In a previous post, I had shared the experience on how I cancelled my AirAsia flight to Melbourne. By then, I already had our Melbourne itinerary planned out for the 6 days trip. While the trip didn’t happen, I thought I should share it anyway. Hopefully this helps other travelers in planning a trip to Melbourne.
After all, Melbourne isn’t cheap and ‘meticulous’ is the keyword. Be warned though, this budget itinerary involves a lot of walking.
MELBOURNE ITINERARY DAY 1
We were supposed to arrive at Melbourne Airport Terminal 2 at 8 am, having taken the overnight flight from Kuala Lumpur.
From Melbourne Airport to Hotel
There are two options to get to our accommodation, Miami Hotel – by Skybus (AUD18) or by train (AUD4.30). The cost difference is obvious but one more reason we choose the latter, is that Miami Hotel is just a walking distance from North Melbourne Station, one of the train stops in between airport and city center.
To travel on buses and trains (outside of Free Zone) requires a Myki card, available at 7-Eleven or Skybus booth in the airport. Since we need Myki for Belgrave, we opt for Myki Explorer Visitor Pack at AUD15 each, comes with AUD9 credit loaded, free maps and discount brochures.
I know, the name sounds a little tacky, given that it’s named Miami. Nonetheless, it’s one of the hotels with many good reviews and falls inside our budget. Likewise, we were looking for a hotel with a cooking facility and this hotel provides a common kitchen. From the pictures shared by travelers, it seems to be adequately equipped with stoves, ovens, a big fridge and dining tables. Seemingly, the cooking wares were provided too.
We booked Miami Hotel double room (private bathroom) via Agoda at MYR270 (~AUD85) per night, considered a steal in Melbourne. A hostel dorm would easily cost the same price for two persons, yet we don’t have to share bathrooms and toilets.
Brunch @ Queen Victoria Market
Once we leave our luggage with Miami Hotel concierge, it is time we walk over (11 minutes) to Queen Victoria Market (QVM) for our brunch. It’s not just a fresh market, but a food haven too, filled with plenty of ready-to-eat, street food and cafes to choose.
Our choices for brunch will be one or combination of these:
- Lamb & Zucchini Boreks at Boreks Shop 99, last time I checked, it’s about AUD3 each.
- American Doughnut Kitchen van. Seriously, no one has anything bad to say about their doughnuts except we’ll have to grab them fast before they’re gone (~ AUD1.20 each).
- Market Juice (~AUD5 – AUD7). Fresh juice is the best thing to fight jet lag, and it’s cheaper than in Malaysia.
- La Deli’s smoked salmon wrap (~AUD3)
The above, if shared between two of us, is estimated to cost us AUD10 per person.
If I am feeling the urge to splurge, we might walk straight into the famous Seven Seed Café but prepared to part with AUD20 per person.
Melbourne Visitor Center
After a satisfying brunch, we’ll have a long afternoon ahead to spend. For starter, stop by at Melbourne Visitor Centre for free maps, event calendars, public transportation details and discount brochures for a myriad of Melbourne attractions. Every discount counts!
There is travel booking service too, but I have not seen a positive review yet, so we will pass. After all, we would have book for our day tour online before arriving in Melbourne.
Free Walking Tour
The Free Walking Tour is the brainchild of Melburnians who are very keen to introduce their city to the world. English sessions run daily at 10.30 am and 2.30pm. By 2.30pm we will meet the voluntary tour guide, easy to spot with his or her bright green T-shirt, at Sir Redmond Barry Statue, in front State Library of Victoria.
The free tour showcases Melbourne’s culture and history, and main things to do and see in Melbourne. Joining this Free Walking Tour is especially useful for people like us, who are not familiar with getting around Melbourne. By joining the 3 hours walk, we basically cover most of the ‘places to go’ list.
- Federation Square
- Melbourne’s Laneways
- Street Art
- Flinders St Station
- Yarra River
- Eureka Tower
- Hidden bar scene
- Centre Place
- Block Arcade
- Princess Theatre
- Melbourne’s Arcades
- State Parliament of Victoria
- Bourke St Shopping Mall
- Old Melbourne Gaol
- State Library of Victoria
- Royal Exhibition Centre
- Carlton Gardens
Eureka Skydeck 88
The Free Walking Tour would have ended at around 5.00pm at Hamer Hall in Southbank, not far from Eureka Skydeck 88 from here. If we are lucky, we might be in time to catch the sunset over the glittery Melbourne city landscape.
