Time to kill in Melbourne? Don’t waste a minute of it. Ink these must-see attractions into your diary.
Visit places of the art
Open daily, The National Gallery of Victoria houses its phenomenal collection of Australian art in The Ian Potter Centre at Federation Square. There are 20 galleries to explore but if time is tight, concentrate on the Indigenous collection – an extraordinary gathering of Wanjina spirits, Rainbow Serpents, Pukumani burial poles and masterpieces such as Emily Kam Kngwarray’s Big Yam Dreaming.
Dive into the deep end
Splash out in the wake of Commonwealth Games swimming stars at Melbourne Sports & Aquatic Centre in Albert Park. Casual entry is less than $10. Lane space in both the indoor and outdoor 50-metre pools can be limited – champions train here, after all – but the end of the workday is a good bet (check the website for availability). There are also steam rooms; a sauna; basketball, badminton and squash courts for hire; and a wave generator to test your bodyboarding mettle. Take the No. 12 or 96 tram from the city.
Melbourne’s 19th-century laneways are dynamic canvases for the city’s street-art scene. It’s easy to plot your own art-appreciation tour from buzzing Hosier Lane – where wannabe Banksys swarm with spray cans – to Flinders Lane, ACDC Lane, Duckboard Place and Centre Place. Or book a tour with a street artist through Melbourne Street Tours.
Be a culture vulture
The spired Arts Centre Melbourne is the repository of the performing arts, with a packed calendar of ballet, theatre and concerts. But for more avant-garde entertainment, Malthouse Theatre – “the voice of the other” – stages provocative plays that leave an impression. Fittingly, there’s also a bar at this former brewery site.
Find a watering hole … on the water
The Yarra River’s raffish charm is best appreciated with a drink in hand from a privileged vantage point. Ponyfish Island is a licensed pontoon beneath a pedestrian bridge that’s as close as you can get to the river without jumping in. Nearby, the timber decks and shipping containers of Arbory Bar & Eatery sprawl along the riverbank; it claims, convincingly, to be Melbourne’s longest bar.