Take the journey of a lifetime along the Great Ocean Road with its rugged coastline, lush forests and overpowering sense of freedom – an unforgettable experience.
Melbourne Airport is serviced by 27 international airlines. The airport is approximately 14 miles (22 kilometres) from the city – approximately 25 minutes drive.
Peak times for airfares are in the summer months – between November and January – and especially around Christmas. If you are planning a summer trip, book well in advance.
From North America, you can catch a direct flight to Melbourne, as well as a number of single-stop services. Excluding stopovers, flying time to Melbourne is around 20 hours from New York or Toronto, 18 hours from Vancouver, or 15 hours from Los Angeles. From New Zealand, there is a range of flights available to Melbourne, with those from Auckland taking approximately three-and-a-half hours.
Customs and immigration queues are generally short. The airport, which affords easy access to connecting interstate and international flights, has baggage lockers in the international terminal, around-the-clock foreign exchange counters, restaurants, bars, a children’s playground, information desks, major car rental companies and, for departing travelers, a refund booth to reclaim the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on some goods. There is also ample parking for private vehicles.
A departure tax of AUD$38 is charged on leaving the country but it is usually incorporated in your airline ticket. If in doubt, ask at the information desk.
Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Tiger are the major domestic carriers and are housed within the main terminal at Melbourne Airport. Jetstar also flies from Avalon Airport near Geelong. The airlines operate regular services throughout the day from Australia’s major cities, with flights leaving every 15 minutes in busy periods.
For airline travel within Victoria you can choose from several regional airlines, such as Qantas Link and REX (Regional Express), which fly to Melbourne and larger regional centers including Mildura, Portland, Traralgon and Mount Hotham. Smaller airlines also operate out of these regional centers.
March-May (fall) or October and Novemeber (spring) are labeled the best time to visit Melbourne. However, the rest of the time of the year is also convenient to visit Victoria.
Like the rest of Australia, they have an informal and relaxed style of dressing. Smart, casual street wear is acceptable for most restaurants and evening events.
Australia has a decimal system with 100 cents to the dollar ($AUD). Coins have values of 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and $1 AUD and $2 AUD; notes have values of $5 AUD, $10 AUD, $20 AUD, $50 AUD and $100 AUD.
Banks and Foreign Exchange
Melbourne’s banking hours are generally Monday to Thursday 9am–4pm and Friday 9am–5pm. All the major banks, such as Westpac, ANZ, Commonwealth and National Australia Bank, have offices in Melbourne, as well as in cities and many of the larger towns in regional Victoria. In smaller centres, you may have to rely on the local post office or newsagent. In Melbourne, all main banks are equipped to exchange foreign currency. You can also exchange foreign currency any day or night at the airport, or during normal business hours at foreign exchange bureaus in Melbourne's central business district.
Travelers Checks and Plastic
Brands like American Express and Travelex are widely accepted in Victoria, and can be cashed at banks, foreign exchange brokers, larger hotels and restaurants, and for car rental. Passport ID is required when you cash travelers checks. Fees for changing travelers checks vary from bank to bank. Major credit cards – Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Bankcard, Diners Club and their affiliates – are widely accepted throughout Victoria. Some retailers in larger centers will also accept JCB cards. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) with around-the-clock access are available in convenient locations like banks, along main shopping streets and in malls.
English is the official language spoken in Victoria.
Please be sure to have adequate travel insurance covering medical emergencies when travelling to Australia as US and Canadian citizens are not covered under their healthcare system.
For emergencies, ring 000 for fire, police or ambulance.
Tipping is not expected or required in Victoria. However,if you feel that the service was exceptional,feel free to tip as much as you like.
TRANSPORTATION INTERSTATE & COUNTRY TRAIN SERVICES
Overland trains to and around Victoria offer a comfortable way to explore the state's diverse and at times dramatic landscapes.Trains servicing country Victoria and interstate routes arrive at Southern Cross Station, part of the metropolitan train system's underground city loop service. However some lines do schedule passenger collection points at limited metropolitan train stations including Dandenong, North Melbourne and Caulfield.
