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More to Melbourne
Whether your family is into art, animals, history, cartoons, or just a walk in the park, Aleney de Winter finds there’s plenty of fun to be found in and around Melbourne.

A family break at the Hilton Melbourne South Wharf proves that there’s more to Melbourne than meets the eye. The hotel provides a stylish and comfortable city escape for families in a spacious two-bedroom suite. But more than being just a beautiful place to stay, the hotel has partnered with Polly Woodside Tall Ship and Museum to offer a true package of all-age fun, and a family pass to the iconic attraction means the kids can climb aboard to relive the fascinating voyages of the 129-year-old merchant ship.

This package also takes the stress off at dinner time with a delicious seasonally-inspired roast dinner prepared by the hotel’s Executive Chef served in-room with gourmet sides and soft drinks. The evening’s entertainment doesn’t stop there either, with popcorn and a movie in the suite’s deluxe living area. Also, since Hilton made planning our holiday such a breeze, it left us plenty of time to explore some of Melbourne’s other great family experiences.

On a high
For families who like the high life, Eureka Skydeck offers aw e-inspiring views from the highest viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere. Located on Level 88 of iconic Eureka Tower, the skydeck offers 360-degree views of the stunning Melbourne skyline. If you dare, you can venture out on to The Edge – a three-metre transparent glass cube, which slides out from the building, suspending guests 285m above the city.

The 38-storey Melbourne Star Observation Wheel is another great way to take in the views. The wheel’s 21 fully enclosed air-conditioned glass cabins offer more than just a view, with engaging commentary on the city’s history, culture and eccentricities.

Inside out
Fitzroy Gardens is one of the city’s most beautiful outdoor spaces. Our kids adore the miniature Tudor Village, carved Fairies’ Tree and fabulous playground where they can slide down dragons and swing on a giraffe’s ears. A walk through the Victorian-era gardens also leads to Captain Cook’s cottage, the oldest building in Australia, transported brick by brick from Yorkshire, England back in 1934.

If you’d rather keep the fun indoors, just 25 minutes from the Melbourne CBD is Wyncity, an indoor recreation centre spread over two levels. The Point Cook venue offers the latest in tenpin bowling, a world-class Laserforce laser tag arena, bumper cars, pool tables, mini-golf and an amazing range of arcade games.

Thrills and chills
Luna Park and its laughing face is a Melbourne icon that’s been entertaining families for 102 years with its carnival atmosphere. From gentle rides for littlies, to the jaw-dropping and eyeball-popping thrill rides and the chills of the spooky Ghost Train, there is something here for everyone.

If you’re up for an even more haunting experience, join a ghost tour at Old Melbourne Gaol, the grim scene for 135 executions during colonial days, including that of the infamous Ned Kelly. Melbourne’s oldest prison – and the heart of the city’s law and order since the 1840s – is now a fascinating three-storey museum.

Animal Instincts
If your family enjoys feathered, finned or furry fun, the city’s got it covered. At Melbourne Zoo watch baby elephant Man Jae paddling in the pools in Trail of the Elephants, enjoy close encounters with giraffes, squirrels and meerkats, or share a whiskery kiss with one of the resident seals. At the zoo’s indoor Keeper Kids’ Workspace little ones can even find out what it’s like to be a zookeeper through role play.

SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium also offers amazing interactive experiences. Home to over 10,000 aquatic creatures, including giant sharks and stingrays, kids will particularly adore getting up close and personal with Pinjarra, a massive 50-year-old male Saltwater Crocodile in the Croc Lair. For a less fearsome encounter, take the young ones on a back-ofhouse Seashorse Nursery Tour where they can help feed the hundreds of tiny seahorses and seadragons.

Drawn this way
If your kids, like mine, also like animals of the illustrated variety, let them spend a few hours with a warrior panda, a neurotic giraffe, a talking donkey and some friendly dragons at The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition is ACMI’s largest ever exhibition with more than 400 items from DreamWorks’ much-loved animated classics. The experience includes concept drawings, interviews, models and original artworks, plus loads of fun interactive delights.

Art attack
Families visiting Melbourne before 31 August will be delighted by the National Gallery of Victoria’s bounty of kid-friendly art. The NGV’s Italian Masterpieces will enthral art lovers, and special Kids’ Video Guides combined with labels featuring interesting facts and stories, make it as accessible for little ones as for their parents. The kids will adore ‘You started it… I finished it’, an art installation in Federation Court where a series of life-size bears adorned in psychedelic plumage adopt flamboyant poses. And they can even get in on the act at Pastello: Draw Act! where kids are encouraged to create art using crayons like never before; on helmets, shoes and cutlery. They’ll even be invited to up-end themselves to make their mark.

out your Tuscan adventure, take a photo with the Leaning Tower of Pisa before discovering the secrets of ‘Chocolate Valley’.

Around and about
Exploring Melbourne is a breeze with a free City Circle Tram looping around Melbourne’s central business district, passing many of the major attractions and linking with other train, tram and bus routes. The Melbourne Visitor Shuttle is another great way to explore inner-city Melbourne. The hop-on, hop-off service runs every 25 to 30 minutes and stops at 13 locations throughout the city, with onboard commentary along the way.

REPORT CARD
Information: www.visitmelbourne.com

Stay: Hilton South Wharf - www.hiltonmelbourne.com.au

Do: Eureka Skydeck - www.eurekasykdeck.com.au
Melbourne Star - www.melbournestar.com
Melbourne Zoo - www.zoo.org.au/melbourne
Old Melbourne Gaol - www.oldmelbournegaol.com.au
Polly Woodside - www.pollywoodside.com.au
Wyncity - www.wyncity.com.au

 

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