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Things to Do in Victoria - page 3

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Degraves Street
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9 Tours and Activities

Degraves Street is a short, narrow laneway that runs between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane in the heart of Melbourne.

Though named for two pioneer merchants who moved from Hobart to Melbourne in 1849 – Charles and William Degraves – Degraves Street is more often attributed to William alone, who served as a member of Victoria’s Legislative Council. Degraves Street is one of Melbourne’s more unique arcades.

Bluestone cobbles and an otherworld charm are the characteristics of Degraves Street. Tall, old-style buildings frame the street, with shops, bars, cafes and more lining the ground level, and apartments up above. Dining on Degraves Street tends towards Italian. Degraves Espresso is said to be one of the most quintessentially Melbourne café experiences. The Degraves Street underpass was built in the 1950s, connecting Flinders Street Station with Degraves Street. The underpass, much like the street it connects to, is full of character. The Platform Artists Group calls the underpass home, and have a frequent turnover for their underground exhibitions.

Other big attractions on Degraves Street include the Parisian-style restaurant Majorca House, the stationary and paper shop Il Papiro, bakery Little Cupcakes and children’s bookshop The Little Bookroom.

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Melbourne Museum
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Melbourne Museum provides a great experience for adults and children alike. A series of permanent exhibitions relating to the culture, history and the environment of Melbourne and Victoria are housed in several galleries including a lush Forest Gallery, an Aboriginal gallery and a Children’s area.

Exhibitions include Science and Life, Melbourne Story, Evolution, Mind and Body, and many more. Get to see bones and displays of Australia’s mega fauna (giant animals), experience the Dinosaur Walk, Bugs Alive!, Amazing Animals and The Human Body.

Temporary exhibitions run about twice a year and cover a variety of themes.The Museum also houses a good café, an IMAX center and – the museum’s most popular object – a taxidermy original of Australia’s most famous racehorse, Phar Lap.

Housed in a striking building with a huge glass façade, Melbourne Museum is not immediately visible if you approach from the CBD as it stands behind the impressive Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens.

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St. Kilda, Melbourne
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A seaside suburb of Melbourne, St. Kilda draws both locals and visitors with its wide stretch of sand beach on Port Phillip Bay as well as its shopping centers, eateries, and relaxing vibe. The suburb dates back to the Victorian era, when it was a destination for the city’s affluent residents.

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Melbourne Royal Arcade
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Opened in 1892, the Royal Arcade is Melbourne’s oldest shopping arcade. It’s a visual feast, with a lofty glass ceiling that streams natural light onto the delicate Victorian metalwork, and home to a choice selection of boutiques, jewelers, chocolatiers, and cafes.

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Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse
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To experience Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse you better have a strong set of legs. This historic light station on Wilsons Promontory can only be reached by foot— and requires a journey that last two days and just over 23 miles. After sloshing for nearly 12 miles through lush, Victorian bush, this lighthouse that’s stood since 1859 appears as literal beacon of hope that the hike is nearly complete. There was once a time when hardy families would live on this isolated point—dutifully manning the flickering light to keep mariners safe at sea. Today those homes where the light keepers lived have largely remained the same, and are split into three, dorm style cottages where hikers can rest for the night. The granite cliffs surrounding the lighthouse form the mainland’s southernmost point, and the roiling Pacific surrounds the cottages on nearly every side. After cleaning up from a long day of hiking, poke your head in the small museum of original lighthouse artifacts, or talk with the rangers who still call the lighthouse their temporary home. On the return trip, many hikers opt to return via Little Waterloo Bay, where golden sands and clear water are worth the extra couple of miles to the trail’s original start.

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Wilsons Promontory National Park
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The coastal outcropping of Wilsons Promontory is Australia’s southernmost point. Towering granite peaks and white-sand beaches dominate the scenery in the area known as The Prom by locals. Look out for kangaroos, koalas, and penguins in this remote-seeming area that's not far from Gippsland.

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Rod Laver Arena
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Best known as the home of the Australian Open tennis tournament, Rod Laver Arena hosts a variety of sporting events and concerts by big-name musical acts. The stadium features a retractable roof to keep players, performers, and spectators shielded from Melbourne’s notoriously unpredictable weather.

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Flemington Racecourse
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Home of the Melbourne Cup Thoroughbred horse race, Flemington Racecourse dates back to the 1840s and is Australia’s premier horse-racing venue. The arena is a hive of activity during this prestigious annual event, whose significance is similar to the American Kentucky Derby.