There’s a catch though. It is no secret, there are many complaints about Eureka’s long queue and having to pay extra just to stand on the ‘protruding’ skybox.
Our plan is to improvise our visit. If there’s a long queue, we would skip Eureka and go straight for dinner before ending the night. It’s our first day in the city hence we won’t want anything stressful.
Dinner @ Tank Fish & Chippery, Emporium
Melbourne has many long-standing and famous fish & chips restaurants. CS is adamant that his first dinner in Australia should be a fish & chip, and Tank Fish & Chippery in Emporium is the most accessible outlet. Their menu is available on their website. This will be a pretty decent dinner at AUD15 per person.
And what would I be, without a backup plan for dinner?
Just three minutes away, there’s Pho Dzung City Noodle Shop, one of the best Vietnamese pho in the city, or so they said. And a little further down to Bourke Street, and we will get to savor hot Chinese dumplings and noodles at Shandong Mama. This area is nothing short of food.
Night Shopping @ Woolsworth
After dinner, we will drop-by at Woolsworth to pick up some easy ingredients for tomorrow’s breakfast. Our hotel does not provide free breakfast, but there’s a common pantry where we can hustle up some meal to save on food expenses.
If you’re a meat lover like us, there are plenty of choices meat cut and delis in Australia and best of all, they’re very cheap compared to Malaysia.
Not to forget, we will buy some aluminum foil, cling wraps or ziplock bags. Using them, we would have a mess-free food preparation at the hotel, and be able to pack some food on the go too.
MELBOURNE ITINERARY DAY 2
Having turned in early for our beauty sleep, we will wake up early and fresh. Prepare a quick breakfast using the food we bought yesterday. Can’t go wrong with sausages and aluminum foil, right?
QVM (Again!) 😊
Can’t blame us right?
It’s time to have another round of shopping at QVM, this time, like a local, we shall properly canvas the market. Motto of all foodie...
We source for items that we can use for our upcoming picnic at Lakeside Puffing Billy – tomatoes, capsicum, good cut of meat and plenty of local fruits. I wish to make this the best picnic ever.
McIver’s Tea & Coffee Merchant
Given Melbourne’s coffee culture, we will be buying a variety of roasted coffee beans back to Malaysia. A friend once bought me McIver’s roasted coffee beans and I loved them. While McIver’s in QVM is not as famous as Seven Seeds and Market Lane, but it has plenty of choices offered at a much cheaper price.
McIver’s also specializes in tea, so no harm in picking up some Earl Grey family. All beans and leaves are packed neatly and sealed to retain freshness.
McIver’s QVM branch
Address: Stall 101/102 Dairy Hall, Queen Victoria Market.
Morning Coffee @ Market Lane Coffee
Since McIver’s is not a café, so we will cross a street for our morning coffee at Market Lane Coffee. The café’s signage is very unassuming, but it’s easy to spot the red brick shops, just a few doors away from McDonald. By luck, we might get a seat here in this tiny café. However, holding a cup of freshly brewed coffee while walking the street of Melbourne doesn’t sound like a daunting task anyway.
Market Lane Coffee QVM branch
Address: Shop 73-76 Dairy Produce Hall, Melbourne 3000, Victoria Australia
We will drop our shopping loads at Miami Hotel and that’s when our Day 2 in Melbourne officially starts.
Koorie Heritage Trust
The Koorie Heritage Trust is conveniently located at the Federation Square, the very same area as the Melbourne Visitor Centre, showcasing the aboriginals’ culture and art. Part educational and part art gallery, it’s a small exhibition center but nonetheless, provides great insight into Koorie heritage.
Many travelers have good comments about the featured videos, which are not fairy tales, but true recounts of indigenous people’s history.
National Gallery of Victoria
More popularly known as NGV, it is the largest and oldest museum in Australia, arts in a blockbuster scale. The large art collection aside, NGV’s magnificent building itself is something to hold in awe.
