Six epic overnight train journeys to take in Australia
Whether it’s the Orient Express, Hogwarts Express or even Thomas the Tank Engine, trains are the backdrop of some of our favourite fictional stories – but they make for an even more impressive travel setting IRL. If exploring Australia is on your bucket list (let’s face it, flights to Europe are exxy), you can’t miss the unique experience of an overnight sleeper train. Traversing every state and territory, this form of slow travel is suitable for both the young and young at heart. Plus, trains put less pressure on our environment and can allow you to hop off at your leisure (remember it’s the journey, not the destination). From winding through the Whitsundays and exploring the rugged red outback to getting from Melbourne to Sydney in style, we’ve rounded up the best train journeys in Australia. Love PT? Here are the best carless day trips from Melbourne.
The best spa hotels in Melbourne
It’s not always easy to find serenity in the middle of Melbourne’s hustle and bustle, but a visit to one of the city’s luxurious spa hotels will certainly do the trick. Each offers rejuvenating and restoring treatments, from facials and beauty services to body scrubs and massages, with options for pregnant women, men and couples as well. Make a day of it and take advantage of some hotels offering complimentary access to steam rooms and saunas before your treatment, or indulge in afternoon tea once you’ve been properly pampered. Whether you’re exploring the city, celebrating a special occasion or simply treating yourself to some self-care, unwinding at any of these spa hotels means you can put your feet up and enjoy some quality downtime. RECOMMENDED: The best hotels in Melbourne Want more options? Spend a night at the best boutique stays and luxury hotels in Melbourne or try the city’s best spas and bath houses. Or even Melbourne's best Airbnbs.
The best happy hours in Melbourne
Melburnians are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding an ideal drinking spot to catch up with mates, toast to the weekend or celebrate a special occasion. But while most bars and pubs offer up a cheap vino or half-price pint in the early hours of the evening, there are some venues where you can get the biggest bang for your buck. From a sky-high staple to a bayside behemoth and inner-city institution, we’ve rounded up the best happy hours on offer across the city to help you make the most out of your hard-earned cash. After more fun for less? Check out our guides to the best cheap eats and BYO restaurants in Melbourne.
The 12 best running clubs in Melbourne
Let’s be real – getting up early to pound the pavement before work or when you’ve just logged off for the day can be tiring, especially when you’re doing it on your own. Enter: running clubs. They’re social, inclusive and a great way to be held accountable when Melbourne unleashes its typical 'four seasons in one day' weather. To help you take the leap, we’ve rounded up the 12 best running clubs on offer around the city, with options perfect for those just starting out (we see you, half runners/half walkers) all the way through to those training for a marathon. There are even groups tailored for families, LGBTIQ+ communities and people with a disability. Have a scroll, and if you still can't find your tribe, check out Athletics Victoria’s recreational running groups and the Melbourne Marathon Festival’s partner run clubs to find others on offer around Melbourne. Looking for something to do post-run with your new friends? Head to one of Melbourne’s best spas and bath houses for the ultimate cool down, or treat yourself to one of the city’s best massages and a bite from the best patisseries.
The best exercise classes to try in Melbourne
As a city well accustomed to walking the five-kilometre radius of our neighbourhoods, it’s safe to say that many Melburnians are craving something new when it comes to exercise. To make it easy for you, we've rounded up the best classes currently on offer. From the burn of a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) session to testing your balance in a ballet barre class and even taking it anti-gravity in a fun yoga twist, there’s an option to suit all interests and abilities. Whether you’re looking to challenge yourself, spice up your boring routine or get started on your exercise journey, this list has you covered – just don’t forget to treat yourself when you’re done! Looking for more places to work up a sweat? Here are Melbourne's best gyms.
