Tag Archives: melbourne

1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne

It has now been 60 years since the Olympic Games were held in Melbourne.

The Olympic Games are one of the world’s largest international sporting events, with thousands of athletes representing almost every nation on the planet competing against each other.

Australia has hosted the Summer Olympic Games twice. The most recent was Sydney in 2000, and the first was Melbourne in 1956.

Olympic Games – 22nd November to 8th December 1956Olympic Games

In 1949, Melbourne was successful in its bid to host the 1956 Olympic Games. It was a close contest, with Melbourne winning by just one vote from Buenos Aires, Argentina. This was to be the first time that the Olympics would be staged in the southern hemisphere, a fact that some felt may be an inconvenience to northern hemisphere athletes, as the Games would be taking place during their usual off-season.

Initially, there were some organisational worries due to problems obtaining financial funding and for a while it was looking as if Melbourne would not be ready by the scheduled start date. A couple of years before the Games were to be staged, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) even considered moving them to Rome, which was to host the 1960 Olympics and which was progressing well with its preparations. However, Melbourne’s early problems were overcome and by early 1956 all was on track.

The Melbourne Olympics wasn’t without its share of political turmoil. Several countries decided to boycott the Games due to problems overseas. Shortly before the Games began, the Soviet Union invaded Hungary. This saw the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland withdraw from the Games in protest. Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon withdrew due to tensions between Egypt and Israel over the Suez Canal, and the People’s Republic of China also withdrew because the Republic of China (Taiwan) was being allowed to compete.

The Olympic flame was lit at Olympia on 2nd November 1956. It was carried to Athens, Darwin and Cairns, then down the east coast of Australia, arriving in Melbourne for the Opening Ceremony at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on 22nd November. The honour of lighting the Olympic cauldron fell to distance runner Ron Clarke, and the Games of the XVI Olympiad – as the Melbourne Olympics were known – had officially begun.

Of the 19 sports in which competition took place in the 1956 Olympics, 18 were held in Victoria. The equestrian events were staged in Stockholm, Sweden in June of 1956. This was because Australia’s strict quarantine regulations did not allow the entry of horses into the country. This was the first time that Olympic Games events had been held in more than one country.

More than 3300 athletes attended the 1956 Olympics, with 67 nations competing in Melbourne, while a further five countries competed only at the equestrian events in Stockholm. The Olympic Village, in which the athletes were housed in Melbourne, was located at Heidelberg West. Today, these buildings are used for public housing.

Events were held at various venues. The MCG was used as the main Olympic stadium and was the venue for the athletic events. It also hosted soccer and hockey finals, and demonstrations of Australian rules football and baseball. Other soccer events were held at Olympic Park, while the Olympic Pool hosted the swimming, diving and water polo competitions. Both of these venues are now part of the Melbourne and Olympic Park complex.

Festival Hall was the venue for gymnastics, boxing and wrestling events. Today, it continues to be an entertainment venue, hosting events from music concerts to boxing matches. Sailing events were conducted on Port Phillip, and rowing, canoeing and kayaking competitions took place on Lake Wendouree at Ballarat.

For the most part, the Games were conducted in a relaxed manner and became known as the “Friendly Games”. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case in the men’s water polo semi final match between Hungary and the Soviet Union. It became know as the “Blood in the Water” match due to the violence that erupted between the two teams. The Hungarians won the match 4-0 and went on to win the gold medal.

The conclusion of the Olympic Games saw the Soviet Union at the top of the medal table with 37 gold, 29 silver, and 32 bronze medals. The United States finished second with a total of 74 medals, including 32 gold. Australia filled third place with 35 medals – 13 gold, 8 silver and 14 bronze.

As continues to be the case today, Australia’s most successful sport was swimming, winning a total of 14 medals, including 8 gold. In the men’s events, Australia won five of the seven races, with Murray Rose winning two individual golds plus another in the 4x200m freestyle relay.

The women’s events saw Australia successful in three of the six races, with Dawn Fraser and Lorraine Crapp winning an individual gold and silver each, and another gold in the 4x100m relay. In both the men’s and women’s 100m freestyle events, Australians filled all three placings.