Not all exhibitions are free to view, though. Some permanent collection requires entrance fee, which can be quite confusing. I had even browsed their website for some get-to-know-around, but it left me even more confused than ever.
By the time I drafted this Melbourne itinerary, I had decided to just go for the free exhibitions, that do not require any bookings beforehand. Except, maybe, for Monet, if there is.
Some intriguing trivia here; a grand art theft once happened here back in 1985, where Pablo Picasso’s The Weeping Woman was stolen right under the nose of the security and the theft was only discovered two days later. All the details of the theft creepily mirrored the heist of Mona Lisa from the Louvre, 70 years earlier. Fortunately, the painting was found sometime later, but to this day, the mystery remained unsolved.
National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)
Address: 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne, Victoria 8004, Australia
Lunch @ Rocket Burger & Fries
Cheap and good lunch doesn’t come together in Southbank. That was my conclusion after googling for hours. All that came up, were classy bar restaurants and cafés, emphasize on their drinks. Hence, we shall re-route some 800m back north to Elizabeth Street, a street full of independent and franchised eateries.
We won’t miss out this opportunity to try Rocket Burgers and Fries, rumored to serve one of the best burgers in Melbourne. Their food ranges between AUD9 for the basic cheeseburger to AUD13 Man Burger which has double bacon and double meat. I had seen the picture by some tripadvisors, and it’s certainly humongous.
Walker’s Doughnut is right next door, servings doughnuts that may rival American Kitchen’s.
Rocket Burger & Fries
Address: Corner of Flinders Street and Elizabeth Street, CBD, Melbourne, VIC
Shopping at DFO South Wharf
From the lunch venue, we will take the tram at the nearest Flinder Street Stop 4, in clockwise direction to Stop D6 Flinders Street West or Victoria Police Station.
Note: The tram stops are confusing, right? I have detailed some tips on traveling on tram in my Melbourne Travel Guide.
DFO South Wharf boasts of brands like Adidas, Nike, Armani, Billabong, Fossil, Coach and Calvin Klein, just to name a few. I am so going to grab my best pair (or pairs?) of UGG sheepskin boots here! Wait, I forgot… this is the Melbourne Trip that did not happen for me. ☹ But you will buy some, won’t you?
DFO South Wharf
Address: 20 Convention Centre Pl, South Wharf VIC 3006
Opening hours are unclear, but most days are 10 am – 6 pm, except on Friday when it will extend its business hour to 9 pm.
Insta-Worthy Webb Bridge and Seafarer’s Bridge
After the grand shopping, it’s time to take a nice riverside walk for the evening. The whole stretch of promenade along the Yarra River is well-paved with wooden flooring. One shouldn’t forget updating their Instagram with a picture of Seafarer’s Bridge and Webb Bridge, lightened up after sunset, just to make me jealous.
Dinner @ Sea On Quay
From the DFO, it’s only 7 minutes away from Sea On Quay. As its name hinted, Sea On Quay specializes in seafood, and limited burgers. Though, I know I will go for a piece of flakes and some prawns anyhow.
Sea On Quay
Address: 13A/60 Siddeley St, Docklands VIC 3008, Australia
Business hours vary.
MELBOURNE ITINERARY DAY 3
Don’t quote me yet, since I never really made it to Puffing Billy, but it feels like Puffing Billy will be the highlight of my trip. Puffing Billy will be what we called choo-choo train, a century-old steam train that runs through lush Dandenong Ranges with legs hanging out of the window sills. I am pretty sure the views will be stunning and amazing photos will be taken.
There are three ways to get to Puffing Billy, probably the only trip that is doable by all self-drive, public transportation and guided tour.
How to get from Melbourne CBD to Puffing Billy:
It’s easy. Piece of cake, really. From Southern Cross Station Platform 10, get on the Belgrave line, to Belgrave Train Station. Or if Flinders Street Station is your starting point, get onto Platform 2 to embark on the very same train.
Note: It seems to be, platform number is subject to change, it’s best to check on PTV Journey Planner for the up-to-date traveling info.
