Melbourne on a budget

Q. I live in Adelaide and am hoping to visit Melbourne but have a very low budget. Any suggestions regarding cheap fares, accommodation and what to do when I get there?

A. Sally, we believe it’s possible to enjoy travel on all budget levels, so here are some suggestions for your Melbourne visit.

Getting there: Try the special seniors’ fares on The Overland train which travels from Adelaide to Melbourne – about $90 return and very comfortable, without airport security hassles.

Accommodation: We are great believers in hostels. The Melbourne Central YHA is centrally located close to Federation Square, the Yarra River and Southern Cross Station. If you don’t enjoy this style of travel then there are wonderful, inexpensive hotels in the CBD, with great deals. Try the Oaks Appartments and Choice Hotels. We particularly like the Oaks as they offer self-catering, so you can buy some provisions and dine in, avoiding expensive breakfasts and evening meals.

For free: The best things in life are often for free. Our four top picks in Melbourne are:

Victoria Market – this architectural dream is located at the top of Elizabeth Street. The food halls offer a ‘trip around the world’ as you sample delicacies from all corners of the globe and speak to the special people who produce or import this food. Take your time – at least three hours – and enjoy a coffee and German bratwurst for lunch.

The City Circle Tram – this free tram service provides a convenient and free way to get around Melbourne CBD. Tourists can spend all day on The City Circle Tram however the best way to use it is as a ‘hop on-hop off’ service. Trams travel both clockwise and anticlockwise every twelve minutes. Just wait at any of the marked stops to hop on

A picnic on the Yarra River – again totally free. Stroll past Federation Square along the north side of the river, then cross at the Swan Street Bridge, turn left and you will enjoy a tree-lined boulevard with barbeques, and a gentle grassy slope leading down to the water. To your right are Melbourne’s historic Botanical Gardens – but you will need to allow lots of time to explore the vast acres of horticulture. Another great picnic spot is by the lake in the gardens.

St Kilda Pier – a short tram ride from the city to the bottom of Fitzroy Street delivers you to the pier. Great for a stroll, a coffee, a chat with local fishermen, and then the rest of the foreshore awaits if energy levels are high.

And one low cost, but high enjoyment activity is the Immigration Museum.
Situated on Flinders Street, between Queen and William Streets, the museum is a celebration of the many thousands of immigrants who have sought shelter, or perhaps prosperity, in our vast land. Their stories differ greatly and the Museum curators have done an amazing job of bringing these very diverse tales to life.

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