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Block Arcade
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Boasting a prime location in the heart of Melbourne CBD, the Block Arcade is a heritage shopping arcade that dates back to the 1800s. The arcade offers a boutique shopping experience that’s enhanced by carved-stone ceilings, a glass canopy, and mosaic-tile flooring. Highlights include Haigh’s Chocolates and Hopetoun Tearooms, renowned for its window display.

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Enchanted Adventure Garden
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Dive into nature’s wonderland! The Enchanted Adventure Garden, situated on the Mornington Peninsula at scenic Arthurs Seat, offers 22 acres of outdoor thrills and adventures. Seasonal gardens bursting with vibrant colors set the backdrop for activities, as travelers can cruise through the treetops with a canopy walk, get lost in the hedge maze, or zipline through the greenery.

Adventure-seekers will love tree surfing and tube sliding. Other options include getting lost among the hedge topiary sculptures, wandering through the bushland obstacles and relaxing with a picnic at the onsite café and take it all in.

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More Things to Do in Victoria

Royal Exhibition Building

Royal Exhibition Building

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A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Royal Exhibition Building and surrounding Carlton Gardens were built for the 1880 International Exhibition. Designed by Joseph Reed, the building is an eclectic, photogenic piece of architecture. The site still houses a range of exhibitions today, including the Melbourne International Garden and Flower Show.

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Old Melbourne Gaol

Old Melbourne Gaol

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The building that once held Victoria’s most notorious criminals is now one of Melbourne’s oldest surviving structures and a museum devoted to its past. From 1845 to 1924, hundreds of violent criminals were jailed and hanged at the Old Melbourne Gaol, including the infamous bushranger and outlaw Ned Kelly and gangster Squizzy Taylor.

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St Patrick's Cathedral

St Patrick's Cathedral

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Dating back to the 14th century, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a recognizable feature of Melbourne’s skyline. As well as being hailed as one of the finest examples of Gothic-Revival architecture in the world, the cathedral is the tallest and largest Christian structure in Australia. It’s also home to an organ that boasts 4,500 pipes.

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Arts Centre Melbourne

Arts Centre Melbourne

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Since opening in 1977, the Arts Centre Melbourne has established itself as the epicenter of the city’s performing arts scene. With the building’s dramatic spire, the complex has become a cultural landmark within the Southbank arts and culture precinct.

Hamer Hall is the main concert hall, while the Theatres Building contains several performance spaces underneath the Arts Centre’s iconic spire. Each is linked by a number of landscaped walkways. The complex also comprises dedicated gallery spaces, including Gallery 1 (formally the George Adams Gallery) and the St. Kilda Road Foyer Gallery.

The Arts Centre hosts a diverse mix of local and international performances throughout the year, as well as offering guided tours, exhibitions, and an onsite restaurant and cafe. There’s also a Sunday market held each week from 10am to 4pm, which sees local artists fill the Arts Centre Lawn with unique, handmade crafts and foodstuffs.

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Melbourne Central

Melbourne Central

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Visiting Melbourne Central is a trip that can literally take days. Even if you spent only 10 minutes in each of the 300 shops, it would still take over 50 hours before the shopping was through. Granted—while it’s impractical to visit every shop—there’s still the time it takes to visit the sights within the center. Take, for example, historic Shot Tower—a bullet making facility from 1889 that’s housed within the shops. To protect the original structure from crumbling, an enormous, 20-story, cone made of glass protects the entire tower—a feat of architectural engineering that’s the largest of its kind in the world. While exploring the maze of eateries and shops, be sure to keep an eye on the time as it approaches the top of the hour. Every hour, on the hour, the famously oversized Marionette Watch sounds a version of “Waltzing Matilda,” an old bush ballad that’s considered the unofficial national anthem of Australia.

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Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach

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A Melbourne icon located in Port Phillip Bay, Brighton Beach boasts golden sand and 82 distinctive bathing boxes. The brightly painted, timber-framed huts date back to the Victorian ages and serve as one of the city’s most photogenic backdrops.

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Fitzroy Gardens

Fitzroy Gardens

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Dating back more than 150 years, Fitzroy Gardens is an historic addition to Melbourne’s green spaces. The park is conveniently located near Melbourne CBD and features notable attractions such as Captain’s Cook Cottage, which was transported from England, the richly decorated Fairy Tree, and a model tudor village.