Australia also had considerable success in track events, gaining 12 medals including 4 gold. Betty Cuthbert won gold in the 100m and 200m, while Shirley Strickland took out the 80m hurdles. Both women were also part of the winning 4x100m relay team.

Other highlights of the Games included Vladimir Kuts from the Soviet Union winning both the 5,000m and 10,000m running events; American runner Bobby Joe Morrow equalling Betty Cuthbert’s success, taking out the men’s 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay; the Indian hockey team taking the gold for the sixth consecutive time; and Hungarian boxer Laszlo Papp winning his third gold in the light middleweight event.

The 1956 Melbourne Olympics concluded with the closing ceremony on 8th December. Following a suggestion by a Melbourne teenager by the name of John Wing, instead of marching at the closing ceremony with their nation’s team, athletes from different countries were allowed to mingle, as a show of world unity. This became a closing ceremony tradition that continues to this day.

For further information about the Olympic Games, see www.olympic.org.

2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne

It has now been 10 years since the Commonwealth Games were held in Melbourne, so let’s reflect back on one of the city’s greatest sporting events.

The Commonwealth Games are an international multi-sport event for athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations, consisting mainly of countries who were part of the British Empire.

First held in 1930, the games have been hosted in Australia four times – Sydney in 1938, Perth in 1962, Brisbane in 1982 and Melbourne in 2006. They will be held in Australia for a fifth time in 2018 at The Gold Coast in Queensland.

Commonwealth Games – 15th to 26th March 2006

Commonwealth Games sign
Signs announcing the Commonwealth Games lined many of the main roads into the city

Fifty years after staging the 1956 Olympics, Melbourne won the honour of hosting the 2006 Commonwealth Games. With Melbourne’s strong sporting culture, venues including the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, and Melbourne Park were already established. As with the 1956 Olympics, the MCG was again the main stadium and underwent a refurbishment for the 2006 Games.

The mascot for the XVIII Commonwealth Games was Karak, a red-tailed black cockatoo. It was his job to spread the word about the Melbourne Games all around Australia and, once the Games began, to help educate visitors about what Melbourne has to offer.

A Commonwealth Games tradition since 1958 has been the Queen’s Baton Relay. The relay for the 2006 Games commenced in England on 14 March 2005, a year and a day before the Games opened. The baton is a symbol of unity of the Commonwealth nations and contains a message to the athletes from Queen Elizabeth II, which is read at the Opening Ceremony. Originally, the baton only travelled between England and the country hosting the Games but since 1998 other Commonwealth nations have also been included in the relay. 2006 was the first time that the baton visited all 71 Commonwealth nations, travelling over 180,000 kilometres. The baton arrived in Australia on 24 January 2006 before being relayed around the country, visiting all states and territories. It arrived at the MCG for the opening ceremony on 15 March.

The opening ceremony was a spectacular event that took in not just the MCG main stadium but also featured a sound and light show along the Yarra River. There was also a collection of giant water creatures on the river, one representing each country of the Commonwealth. Back at the MCG, features included a flying tram, filled with performers, which landed in the centre of the arena. Victoria’s indigenous culture was also highlighted. The Commonwealth Games were officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Each of the Commonwealth’s 71 nations was represented at the games. Athletes and officials were housed in a specially built village at Parkville, only a few kilometres north of the Melbourne CBD. The Games Village had the capacity for 6,000 residents, and since the completion of the games has become commercial housing.

Once the competition got underway, there were 16 sports contested. Swimming, diving and synchronised swimming were officially grouped together as “aquatics”, with different formats of cycling, shooting and gymnastics also regarded as a single sport. Four of the sports were also contested by elite athletes with a disability (EAD). These were athletics, powerlifting, swimming and table tennis, with the events being integrated into the general competition.

