Four Seasons in One Day
Melbourne is too often maligned for its weather. This is unfair. It has a changeable but mostly moderate climate. Because of its location between mountains and sea, the climate is dynamic - sometimes punctuated by rapid and dramatic changes - though to tell the truth, these are savoured, as the mercury drops from a blowtorch summer day of 40 C plus, where the bitumen melts, to a cool and rainy 20 C the next (with the drama of an intermediate thunderstorm).
Find the true story here at Weatherspark
Travelling with Kids
I found Melbourne to be very child friendly and pushchair friendly. The streets are well maintained, there's lots of ramps and I rarely found I had to turf my son out of his buggy. The only real problem were that some of the older trams, especially the free Circle Line tram, have narrow doors that are sometimes blocked by a metal bar - a real problem for anyone with a pushchair. The people are friendly and helpful, though, including the staff, so most problems on public transport were easily overcome.
While you might be scared by stories of Australian wildlife, and the Ozzies love to embellish every creature they know with a heart-stopping story, you won't see much evidence of them in the centre of Melbourne. There might be a few snakes in the Royal Botanic Gardens, but it would almost as unusual to see one in central Melbourne as central London. The same goes for spiders. Even cockroaches are a rare sight in Melbourne - you need to head up to Sydney and Brisbane for these.
If you move out of the central suburbs towards the edges of the city, then spiders will become more prevalent. I've seen redbacks in the gardens of Hawthorn and in Clayton I came face to face with a Huntsman. I could see all of its eight eyes and I wouldn't have been able to put a coffee cup over it, even though all its legs were tucked in. The thing was huge. "Don't worry," my Australian friend said, "they're not aggressive. If it bites you your arm will go numb and you'll be sick for a week, but it won't kill you." I guess that's alright then. To be fair they are very passive creatures and you have to really be unlucky to have it bite you.
Snakes you might see if you take trips out into the countryside, like the Dandenongs, and especially national parks like Wilson's Promontory. I once ran over a two meter brown carpet snake driving through the mountains near Dargo, but to be honest snakes are a surprisingly rare sight even out in the bush. They don't like humans and are sensitive to the vibrations your feet make. Wear big boots and stamp about and you're not likely to ever see one.
There are some rougher parts of the city that a tourist might wander into, like St Kilda, but nowhere I wouldn't walk alone at night. There is a drinking culture, like in England, but the violence isn't the same levels. King Street in the centre can be troublesome late at night, with drunks and some fights breaking out. I've spent over a year living and going out in Melbourne every week, at all hours of the day and night, and never felt unsafe. There was only one strange incident, but it resulted in nothing.
We walked down Fitzroy Street in St. Kilda on a bright Saturday afternoon. In front of us a young couple walked together. He had tattooes on his neck and a leather jacket. She had her hair pulled tightly back in a ponytail. Between us and the couple, hardly noticeable due to his shortness, was an Asian looking guy. He walked very close behind the couple, but it wasn't until something happened that we realised why. He reached up and tugged the woman's ponytail, and then quickly ducked into a side street.
The woman shrieked in shock and they both turned around. The guy assumed it was us. We tried to explain about the little guy, but he was nowhere to be seen. The guy with the tattooed neck thought we were having a laugh. He was really angry, but the worst that happened was he knocked the sunglasses off my friends face. And then it was over. Strange, but not violent. Apart from that I was warned repeatedly not to walk through St. Kilda alone late at night, but I did regularly without any problem.
St. Kilda has improved a lot since I last lived here, but it's still a bit rough. There were some drunks on Fitzroy Street bothering people for money - it wasn't aggressive but it was annoying. The park I once avoided at night had the closest playground for my son at the end of a visit. His fun was interrupted by a couple of junkies who thought they'd left their stash hidden somewhere on the slide. In some ways St. Kilda has changed a lot, but in others it's exactly the same.
MYKI VISITOR CARDS
More text to ome.
