Dear readers, this is a guest post by Rodney Perez, who wanted to share with us the things one shouldn't miss while on a visit to Melbourne for the Australian Open.
The Open has commenced! Like every year, Melbourne not only welcomes the best players in the world but it also receives thousands of tennis enthusiasts from all over the globe. The capital of the "Garden State", as Victoria is also known, has more than a couple of reasons to show off to us "northern hemispherians" and keep their visitors entertained. So if you are lucky enough to be in Melbourne and want to enjoy what the city and its gorgeous natural surroundings have to offer, here’s five things you shouldn’t miss:
Queen Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market might not be the hippest of markets but you won’t find many others like it. Every Wednesday from 5:30 pm until 10:00 pm, 135 vendors offer a real alternative to the high-street shops, offering a wide array of products, which range from exotic plants to original clothing. You will also be able to enjoy the best of international cuisine with 35 stalls dedicated to catering to the most diverse taste buds.
National Sports Museum
Located at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the NSM gathers much of the history of Australian Sports. No better place to have a sports museum than Melbourne, widely known as both the cultural and sports capital of Australia. The museum offers permanent exhibitions on the Olympics, Australian Football, Multi-Sports and Cricket, among others.
Australia Day Celebrations
On January 26th, Australians celebrate their national day, so why not join them? Wear blue and attend local parades. Melbourne has a wide variety of events prepared:
• 8:00 am The RACV Big Brekkie. Have breakfast the Australian way and share with Melburnians.
• 1:00 pm Share the Spirit Festival. A concert featuring the best of the aboriginal and indigenous cultures of the region.
• 3:30 pm Mambo at the Bowl. The best of Latin music performed by Tito Puentes Jr and his orchestra. Put on your dancing shoes!
• Australia Day Fireworks Display. Finish your day literally with a bang while you witness the amazing firework display with the Melbourne skyline serving as a background.
The Mornington Peninsula
The Mornington Peninsula is one of the favorite weekend getaways for Melburnians. Famous for its wineries and mazes, the Peninsula is also home to the beaches of Port Philip and Western Port where you can go snorkeling, fishing and even swimming with dolphins. Just a one hour drive south of Melbourne.
Great Ocean Road
Once you’re done admiring the beauty of the Peninsula, take the ferry to Queenscliff and witness the majesty of the Great Ocean Road. Not in vain is the drive described as one of the "most scenic" in the world with 243 km of coastline which showcases the beauty and ruggedness of southern Australia.
Do not miss the 12 Apostles, imposing rock stacks rising from the ocean.
Head to the Tower Hill Game State Reserve, where you’ll be able to see Koalas and Kangaroos up close and possibly even Whales at Warrnambool .
The Australian Open might be the most important event happening in Melbourne right now but it is far from being the only thing to do. If you gather the will to be away from the action for a couple of days, there are tons of things the city has to offer.
Rodney Perez is a travel writer for hotel.info, an online reservation website which lets you book hotels in Melbourne and the world.