Events were conducted at ten venues around Melbourne. Some of these hosted more than one sport. The Melbourne Exhibition Centre hosted badminton, boxing and weightlifting events. The Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre was home to aquatics, squash and table tennis. The Multi-Purpose Venue at Melbourne Park staged basketball and netball finals and track cycling. The State Netball Hockey Centre staged netball preliminary matches and hockey. Preliminary basketball matches were played at four regional centres – Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong and Traralgon. Other sports contested were lawn bowls, held at Thornbury, and rugby 7s, staged at Telstra Dome (now Etihad Stadium).

Longer, outdoor events took place at various places around the city. Walking events were held around the Docklands precinct. Highlights of the marathon course – which started and finished at the MCG – included Beaconsfield Parade beside Port Phillip, Albert Park Lake, and the Royal Botanical Gardens, which was also the site for the cycling road race. The triathlon and cycling time trials were held along the St Kilda foreshore. The mountain bike competition took place at Lysterfield Park in Melbourne’s outer south-east, while shooting events were held in three locations – Port Melbourne, Lilydale and Bendigo.

The 2006 Games were a great success for the Australian team. After the eleven days of competition, they were at the head of the medal table with 84 gold, 69 silver and 68 bronze medals; a total of 221 – twice as many as England in second place. England’s total of 110 medals included 36 gold, while Canada, in third position, won 26 gold in their haul of 86 medals.

As is often the case, Australians performed extremely well in the pool, especially the women. There were 54 medals, including 19 gold, won by Australia’s swimmers. The best-performed swimmer was Libby Lenton, who collected a total of seven medals, including two freestyle and three relay golds. The most individual gold medals in the pool, however, were won by Leisel Jones, who made a clean sweep of the three breaststroke events and also won a relay gold. Three other female swimmers also took two individual gold medals each. The only Australian male swimmer to win gold was Matthew Cowdrey, who won two EAD freestyle events.

Other top Australian athletes were Nathan Deakes, who won both the 20 km and 50 km walks; Ryan Bayley with two golds and a team bronze in cycling events; Joshua Jefferis with a total of four gymnastics medals, including two gold; and Lalita Yauhleuskaya, who won two shooting events. In team events, Australia was successful in both men’s and women’s basketball and hockey.

Other outstanding performances of the Games were those of Canada’s Alexandra Orlando – who took five gold medals in rhythmic gymnastics and also helped her country win the team event – and Indian shooter Samaresh Jung, who won five gold, one silver and one bronze medal. He also set three world records and won the David Dixon Award for the most outstanding athlete of the Games.

In addition to the sporting events, another highlight of the games was Festival Melbourne 2006. Events such as music concerts, street performances, exhibitions, a circus and indigenous culture all featured in the twelve-day festival. Entertainment was free and held at venues such as the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Federation Square and the Alexandra Gardens.

The Games closed on the night of 26th March, following the completion of competition earlier that day. The closing ceremony saw performances by some of Australia’s top musical acts. An upside-down globe, depicting Australia as being on top of the world, was also a feature. For the first time, games volunteers were invited to be a part of the closing ceremony, in recognition of their efforts throughout the event. The official closing of the games was performed by His Royal Highness Prince Edward, after which there was a city-wide fireworks display.

Re-live the 2016 Melbourne Commonwealth Games at m2006.thecgf.com.

Commonwealth Games flags line many of Melbourne's streets, including Batman Avenue with the MCG (Commonwealth Games stadium) in the background
Commonwealth Games flags line many of Melbourne’s streets, including Batman Avenue with the MCG (Commonwealth Games stadium) in the background

 

Gardens around Melbourne feature colourful flowers in the Commonwealth Games theme, including the Marquis of Linlithgow monument on St Kilda Road Gardens around Melbourne feature colourful flowers in the Commonwealth Games theme, including the Marquis of Linlithgow monument on St Kilda Road
Gardens around Melbourne feature colourful flowers in the Commonwealth Games theme, including the Marquis of Linlithgow monument on St Kilda Road

 

 Federation Square and the Melbourne Visitor Centre are decorated in Commonwealth Games theme colours Federation Square and the Melbourne Visitor Centre are decorated in Commonwealth Games theme colours
Federation Square and the Melbourne Visitor Centre are decorated in Commonwealth Games theme colours

