Planning a holiday to Melbourne? Editor-in-Chief Rebecca Bisset shares her advice on how to make the most of a visit to this Australian city.
- Don’t be green: hire a car from the airport.
If there’s more than one of you it’s definitely a cheaper way to get around, and it means you can see the nicer bits of the city – including the quirky little areas and the huge shopping mall of Chadstone (the biggest mall of its kind in Australia). The first time we went, we took the train. It wasn’t cheap and it was a good 10-minute walk from the station. After the shop, we decided to get a taxi back with all our bags; it cost us $85 for a trip that would have cost $15 in Singapore. Also, waiting for the airport bus is a bit of a pain when you’ve just flown seven hours – and it costs $30 per person return.
- Don’t use your Hong Kong number.
As soon as you come through the gates at the airport, there’s an Optus shop. A $10 card gave us a local number with up to 500mb a day for internet use.
- Don’t hire a GPS.
I used Google Maps (on my local number) rather than the GPS I hired with the car as it was easier and the GPS didn’t recognise some of the addresses (e.g., the one we were staying at initially – despite the house being at least four-years old).
- Don’t stay in a hotel.
We stayed in a lovely modern terraced house in Richmond that was really close to town but easy to get to other places too. There are also lovely Victorian-style houses under the umbrella at boutiquestays.com.au.
- Don’t panic about buying things in a self-catering property.
You’re likely to find everything you need in the kitchen when you arrive – coffee, tea and biscuits, milk in the fridge, and dishwashing powder. Ours also included washing powder, making it nice to end the holiday with a relatively “clean suitcase”. The free Wi-Fi at the house meant we saved on our daily usage too. The house felt like home; it was beautifully decorated and the beds were really, really comfortable. As long as you’ve left things fairly clean when you leave, you can just pop the key in the outdoor box where you found it and off you go. You’ll be given a combination lock number for the key box before you arrive, so there’s no check-in process either.
- Don’t buy too much food from the supermarket.
We cooked breakfast once, but did eat out most of the time as the food in Melbourne is just so good.
- Don’t take full cases so you have plenty of space for your clothes shopping.
There’s a great variety in prices and styles, including “Western” sizes and big-sized shoes if you need them. You can even stock up with cheap underwear at Target!
- Don’t leave your walking shoes behind.
There are plenty of places to walk, whether it’s along the river in town by the Crown Casino, in one of the parks or down at the beach near Brighton. In April, the temperature was just right and it makes a lovely change from being all sweaty after a lengthy walk.
- Don’t leave it to late to book!
The houses at Boutique Stays do get booked up, and there are great deals on ‘normal’ airlines if you book far enough in advance.
- Don’t forget to look at the online galleries of properties.Here are some sample pictures of one- to three-bedroom places at Boutique Stays, below – and there are even more on the website.