Posted by Beth | May 16, 2016
Our original itinerary for Australia only included eight nights and seven full days. We knew it was not nearly enough to see everything we wanted to see, but decided to split our time between Melbourne and Sydney and cram in as much as possible. Unfortunately after our flight out of New Zealand was cancelled, we lost two of those days so it was even more rushed. We ended up getting to our hotel in Melbourne around 7 p.m. on Wednesday night and had to fly out at noon on Friday. Ending up with only about 40 hours on the ground in one of the cities we had been most looking forward to was a challenge, but thanks to the great city bike program we were able to see and do quite a bit!
How it works: You can see the Melbourne Bike Share website for more info. For a 24-hour period you can access bikes all over the city for a flat rate of only A$3. This program works similar to many of the bike systems in the US: You pay a set price for unlimited 30-minute trips, but if you ever keep a bike checked out longer than a half hour additional fees are tacked on. There are 50 stations and 600 bikes across Melbourne so it’s really not that difficult to get them back on time, then if you need to you can wait five minutes and check one out from the same station again. We only had one late fee when we were unable to find one of the stations that was listed on the map. Helmets were usually available with every bike, and it’s a state law that you have to wear them. Though Melbourne promotes itself as being very bike friendly, we found the lack of bike lanes (or bike lanes shared with buses and parked cars) and shared paths crowded with pedestrians to be quite annoying. Though we had a few scary/frustrating moments, biking across the city was an easy and affordable way to see a lot in a short period of time.
Our Bike Route:
- Day 1: After walking from our hotel through the many arcades and alleys in the city we picked up the first bikes in Federation Square, the main tourist area in the city. Near Federation Square we went to Hosier Lane to see the famous street graffiti art and walked through two free museums, the ACMI (Australian Center for the Moving Image) and the Victoria National Gallery.
- We biked briefly through South Bank before docking near the aquarium along the river to have lunch. We ate at a just so-so Indian buffet we found on Groupon.
- We then biked to the Docklands to check out the waterfront, get gelato and do a little shopping.
- We biked back to our hotel, where there was luckily a station a block away in Flagstaff Gardens, right across from the Victoria Market, which we visited twice.
- After freshening up we biked to the edge of Fitzroy, where we dropped them off and walked around the neighborhood for awhile before heading to Richmond (unfortunately no bike stations that far out) for a free comedy show as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival going on this month. Also in Richmond we ate great Vietnamese food at a place called Halong Bay in Melbourne’s ‘Little Saigon’ along Victoria Street.
- Day 2: Biked through the Melbourne Olympic Park on a nice path along the river. The easiest and most enjoyable actual riding of the whole experience.
- Dropped off our bikes in the Kings Domain and walked around a bit.
- Biked back to the Victoria Market for a quick bite before picking up our bags at the hotel and heading to airport.
If you’re not interested in biking, there are two other good options for getting around the city. The City Circle Tram is free and runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in a continuous loop in both directions. You can catch one every 12 minutes. The Tourist Shuttle Bus is only A$10 for 48 hours and runs a little longer, more comprehensive route around the major tourist attractions.
If you get tired from all the biking or shuttling, there are plenty of great places to pop in for a drink or bite to eat. We highly recommend the Boilermaker on Lonsdale Street, between the Greek Precinct and Chinatown if you like craft beers or whiskey. Of course you can always blow hours wandering through the arcades and the thousands of coffee shops in Melbourne.