 

Water creatures representing nations of the Commonwealth are anchored to pontoons along the Yarra River with the MCG (Commonwealth Games stadium) in the background
Water creatures representing nations of the Commonwealth are anchored to pontoons along the Yarra River with the MCG (Commonwealth Games stadium) in the background

 

Work continues along the Yarra River which will extend the opening ceremony beyond the borders of the stadium with light and sound literally spilling out across the city
Work continues along the Yarra River which will extend the opening ceremony beyond the borders of the stadium with light and sound literally spilling out across the city

 

Closer view of the sea creatures set up along the Yarra River
Closer view of the sea creatures set up along the Yarra River

 

View north-west along the Yarra River and towards the city centre skyline with the sea creatures situated on the river
View north-west along the Yarra River and towards the city centre skyline with the sea creatures situated on the river

 

 Work continues along the Yarra River near the Swan Street Bridge to hook up floating platforms in the shape and colours of each competing country's national flag Work continues along the Yarra River near the Swan Street Bridge to hook up floating platforms in the shape and colours of each competing country's national flag
Work continues along the Yarra River near the Swan Street Bridge to hook up floating platforms in the shape and colours of each competing country’s national flag

How to get to Melbourne’s city centre from Melbourne Airport

Melbourne Airport
Melbourne Airport

Melbourne Airport, also known as Tullamarine Airport, is located 19 kilometres north-west of Melbourne‘s central business district.  Once your flight lands at the airport, there are a number of transport options for getting to the city centre.

By bus:

SkyBus
SkyBus

SkyBus operates a fleet of clean and comfortable airport buses which travel express from Melbourne Airport to Southern Cross Station in the city centre.

The SkyBus service operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Departures are every 10 minutes from 6am to midnight. Between midnight and 6am, departures are either every 15 or 20 minutes.

On average, the journey on SkyBus takes 20 minutes. During morning and afternoon peak times, the average journey time is 30 minutes due to the extra traffic.

Reservations are not required on SkyBus. Simply buy your tickets online or at the SkyBus ticket booth located at Melbourne Airport or Southern Cross Station. Tickets are valid for 3 months from the date of purchase. The Myki smart card cannot be used on SkyBus.

SkyBus also operates a fleet of mini buses which can transport ticket holders from Southern Cross Station to a number of hotels in the city, free of charge.

Star Bus
Star Bus

Alternatively, Star Bus operates a door to door service from Melbourne Airport to the city centre and its immediately surrounding inner suburbs from 6am to 6pm, 7 days a week. Unlike SkyBus, you won’t need to change buses if you need to be dropped off somewhere specific.

By train:

There is currently no direct train or tram line between Melbourne Airport at the city centre. As such, SkyBus is the quickest and easiest way to travel between the airport and city by public transport.

If you really do want to use the train, catch the Craigieburn line train from Melbourne and get off at Broadmeadows station. Transfer to bus number 901 which is a SmartBus service that operates frequently between Broadmeadows Station and Melbourne Airport. Allow least one hour for this entire journey, keeping in mind that there are no train or bus services between Melbourne and Broadmeadows from just after midnight to about 5am during weekdays.

By taxi:

Designated taxi ranks are located at Melbourne Airport, on the ground floor in front of each terminal. The taxi fare from the airport to Melbourne’s city centre is approximately $60.

You can pre-book a taxi to pick you up from the airport. The driver will park in the short term car park and will meet you at the baggage carousel, where you will be then escorted to the waiting taxi.

By chauffeur:

Travel in style between Melbourne AiAirport chauffeurrport and the city, with the option of being dropped off directly at your city hotel.

Let Royale Limousines take the hassle out of getting to and from Melbourne Airport in one of their chauffeur driven standard or luxury vehicles.

Once you experience a chauffeur service, you’ll never want to drive yourself to the airport again!

Airport chauffeur - standard car

 

Airport chauffeur - luxury car

By hire car:

Six major car rental companies operate at Melbourne Airport. Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Thrifty and Redspot have information desks at the domestic terminals with car pick-ups available from their offices located in the short term car park at the front of the airport.

