Melbourne Heats Up
Serving Up Excitement
Ask Melburnians what their favourite time of year is and many will tell you it’s when the tennis arrives. The Australian Open (15–28 January) sees the world’s greatest players contest the year’s first
Grand Slam event.
As well as the action on the courts, there’s plenty happening off them, too. Watch big games with a huge crowd on the screens at Garden Square.
The AO Festival offers live music during the AO Open Sessions and fantastic food when hunger calls. Then there’s the AO Ballpark, a special area for kids of all ages that includes Autograph Island, where fans can meet their favourite players. You can also check out former greats during the legends event. Arrive early on day one for the Kids Tennis Day, where there’s the chance to play, see children’s entertainers and watch an exhibition match.
Hit For Six
It’s the greatest sporting rivalry this country knows, so you won’t want to miss being at the MCG for the Ashes Boxing Day Test (26–30 December). Cricket’s traditional adversaries, Australia and England, will spend five days trying to outwit and outplay each other. The two teams return on 14 January for a daynight game in the One Day International Series.
Artistic and Athletic
You’ll find yourself wondering exactly how they do it when you attend the FIG International Apparatus World Cup Series (22–25 February). Melbourne is hosting the men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics at Hisense Arena as part of this huge worldwide event that’s an important lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Make the most of the endless sunshine, enjoying all the events and entertainment the city has to offer.
Big Kicks and Hard Hits
It was the surprise hit of last summer, with games in the inaugural AFL Women's competition attracting capacity crowds. The Adelaide Crows came out on top, winning the first ever premiership title, but the Melbourne teams are sure to want to assert their positions — Melbourne, after all, is the home of Australian football — in this new season, which kicks off on 2 February.
Santa’s Coming to Town
A giant tree, colourful decorations and the arrival of Santa in the city means that Christmas is just around the corner. Melbourne’s Christmas Festival launches on 24 November and goes right through to the big day, with entertainment, festive cheer and the chance to meet the man in the red suit. Most of the festivities can be found in Federation Square — visit Santa and have your photo taken with him (10am–12pm and 1pm–3pm daily, plus 4pm–7pm on Friday nights) — while the Christmas Projections program will light up a number of city locations including Federation Square, State Library Victoria and Docklands.
Countdown to 2018
Find a spot from afar with a view of the city skyline and you’re all set to see the spectacular midnight fireworks during the New Year’s Eve celebrations (31 December). If coming into the city, enjoy free entertainment at one of four official live sites at Treasury Gardens, Docklands, Flagstaff Gardens and Kings Domain.
Year of the Dog
Get ready for dancing dragons, incredible fireworks displays, cultural spectacles and street parades during Melbourne’s Chinese New Year celebrations. The festivities begin in the city on 15 February and continue until 25 February. The arrival of the Year of the Dog will be celebrated across Melbourne, including at Docklands and suburbs like Box Hill.
Art After Dark
Thousands of people fill the streets for the 12-hour party that is White Night Melbourne (17 February). Public spaces, city walls, lush parks and tiny laneways become the scene for one of the most exciting cultural events of the year. Watch performances, admire projections, take part in a massive dance-off and much more from dusk till dawn. Also on the horizon is White Night Ballarat (17 March), when the regional city becomes arts central. More information to come in the autumn issue of Official Visitor Guide.
Picnics and Promenading
The warm weather is the perfect time to enjoy Melbourne’s lush outdoors. Stroll through Fitzroy Gardens, with its avenues of mature shady trees. Stock your picnic basket at Queen Victoria Market, before finding a spot for lunch at the World Heritage-listed Carlton Gardens. On the banks of the Yarra River, Birrarung Marr is a beautiful spot for a leisurely wander among the public artworks.
Cinema Under the Stars
The drama begins even before the lights go down at Rooftop Cinema, located seven storeys up and surrounded by skyscrapers in the heart of the CBD. Head to Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria’s Melbourne Gardens for Moonlight Cinema, where you can recline on a blanket or bean bag and watch the latest releases and family favourites. See a movie and catch some live music at St Kilda Openair Cinema. There are plenty of food outlets and a licensed bar to make the evening complete.
