While Melbourne shines in any season, its packed winter calendar provides a compelling reason to rug up and head out. Here are four events you should know about – plus what you should eat and drink and where you should stay during your visit.
Get your art fix at RISING
Arts extravaganza RISING is a festival that promises to supercharge the city with its avant-garde energy across 12 nights in June. Highlights of this program bursting with art, music, food and theatre include festival exclusive Euphoria, Julian Rosefeldt’s surround-sound cinematic experience at the Melbourne Town Hall and First Nations showcase Shadow Spirit, an exhibition taking over the moody Flinders Street Station Ballroom.
Stay at: A vision of Old World grandeur at the end of an imposing driveway on the northern edge of the CBD, the Park Hyatt doesn’t hold back on the splendour with its marble-clad lobby and spectacular buffet breakfast at Radii restaurant.
Eat/drink at: Spread across five levels of a heritage-listed building, buzzworthy venue HER is seven minutes’ drive away and offers a French bistro, fiery Thai street food, a Japanese-styled music room and a rooftop bar with city views and inventive cocktails (try the Iced Vovo Milk Punch with white rum and housemade fruit wine).
Make it a longer break: Amble along Hosier Lane and AC/DC Lane for epic street art before creating your own masterpiece at Blender Studios. Travel 35 minutes on the tram to the vibrant new arts hub Collingwood Yards, which is wrapped in an iconic 1980s Keith Haring mural and houses an edgy collection of artisan-run studios selling music, art and collectables.
See a master of colour at the National Gallery of Victoria
French Post-Impressionist Pierre Bonnard brought everyday scenes to life with his skilled use of colour and light. Peruse more than 100 of the artist’s works in the NGV’s Pierre Bonnard: Designed by India Mahdavi (until 8 October). Developed in partnership with Paris’s Musée d’Orsay, this latest instalment of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series features scenography by architect and designer India Mahdavi that lends a three-dimensional aspect to Bonnard’s works.
Stay at: Tucked just off Collins Street (and only 10 minutes’ walk from the NGV), the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins wears its French sophistication with discretion. A soaring atrium hints at impressive views from the rooms above – and the buffet breakfast is served 35 levels up at onsite restaurant No35.
Eat/drink at: Take an easy tram trip down Bourke Street Mall and you’ll find the city’s best coffee at Patricia Coffee Brewers, while acclaimed restaurant Serai Kitchen puts a modern Australian spin on Filipino dishes. Here, their lechon or spit-roasted pig is slow-grilled Western plains free-range pork belly with smoky pineapple palapa, a Filipino condiment.
Make it a longer break: Melbourne’s upmarket playground, the Mornington Peninsula, is just an hour’s drive from the CBD and features spectacular beaches, acclaimed cool-climate wines (check into Jackalope Hotel if you’re staying overnight) and a world-class dining scene. Go cellar-door hopping at Port Phillip Estate, Polperro and Foxeys Hangout, soak in day-spa style in the geothermal or rain pools at Alba Thermal Springs and settle in for the fire-cooked celebration of seasonal Peninsula produce including seafood and meat at Tedesca Osteria.
Cheer on the Matildas in their World Cup warm-up
The Australian women’s football team, the Matildas, are sure to deliver a blockbuster performance when they take on France at Docklands’ Marvel Stadium on 14 July (Bastille Day, no less). Led by superstar captain Sam Kerr, the friendly match will mark the first time in 22 years that Australia has faced the highly rated Les Bleues, currently ranked fifth in the world, on home soil.
Stay at: Laneway charm meets skyscraper views at voco Melbourne Central. The vertical oasis on Lonsdale Street features city vistas from its glass-walled rooms and suites, as well as from the Blacksmith Bar and Grill, where a fire-licked mod-Oz menu can be enjoyed on the outdoor terrace.
Book your stay at voco Melbourne Central with Qantas Luxury Holidays to earn 3 Qantas Points per $1 spent* and receive premium inclusions like daily breakfast for two, welcome drinks, guaranteed room upgrade and late checkout. Prices start at $545. For more information, visit Qantas Hotels.
Eat/drink at: Dive into the pure French comfort of escargot in garlic butter, steak frites and mini martinis at Bar Margaux, another quick tram trip from the hotel, or treat the family to Karen Martini’s crowd-pleasing menu at Hero, located at ACMI in Federation Square.
Make it a longer break: Hit the Great Ocean Road, one of Australia’s greatest scenic drives that winds through vibrant seaside towns, such as Torquay and Aireys Inlet, and past the famous 12 Apostles. Bed down in cosy comfort at Cape Otway Cottages then head to Lorne for a surfing lesson and zip-line your way through the treetops at Live Wire Park. Then, try your luck spotting pademelons, potoroo and bandicoots on a guided dusk walk at Wildlife Wonders sanctuary in the Otways hinterland.
Celebrate love at Moulin Rouge! The Musical
Baz Luhrmann’s epic film will be coming to Melbourne’s Regent Theatre from 20 August in the Broadway hit production Moulin Rouge! The Musical. The captivating tale of an ill-fated love triangle involving courtesan Satine, impoverished writer Christian and a dastardly duke is told through a powerhouse collection of pop hits and extravagant stage design that brings the kinetic mayhem of Paris’ Moulin Rouge to life.
Stay at: The Regent’s glamorous next-door neighbour, The Westin Melbourne boasts signature Westin Heavenly beds that promise to induce a cloud-like slumber, while the Lobby Lounge is the daily setting for an indulgent seasonal high tea. Its position on the cusp of Collins Street’s “Paris end” gives easy access to its collection of luxury boutiques such as Louis Vuitton, Dior and Cartier.
Eat/drink at: The lost art of the Champagne tower is being revived at glam cocktail bar Nick & Nora’s, part of the upscale 80 Collins development. For a post-theatre bite, few things can match oysters, caviar and jamón Ibérico amid the Art Deco spectacle of Andrew McConnell’s Gimlet.
Make it a longer break: An hour’s drive north, the picturesque Yarra Valley is Victoria’s original wine region, with a bounty of cellar doors, restaurants such as fine-diner Levantine Hill and artisan producers. Meander between cellar doors along the Taste Trail, stop at the architecturally stunning new headquarters of Four Pillars Gin for a tasting paddle and linger by the open fire with a glass of local red at the Healesville Hotel.
*Limited-time offer: 2-15 May 2023. You must be a Qantas Frequent Flyer member to earn and redeem points. Membership and points are subject to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program terms and conditions. Qantas Frequent Flyer members will earn 3 Qantas Points per A$1 spent unless otherwise specified, for hotel stays booked through qantas.com/hotels, except Classic Hotel Rewards and Airbnb bookings. Click here for full terms and conditions and offer eligibility.