Melbourne Airport is located 20 kilometres by road from the heart of Melbourne.

The most direct route, which avoids toll roads, will take 25 minutes if there are minimal traffic delays. Travel via the Tullamarine Freeway (M2), exit at Bulla Road (metro route 37) which then becomes Mt Alexander Road and Flemington Road as it heads into the city centre.

Alternatively, take the Tullamarine Freeway (M2) and travel along the western section of the CityLink toll road. This will take less than 20 minutes assuming there is no significant congestion. Hire car companies have procedures in place whereby you can be automatically billed for using the vehicle on any toll roads.

Map of driving routes from Melbourne Airport to Melbourne CBD
Map of driving routes from Melbourne Airport to Melbourne CBD

By air:

Heli-Express
Heli-Express

Heli-Express offers a helicopter service from Melbourne Airport to the city.

Passengers are greeted at Melbourne Airport and are chauffeur-driven for 2 minutes to the nearby heliport where they board a luxury twin-engine Agusta helicopter. The flight time is just 4 minutes, with passengers being dropped off at a Yarra River heliport. Complimentary refreshments are served in the passenger lounge, where connecting transport can be arranged.

The helicopter service operates during daylight hours with between 2 and 6 passengers per flight.

Caravan parks close to Melbourne

A common question we get asked is where are the nearest caravan parks to the Melbourne city centre?

While travellers towing a caravan, those with campervans, motorhomes or tents are well catered for in rural and regional Victoria, choices are limited close to the centre of Melbourne. This is mainly due to the amount of space caravan parks would occupy in areas where land is at a premium.

We have compiled a list of all the caravan parks that are within 25 kilometres drive of Melbourne’s CBD that permit short stays, which means they are suitable for holidaymakers, travellers or casual visitors looking for somewhere to stay with their caravan or campervan.

See the map at the end to see the location of all these caravan parks in relation to each other and Melbourne’s city centre.

 

1. Melbourne BIG4 Holiday Park

Melbourne BIG4 Holiday Park
Melbourne BIG4 Holiday Park
  • 11 kilometres by road north of Melbourne CBD
  • 265 Elizabeth Street, Coburg
  • Ensuite sites, powered sites, unpowered camp sites
  • Solar heated pool, adventure playground, games room, movie room, camp kitchen
  • Secure luggage storage available
  • Official website – www.melbournebig4.com.au

2. Discovery Parks BIG4 Melbourne

Ashley Gardens BIG4 Holiday Village
Discovery Parks BIG4 Melbourne (formerly Ashley Gardens BIG4 Holiday Village)

3. Honey Hush Caravan Park

Honey Hush Caravan Park
Honey Hush Caravan Park
  • 18 kilometres by road west of Melbourne CBD
  • 6 Leakes Road, Laverton North
  • Powered sites, unpowered tent sites
  • Official website – www.honeyhush.com.au

4. Crystal Brook Tourist Park

Crystal Brook Tourist Park
Crystal Brook Tourist Park
  • 24 kilometres by road north-east of Melbourne CBD
  • 182 Warrandyte Road, Doncaster East
  • Ensuite sites, powered sites, unpowered sites, tent sites
  • Games room, heated pool, playground, go karts, volleyball, Wi-Fi, bike tracks
  • Daily bird feeding
  • Storage facilities for vans, boats and luggage
  • Pet friendly
  • Official website – www.cbtp.com.au

5. Sundowner Caravan Park

Sundowner Caravan Park
Sundowner Caravan Park
  • 25 kilometres by road south-east of Melbourne CBD
  • 870 Princes Highway, Springvale
  • Powered sites
  • Take away food shop at entrance
  • Official website – www.sundownercp.com

6. Wantirna Park Caravan Park

Wantirna Park Caravan Park
Wantirna Park Caravan Park
  • 25 kilometres by road east of Melbourne CBD
  • 203 Mountain Highway, Wantirna
  • Ensuite sites, powered sites
  • Pool, playground, tennis court, camp kitchen
  • Official website – www.wantirnapark.com.au

 

 

6 must see attractions for kids in Melbourne

Melbourne is a magic city for a fun and family friendly holiday. It’s easy to get around, there are loads to see and do and the kids will be delighted by the novelty of travelling around on the vintage trams. There’s also lots of budget accommodation and fantastic cheap eats, so a holiday in Melbourne needn’t break the family budget.