Melbourne public transport is ticketless and individual tickets cannot be purchased on board trams and buses and many rail stations (can be purchased at so-called premium stations). In order to travel you must have a MYKI card which contains stored money - 'tap on' card on the platform or on board when arriving and 'tap off' when trip finished - not trams. Seems quite easy BUT in the opinion of many it is a rip off for visitors who are forced to pay $6 for the card ($3 concession, child or seniors).
The myki Visitor Pack is available from the PTV Hub at Southern Cross Station (near entrance at Collins and Spencer streets), the Melbourne Visitor Centre at Federation Square, SkyBus terminals at Melbourne Airport and Southern Cross Station and Station Pier (when cruise ships are docked). It "may" also be available from the concierge desks of 'some' of the accomodation hotels.
On the plus side, the Visitors Pack does contain discount coupons for many Melbourne attractions including Puffing Billy. A warning on the visitors Myki card - although the purchase price does include some "Myki Money" it would NOT be enough to travel to/from Belgrave and Puffing Billy, which is in Zone 2. You wil need to top up card for a all day Zone 1 + 2 (photo of top up machine above - buses have a small top up machine operated by driver).
WARNING Ticket inspectors do travel on all forms of transport and do have a reputation for being tough - even on visitors.
- Budget Travel
Melbourne has has had so many changes to it's public transport ticketing system recently that lots of locals choose not to pay. The visitor should be wary of following this lead. The fine is steep, and the enforcers neanderthal.
If you spy a group of 4 or 4 blue uniformed knuckledraggers boarding a train or tram beware. These guys need to travel in groups, so they won't be intimidated by a 1.5m tall asian student.
(or in fact a 15 year old girl as seen in this recent assault by these fine specimens)
Remember that they are folk with a Hitler complex who have failed to meet the standard of the police force or the army. Use words of one syllable so as not to confuse them, and have your valid ticket ready to minimise the length of your interaction with them.
Watch where you go if you get sick
This 'tip' is really a bit of black humour.
At a suburban East Doncaster local shopping centre can be found an odd ball duo of businesses side by side and I've wondered how the planning department would allow 2 businesses to operate next to each other.
Not sure if I want to visit the medical clinic with White Lady funerals as their neighbour. Is there a back door where the clinics mistakes get quietly sent onto the next stage?
Another odd ball duo is in Clifton Hill where a McDonalds restaurant is right next door to a legal brothel - do you want fries with that!!!!!
Jackson Court Shopping Centre
Heat & Sun Exposure
We arrived from our Great Ocean Road adventure to record temperatures in Melbourne. Our first full day in Melbourne was 103 degrees Fahrenheit with sweltering sun. We had our hats, we had our sunblock but we were beat by the elements. We both were sweating up a storm and the pavement became so hot it was buring my wife's feet through the soles of her sandals. We had to get inside and cool down until the heat passed.
A Racist Place
Just today 22 November 2012 a group of French girls were subjected to a vicious verbal attack on a city bus
I am truly ashamed to live here in Australia
- Business Travel
- Family Travel
- Women's Travel
No this is NOT a tip about the famous Collingwood football club, but rather about the bird.
Here in Australia we have a very aggressive black and white bird – the magpies. From August to November the “kids” are being raised and the parent birds are very protective and liable to swoop and attach anyone they see as a threat – and that could mean you who is just enjoying a walk in a park or even ambling along a street.
It is mainly the male birds who attach and they are a more brilliant black and white as distinct to the females who are more 2 tones of gray. The males will attack without any warning squawk and then quickly line you up in their sights for another attach. Pedestrians and cyclists are the most common targets for these aggressive birds and they can draw blood with their sharp beaks.