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Australian International Airshow
Ever wondered if you have what it takes to fly into the face of danger with Maverick and the rest of the Top Gun crew? Now’s your chance. After a four-year hiatus, the Australian International Airshow is back with an action-packed three-day spectacular featuring jaw-dropping flying displays and static military aircraft to view up close. The weekend features a new program, kicking off with the Friday Night Alight Show, which includes aerobatics, fireworks, a laser show and the famous wall of fire. Chat to representatives from the Royal Australian Air Force, Navy and Army, cuddle military working dog puppies and help build a real-life Zenith CH750 STOL aircraft. There are also accessibility facilities, a quiet room and an interactive kids zone on offer. BYO food and picnic blanket and camp out under the planes for lunch, or opt for the refreshed food and beverage offering, which includes a variety of outlets to suit all cravings. The biennial airshow has been a staple in Victoria’s event landscape since 1992 and has grown to become the biggest aviation, aerospace and defence exposition in the southern hemisphere. To celebrate its anticipated return, children aged 15 years and under can attend for free for the first time – however, it’s the grandstand tickets that will get you closest to the action. Car parking is also complimentary, while a bus to the airshow will be transporting attendees from Lara train station. Looking for more fun? Here's our guide to what's on in Melbour
If you’re looking for a little more serenity in your life, Awaken is sure to deliver your zen fix. Set in the tranquil Peninsula Hot Springs, the first-of-its-kind wellness festival combines yoga classes and wellness workshops with leading international and local teachers including Shiva Rea and Dr Bruce Lipton, and music performances from conscious artists Mama Kin Spender, Garrett Kato, Kyle Lionhart and Edo Kahn. Pack a picnic and refuel at the Food Bowl, or purchase snacks, salads and gourmet pizzas – including vegetarian and vegan options – from the Amphitheatre Cafe. Wine, beer, cider, spirits and non-alcoholic drinks will be on offer at the full-service bar. All of the much-loved hot springs activities, including geothermal bathing, guided body clay workshops, private relaxation cabanas, spa treatments and overnight glamping are available at an additional cost. Looking for more fun? Here's our guide to what's on in Melbourne this weekend.
Melbourne Celtic Festival
St Patrick’s Day is increasingly becoming a much-loved unofficial public holiday – and if you’re yet to celebrate the lucky day, the Melbourne Celtic Festival is giving you the perfect excuse. A stellar line-up of musicians representing the Celtic diaspora will perform across three indoor stages at the Mission to Seafarers – including international guest artists, Scottish guitarist Tony McManus and high-energy headliner Austral, an award-winning folk band that combines the didgeridoo, fiddle and Irish pipe. The Victoria Welsh Choir, acapella group Thursday’s Child, Platform 9 ¾ and female trio Bhan Tre will also feature, among many others, while those wanting a slice of the action can take part in a traditional Irish singing workshop with expert performer Kathryn Clements. The family-friendly and accessible event also includes a prize-packed raffle, all-day sausage sizzle, coffee cart and licensed bar. All ticket sales will go to supporting important mental health initiatives through Australian Rotary Health and Rotary Foundation Australia. Looking for more fun? Here's our guide to what's on in Melbourne this weekend.
Summer of Play
In the spirit of play, Melbourne Museum is hosting fun, hands-on installations for the young – and young at heart – all summer long. The museum plaza is lit up with interactive activities designed to bring out your inner child, including the illuminated I Believe Swings and nostalgic Light Seesaws created by local Melbourne art and technology studio ENESS. Try your luck at ping pong or handball (you’ll need to bring your own equipment after 5pm), add on a late-night screening of Avatar: The Way of Water at IMAX or celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community at the Nocturnal x Midsumma after-hours party on February 10 and get late-night access to the museum. The kids in your life will love the Bite-Sized Science session on 25 February, which explores the important role of dragonflies and other water bugs in our ecosystem. Looking for more fun? Here's our guide to what's on in Melbourne this weekend.