Here are six must see attractions in Melbourne and surrounds that all the family will enjoy.

 

1. Watch the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island

Penguin Parade
The nightly penguin parade at Phillip Island

Take a waddle on the wild side at the famous Penguin Parade on Phillip Island, a 90 minute drive from Melbourne. Every evening at sunset thousands of little penguins (the world’s smallest and cutest) cross the beach and settle into their burrows for the night. A family ticket for two adults and two children costs from $56.50. While at Phillip Island, be sure to stop by the Koala Conservation Centre and Churchill Heritage Farm.

Phillip Island tours from Melbourne

 

2. Visit Melbourne Museum

Phar Lap
Phar Lap – Australia’s wonder horse

Located in Carlton, the award-winning Melbourne Museum explores the nature, culture and history of Victoria. Highlights include a complete skeleton of a blue whale, the famous race horse Phar Lap, a living rainforest, the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre and an IMAX theatre. Entry is around $10 for adults, while children up to 16 years of age are free.

 

3. Old Melbourne Gaol

Old Melbourne Gaol
Old Melbourne Gaol – a crime & justice experience

Located in Russell Street in Melbourne’s CBD, the Old Melbourne Gaol precinct includes Melbourne’s oldest gaol, the historic Magistrate’s Court and former Police City Watch House. A day tour ticket for two adults and two children costs around $55, or thrill children over 12 by taking The Hangman’s tour or an evening ghost tour by candlelight.

 

 

 

4. Travel on the Spirit of Tasmania

Spirit of Tasmania
Spirit of Tasmania – a trip to remember

Take the kids ‘overseas’ on a side trip to Tasmania cruising across Bass Strait with the Spirit of Tasmania. Choose from day or night sailings between Melbourne and Devonport and enjoy a range of facilities on board including dining and bars, a playroom, games arcade and cinema. Adult day tickets start from around $79 and children $5. Take your car along with you from around $89.

 

5. Eureka Sky Deck 88

Eureka Skydeck
Eureka Skydeck

Located atop the Eureka Tower in Southbank, the Eureka Sky Deck 88 offers awe-inspiring 360 degree views from the highest public vantage point in the Southern Hemisphere. For a real thrill seeker experience try The Edge, a glass cube that projects three metres out from the building. Family tickets for two adults and two children cost around $42. The Edge experience is extra.

 

 

 

 

 

6. Fairy Park

Fairy Park
Fairy Park – tales, myths and legends

A one-hour drive from Melbourne, Fairy Park at Anakie is a wonderland for the whole family. Kids can become a knight, a princess, a hero or a villain for the day and enter a world dedicated to storytelling, fairy tales, myths and legends. Tickets are from around $16 per adult and $8 per child, children under three years free.

 

 

These six must-see attractions are just the beginning of the many family-friendly activities on offer in Melbourne. So take the family to Melbourne for a fun-packed holiday of a lifetime.

End of freeway destinations from Melbourne

Map of Victoria
Driving from Melbourne to the end of its freeways in regional Victoria

If you’re in Melbourne, you may decide that for a hassle-free and non-stop drive into regional Victoria for a day out or extended stay, you’d like to travel to the end of one of the city’s several freeways.  Let’s see where you can go.


M1 – MONASH FREEWAY / PRINCES FREEWAYto YARRAGON

Follow the Monash Freeway through Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs, then eastwards from Berwick towards Gippsland where it changes its name to the Princes Freeway.  Exercise caution when driving along the section between Nar Nar Goon and Longwarry North – the freeway drops to a lower standard and includes several busy level road crossings, but you won’t have to stop at those.  Eastwards from Longwarry North, the freeway returns to a high standard again, and the speed limit rises to 110 km/h.