Belgrave Station is a little more than an hour train ride. Once arrived, follow the signage to Puffing Billy, which is only a stone-throw away. A single adult return trip will set us at between AUD25.50 to AUD50.50, depending on the length of journey we travel. Sounds a little expensive, but the money goes to preservation of the steam train and railways, a Victoria’s heritage. In fact, most (if not all) of the operators of the train and stations are volunteers. But it’s not a bad idea to get some discount to our side by using the Mini Cards or discount vouchers from our Myki Pack.
Most people will choose either Lakeside stop or Emerald stop. The former for a good jungle track and picnic, while the latter is a quiet town with some (but limited) F&B to offer.
Other than the normal excursion tickets, there are special events available on the ‘menu’ to excite the trip further. I sure set my eyes on Murder on Puffing Billy Express, I would gladly don on a mustache to be Monsieur Poirot.
Puffing Billy online booking and fares page: http://puffingbilly.com.au/en/visit-puffing-billy/fares/
For the journey back, just hop on any of the return trains back to Belgrave. The timetable is available at http://puffingbilly.com.au/en/visit-puffing-billy/timetable/
Enough information said, our simplest plan would have been to travel from Belgrave to Lakeside for a grand picnic by the lake. We could have bought everything at Melbourne CBD, or prepare all the food on the night before.
William Ricketts Sanctuary
Like Puffing Billy, William Ricketts Sanctuary is part of Dandenong Ranges and not far from each other. Putting both destinations on same day, will best utilize the Myki fare that caps at AUD8.60 for Zone 2.
How to Get to WRS:
After Puffing Billy, we will walk back to Belgrave Station but not to take the train this time. Instead, we will board the Bus 694 heading towards Mt Dandenong. Of course, we won’t go all the way to Mt. Dandenong, but alight at Yarrabee Road bus stop (intersection of Ridge Rd and Yarrabee Rd.)
Now, I can’t vouch for how safe it is to walk through the smaller lanes in the area, I didn’t get to try the journey. Don’t get me wrong. I am worrying more about dogs and the possibility that we might accidentally trespass into someone’s land, but from Google Map, it seems like, as long as we stick to the main path, it will be fine. Since PTV Travel Planner recommends this route, we are going to believe it.
Okay, where was I just now? Oh yes, the Yarrabee Road. From there, we will turn right into Selwyn Lane and continue until we meet the main road (Mt Dandenong Tourist Rd). Walk towards left and soon WRS will be on our left.
What is William Ricketts Sanctuary?
Enough said about getting there, but what is WRS? WRS is a big project (I call it project because I found it too big to be an art piece) by the late William Ricketts, where he created mind-blowing sculptors onto the existing vegetation and rocks in the lush forest.
Even though the themes are mostly aboriginal people, the sanctuary seems to exude JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth feel, no?
By 4 pm, we should be ready to return to Melbourne CBD using Bus 688 to Cordon Railway Station or the opposite direction to Upper Ferntree Gully station. Both stations will get you back to the city via metro trains.
Dinner and Hang Out @ South Yarra
South Yarra seems to be a lively place to hang out at night so we would have curtailed to South Yarra train station via train interchange at Richmond station. I wouldn’t plan too much for this. If there’s any where we should walk aimlessly in Melbourne, this (should) be it.
Our dinner can be sourced here since the place is laced with plenty of café, bars, and steakhouse. Just to be safe, Hunky Dory (yes, it’s another fish and chip specialist) is on my list.
But we would have preferred steaks. While steakhouses aren’t cheap, there is a wonder called “steak night”. Most steakhouses have a steak night when they offer value-for-money steak for less than AUD20. If we’re lucky, it might come with a drink.
Eat.Drink.Cheap did a good job at listing the steak nights by venues and days here. Scroll the site to the bottom bar and choose “Best Steak Night Monday to Thursday”.
Melbourne Patron did pretty well too, although the list was done in 2014.
MELBOURNE ITINERARY DAY 4
Day Tour to Great Ocean Road
Having browsed through a few tour operators, we would have chosen either Go West or Bunyip, but we are leaning towards the former.
A standard Great Ocean Road Day Tour is AUD130 per person and includes the following:
- The day tour coach transfer to and fro CBD – GOR
- Free Wi-fi onboard
- Morning Tea (which is missing from other tour operators)
- Café Lunch
- iPod for translation into 13 languages (Bahasa Malaysia included). I do suspect this will require early booking, but we won’t need it anyway.