Splash in the Sun
Spend some time on the sand at St Kilda Beach before wandering along the foreshore to take in the sights of this vibrant beachside community. See one of Melbourne’s favourite slices of history at Brighton Beach, where there are 82 colourful bathing boxes. Don’t forget to bring your camera. A trip to Williamstown Beach is a popular family day out. It’s a safe spot for swimming, plus there’s a huge park with vast stretches of lawn, playgrounds and picnic facilities.
Enjoy a view with your lunch. It’s a casual affair — think burgers, fish and chips and more — at
The Boatbuilders Yard, with its decks and dining spaces overlooking South Wharf. Want a venue to impress? Contemporary Japanese cuisine with views of the Yarra River are on the menu at Sake. For great Middle Eastern-style street food take a seat at Mama Rumaan, located at Central Pier in the Docklands. theboatbuildersyard.com.au sakerestaurant.com.au mamarumaan.com.au
Drinks on High
Palm Springs was the inspiration for Good Heavens, a vast rooftop bar serving 1980s cocktails, a range of craft beers and Americana-style snacks. More intimate is the open-air space at Bomba Rooftop, where tapas and fine wine is the focus. For views of the city, take a seat at Naked in the Sky, where the terrace and adjoining lounge float above Fitzroy. goodheavens.com.au bombabar.com.au nakedforsatan.com.au
Cycling’s Great Race
It’s one of the most stunning drives in Australia, but at the beginning of the year it is taken over by the world’s best cyclists for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (25–28 January).
First held in 2015 and inspired by Europe’s prestigious one-day races, the event attracts the topranking racing teams and cyclists. About 100,000 people line the roads to watch the Elite Men’s, Elite Women’s and Towards Zero Race Melbourne, which opens the weekend with a circuit-style event around the Formula 1 track at Albert Park.
Anyone who fancies themselves on two wheels can sign up for the Swisse People’s Ride for the chance to pedal alongside Cadel Evans and three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond. cadelevansgreatoceanroadrace.com.au
Taking place on the same weekend as the Cadel Evans race is Geelong’s Festival of Sails
(26–28 January). More than
300 boats and 3000 sailors compete in this, the southern hemisphere’s largest annual keel boat regatta. While the sailing action is spectacular, there’s also the Waterfront Festival to enjoy, with entertainment, food and wine, market stalls, a kids’ area and an on-water Come & Try Zone.
One of the country’s favourite portrait competitions, the Archibald Prize (until 10 December), drops in to the Geelong Gallery. See this year’s winner, Mitch Cairns’ depiction of Agatha Gothe-Snape, alongside all the finalists, which include portraits of local luminaries and ordinary Australians. For eight weeks at the beginning of the year, the NIGHTJAR Festival takes over Torquay (4, 11, 18 & 25 January) and Geelong (2, 9, 16 & 23 February). Listen to music, explore the artists’ market, indulge on ‘dessert lane’ or relax at one of the bars featuring craft beer and boutique wine. geelonggallery.org.au nightjarfestival.com.au
While You’re There
When on the coast enjoying the fantastic regional events, take some time to discover its other attractions. Whether you can ride a board or not, head to Bells Beach or Jan Juc to check out the surfing action. Damp fun of a different kind can be found at Adventure Park, Geelong’s huge water park. Get away from the coast and into the forest at Otway Fly Treetops Adventure, where you can walk through the canopy or go zip lining. All that activity deserves a reward, so drop into Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery to sample the wares, eat at the cafe and stock up for the drive home. adventurepark.com.au otwayfly.com gorci.com.au
Lauren Arnell Graeme Furlong
New Year's Eve
Share Your Melbourne MomentTag #melbmoment to share your favourite city experienceswith others.
Did you Know?Melbourne had many unofficial names in its first years of European settlement,including Batmania, Barebrass and Bearport.Fitzroy Gardens, East Melbourne
The Boatbuilders Yard, South Wharf
Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race
Festival of Sails, Geelong
At the Heads Mark Chew
Otway Ranges Robert Blackburn For more regional inspiration see the Regional Victoria section on page 111.