We have reviewed many playgrounds and things to do in Melbourne and Geelong and these are the pick of the crop. Click on the link to each playground for more information such as facilities list, full review and location map. Each playground also has a link to a slideshow of photos of the playground.
Melbourne's most iconic dish has just been announced
It’s official. Melbourne’s favorite dish has been named the humble parma this year.
The fried bird was voted for by Time Out’s readers in a survey conducted in 2020 and has proudly claimed its metaphorical crown as Melbourne’s entry in our essential guide to the world’s most iconic dishes.
Before we get into it though, it’s important to note the correct spelling and pronunciation: it’s parma with an ‘a’, not parmi with an ‘i’ - here’s looking at you Geelong and the rest of the country. You know you’re all wrong.
So what is a parma? The pub staple features a crisp chicken schnitty coated in a layer of napoli sauce, slices of smoky ham, topped with a horde of melted cheese and grilled to perfection. It's vegetarian counterpart often substitutes the chicken with meaty eggplant or mock meat, and it's usually served with a side of chips or a salad for the “health-conscious”, or both.
Its origins lie in 17th century Italy where its namesake, parmigiana or parmigiana di melanzane, came from. Deep-fried slices of eggplant replaced the chicken, and it was topped with layers of napoli sauce and mozzarella cheese. The dish was then baked and cut into slices when served, similar to a lasagne.
It later voyaged to the United States of America and was adapted by Italian Americans, who introduced chicken to the mix in the 1940s and said “ciao” to the eggplant. We’re not sure what’s worse, though, calling it “chicken parmesan” or pairing it with pasta - we’ll let you decide.
The verdict’s out on when the parmigiana settled on Australia’s sunkissed shores, but it’s reported to have occurred in the ‘80s. When the auspicious event occurred someone bastardized the dish by adding a layer of ham, incorporated one giant schnitty instead of multiple smaller ones and got to work with the cheese grater, making it a feast for one.
We at Time Out are glad the parma met its fate here because we get to reap the delicious rewards. Not only is Melbourne now so parma-obsessed that it features on the menus of most pubs, but it’s also home to dedicated parma festivals and awards, not to mention Mrs. Parmas: a venue that dishes up ten different variations of the chicken lover’s dream.
Read more about this topic at https://www.timeout.com/
The Australian Music Vault
The Australian Music Vault is a free exhibition showcasing the Australian music story, interactive and digital experiences, iconic objects from the Australian Performing Arts Collection.
Explore the musical influences on the Australian 'sound', see costumes worn by international stars and unlock the stories of hip hop in Australia.
The exhibition includes a highly interactive digital experience allowing visitors to listen to interviews with musicians, promoters and behind-the-scenes people sharing their stories within the engagement zones.
To make sure that you have an enjoyable and safe experience there have been some adjustments including QR code contact tracing.
Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
Attracting over 1,900,000 visitors annually, Melbourne Gardens is a treasured part of cultural life and a valuable asset to the heritage-rich city. With its stunning vistas, tranquil lakes and diverse plant collections, the Gardens are a place of continual discovery and delight.
Enjoy the Aboriginal Heritage Walk, a Free Guided Walk, a ride on the Garden Explorer or Punting on the tranquil Ornamental Lake, all set against a beautiful backdrop and just moments from the city.
These beautiful Gardens are home to amazing and diverse plant collections such as camellias, rainforest flora, succulents and cacti, roses, Californian species, herbs, perennials, cycads and plants from Southern China. Guilfoyle's Volcano offers visitors a fabulous precinct to explore. The Gardens are also a natural sanctuary for native wildlife.
The Children's Garden has everything that children could want to help them discover the natural world, with plant tunnels that they can crawl through, rocks that they can climb and a bamboo forest in which they can hide.
Visitors can unwind at one of two cafés, The Terrace or Jardin Tan. Or find botanical-inspired souvenirs and gifts at the Gardens Shop.
During summer, the lawns come alive with outdoor cinema, theatre performances and exhibitions.
Melbourne Star Observation Wheel
Melbourne Star is the Southern Hemisphere's only observation wheel, offering a sky-high experience like no other. Standing at a staggering 120 meters tall, this is Melbourne like you’ve never seen it before.
From famous landmarks, glittering skyscrapers, your unique vantage point will treat you to sights as far as the Dandenong and Port Phillip.
Guests at Melbourne Star now have more options than ever, they can soak in the unparalleled 360-degree views of the city from the spacious, temperature-controlled cabins while audio commentary reveals the history and significance of the sights below, add some sparkle to the experience with a Sparkling Flight and enjoy a glass of sparkling wine or beer while on board, or indulge taste buds with delicious catering from Peter Rowland, who since 1962 has been dedicated to crafting special celebrations.
Enjoy either sweet, savory or both canapés with beverages in a Private Cabin at Melbourne Star.
Why not treat yourself to the Sights, Lights & Delights package and see all sides of Melbourne. Enjoy the stunning sights by day, then be enchanted by the lights in the evening, plus, delight in a beverage and digital photo pass during your experience.
- Actively welcomes people with access needs
- Suitable for guests who have challenges with learning, communication, understanding and behavior
- Suitable for guests with a vision impairment. Attained by providing for guests with partial vision impairment or total loss of useable vision
- Suitable for guests with a hearing impairment, from mild hearing loss to profoundly deaf
- Suitable for guests with sufficient mobility to climb two or three steps, but would benefit from fixtures and fittings to aid balance
- Suitable for guests who depend on the use of a wheelchair in a seated position at all times
- Suitable for guests with high support needs who uses a hoist and always travel with a carer
- Suitable for guests with allergies and intolerances
- Car park
- Coach parking
- Non smoking establishment
- Public toilet
Read more about this topic at https://www.visitvictoria.com/
Run by brother-sister team Kate and Cameron Reid, Lune Croissanterie see lines snaking out of the store nearly every day that they open and their pastries fly out of the shop by noon most days but does Lune cut the mustard? In short, yes. Created in a climate-controlled lab, Lune croissants are almost mathematically perfect: crisp and golden with visible layers of delicate pastry.