The main photo is a close up of a tame magpie at Puffing Billy's Lakeside Station and he is always on the look out for a free hand out of food, but by the looks of the beak he's been doing a bit of worm hunting. The bird shown in photo 2 has just been fed meat and is quite tame. He and his girlfriend and often in our back garden looking for a free hand out – and in late spring and early summer will bring their off spring for a free feed – an entertaining sight. Photo 3 is the current (2012) 'Maggie' and as shown comes right up to our back door hoping we'll see her (yes it is a 'her') and give a free feed of minced meat. Photo 4 is 'Bubby 1 or 2' and for the first time we've been feeding 2 'kids'. With all 4 - Mum (Maggie), Dad (Nervous Ned) and Bubby 1 and 2 it is a busy place and the ration of raw minced meat does not go that far - but they are fun to have around.
- Hiking and Walking
- Family Travel
Crown Casino - wrongly named.
There are many who would have me charged with heresy for daring to criticise Crown Casino. but in my opinion the place is over rated and tacky. Not to mention the throngs of drunks and gamblers and it is a place that I do not want to re-visit. Besides all that, the place cost around 2 BILLION dollars and the owners and investors would not have spent that money to loose money. Like nearly all casinos they have an almost bottomless pit of money for when 'the house' is on a loosing streak. What chance does the average 'mug punter' have - nil, zero, none etc. I just hope you get the message!!
In my opinion the place was wrongly named and should be called CLOWN Casino.
I used to drive taxis here in Melbourne and after a few bad experiences with passengers, totally refused to pick up from CLOWN - and I was not alone in my own personal 'ban' on the establishment. One evening I dropped off another drunken passenger at the Clarendon Street entrance and a security guard asked me if I was going to pick up a passenger - "Not on your life," I replied. "I don't blame you," was the whispered reply.
In the writing of all my other tips I have included web site and phone numbers when available - I'm not doing that for Clown and if you take my advise you too will stay away.
BTW - some years ago I won a $100 dining voucher to be used at one of the restaurants attached to the gaming area. My wife and I dined well that night and then for 3 days afterwards, suffered from food poisoning. My doctor will verify this if required.
Photo taken from the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant tram stop in Normanby Road.
- Casino and Gambling
Dodging tram fares
When you ride a tram, buying tickets are on an honour system. If you see people dressed in blue uniforms with hats on, they are coming to validate your ticket. If you get caught without a ticket, you will be reported to the government and the fine can be steep, so I would recommend following the rules.
If you don't have a ticket or change to buy one, just get off the tram. Just remember that people who don't buy tickets are a main factor for inflation of ticket prices, so it does no good for anybody to steal a ride.
Drug use is a big problem in Melbourne. Heroin is a very popular drug and there are needle syringe collection bins in many public bathrooms and other locations in the city. They exist for everyone's safety, so do not be alarmed if you see one.
Melbourne tries to educate people about the effects of drug use, but they're attitude is that if they can't discourage people from using drugs, the people should do it responsibly.
Stand your ground
If you decide to dine in Hardware Lane in the city, be perpared to be besieged by touts in front of every single restaurant drumming up business. It can become quite invasive. You need to be strong and smile and say that you intend to read all the menus before making your decision. As a rule of thumb most of them will offer you a free drink or a free starter to get you in. Be sure to take them up on their offer if you do go in and remind them if you have to as sometimes they seem to forget.
Th bottom line is however, that although you need to be aware of these touts awaiting you, don't let it put you off dining in Hardware Lane as there are some very good restaurants there.
You will find touts at many restaurants in Melbourne especially in Chinatown and in some places on Lygon Street for instance, but nowhere are they as prominent as in Hardware Lane.
- Food and Dining
- Budget Travel
Driving in Melbourne city - Don't do it!
Traffic in melbourne city can get quite crazy. Don't bother driving. You are better off walking and parking can be really expensive. Walking is definitely faster. If you are lazy. They have a really efficient public transport system of buses and trains.
If you insist on driving. here's another word of caution - they have some unusual traffic rules there because of the tram lines. In particular, they have a what is called the hook turn, whereby to turn right at a junction , you actually have to keep left and wait at the left corner of the yellow box so that you don't block the trams going straight. You only go when the traffic light changes, so that you actually go with the traffic which was in the perpendicular road. Confused?