According to Go West’s website, we can save more by booking for 2 or 3 tours together. That would have saved us AUD20 for two of us.
The tour takes whole day and there’s really nothing much to do upon returning from GOR, except for hanging out at a bar. We’re not avid drinkers, so I think getting our beauty sleep would be a better way to end the day.
MELBOURNE ITINERARY DAY 5
Day 5 will be another trip out of Melbourne CBD, but on a smaller scale. In fact, we do not need to depart that early, so we can take our time to have breakfast, before catching, boarding the train to Brighton.
Again, we will utilize the Myki fare caps of AUD8.60 for Zone 1,2 to our advantage. Getting to Brighton is easy, by simply taking the Sandringham Line, and stop at Middle Brighton Station.
Brighton is famous for its Beach Boxes on the er.. beach, but that’s for later. We will explore the Brighton town first. It’s A laid-back town, and have a charm of itself.
Lunch @ Marmalade Cafe
After days of red meats and fishes, at this point, we would have appreciated a lighter meal, in forms of Cafe Marmalade’s sandwiches. The photos of their sandwiches and pastries by Rosie cemented our decision to lunch there.
Lunch over, the sun would be shining brightly, so we’ll walk over to the beach for photos. Plenty of photos, I kid you not. The brightly-colored sand huts are the epitome of all Visit Melbourne adverts. I was told that the beach won’t be crowded during early spring, so I am going to take their words for it.
St Kilda’s Pier
By evening, it will be time for St Kilda’s Pier to watch the Penguin Parade. Real wild penguins. It is important to respect the wildlife, so the website had listed some guidelines for watching the penguin. In short, just watch, don’t touch.
See… Day 5 is simple and easy. After all, the past two days had been energy-draining days.
MELBOURNE ITINERARY DAY 6
I wanted to put Werribee Open Range Zoo or Melbourne Zoo in here, but CS gave me a non-negotiable NO. After our crazy walk in Chiang Mai Zoo, he has been averse to the idea of roaming a zoo.
Melbourne University Self-Guided Walk
But he’s okay with urban walk, so a self-guided Melbourne University walk happens. It may sounded strange to have a campus walk in a travel itinerary, but Melbourne University is founded in 1853. This equates to having plenty of historical and beautiful architectures all over the place. A legendary underground car park featured in Mel Gibson’s Mad Max? Sure!
Melbourne University Walk map is available on their website.
Re-Visit the Main Attractions in Melbourne CBD
The 3 hours Free Walking Tour on the first day probably is like an introductory course to Melbourne CBD. Using our last day in the city, perhaps it’s best to enjoy a slow walk to the places, particularly the Hosier Lane.
State Library of Victoria –> Lunch in Chinatown (as below) –> Bourke Street Mall –> Shopping Arcade –> Hosier Lane –> St Paul Cathedral
Lunch @ Chinatown
My friend raved about Hong Kong style roast duck and char chan teng (teahouses) in Chinatown, but she couldn’t remember the name of the shops. Sigh… Nevertheless, Chinatown isn’t that big and if we could just spend an hour or two, we should be able to find the shops, where everyone happily walks in, regardless of the gloomy looking staffs.
My suspects candidates for lunch would have been Heyday Hong Kong Café, Brother Seven Café or Pacific Seafood BBQ.
The rest of Day 6 will be spent, continuing the leisure exploration of Melbourne CBD and return to hotel to pack for our departure from Melbourne. 🙁
IF YOU HAVE MORE THAN 6 DAYS IN MELBOURNE
Melbourne is not just an urban escapade, café cultures and skyscraper. That being said, plenty of outdoor activities are there for visitors to explore. If I have more days, I would make a trip to Sovereign Hill with overnight stay, plus try my luck on mining a gold big enough to cover all my traveling expenses. Dream the big picture, huh? 🙂
Or make a trip to Ballarat, Mornington Peninsula or Echuca. The options are limitless, as long as we have enough time and budget.
Disclaimer: While I had tried to make this content as accurate as possible at the time of writing, the information is still susceptible to mistakes or be less accurate as time passes. Please always double check on your travel plan.
Check out my very own Melbourne Travel Guide on getting around, attractions not to be missed and an interactive map.