Having a tightly controlled cubic lab in the center of their Fitzroy warehouse store for optimum pastry-making doesn't come across as too unusual when you consider the fact that Kate Reid used to be a racing car engineer. Still, it's an amazing sight to behold, especially if you remember the poky little hole-in-the-wall the Lune team started of in Elwood.
Come early if you want to nab a twice-cooked almond croissant or the lemon curd cruffins, piped to the gills with a tart curd and sprinkled with citrus sugar. If you're not an early riser, good news, Lune's coffee service so efficient and perfectly timed it's almost scary.
One of the baristas takes coffee orders from the queue to the pastry service counter and by the time you pick a croissant or cruffin and have it served to you warm from the oven, your coffee will be ready for you from the coffee country.
There is a way to skip the queue. Book a spot at the Lune Lab experience and pre-pay online, for a three-course pastry feast with unlimited coffee. You'll be privy to two off-menu pastries, as well as Lune’s usual croissants.
The Astor Theatre
The oldest single-screen theatre in Melbourne, the Astor in St Kilda has accumulated the kind of reputation every cinema dreams of – and a loyal fan base to boot.
It’s a cinema in the grand, old manner, being in continuous operation since 1936. Beautiful gold curtains frame the screen; the entire experience feels like you’ve flashbacked to old Hollywood.
The classic auditorium theatre boasts a program of new and classic films in 35mm, 70mm and digital formats and it’s a cultural hub for movie fans, with double features, remastered classics, new and independent movies, film festivals and special events.
The cinema has its very own cat, Duke, who sometimes visits cinemagoers during films and can often be seen padding around the carpeted halls.
The Astor's own story could be the stuff of Hollywood, as the Art Deco building has been under threat from developers many times throughout its long years. Its most recent savior was indie chain Palace Cinemas, which purchased the building in 2015 and remains committed to keeping the cinema as a single-screen picture house.
Manager Zak Hepburn has a long love of the theatre. “I grew up in Bacchus Marsh, where there was no cinema,” recalls Hepburn. “My mum first took me to the Astor to see The Beatles: Yellow Submarine. I was constantly asking my mother to drive me to the Astor, which was well over an hour and a half away, and I’ve been a regular patron ever since.”
Hepburn re-affirms that Palace Cinemas is committed to maintaining the key aspects of the ‘Astor Experience’. “The focus is very much on establishing a cultural hub for movie fans, with double features and remastered classics, new and independent movies, film festivals and special events.
Read more about this topic at https://www.timeout.com/
Peninsula Hot Springs
For years the idyllic Mornington Peninsula has provided refuge for Melburnians looking for an accessible and relaxing weekend away. Of course, a trip out here without a stopover at the Peninsula Hot Springs would be sacrilege.
Peninsula Hot Springs is Victoria’s first geothermal mineral springs and day spa. It’s here you’ll find more than 50 bathing experiences, including shared thermal mineral pools, wet and dry saunas, a hydrotherapy pool, Turkish and Moroccan hammams and the frequently Instagrammed hilltop pool, which boasts 360-degree views over the farmlands of Fingal.
The tranquil Spa Dreaming Centre also offers communal bathing in a variety of thermal pools, including a barrel bath, grotto pool and an indoor pool that overlooks the lake. Pampering options at the in-house spa include massages, facials and body treatments.
You can also book private bathing pavilions for a more secluded experience, and there are also yoga classes, body clay workshops, mindful walks and warm water exercises to get amongst.
A good two decades after opening, the Hot Springs continue to expand. In 2018, the spa underwent a $13 million expansion which included an ice cave and a deep freeze chamber, a food garden that services the onsite café, as well as nine new pools.
The ice cave is the first of its kind in Australia, and hot/cold therapy is a well-regarded method to reduce inflammation, stress and soreness in the body (think footy players jumping into the sea or having crazy ice baths).
While you’d be pretty content to spend hours lazing in the pools, the ‘fire and ice experience’ is a standout. Guests are guided through a 45-minute workshop, which takes you between the site’s 60-degree hot sauna, its ice cave (a very cold -17), 4-degree cold plunge pool and geothermal hot spring, which sits at a balmy 36 degrees.
Your heart rate will rise and fall, you’ll sweat, you’ll shiver, but you’ll also walk out of it with a profound respect for your body and its limits (seriously, forget bungee jumping – this is what thrill-seekers should be doing).
Entrance to Peninsula Hot Springs starts at $25, with prices increasing during peak times.
Arts Centre Melbourne
Arts Centre Melbourne is the umbrella venue that houses the Hamer Hall, Playhouse, Sidney Myer Music Bowl, State Theatre and Fairfax Studio, as well as various exhibition spaces. At the center of the precinct is the spired building housing the State Theatre, Playhouse and Fairfax Studio.
As a general rule, the venues stay open an hour after the last show of the evening so until then you can view any of the exhibitions at your leisure. The Sidney Myer Music Bowl is home to the biggest outdoor events including Carols by Candlelight, festivals and huge international acts while the State Theatre is the premier venue for large-scale productions, symphonies, ballets and all things highbrow.
If you're looking for a pre-show drink and/or meal, try The Barre, in the Theatres Building.