Melbourne over lunch breaks – the meerkat is watching and Costco Bulgogi Bake

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The week was busy with work, regardless, I got a 1-week myki pass and over lunch breaks and evening got a few dashes of Melbourne.

The network of trains and trams is extensive and easy. Hours on some lines are extremely limited, and Flagstaff Gardens station by my hotel is closed entirely on weekends. There are free tourist tram lines as well. Get a system map to act as guide, especially on the trains because it can be hard to tell which line is stopping at which of the city center stations.

I went to the small Melbourne Zoo to see the platypus, surprised at his lightning speed doing laps in the tank. The meerkat sentry stole the show while the koalas pretended the outside world did not exist. Not many exhibits though and only a few Australian animals.

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Meerkat sentry


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Shutting out the world


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The Royal Exhibition Hall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and open to tours on non-exhibition days at 2 pm. I had a late ‘lunch’ to accommodate. The surrounding area at the Parliament Station has elegant buildings.

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Royal Exhibition Hall

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Royal Exhibition Hall interior

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Royal Exhibition Hall seasons detail - Summer

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Parliament area

Federation Square has crazy-quilt architecture and many cafes in the warren of streets to the north of Flinders St Station.

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Federation Square

At Flagstaff Gardens I saw a netball game, popular in Australia.

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A netball game

Chinatown is a damp squib, though there are some nice Asian dessert shops.

Harbour Town, north of the corporate offices and Etihad Stadium of Docklands is surreal. The mall is deserted. The $100m Southern Star Observation Wheel is a debacle. Yet in the far back is a recent landing on Australian shores, Costco. Prices are cheap for Australia, which says something because the rotisserie chicken is $8.79. At current exchange rates, Australia is 50%-200% more than the US across the board. Think $15 desserts at restaurants. Restaurants love tapas, no matter the cuisine, and those dainty servings often are at main course price levels in the US. Even fast food has no dollar menu, but two dollar menus. Back to Costco, the Aussie Meat Pie was sold out but the Bulgogi Bake was a tasty localization.

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Southern Star Observation Wheel

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Costco Bulgogi Bake


No dollar menus in pricey Australia

Melbourne is a pleasant city with a good collection of architecture and moderate selection of attractions. I would not dedicate more than a day on a trip.

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9 years ago

I spent a week in Melbourne about 10 years ago. I totally loved it and would happily go back. There’s much more than a day’s worth of attractions. Of course in those days the exchange rate was very much more in our favor.

Rapid Travel Chai
9 years ago

@guera – prices continue to be shocking along the Great Ocean Road and then eye-popping in Uluru (Ayers Rock). Just landed Brisbane and this area seems to have a little sanity.

9 years ago

Loved the videos! Thanks for sharing. I wonder how prices are outside of the big cities.

9 years ago

I lived in Melbourne when I was a kid and walked by the Exposition Center to go to school on the other side of the park. That was over 20 years ago and everything still looks the same. I agree everything in Australia is expensive but Melborne is still a lot cheaper compared to Sydney.

Rapid Travel Chai
9 years ago
Reply to  Will

@Will – my colleagues told me that if I wanted to complain about prices I should go straight to Sydney!