Major cities and tourist centres in Victoria are serviced by V/LINE, who also run a connecting bus service. The Overland train service from Adelaide is operated by Great Southern Railway Limited and takes between 9 and 12 hours depending on the scheduled stops, while the CountryLink XPT train service from Sydney to Melbourne takes around 10-11 hours.
INTERSTATE & COUNTRY BUS SERVICES
Generally less expensive than trains, buses are one of the best ways to see more of Melbourne and Victoria. Well-equipped and with modern fleets, a number of bus lines operate throughout the state and offer a broader range of destinations and itineraries than the train network.
Country and interstate buses pick-up and depart from the Melbourne Transit Centre at 58 Franklin Street, near the top of Swanston Street, and at Southern Cross Station. Daylight and overnight buses arrive each day from both Adelaide and Sydney and take between 11 and 12 hours. However, a slower more scenic journey can be experienced with smaller bus companies that ply the coastal routes.
Victoria's compact size and diversity of landscapes makes it ideal for touring. As well, the major roads between cities and country towns are well sign posted and generally of a high standard.
If you're planning to drive to Melbourne, allow at least nine hours from Adelaide, 10 hours from Sydney, 20 hours from Brisbane and up to two days from Perth. But if you've got a little extra time, the coastal roads are highly recommended for their scenic beauty and quaint towns.
The most important rule for travelers in Australia is that you drive on the left-hand side of the road. You must also wear a seatbelt and have your license with you when you're driving (you'll be fined if you don't). A driver's license from home will suffice for up to three months in Australia, as long as it has photo ID and it's for the same class of vehicle you intend to drive. If you're staying more than three months, you'll need to get a Victorian license. In Victoria, the speed limit on the open road rises to 100km/hr and, in some sections of freeway, 110km/hr.
Melbourne’s efficient train system covers city, suburban and regional destinations. Flinders Street Station, on the corner of Flinders and Swanston streets, is where all metropolitan trains begin or end their journey. Southern Cross Station on Spencer Street is where you’ll find regional, interstate and airport services. With its award-winning ‘wave’ roof design, this state-of-the-art transport hub is a destination in its own right. Melbourne’s bus network links with trains and trams, and goes to destinations not serviced by either train or tram. Purchase tickets from vending machines at train stations, on trams or buses, at the Met Shop at Melbourne Town Hall, or selected shops and newsagents.
Other ways of getting around include taxis, which are an eye-catching yellow and easy to spot, boats (an abundance of vessels cruise up and down the Yarra River) and cycling (Melbourne has an extensive trail and bike-lane network).
The EastLink tollway connects the Monash, Eastern and Frankston Freeways, providing a quicker way to travel around Melbourne’s east. EastLink connects the north-east (including Donvale, Ringwood and Mitcham), with the south-east (including Springvale, Dandenong and Frankston). You’ll need a tag, non-tag account or trip pass to use EastLink.
The CityLink express tollway links Melbourne’s three major freeways: the West Gate, the Monash and the Tullamarine. CityLink uses electronic tolling, which means there are no cash booths along the road. If you visit Melbourne more than once a year, an Access CityLink account may be the most cost-effective way to cover up to four vehicles for CityLink travel. Note that you can only open an Access account prior to travel.
Alternatively, you can purchase CityLink passes for the days you intend to use CityLink. You can purchase CityLink passes in advance, or up to midnight three days after your first day of travel. Make sure you are covered for travel on CityLink, as fines may apply if you are not. You can purchase CityLink passes at major Shell petrol outlets or participating Australia Post offices.
If you’re planning on hiring a car while in Melbourne, you can either purchase CityLink passes yourself or pay the rental car company an additional charge for each day you intend to use CityLink.
US and Canadian citizens must obtain a visa or travel authority before travelling to Australia.
Victoria welcomes visitors and to facilitates easy entry, everything has been done to make the process as pleasant as possible. A valid passport for at least six (6) months beyond the intended period of stay and a ticket for return or onward travel to another country, which he/she is authorized to enter, is required.
Check with your consulate to see if a visa is needed before traveling.
Despite its small size, the Victorian climate varies across the state. The north is much drier and warmer weather than the south. Australia's seasons are the reverse of those in the northern hemisphere. The climate can be characterised as warm to hot in summer (December to February), mild in autumn (March to May), cold and damp in winter (June to August), and cool in spring (September to November).