By Adele Chan
There are so many Singaporeans that study in Australia, that you’re bound to know one. Or at least you know someone who knows someone who studied there. I myself studied in Perth, and then Sydney, and have taken many road trips to Melbourne to visit friends. What I knew and thought of Melbourne, was that it was an incredible arts hub — and even more so now! — and the coffee is fantastic. This past month, I discovered that the city can be adventurous as well; if you know where to look! These are my top five things to do in Melbourne that you never knew you could while you were studying there:
Photos shot on a Leica Q
A family of rhinos, viewed from the 4×4 vehicle I’m in.
I have to admit, when I saw that this “safari” was at a zoo, I kept referring to it as a “fake safari”. But, it was better than expected! Much better, in fact. This was one of the activities I thoroughly enjoyed in my quest to rediscover Melbourne. This is an open range, South African-themed zoo in Werribee. You sit in a 4×4 vehicle, and are driven out onto a savannah where animals roam freely. I came up close to giraffes (my favourite!), hippos, a family of black rhinoceroses, zebras, ostriches, and more. What’s particularly great about this tour are the guides; they explain in detail the situation surrounding each animal. They know them each by name, and share the story behind every one of them. I learned that the long necks of giraffes prevent them from being able to completely lie down — giraffes can’t lie down! Also, the family of four rhinos at this zoo were procured from South Africa and are bring protected by the park; and these guys are the largest group of rhinos in the world outside of South Africa!
I’m shooting with a prime lens (28mm), and this is how close the camel is to me. He walked right on by as I snapped this shot!
Hippos and zebras all living together in harmony.
Werribee Open Range Zoo Off Road Safari, $92.70. Book here.
Skydiving has always been on my bucket list, and I didn’t know I could go skydiving in Melbourne! There are a few places in Melbourne that you can skydive, and I chose the one at St Kilda, because… it’s almost as good as skydiving in the heart of town. And I get to land on a beach! Heads up — you need to set aside four to six hours of your day for this activity because there’s a long safety briefing, lots of instructions to pay attention to, and the weather may hold up your turn. I didn’t actually get to skydive because it was too cloudy, windy and gloomy the day of my session. I got a refund instead.
The Skydive check in location in St Kilda. / Me, looking as gloomy as the weather because I didn’t get to jump out of a plane.
Across the skydive check in building is this amazing dock with many private boats.
I decided to take a walk along the beach instead.
Skydive Melbourne, $299.40. Book here.
3. FOOD TOUR
The market was built in 1869. That’s 149 years ago!
I believe in a food tour wherever I go in the world, because the best way to get to know a city and its locals is really through their food! This tour is conducted in the historic Queen Victoria Market, and this is really the one thing out of this list that you should try first. This market is HUGE! It sits on eight hectares of land, has 700 businesses, more than 4,000 people working here, and in 2017, nine million people walked through the market!
In the centre is our host, Carmel, who brought us around tasting different foods and wine!
The market opens at 6am, and during public holidays like Easter and Christmas, people start lining up at 4am to get choice cuts of meat, fresh cheese, seafood, breads and of course fruits and vegetables.
Left: 95% of the seafood sold in the market comes from Australia! / Right: this is said to be the most photographed stall in the whole market.
Sylvia, of Sylvia’s Delicatessen
There was cheese tasting, and this amazing mezze platter.
Queen Victoria Market Ultimate Foodie Tour, $60.10. Book here.
ThePuffing Billy narrow-gauge railway was constructed in the early 1900s to create access to remote areas.
There’s so much history behind Victoria’s narrow-gauge railways and you can read all about it here. The ride we took was just a short one through the scenic Dandenong mountain range, which ultimately led us to a tour bus and three wineries in Yarra Valley. The bus rides were comfortable (spent most of my time napping), and surprisingly quick (maybe because I was napping). It’s a good day trip in particular for wine lovers, because you end up driving past many fields, vineyards, and get to taste a good spread of vintages.
ThePuffing Billy is maintained by volunteers!
Dominique Portet winery in Yarra Valley.
Delicious wine at Dominique Portet winery (you can order online)!
Puffing Billy Steam Train & Wine Country Day Tour, $160.40. Book here.
Most first-time visitors to Melbourne will go up to the Eureka Skydeck (it’s on the 88th floor!) — this is the second tallest building in Australia and has panoramic views of the entire city. It’s not unlike Tokyo Tower or N Seoul Tower, but it has an additional attraction called “The Edge”. The Edge is a glass cube that extends out from the Skydeck, and has glass floors that allow you to look down over Melbourne city. You probably shouldn’t do this if you have a fear of heights (you might panic), but if you want a picture for your Instagram, this is one of the things to do.
View of Melbourne city from the Eureka Skydeck.
There are viewing telescopes that zoom in to famous attractions like Federation Square.
Eureka Skydeck + The Edge, $31.60. Book here.
Book tickets through Klook and use our code “NYLON5” to get $5 off for first-time users!