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Chef preparing sushi at Minamishima
Photograph: Graham Denholm

12 Melbourne experiences that make amazing gifts

Instead of shopping for baubles and trinkets that will just sit on a shelf, give the gift of a one-of-a-kind experience

Adena Maier
Written by
Adena Maier
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If you're feeling that Christmas shopping panic and are inching closer towards just buying a million candles and boxes of chocolates and calling it a day, this list is for you. Let's be real: nobody really wants a printed mug or a kitschy novelty gift. Instead of wasting your money on things that will just collect dust on someone's shelf (and likely end up at their next garage sale), consider getting them a fun experience instead.

We all know that Melbourne has a vibrant art and theatre scene, so if your friend loves going to plays or has been itching to check out some upcoming exhibitions, get them a membership or a voucher to their favourite gallery or theatre. If they have a taste for the finer things, we've also rounded up some fun winery, distillery and fine dining experiences that they're sure to love. Scroll down for the full list of gifts that we reckon will actually get some use. 

Looking for more prezzies? Check out our Christmas gift guide here. We know that funds can be tight around the holidays, so here is a list of gifts under $30

Shops in Melbourne

  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Southbank

Cost: From $110 through the NGV website

Give the gift of world-class art by purchasing a membership to Australia's oldest and most popular art museum. While it is free to visit the NGV's permanent collection, membership holders will receive discounted and priority entry to all NGV ticketed exhibitions, a free exhibition ticket, a subscription to NGV Magzine, access to the member's lounges, and discounts at NGV stores, dining and parking facilities. 

 

  • Things to do
  • Sports
  • Collingwood

Cost: From $60, through the Break Room website

Shopping for a friend who's been going through a hard time? Help them let off some steam by getting them a voucher for a session at the Break Room, a venue that openly encourages you to destroy objects. They can suit up, grab a baseball bat and head into the rooms to throw, bash, smash and break plates and glassware. They can even BYO things to destroy, like printers or things that remind them of an ex. 

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  • Restaurants
  • European
  • Daylesford
  • price 4 of 4

Cost: $390 for a lunch or dinner voucher for two, through the Lake House website

Located on the shores of Lake Daylesford, this ultra-fine diner is surrounded by gorgeous country gardens. It's an absolute must-visit for those keen on exploring regional cuisine and tasting some of the best produce and products that local suppliers have to offer. If you have a friend who loves fine dining, this gift voucher is sure to be appreciated. 

 

  • Restaurants
  • Coldstream
  • price 3 of 4

Cost: Vouchers at a value of your choice, through the Oakridge website

This award-winning winery, cellar door and restaurant located in the heart of the Yarra Valley is a must-visit for wine and food lovers. If you don't have the budget to give someone a full voucher to cover the cost of their meal, this is a good option for a present because Oakridge allows you to purchase a voucher at a value of your choice.

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  • Things to do
  • Sports
  • Essendon Fields

Cost: From $79, through the iFly website

Help your friends soar into the new year with an indoor skydiving experience at iFly. It basically provides all the thrills of skydiving without any of the terror of actually leaping out of a plane. The vouchers can be sent via email to the recipient, eliminating any postage panic over the festive season. 

 

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Docklands

Cost: From $82, through the Kayak Melbourne website

Kayak Melbourne specialises in guided kayak tours that take guests along the Yarra River between Victoria Harbour and Melbourne Park. Even if you've explored the CBD heaps of times, it's a totally different experience when you're checking out the skyline from the vantage point of the Yarra. Several voucher options are available, starting from $82. 

 

  • Bars
  • Wineries
  • Brunswick

Cost: $465 per person through the Noisy Ritual website

Noisy Ritual, an urban winery in Melbourne's Brunswick East, operates on a "grape to glass" philosophy. The venue features a bar, a bottleshop and a workshop with a production line. If your mate loves a glass of vino, give them the gift of seeing behind the curtain with a winemaking membership. The membership includes access to three winemaking workshops, three barrel tasting sessions, six vintage bottles and a 20 per cent discount on Noisy Ritual wines for one year. 

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Cost: From $20, through the Hoyts Cinema website.

Shopping for a film connoisseur, or perhaps for someone who needs date night ideas? These gift cards for Hoyts are perfect as a stocking stuffer and can be redeemed towards movie tickets, candy bar items and even merchandise, and you can order them online or pick them up from your local Hoyts.

  • Theatre
  • Southbank

Cost: From $50 and up, through the MTC website

Give the gift of a night at the theatre with a gift voucher from the Melbourne Theatre Company. The recipient can look forward to using the voucher for upcoming productions including Fun HomeTouching the Void and The Sound Inside. Plus, this gift helps ensure that the MTC can continue to deliver high-quality productions for generations to come. 

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  • Theatre
  • Southbank

Cost: Any, through the Malthouse Theatre website

This former brewery, gifted to the arts by Carlton and United in 1986, is the home of Malthouse Theatre – Melbourne’s innovative producer of new Australian work. It's known for putting on fabulous contemporary productions that really push artistic boundaries. Support this innovative theatre by purchasing and gifting a voucher that can be used to attend upcoming productions. You can even have the voucher emailed directly to the recipient and add a personal message. 

  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Tullamarine

Cost: from $50, through the Urbnsurf website

Give the gift of catching some gnarly waves with a gift card to Urbnsurf, Australia's first inland surf park. It's conveniently located just within spitting distance of Melbourne Airport in Tullamarine, and the cards can be redeemed for everything from surf sessions and lessons to equipment hire. It's not always easy to find a good surf spot in Melbourne, so we reckon this is the next best thing. 

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