A free bus ride in Melbourne
After taking a ride around on the City Circle tram to see a bit of the sights in Melbourne, I found out about the free bus that goes around the city as well. This would be a little bit more comfortable and would go further than the tram. Trams are a decent way to get around but are not my favorite method of travel. They lurch and screech along the track and throw sparks any time there is a junction between the cables above the cars. Also, someone had the fantastic idea of the using the oldest trams for the city circle ones. They go a bit slower than the newer ones and are definitely not as comfortable. The seats are old the doors creak. Naturally, when I found out about a bus that did nearly the same thing but it was newer, more comfortable and drove past more, I jumped at the chance.
Aside from seeing sights around the city, the free tram and bus are a decent way to get around if you don’t want pay anything. There are many other trams and buses that go straight to particular destinations and these are the preferred method for those just wanting the fastest route. Seeing as I haven’t had to be anywhere by a particular time for the last 2 weeks and won’t have to for another 2 months, these slower, scenic rides are the way to go.
The bus ride takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to go around town and drives past a bunch of different things. There are 13 stops that you can get on and get off at. They run every 30 minutes from 10am to 4pm. Along with the small blurb of information in the pamphlet I got at the hostel(also available on the bus), the bus driver has something to say about every attraction. There are also recordings of information about many of the major attractions you drive past.
I got on at stop 8, beside the Queen Victoria Market but I’ll explain from stop one where the buses begin and end their tours. Stop 1 is at the Arts Precinct. This area has a bunch of arty things to see and do in it including the Performing Arts Museum and the National Gallery of Victoria.
Stop 2 is Federation Square. This is Melbourne’s “meeting place”. There are a bunch of bars, cafe’s and shops around the main square that are filled with a bunch of steps. There is free wireless here which instantly makes me like it. I spent about an hour there today catching up with some emails and talking to friends. Its a bit hard to see the screen with bright sunshine but it was worth it to be outside! The Ian Potter Center, part of the National Gallery of Victoria is here as well as the Australia Centre for the Moving Image. Stop 3 is the Sports Precinct. This place is pretty important to Melbourne as they’re crazy sports fans. The Melbourne Cricket Ground (AKA the MCG or simple the G) is here which is their biggest sports complex. Major Aussie rules and cricket games are played here. There is one on Sunday that I’ll be attending.
Stop 4 is the Chinatown Precinct and Theatres District. That one is pretty self explanatory. I realize at this point that they name everything. Every road, block, group of blocks, garden and grassy area has some name. Stop 5 is the Melbourne Museum and Carlton Gardens. The museum holds an IMAX theatre and a huge number of displays and is right next to the world heritage listed Royal Exhibition Buidling, which is a massive old building in the middle of a fantastic gardens. Stop 6 is Lygon Street which is the centre of the Italian culture here. 7 is the University of Melbourne. The Ian Potter Museum of Art is there as well.
Stop 8 is where I got on at the Queen Victoria Market. This massive market servers over 200,000 shoppers a week and takes up serveral blocks. The Flagstaff gardens are close to this stop as well, one of the pretty places to run in town.
Waterfront City and the Docklands are at stop 9. They don’t officially label this as a different city but they don’t refer to it as Waterfront city and think of it as a different place to live outside Melbourne. Not a bad way to do it, I say. You’re commute is a walk across the street to a tram that will take you wherever you need to go. Also here is a massive shopping complex and one of the world biggest ferris wheels, the Southern Cross. Another stop along the water is the Docklands Stadium and Victoria Harbour. This is number 10. Around here is Telstra Dome which another sporting venue similar to the MCG but slightly smaller.
Stop 11 is Williams street. It’s another stop downtown close to a lot of the shopping and eating along the main streets in town. Stop 12 is over the river in Southbank. This more expensive part of town is home to some of the largest buildings here and pricey hotels. The Eureka building is also situated here which is the worlds tallest residential building at 92 stories and almost 300 metres. The viewing level is the southern hemisphere’s tallest as is quite the view. You can see almost anything and if you can’t quite then there are many binoculars trained on more interesting things around the city. The best part of the experience is another $12 and is called the Edge. It’s a glass box 3 metres by 3 metres that slides out from the edge of the building. They stuff you inside with a few other people with the glass smoked so you can’t see anything. Slowly the whole block moves out the side of the building and suddenly the glass goes clear and suddenly there is nothing beneath you but 88 stories of air. Kneel or lay down on the glass and it feels like there is nothing between you and the ground. It’s quite the experience.
Stop 13 is the end of the trip at the Shrine of Remembrance and the Royal Botanic Gardens. These beautiful gardens hold a couple of other attractions within their borders as well as numerous sculptures and a massive shrine dedicated to those lost in times of war and peace for Australia. There is a 3.8 kilometer track around the gardens locally known as the Tan. It is the place to go to job in Melbourne and there are official and unofficial times from various people scattered across the internet for running around the track. I plan to run this track in the next few days and see how I stack up!
Though the free bus ride isn’t the most exciting thing in town, it definitely is informative and gives you a good idea and starting place for your tours. Being free I highly recommend it to anyone new to the city to get their bearings and decide what to do next.