The Wheeler Centre is known as Melbourne’s home for thought-provoking, passionate and entertaining public talks – and its latest event series is no exception. Bringing together international and local writers, creators and thinkers, M/other is a weekend of courageous conversations exploring the way motherhood is experienced, portrayed and labelled. The series shines a light on topics often seen as taboo, from maternal figures and perinatal mental health to on-screen motherhood and gendered parenting roles. Take part in an exclusive post-birth body life drawing class; interrogate Australia’s healthcare system in an expert panel; and dive deep into ageism, abortion and queer parenting in M/other’s free Soapbox Series. Our pick: the M/other gala – a night of storytelling, song and reflection from much-loved personalities including feminist trailblazer Clementine Ford, Melbourne writer Tony Birch, journalist Patricia Karvelas, cabaret star Libby O’Donovan, and poet and author Maxine Beneba Clarke, among many others. Looking for more fun? Here's our guide to what's on in Melbourne this weekend.
Rod Laver Arena
Rod Laver Arena has long been the home of Australia’s most iconic events. Located within the Melbourne and Olympic Park complex in the city’s sporting district, the venue is perhaps most loved for its role as centre court during the Australian Open championship – and for hosting the hundreds of thousands of tennis fans that come to watch their favourite players battle it out in January. The venue also has other blockbuster sporting and gaming events to its name, including gymnastics, basketball, BMX and boxing – and even transformed into an Olympic swimming pool in 2007. For music fans across every genre, Rod Laver Arena is synonymous with memories of spectacular concerts from some of the biggest names in the bizz. Think P!NK, Dua Lipa, Beyonce, Bob Dylan, Elton John and The Rolling Stones, and that’s just to name a few. Rod Laver Arena seats more than 14,500 punters and features a retractable roof – a world-first innovation when it was first installed – as well as a range of different food and drink outlets. Accessibility features and parking are also available. Keen on some live music? Check out our guide to Melbourne's best gigs, many of which are held at Rod Laver Arena.
Hinoki Japanese Pantry
If obscure Japanese condiments and milk drinks in cans are your kind of thing, make a beeline to Hinoki Japanese Pantry, nestled in the heart of Fitzroy’s bustling Smith Street. The shelves of this sleek supermarket are stocked with a huge selection of authentic and unique Japanese ingredients, condiments, snacks and drinks. Think curry cubes, karaage chicken batter, buckwheat soba noodles and frozen pork gyoza. There are also premium pantry staples including mirin, dashi and white soy sauce. Try the yuzu jam, made from the citrus fruit’s peel, zest and juice, perfect for a breakfast punch or opt for the chilli oil with crispy fried onion and garlic that’s best paired with ramen, vegetables and dumplings. Hinoki’s booze licence means it also offers beers, wines, sake and spirits including craft gin straight from Japan. Plus, it houses an epic sushi bar, dishing up freshly-made sashimi, rolls and lunch packs, which you can also order in platters for special occasions (or a Friday night in). Looking for more Japanese eats? Here are Melbourne's best Japanese restaurants.
Six Senses Burnham Beeches
The historic Burnham Beeches estate, located in Melbourne’s tranquil Dandenong Ranges, is set to be restored to its former art-deco glory by luxury hotel, resort and spa group Six Senses. The mansion will feature a welcome lounge and terrace, library bar and plant-covered rooftop retreat, with the design of each space nodding back to the 1930s charm of the original property. The Six Senses Spa on the lower ground will be framed by views of the lush gardens outside and house a boutique, tea lounge, treatment rooms, gym, hydro area and sauna. Take your choice from a variety of guest rooms, each with individual layouts and their own rustic-luxe character, spread over the mansion’s three main wings. The Hilltop Retreat – a separate two-bedroom cottage with an interconnecting one-bedroom suite – offers a private getaway, while nearby eco-friendly glamping tents provide an alternative to staying in the main house. The property is also accessible to non-guests. While the kids are entertained by the tactile nature playground, adults can roam the Village Square and indulge in a variety of rustic hospitality options aptly named the Hearth, the Barn, Steak House, the Baker, Brew House and Providore. An on-site farm garden will provide fruit and vegetables for the estate’s restaurants, while the herb garden will be used in workshops at the Alchemy Bar as well as in spa treatments. A series of walking trails will weave through the site, connecting the history of Burnham Beeches with nei
Vida Latin Festival
Vida Latin Festival is bringing the Latino spirit to Melbourne in January, with a free three-day celebration of art, culture, entertainment and food. The all-ages festival is accessible to people with disability, families with young children and older Australians, with services and experiences designed for everyone to get involved, regardless of whether you’re part of the Melbourne Latino community. There’s live music, including more than 20 DJs and Latin bands, dance performances and classes as well as activities to keep the kids entertained, such as face painting, maraca-making workshops, puppeteers and magic shows. A collection of Latin American art and locally handcrafted products are on sale in the bazaar, while the beer garden offers a wide variety of authentic and traditional food and drinks (but you can also pack your own). While there’s no cost to attend, a VIP package is available, which includes priority bar service, private seating areas, merchandise and access to the after-party.
