DIY Puffing Billy
Take the train going to Belgrave. Depending on the train schedule, you might have to take the train going to Lilydale, alight at Ringwood, and then take the train to Belgrave. From there, you just have to follow the signs to Puffing Billy. Don’t worry; it’s just a few steps away. It’s just like transferring from one platform to another.
Kindly check their website for fares and time tables as the train changes schedule on different days, depending on their calendar. They also post announcements here, in case there is a line disruption for trains going to Belgrave.
At Puffing Billy, aside from enjoying the ride and the scenery, you can spend an hour or so enjoying the different stops to your destination. Pack a picnic basket with you on your journey too and have a great lunch or snack outdoors. And if you go at the right season, say spring, you might even meet Thomas the Train.
If you decide to visit Puffing Billy, remember that it’s an hour travel back to the CBD. It might be early afternoon or late afternoon by the time you get back. You can make the most out of your day either with a short DIY visit to Puffing Billy and make plans for the rest of the afternoon/evening or you can go on a guided tour which allows you to visit nearby attractions such as Healesville Sanctuary, the Blue Dandenongs, the wine region of Yarra Valley, and maybe even Phillip Island to meet the fairy penguins. You can review your options with the tour operators you choose.
St. Kilda Beach
Hang out at the beach and watch the sunset at St. Kilda where you’ll witness the city transform into a landscape of sparkling lights. The famous Acland St. is also nearby so you can have some coffee and cakes after dinner.
As it is autumn, St. Kilda Beach has somewhat limited attractions. Luna Park only operates on weekends this May and June, so it’s best to check their calendars. You can still visit the St. Kilda Pier but all access and tours to the fairy penguins living at the breakwater doesn’t resume until September because of the construction taking place.
I think one of the best ways to experience Melbourne is to go on a wine tour. There are many tour operators who offer this experience, so you are spoilt for choice. And they say autumn is the best time to visit, since the vines will be changing its hues from greens to oranges and reds.
The most popular destination are the wineries in Yarra Valley, although there are other wine regions too like Mornington Peninsula, Macedon Ranges, Gippsland, Bellarine Peninsula, and Bendigo among others.
If you don’t fancy wine but love beer, there are also private tour operators who can give you a microbrewery & craft beer tours in Yarra Valley.
But if you plan on staying in the city, other than hiring the services of tour operators, there are a couple of breweries I know where you can get a tour. One is the Carlton Brewhouse at Abbotsford which gives you a tour for $25 and the other one is Mountain Goat Beer at Richmond who offers free brewery tours on Wednesdays.
For everything else, you can sample a good variety of beer and cider on tap at a hotel or pub. Beer Advocate has a list that can guide you where to get a cold glass.
Road Trip Options:
Great Ocean Road
If you are staying longer or if you want to have more road trips into your itinerary, you can check out the Great Ocean Road. I haven’t been, so, I can’t give you any personal feedback.
A road trip to Phillip Island too is a good idea on a warm, clear day. If I were to visit again, I would buy the 3 Parks Pass for the Penguin Parade, Churchill Island and Koala Conservation Centre. I would go and see the seals at the Nobbies Centre too and make sure you do too since admission is free. Some people say that Phillip Island is a tourist trap, but personally, I think it is well worth it to observe these wonderful creatures in their natural habitat (I’m pertaining to, of course, the undomesticated wildlife here). Make sure to visit the websites and stay informed of any announcements, especially when it comes to the penguins’ arrival time.
Note: These fairy penguins arrive at night so expect to finish late.
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