fitness buffs, the 1000 steps are located not far from the Dandenongs and well known for it’s beauty. Make your way up 1.5km to see what it’s all about.
Take a wander down to the beach. St Kilda is well known to backpackers and native inhabitants of Melbourne alike, with the beachside suburb being full of shops, bars and restaurants. Limit your spending by bringing your own grub, or just spend an afternoon there soaking up the rays. If you want to spend a little money, there are a some places there with some great grub. Try out the Abbey Road Café for huge portion sizes and a décor akin to the Hard Rock Café.
Geocaching is a great thing to do, wherever you are. Nowadays, geocaching is rarely missed from free lists of things to do because of it’s widespread popularity and the sheer scale of the worldwide phenomenon. There are hidden caches all over the place, just waiting for you to find them. The thrill is in the seeking and discovery of the cache – but unless there are gifts hidden in it, the idea is that you sign it, and carefully put it back where it came from. All you need is a fully charged phone and the Geocaching app – though bear in mind, some caches have a ‘premium’ status, meaning that you will need to pay for the app if you want to find them. Don’t worry though – it doesn’t apply to many, and you can have a great day without paying for it! If you haven’t tried it out before, there’s loads to choose from. If you want a beautiful day out, there are lots in the Botanic Gardens, or try out the series called “Crawlspace” along the beach starting at St Kilda West.
Try out the markets. You can have loads of fun wandering without spending the dollars in your pocket. Check out South Melbourne Market fot DimSum or food shopping, PAM Lane for arts and crafts, and the Queen Victoria market for everything else. At Prahan Market you can snag bags of fruit and veggies for just $1 each if you are at the right place on a Saturday at 3pm, too!