Melbourne is the capital of the south-eastern state of Victoria and Australia’s second largest city. This metropolis is located on the large natural bay known as Port Phillip, sprawling with Victorian-era architecture, theatres, museums, shopping malls, galleries, large parks and gardens. Melbourne is very much about lifestyle, and has been ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities.
Melbourne is often portrayed as the ‘cultural city of Australia’ as many classic Australian cultural institutions such as Australian film, Australian television, Australian rules football, the Australian impressionist art movement originates from here. Melburnians (inhabitants of Melbourne) are also strongly passionate about sports, with a numerous visitors travelling to Melbourne to attend major sporting events.
A sporty, arty, truly vibrant and by world standards a young city, Melbourne has a rich history. The city of Melbourne was founded in 1835 on the banks of the Yarra River by the British colonialists. Melbourne was originally named Batmania before being officially re-christened Melbourne in 1837 after Lord Melbourne, the then Prime Minister of Britain. Melbourne developed from a small speculative colonial outpost in the 1850s into a world city within a short span of 30 years, reaching around 1 million people by the turn of the century. Much of this phenomenal growth was due to the Victorian’s gold rush – one of the biggest in the world’s history, which saw Melbourne emerging as one of the world’s largest and wealthiest cities in 1850s.
Melbourne has been well preserving its history which actually dates back to its Gold Rush days.
This photo of Sovereign Hill is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Sovereign Hill – Located at the suburb of Ballarat, Sovereign Hill is an iconic outdoor museum that you would not want to miss. In this massive museum, visitors can see history being re-enacted in front of their eyes, and experience the hustle and bustle of life in Ballarat’s first ten years after the discovery of gold here in 1850s. Officially opened on 29 November 1970, this tourist attraction is situated on a 25-hectare former goldfield. Sovereign Hill was awarded the Australia’s Best Historic and Culture in 2009 by Travelling in Australia Magazine for the authentic experience it offers to visitors.
We suggest going 13 metres underground in the Red Hill Mine for a fully guided tour. Visitors will be greeted with a life-size, moving projection reconstructing the life of a battling Cornish miner, Richard Jeffery who found the 69 kilograms Welcome Nugget (99% pure gold, worth over US$3 million now), the largest gold nugget at that time and currently the second largest in the world.
Walk down the Sovereign Hill’s Main Street to be immersed in the life during that era – watch the craftsmen hard at work, patronise shops and businesses selling a selection of goods, candle makers, tinsmith, blacksmith etc. Visitors can sample the pastry cakes and breads that are freshly baked in an authentic wood-fired brick oven at the confectionary shops. In addition, visitors are invited to experience horse drawn wagon rides and be photographed in Victorian costumes. To end off the night excitingly, enjoy the spectacular sound and light display of the ‘Blood on the Southern Cross’ – the story of the Eureka Rebellion of 1854 which is Australia’s only civil uprising. We recommend spending an entire day in Sovereign Hill since this place is huge. Sovereign Hill is accessible via car, or by train for which visitors can alight at Ballarat Station and get a coach transfer to Sovereign Hill.
Opening Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Christmas Day
Entry Ticket Price (including Gold Museum): $20.50 (child), $45.00 (adult)
This photo of Phillip Island Nature Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Philip Island Nature Park – One of Australia’s major wildlife attractions, Phillip Island Nature Park is a natural habitat for the world’s famous Little Penguins, wallabies, seals, koalas and over 150 species of birds. Visitors are invited to watch the magical Philip Island Penguin Parade by the Little Penguins which emerge from the seas at sunset and waddle in groups across the beach to their sand burrows. The Penguin Parade along with three other key attractions – Koala Conservation Centre, Churchill Island Heritage Farm and Nobbies Centre – attracts many visitors from all over the world each year to this nature park to experience wildlife in its natural environment with spectacular coastlines and wildlife reserves. Philip Island Nature Park is non-profit and committed to animal conservation and research. 90 minutes away from Fraser Place Melbourne, the Nature Park covers 2,750 hectares of Phillip Island and its parks include Pyramid Rock, Rhyll Inlet, Seal Rocks, and Cape Woolamai. We would definitely suggest exploring this award winning tourist attraction where you can get up close and personal with these wildlife creatures.
This photo of Como Historic House and Garden is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Como House and Garden – Formerly owned by one of Australia’s wealthiest pioneer families, the 160 years old historic mansion represents a remarkable mix of Australian Regency and classic Italianate architecture. Situated at the suburb of South Yarra, the mansion and it’s beautifully manicured garden is just a 10 minutes away from the CBD by car. Since its early beginnings, Como has been the centre of glamour and romance. It was first established by the colonial elite Edward Eyre Williams as a love nest for himself and his wife, Jessie Gibbon in 1847. The Armytage family, who bought over the mansion in 1864, stayed at Como for over 95 years until they passed it to National Trust in 1959 to preserve the impressive Victorian furnishing and the family’s lavish lifestyle. Till today, the house still exhibits the Armytage family antique furniture and offers visitors a unique view of their glorious days. Como can be easily accessed by tram or by train with a 15 minute walk from South Yarra Station.
This photo of Rippon Lea House & Gardens is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Rippon Lea House and Gardens – Included on the prestigious National Heritage List of Australia in 2006, the Rippon Lea House and Gardens is a suburban estate that wonderfully displays the Victorian Italian style which was highly prevalent in Australia’s gold rush days. Built in 1868, Rippon Lea provides an insight to the lifestyles of the wealthiest Australians of that era. Located on the suburb of Elsternwick, Rippon Lea once housed two distinguished families of Sargood and Lousia who collectively stayed in the estate for close to100 years. It later became a property under the National Trust in 1972. Boasting its rich heritage, Rippon Lea House and Gardens remains an important example of the late nineteenth century’s fashion and an expression of the family’s political and financial power. Visitors can enjoy serenity in the extensive garden – with sweeping lawns, majestic trees, tranquil lake, unique fernery, and an impressive orchard with over a hundred varieties of heritage apples and pears. The estate can be easily accessed by train with a 5 minute walk from Rippon Lea Station.
Opening Hours: Thursday to Sunday, 10a.m. to 4p.m.
Admission Price: For House & Garden – $12 (Adult), $6.50 (Child)
To enjoy the Melbourne’s cultural, retail and business precincts, Fraser Place Melbourne offers the perfect location to stay. A mere short walk from the heart of the CBD, the chic and stylish all suite hotel is conveniently located in the hub of Melbourne’s entertainment quarter, surrounded by trendy cafes and jazz clubs.
Chinatown and the Greek Precinct are also great places to explore close to the hotel and for sports enthusiasts; the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Etihad Stadium, Rod Laver Arena and AAMI Stadium are also close by. Guests can access the rest of Melbourne easily with the free City Circle Tramline, which travels to all major city locations such as Phillip Island and Rippon Lea House and Gardens.