Have you ever been a tourist in your home city? We try to be regularly.
We absolutely love our home city of Melbourne, declared to be the most livable city in the world. The thing I love most is all the different neighbourhoods and how they each have their own vibe. There are a crazy amount of things to do in Melbourne, so focusing on one area also has the benefit that you can narrow that list down a bit.
We were excited to be focusing this trip on Docklands. Docklands is located on the edge of Melbourne’s CBD and is one of Melbourne’s newest suburbs. When I moved to Melbourne in 2000, the area barely existed. Now it is full of apartments, offices, shops, restaurants and attractions. The free city circle tram also goes through Docklands. This, along with just how close Docklands is to the CBD, makes it a great place to stay on a visit to Melbourne.
What was extra exciting about this weekend was that we were going to explore Docklands from the comfort of our own apartment right in the middle of things. As usual, we were able to find something perfect on Airbnb.
We met our lovely host on time at the apartment in the Quays. She showed us to our car space and then to the apartment. It was perfect – bright and airy with two bedrooms and everything we needed. The best part would be the view though. Being on level 16 with nothing between us and the North West of Melbourne, we had a great one.
The kids gravitated straight to the pink and blue couches that seemed made for them while I learned all the important facts about the apartment – like where the pool was. I was happy to get what is starting to feel like the holy grail in Australian accommodation – good, free wifi!
The apartment was clean, well presented and quiet. Z did have one complaint though – the bed spread wasn’t the truck one that was in the pictures. It is funny what bothers kids.
Our host had left what was essentially a book full of information about what to do and see in the area and in Melbourne. It was great and we were happy for some food recommendations. I also loved the enthusiasm shown for Melbourne in her writing since I feel exactly the same way.
It was hard not to get excited as we settled in. One of the big attractions we planned to visit was right outside the window – the Melbourne Star! We were out and about straight away.
This is our list of what to do in Docklands…
Our apartment was right by the NewQuay area of Docklands, so we headed there first. The kids liked looking at the boats, chasing the birds and playing on the sculptures.
I was surprised just how much was there. Restaurants and bars were everywhere. There were quite a few tourists around, and we had the usual Asian tourists want to take photos of S and her crazy red hair. This only enhanced the feeling that we were on holiday.
We had some fish and chips right on the wharf before returning to our apartment to wait for J.
Also a few minutes walk from our apartment was Harbour Town – home to shops, restaurants, bars, Costco, Wonderland Fun Park and the Melbourne Star.
The Melbourne Star is Melbourne’s answer to the London Eye – a big massive wheel with cabins that slowly does a loop while you have great views of the city. To locals, the Melbourne Star has been a bit of a joke. Over 100 million dollars has been spent on this project and it has spent more time shut than open with problem after problem. However, it is something we see every day and for this reason, I have wanted to go on it for awhile. S has also been asking for a long time if we can go on it, especially after she saw its twin in Singapore.
It was quick and easy to get tickets and board the Melbourne Star. At $32 per adult it is not cheap. Thankfully, under 5s are free. We went just as the sun was setting which was a great time. We saw the city both in light and in dark. It was not busy at all and we had a cabin to ourselves. The kids loved looking at the view initially and then were more excited by running around. They were not frightened at all.
It takes about 30 minutes to go all the way around which seemed like the perfect amount of time to me. There are maps as well as audio to help you get your bearings. All in all I enjoyed this experience and I recommend it. You can find more information on their site.
The next morning, we also had a great time at the Wonderland Fun Park. This small amusement park is at the base of the Melbourne Star and is good for little kids as most of the rides are quite tame. You can pay per ticket or buy a pass. We bought a toddler pass for Z, but unfortunately an equivalent did not exist for 4 year olds so we paid per ride for S. They had a great time on the carousel, on pirate boats, a kids roller coaster and some other things.
In addition to the attractions above, the shopping, restaurants and bars, there are quite a few other things to do in Docklands as well.
When I looked up places to visit in Docklands with the kids, Z insisted on this vintage car collection once he saw the photos. He may only be two years old, but he definitely knows what he wants.
J and Z checked it out. If you like cars, its a great place to go. It is tricky with young kids though. The place echos so every sound Z made sounded ten times as loud which made it tough to enjoy it when J was constantly having to try to calm Z down. He was actually mostly interested in a truck in the foyer, so he could have just seen this for free.
Two seconds from our apartment on NewQuay, there is a Sunday market. It’s on the small side but there are some great art and crafts on offer. I would have loved one of the great photos of Melbourne.
If I had older kids or if the kids had been with us on the Sunday morning, I would have also visited the Medibank Icehouse. Every Sunday, they actually have a toddler session on the ice with lots of activities especially suited to young kids to get them confident enough to start skating. They even have snow areas.
There is also a Lego Education Centre which looks fabulous for older kids.
You can also check out one of our other favourite things to do in Melbourne.
I must admit that despite all the great things around, we spent a fair bit of time just enjoying our apartment and the facilities. It was great to be somewhere so central. One of the big pluses of this apartment was that we also had access to a great pool, spa, sauna, gym and reading area. The reading area was unlike anything I have ever seen – huge big couches with books, as well as quiet study areas. This is especially perfect for anyone who needs to work while travelling.
We also took the kids back home to my family for our second night and had a kids free evening. We went out for a great dinner and then enjoyed drinks on our balcony. It was the perfect weekend.
I highly recommend this apartment (before booking, if you join Airbnb with this link, we will both receive about US$25 in credit). We just loved it. It is especially a good choice if you want the privacy and cost effectiveness of an Airbnb apartment that has an excellent location, but also the benefits of a resort – the pool, gym and reading area were just fabulous. Our host was very accommodating and flexible with check in and out.
It is easy to get to this apartment and these attractions on the free city circle tram.
We were invited by Airbnb to review our choice of properties. Our host did not know this and as usual, our view are our own.
Have you ever taken a holiday in your own city?