There’s only one thing on G’Day Kitty’s mind, and that’s cats. It’s easy to see why – the homeware and accessories store was created by a Leo and born in the year of the tiger. From terracotta cat planters, bright statues and sparkly earrings to colourful luggage covers, cute toys and treats, there’s an array of paw-some products available to suit all your favourite cat people – and their four-legged friends. If you’re ordering online, you can get free shipping when you spend over $75, otherwise, a quick trip north to Thornbury means you can pick up the purr-fect gift IRL. Plus, if you’re feeling stressed meowt, G’Day Kitty’s gift cards make an easy present. Want to take your feline out on the town? Here are the best cat-friendly spots in Melbourne.
Live at the Bowl
Live at the Bowl is once again taking over the iconic Sidney Myer Music Bowl with home-grown acts and international artists joining the four-month-long music festival. Held by Arts Centre Melbourne, Live at the Bowl will run from January to April 2023 and host music, dance, community-led and family-friendly events across multiple days and nights of the week. The blockbuster lineup includes the Arctic Monkeys, Bon Iver, Boris Brejcha, Darren Hayes, Kehlani and Lorde. For families, ARIA award-winning children’s band Teeny Tiny Stevies is performing, while classical lovers can once again enjoy free MSO concerts and experience Tchaikovsky, Melbourne in Mosaics and Carmina Burana. To kick off pride season, the fifth Midsumma Extravaganza will see drag artists perform alongside musical acts and some of Australia’s best comedians. Meanwhile, the immersive show Synthony is back to party the night away with its unique blend of live orchestra, vocalists, instrumentalists and DJs. Food and drink are available through a number of different food trucks at every performance and five on-site bars selling wine, beer, cider, spirits, cocktails, seltzers and non-alcoholic options. You can also BYO a picnic – just keep in mind there are a number of prohibited items. Looking for more summer fun? Check out our guide to the best things happening in Melbourne in January.
Just minutes from the local train station and a short drive from the city, this accessible beach is set in the trendy seaside suburb of Williamstown. The beach is lined by a foreshore reserve complete with gardens, playground and sporting facilities and great picnic spots, while a number of cafés, restaurants and fish and chip shops are nearby along the Esplanade. The Williamstown Surf Life Saving Club patrols the beach towards its western end in the summer months, which makes it one of the safest spots to swim. Some areas contain rocks, which can be dangerous to those less confident in the water, and strong winds can sometimes create bigger waves to surf or boogie board. For those who fancy a water-based activity, fishing is available along the eastern pier or at the rocks to access deeper water. There is also a boat ramp nearby at the Williamstown and Newport Anglers Club. Dogs are permitted on Williamstown Beach, but only during certain times of the year. Plus, Hobsons Bay City Council offers beach wheelchairs, walking frames and matting for people with disabilities and reduced mobility, so that everyone can have some fun in the sun. After more sand and sea? Here are Melbourne's best beaches.