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Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC)

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC)

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With its 30,000 square meters of open space and a bold approach to modern architecture fused with green design, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) is an engineering marvel. Nearly everyone who visits these enormous buildings is here for a large convention, as the exhibition center is the largest of its kind in the entire southern hemisphere. At the center’s famous Plenary hall, public shows such as ballets and theater are also open to the public. The room can accommodate up to 5,500 people, or can also be divided into three different rooms of approximately 1,500 people. Aside from the shows and conventions themselves, the buildings are lauded for their innovative advances in modern green design, and it’s the world’s only venue to ever receive a 6 star Green Star environmental rating.

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Melbourne Chinatown

Melbourne Chinatown

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Technically, over 5,000 miles separate Melbourne from the Chinese city of Shanghai. When standing on the corner of Swanston Street, however, in Melbourne’s CBD, and looking west down Little Bourke Street past rows of Chinese shops, it’s easy to forget you’re still in Australia—rather than Shanghai itself. With the lone exception of San Francisco, Melbourne’s Chinatown is the oldest of its kind in the entire Western world. Established in 1851 by laborers in Victoria’s gold rush, Melbourne’s Chinatown has thrived as the center of the city’s Chinese community. Walking beneath the towering red arch that marks the Chinatown entrance, the smell of dumplings and Sichuan cuisine seems to waft, lift, and rise above each narrow alleyway entrance. While once notorious for its opium and brothels, modern Chinatown is known for its food and colorful, cultural cuisine. Haggle with a vendor selling bright pink dragon fruit or cups of steaming green tea, and feast on miniature dim sum plates full of classic Cantonese flavor. If you ever come up for air between meals, visit the Chinatown Visitor Center and accompanying Chinese Museum, which explores the Chinese community’s history from gold miners up through today.

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State Library Victoria

State Library Victoria

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The State Library Victoria is an iconic Melbourne landmark and an important community resource. It is Australia's oldest public library and one of the world’s first free public libraries. Dominating an entire city block, on the corner of Swanston and La Trobe Streets, the library is worth exploring for its heritage architecture alone, which includes tiled floors, grand marble staircases, stained glass, and bluestone walls.

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Phillip Island Chocolate Factory

Phillip Island Chocolate Factory

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All hail the mighty chocolate! That’s the feeling you might get when you tour this chocolate-laced compound. Located over the bridge from San Remo when you arrive on Phillip Island, the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory is an Australian shrine to chocolate. On a tour through “Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate” you can find art, houses, activities, and games that are made entirely from chocolate, and you’ll even find chocolate spilling down from the world’s largest chocolate waterfall. Stroll past a carving of Michaelangelo’s “David” that is exquisitely carved from chocolate, and see a solid block of chocolate that literally weighs a ton.

For more of a tasty, hands-on experience, design and create your own chocolate that is instantly made for you to eat. Draw your name in chocolate syrup and watch chocolatiers at work, and then wash down the endlessly tasty morsels with a hot chocolate in the café. The chocolate served at the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory is its own special blend, and from the moment you’re greeted with white truffles that are made from the “secret recipe,” you can literally taste the pride and passion for everyone’s favorite sweet.

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Dandenong Ranges

Dandenong Ranges

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Victoria's Dandenong Ranges lie just east of Melbourne and overlook the Yarra Valley wine region, offering a mountain retreat on the city's doorstep. What the peaks lack in size—the highest are under 2,620 feet (800 meters) above sea level—they make up for in scenery, such as ash forests, valleys of tree ferns, and wild bushlands.

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Koala Reserve (Koala Conservation Centre)

Koala Reserve (Koala Conservation Centre)

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The Koala Reserve on Phillip Island is a fun and informative place to learn more about the popular Australian marsupial. Stroll elevated boardwalks through eucalypt woodland as you observe koalas in their natural habitat.

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Australian Sports Museum

Australian Sports Museum

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Ever since Australia’s independence—and even well before it—sport has been integral in helping Australia define its identity and culture. At the Australian Sports Museum inside the Melbourne Cricket Grounds (MCG), learn about Australia’s sporting heroes, and hear how sports have constantly inspired Australians to strive for their best. Read the stories of Australian Olympians, participate in interactive games, and brush up on history of Australian Rules Football, cricket, horse racing, and tennis. The Australian Sports Hall of Fame is housed inside the museum, as are the Australian Football Hall of Fame and Cricket Hall of Fame. A popular highlight is the life-size 3D holograms, where Australia’s legends are seemingly brought to life, and the wealth of exhibits and informative displays make the Australian Sports Museum a must-visit spot for sports fans when visiting Melbourne.

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