Melbourne Cup Activities
If you've never been to Melbourne, or simply are looking for fresh and exciting things to do while you're in town, take a look at this guide!
The Melbourne Cup attracts horse racing enthusiasts and festival-lovers from around Australia - and the world - each year. This year's event, to be held on Tuesday November 4, provides an excellent opportunity for you and your loved ones to head to the Victorian capital for a mini-break.
When it comes to art, Melbourne leads the way. Dedicate a day or two during your holiday to explore the wide range of galleries and street art displays hidden throughout the city.
Start at the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia's oldest public art gallery. It's open from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Mondays and from Wednesday to Sunday, while on Tuesday only the ground floor is open. It boasts two separate galleries, both with free entry to permanent collections. Visit The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square before walking over to the National Gallery of Victoria International on St Kilda Road. The total collection covers more than 70,000 works of art.
The International Gallery showcases an extensive art collection from Europe, Asia, America, and Oceania, while the Ian Potter Centre is home to plenty of Australian pieces. Here you'll find Australian Indigenous and non-Indigeneous work stretching back from the Colonial period through to more modern pieces. There's more Australian art on permanent display here than anywhere else in the world.
Explore cutting-edge art at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA). It's Melbourne's leading contemporary art space, displaying the latest significant works created by living artists from across the globe. It's also the only major Australian gallery that focuses on commissioning, as opposed to collecting. Its history spans 30 years, and its distinctive Southbank rust-red steel structure has become something of a Melbourne landmark. It's open every day from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., with late nights on Wednesday. Entry is free.
For examples of art that are a bit more gritty, all you have to do is hit the streets. Melbourne is widely regarded as one of the world's best street art capitals due to not only its unique artworks, but the way the council has gotten behind supporting the creative artists' work. You'll find stencils, murals and paste-ups decorating the city, while graffiti and tagging remains illegal. Some of the best pieces of work can be found on Hosier and Rutledge Lane, Union Lane, the corner of Flinders Lane and Cockney Alley and Caledonian Lane, however there are plenty of secret spots to be discovered.
Treat your sense to unique and hidden dining experiences while you're in this stunning city. Although there are plenty of show-stopping five star restaurants to suit the most discerning palate in Melbourne, it's the city's secret and special bars and restaurants that are its most exciting.
Add Zingara Cucina to your to-do list while you're in town. The underground restaurant is so secretive that many people have questioned whether it exists at all. It has no fixed address, only opens during the warmer months and changes located frequently, setting up shop in laneways, carparks, galleries and bridges. The fine dining experience started in a Melbourne apartment several years ago, and has since expanded to work with other culinary professionals to create a world-class dining experience. The dining is an Italian speakeasy style.
Fuel up with something sweet at La Petite Creperie, the smallest authentically-French takeaway creperie in the city. You'll find the tiny cylindrical 'exquise crepe batiment' located on the footpath on the corner of Swanston and Little Collins Streets. Indulge in a crepe topped with fig and ginger jam, salted caramel or Nutella and almonds served up by a friendly French cook.
Top it all off with a tipple at one of the city's hidden and underground bars. Try Madame Brussels, located on Level 3 of 59/63 Bourke Street. You'll arrive in an elevator that opens up to a rooftop oasis, spread across two levels with lawns and white garden furniture setting the scene. Sip on a Prussian Iced Tea or Pimm's No. 1 Cup while you sit at the Hedged Bar, or move on to the terrace to get a breath-taking view of Melbourne's east end.
Take advantage of being in Victoria for the Cup and travel to Werribee, just 30 minutes from Melbourne, for an up close and personal look at some other four legged friends. The Werribee Open Range Zoo has plenty of animals roaming free on its 225 hectares of land. Meet and greet gorillas on the Pula Reserve Walking Trail, and watch a pride of lions protect their pack. You'll also see monkeys, cheetahs, hippopotamus and zebras living in harmony.
A 40-minute safari tour is included in the admission price, giving guests the opportunity to travel further and learn more about this special zoo. You can also enjoy a Wild Encounter, allowing you the chance to go behind the scenes to feed a giraffe and see other animals at an incredibly close range.
Finish your day laughing at one of many of Melbourne's comedy clubs, such as The Last Laugh Comedy Club. Local favourites from the TV and radio circuit frequent this destination, with the occasional international guest added to the lineup.
The Club is located in the historic Athenaeum Theatre, right in the heart of the city, and is open on Friday and Saturday nights.
Shopping-lovers should check out Melbourne's GPO, home to Australia's first H&M as well as Larsen Jewellery and several exquisite cafes and eateries. Go for the shopping and stay for the history - the GPO is one of the city's most beloved buildings and has a history that spans postal halls and fashion hubs. The neo-Renaissance building is now heritage listed, and is well worth checking out.