If you’re hungry along the way or need fuel, service centres with direct access to both sides of the freeway are located at Officer and Longwarry North.

Yarragon
Yarragon – a tourist village located 116 kilometres from Melbourne

The freeway ends at the charming town of Yarragon where you’ll stop at your first set of traffic lights since leaving Melbourne. This tourist village features an attractive strip of shops which overlook an extensive garden with manicured lawns, colourful flowers, a rotunda and lots of seating. Browse through antique and craft shops, drop into the Town & Country Gallery, or treat yourself to some refreshments or a meal at the local hotel or one of Yarragon’s cafes or restaurants. Yarragon is set against the backdrop of the Strzelecki Ranges, so you can take a scenic drive southwards from the town up into the hills.


M11 – PENINSULA LINK / MORNINGTON PENINSULA FREEWAYto ROSEBUD

Depending where you are in Melbourne, you can access Peninsula Link and the Mornington Peninsula Freeway by starting off on either the Monash or Eastern Freeways, then using EastLink (a toll road) to reach the start of Peninsula Link at Seaford.

The high-standard Peninsula Link and Mornington Peninsula Freeway heads inland through the rolling countryside of the Mornington Peninsula, squeezes between the towering peak of Arthurs Seat and the beach-side suburb of Dromana, then arrives at the Jetty Road roundabout in the residential area of Rosebud.  Head northwards along Jetty Road for just over one kilometre and you’ll reach the commercial centre of Rosebud, which is separated from the beach by a bushy foreshore.

Rosebud
The beachside town of Rosebud – 73 kilometres from Melbourne

Rosebud is one of the largest centres on the Mornington Peninsula, with an extensive array of shops fronting Point Nepean Road, the Rosebud Plaza Shopping Centre and several major supermarkets. One of Rosebud’s interesting features is the extensive foreshore reserve which acts as a thick buffer along the beach. This reserve is home to picnic areas, community facilities and designated camping areas in some of the bushy sections. Rosebud is excellent for swimming with the calm and shallow waters of the bay making it ideal for children and families. For surfers, the ocean beaches fronting Bass Strait on the other side of the Mornington Peninsula, such as Gunnamatta and St Andrews, are a short drive away.


M1 – WEST GATE FREEWAY / PRINCES FREEWAYto GEELONG

Head westwards along the West Gate Freeway, crossing the iconic West Gate Bridge which spans the Yarra River and surrounding industrial areas.  The road then becomes known as the Princes Freeway as it heads south-west towards Geelong.

Service centres are located on both sides of the freeway between Little River and Avalon Airport, providing a convenient location for topping up with fuel or grabbing a coffee to keep you going.

The Princes Freeway skirts around the edge of Geelong’s sprawling suburbs and reverts to standard highway conditions in Geelong’s outer south-western suburb of Waurn Ponds, with several freeway exits providing access to Victoria’s second largest city.

Geelong
Geelong – the city on the bay, 75 kilometres from Melbourne

The city centre of Geelong fronts the waters of Corio Bay where there is an attractive waterfront precinct, a sandy beach, safe swimming enclosure and plenty of boating activity. Attractions galore can be found within Geelong including the National Wool Museum, Geelong Performing Arts Centre, several galleries, botanic gardens and the beautiful parkland along the Barwon River. Shopaholics will be right at home in Geelong, with its extensive collection of retail stores on the streets of the city centre, plus a selection of undercover shopping centres. Further afield, Geelong is the gateway to the emerging Bellarine Peninsula and of course Victoria’s internationally famous coastal drive, the Great Ocean Road.


M8 – WESTERN FREEWAYto BALLARAT

Access to the start of the Western Freeway is via the West Gate Freeway (M1) and/or the Western Ring Road (M80).  The high-standard roadway heads through Melbourne’s western suburbs on its journey westwards. Take care when driving on the section between Rockbank and Melton as there are several local roads which have direct level crossing junctions with the freeway. You’ll travel through the scenic valleys and farmland surrounding Bacchus Marsh, then on the eastern outskirts of Ballarat, the freeway standard drops again at Warrenheip with several local road crossings near a group of service stations.

