The CBD buildings tower over the Yarra River giving the city a unique feel.
The CBD buildings tower over the Yarra River giving the city a unique feel. Peter Dunphy/David Hannah

Wheely having a ball in Melbourne

FOOTBALL, shopping, coffee, animals, child's play, parks, food, art, culture... honestly, what city delivers these better than Melbourne?

All right, the climate might leave a little to be desired, but those chilly wintry winds only make the coffee extra special.

And coffee in Melbourne is special indeed.

We had five whirlwind days in Melbourne recently, just as Autumn's palette put the finishing touches of amber and gold on the stunning trees around the city.

It was so packed we needed a holiday to recover from the holiday upon our return.

We had barely a few hours to settle into our inner-city accommodation (Darling Towers, Collins Street) before we hopped on a tram to the MCG to see Richmond take on Essendon.

For my first experience at the G, it was a cracker. The scoreboard lit up with the attendance that night: 83,563.

That would have been exhilarating enough if it wasn't for the fact it was a really close game that the Tigers eventually won. Past Fed Square and the river and past the Giant Sky Wheel – a massive ferris wheel lit up garishly at night.

Words of warning – the carriages are not enclosed and the wind chill factor that froze you to your core on the ground is 400 times worse that high up.

The next few days were taken up with yet more Melbourne must-dos: The Queen Victoria Markets and Melbourne Zoo.

Okay, so perhaps they are a little tired, but the character and flavour of these attractions cannot be denied.

And when you're next at the markets, do yourself a favour and get to Cafe Verona in the food court. The best long macchiato I have had in my life, and I told the barista so.

About 10 minutes from the city, in the semi-industrial suburb of Spotswood, lies the Scienceworks museum and planetarium.

It's an old pumping station that has been converted to a veritable wonderland of hands-on displays for kids of all ages.

There are awesome exhibits covering everything from recycling, physics, hydraulics, wind, music, power, light, chemistry, bugs, germs and dinosaurs to a really cool section all about exercise and sports. The bulk of the displays were truly above our three-year-old's head, but even we managed to be enthralled for three hours.

Throw in a night at Abla's Lebanese restaurant, featuring fresh tabouleh, falafel and delicious coffee, and our frenzied Melbourne getaway had come to a close.


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