Melbourne's amazing for food and drink - there's a great bar/cafe/restaurant culture, very European. All the cafes look amazing and in my experience are never short of excellent. Breakfast is very much a specialty.
There's a strong comedy scene there too, lots of gigs going on - check out Justin Hamilton and any nights he's involved in. Wil Anderson is also an excellent Australian comic.
There's lots of music venues too - have a google to see who's on.
You'll need a Myki card to get around - it's exactly like an Oyster card.
There's lots to do in the centre of the city, but there are lots of other cool areas to go to as well. Use trams and trains to get around.
Watch out for Christmas and New Year opening hours - things tend to go a bit quiet in the days after New Year.
Melbourne does an excellent line in rooftop bars. Lots of them are just doorways that lead up to a roof, so it's worth doing some research so that you know where you're going. Don't be afraid to venture through a doorway though. Here's a few places that I know:
- Sahara bar - http://www.saharamelbourne.com.au/
- The Supper Club / The European - wine bar
- http://www.rooftopcinema.com.au/ (this is at the top of a building that has several bars/restaurants on the floors leading up to the top).
For food, again there's loads of cool places to go. I went to an Italian place called Lupino which was amazing. Bit pricey (for UK exchange rate) but food was really good and service was exquisite (but informal). http://www.lupino.com.au/
I'm a bit obsessed with this place that does chicken parmas - an Aussie pub food staple. Really massive portions and loads of local beers to try. http://www.mrsparmas.com.au/
This place is very Melbourne - http://section8.com.au/ - an outdoor container bar. A temporary bar that became permanent. Really cool little place.
Check out all the little laneways in the city too - lots of little shops and cafes to explore.
Melbourne Central Station - there's a shopping centre here with an old listed building inside it. They couldn't knock it down so the shopping centre is built around it. Pretty cool for some photos. There's a decent bowling alley in there and loads of shops.
Keep meaning to go to the Melbourne Museum which looks pretty cool - definitely worth a look.
Moonlight kayak tour - http://www.kayakmelbourne.com.au/tours/moonlight-kayak-tour/
This is one of the best things I've done in Melbourne - a sunset/moonlit kayak from docklands right into the heart of the city. Brilliant fun, well worth the money, a unique way to see the city. The starting point is a little tricky to find, I would recommend getting a cab there. The finish point is right in the centre so that's not a problem. The staff are really helpful so just get in contact if you have any questions.
Fitzroy / Brunswick Street
Check out Brunswick Street and the adjacent streets in Fitzroy - Nicholson St and Smith St. Get the tram there. It's got loads of amazing pubs, cafes and shops. Absolutely love it. There's also a lot of street art around that area, plus a few pubs and cafes in the streets that connect Brunswick / Nicholson / Smith. Pubs to check out:
- The Standard
- Bimbo Deluxe
- Rainbow Hotel
- Little Creatures
- The Worker's Club
Cafes / restaurants
Pretty much anywhere you go will be ace. But Mario's on Brunswick Street is a favourite of mine. There's also a place called Charcoal Lane on Gertrude Street which is a bit like Jamie Oliver's Fifteen. It's run by an Australian charity that helps young kids - it does loads of traditional Aussie food.
If you're into sport, it's worth going to Melbourne Cricket Ground. There's a museum there which is apparently quite cool, but they have lots of local cricket and Aussie football matches so it's often quite easy to get a ticket for stuff. Aussie football is quite the spectacle but you'll need someone to explain the rules as you go, if you're not familiar.
I haven't explored St Kilda too much but there's a beach there plus loads of shops and bars. It's really popular and on the tram/train so definitely should be on your to-do list.
There are lots of other places in Melbourne but these are the places I spend most of my time.
Places outside Melbourne
If you've got the time and the inclination then Sydney is only about an hour away on the plane. Security and customs on domestic flights aren't as strict as the international terminals so it's quite painless to get over there. Don't get the train, it takes about 12 hours! I've only spent a couple of days in Sydney and much preferred Melbourne. Lots of people prefer Sydney though so it might be worth a punt.
I went to an animal sanctuary called Healesville - really cool place where you can learn a lot about animals, particularly the ones native to Australia. Found it really interesting and personal, much better than gawping behind glass at a city zoo. That said, there is a zoo near the city which is a good alternative. http://www.zoo.org.au/healesville
Apparently the Great Ocean Road is amazing, but you need to drive for the best part of a day to see the best stuff, so you need to plan somewhere to stay and get hold of a car. I'm told it's an excellent trip though, going to try and do it next time.
Try and see the penguins at Phillip Island. Again, not been myself yet, but it's on the to-do list.
Oh and if you like Neighbours, Ramsay Street is a real street. I've seen it with my own eyes. It's called Pinoak Court if you fancy visiting!