The Western Freeway skirts around to the north of Ballarat, and there are several freeway exists which lead into the city centre and suburbs. The freeway ends to the west of Ballarat and becomes the Western Highway.

Ballarat
Ballarat, the city of gold, 113 kilometres from Melbourne

Ballarat is a city of grand architecture and many attractions due to its rich gold mining heritage back in those “gold rush” days of the 1850s. Re-live those days by visiting Sovereign Hill – a recreated gold township with activities for everyone of all ages. Visit the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka which commemorates the miners’ rebellion which is regarded as the birth of democracy is Australia. Other attractions include the Ballarat Aviation Museum, Bird World, the Ballarat Wildlife Park, Kryal Castle and Her Majesty’s – one of Australia’s historic theatres. There’s plenty of shopping in Ballarat, and if you want some time out, head to the beautiful botanic gardens and the parkland which surrounds Lake Wendouree.


M79 – CALDER FREEWAYto BENDIGO

The Calder Freeway commences in Melbourne’s northern suburb of Essendon, and drivers can enter it either via the CityLink section of the Tullamarine Freeway (a toll road) or the Western Ring Road (M80).  As the freeway reaches Melbourne’s outskirts, take care around the Calder Park area as there are several level road crossings which intersect the freeway.

The Calder Freeway heads north-west from Melbourne and crosses the Great Dividing Range at Macedon.  It doesn’t quite make it to Bendigo, dropping down to highway standard north of Harcourt, however it’s still a non-stop journey along the Calder Highway through the Greater Bendigo National Park and to Bendigo’s far southern suburb of Kangaroo Flat where you’ll stop at your first traffic light since Melbourne.

Bendigo
Bendigo, the jewel in Victoria’s crown – 148 kilometres from Melbourne

Bendigo, like Ballarat, is a city of grand architecture and wealth thanks to its rich gold mining history.  Bendigo and its suburbs are ringed on most sides by bushland, creating the impression of a city within a forest.  Within this city you can go underground into a real mine at the Central Deborah Gold Mine, take a trip through the city on its famous “talking tram”, get hands-on at the Discovery & Technology Centre and connect with the heritage of Bendigo’s Chinese people at the Golden Dragon Museum. Beautiful gardens are a feature of Bendigo and highlights including Rosalind Park with its lookout tower, Lake Weeroona and the White Hills Botanical Gardens.


M39 – GOULBURN VALLEY FREEWAYto SHEPPARTON

The Goulburn Valley Freeway starts 100 kilometres north of Melbourne, just outside of Seymour. Access from Melbourne is via the CityLink section of the Tullamarine Freeway (a toll road) and/or the Western Ring Road (M80), then head north along the Hume Freeway (M31) until you reach the exit to the Goulburn Valley Freeway.

The Goulburn Valley Freeway continues its journey northwards, roughly following the Goulburn River and drops down to highway standard on the southern outskirts of Shepparton as it makes its way into the city centre.

Shepparton
Shepparton, in the heart of Victoria’s prime fruit-growing district – 176 kilometres from Melbourne.

Shepparton is located within one of Victoria’s richest fruit-growing districts and is home to SPC Ardmona which has a factory direct sales outlet which is open to the public.  Shepparton has a strong cultural background and the city is home to museums, galleries and festivals.  There’s an extensive shopping precinct in Shepparton with its heart being the Maude Street Mall. If you’ve got kids, take them to Kids Town – one of Australia’s best community playgrounds. Natural attractions in Shepparton include Victoria Park Lake, on the highway just south of the city centre, the Goulburn River and the reserves and forests which line this iconic waterway.


What about the Hume Freeway (M31), you may ask? This freeway-standard roadway continues non-stop from Melbourne’s northern suburbs and across the Murray River into the neighbouring state of New South Wales, thus there is no end point for this freeway in Victoria. When the Holbrook bypass opens later in 2013, you’ll be able to drive from Melbourne to Sydney without stopping, although you should stop regularly for rest breaks of course.