Melbourne is a city made for regular visits. Whether travelling for leisure or a frequent pilgrim on business, there’s always something new or intriguing to discover, particularly if you crave a dose of artistic or culinary flair.
But while residents are well-versed in the city’s numerous charms and where to find them, visitors often miss out on its true gems.
With that in mind, a local’s perspective always helps.
Joanne Pereira is one such local. Born and raised in the city, she’s passionate about all things Melbourne, noting its diversity – the heady mix of cultures, neighbourhoods, and experiences – and thrilling events calendar as two of the many aspects to hold her attention.
Rocking live music, premier sport events, side-splitting festivals and internationally-renowned stage shows plucked from Broadway and the West End; Melbourne has it all. The luxury hotels are stellar too.
“I also love how easy and quick it is to get around,” explains Pereira, adding you could enjoy “a really nice brunch in one of the hipster cafes in Collingwood and within half an hour be paddle boarding down Port Phillip Bay in Elwood.”
Mixing business with pleasure easy
Part of the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) team, whose remit is securing conferences for the state, Pereira is in an ideal position to showcase the breadth of experiences around the Victorian capital, and encourage visitors to explore beyond the boardroom.
MCB’s recently-released digital guide – available for download at this link – is a prime example, with the interactive tool designed to help travellers dive deeper into the city’s offerings, from hidden bars and eateries to little-known museums and galleries.
Chancery Lane, an atmospheric eatery from Chef Scott Pickett (also behind venues at the new InterContinental Sorrento Mornington Peninsula); La Madonna restaurant and its whisky degustation space ‘The Barrel Room’ at Next Hotel; and modern Australian hotspot Society, just around the corner, are a few of the inclusions.
A free ticket to discovery
Visitors and Melburnians can take advantage of a handy free tram zone in the CBD, which covers key inner-city sights such as Fed Square and the fresh produce mecca of Queen Victoria Market, although exploring on foot is a worthy option too.
“Wander through Federation Square for a lovely view of Flinders Street and, if you’re lucky, experience a free live performance or activation,” suggests Pereira, while recommending a visit to its Koorie Heritage Trust to learn about the First Peoples of South East Australia as another must-do.
“If available, I’d recommend going on one of their tours to connect more deeply with Melbourne/Naarm (Aboriginal name for Melbourne) and understand how the Koorie people used to live on Naarm land. Once you’ve finished your tour you can have a delicious meal at First Nations restaurant Big Esso, located next to the trust.”
Royal Botanical Gardens Victoria, known to locals as ‘the Tan’, is another must-visit if you want to spend time in the great outdoors, with the long-established 36-hectare site – founded in 1846 – home to a myriad of scenic walking trails, ponds and picnic spots.
“What I love the most is that within 1.5 hours you can be out in beautiful regional Victoria for your nature fix. My personal favourites are the Dandenong Ranges, if you’re a keen hiker or enjoy forests and quaint towns; and the Yarra Valley for a beautiful winery experience, and Anglesea for some unwinding time by the ocean.”
“If you’d prefer to stay and explore Melbourne by foot, bike (or by paddle boating in summer), I’d visit the suburbs down Port Phillip Bay via Melbourne’s Bay Trail,” Pereira adds.
Never a dull moment
The true beauty of Melbourne though, is there’s always something happening – every day of the week.
Whether it’s a small-scale gig or a larger event like Melbourne International Film Festival or Music Week, it’s almost guaranteed there’s something for your taste. And, sometimes, the most memorable ones are those you simply stumble upon.