Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Open top bus

Considering that in a week's time we will play host to the first of over sixty cruise ship arrivals this summer, those of us away from Station Pier rarely see an identifiable tourist. So the thrice daily arrival of a bright (and typically empty) red bus down Bay Street, with commentary on the former court house blaring from its open roof top, comes as a bit of surprise. However the inclusion of a liner in the livery gives a hint as to the perceived attraction of passing through Port Melbourne.
The St Kilda/South Melbourne Tour is a recent value add to City Sightseeing's hop on/off city tour. Although, at $35 a day it's a ticket in desperate need of value given that the main city loop follows a very similar route to the long running Melbourne Visitor Shuttle bus which costs a mere $5 a day.
For any tourists that might stumble across this page, may I suggest you save yourself some money (and have rather more of a flexible adventure) as follows...

  • Spend a few hours hopping on and off the aforementioned visitor shuttle bus. It used to be free, but it's still good value
  • Buy a Myki Visitor Pack ($14 including $8 credit and some discount vouchers) from your hotel or the Federation Square visitor's centre. This will cover a full day's public transport (and can be topped up for more).
  • OR if travelling on a Saturday or Sunday, buy a plain Myki card ($6 'empty') from a 7-Eleven or train station and ask for $4 credit for it. This will cover one full weekend day's public transport
  • Acquaint yourself with this map of the area visited on the full priced tour
Then, when you're ready to embark on your solo tour:
  • Take the 109 tram, toward Port Melbourne, from any stop on Collins Street (or from the stop on Spencer Street bridge between the Casino and the Exhibition centre) and get off when it terminates at Station Pier (Beacon Cove)
  • If prepared enough to download the audio, you can optionally do a self-guided walk of Port Melbourne from here
  • Otherwise, facing the sea, wander 300m right to see the historic beacons. A further 200m along you'll find Princes Pier, where there is an interactive guide to Victorian immigration
  • Next walk back past Station Pier and either:
    • Take a blue Bikeshare bike ($2.70 providing you can find a free helmet) from here 2km along the beach front bike trail and then 1km along Wright Street (the one after Mills Street on the map) under the tram tracks to here, and then walk 3km through Albert Park (described, in reverse, as the Flora Trail in this guide) to St Kilda, OR
    • Walk 2km along the sea front (stop here for a great coffee and perhaps some lunch) until you reach Mills Street on the left. From Danks Street, two blocks in, take the 112 tram until it terminates in St Kilda, OR
    • Walk 600m along the sea front before turning left at the gym onto the shopping strip Bay Street on the left. Take bus 606 from outside the local MP's office (800m along at no. 306) toward Elsternwick. Get off in St Kilda when you see the beach or Luna Park, OR
    • Walk the entire 4km (described, in reverse, as the Foreshore Trail Part Two of this guide) into St Kilda, being sure to look out for the miniature solar system planets placed at a scale of 1:1,000,000,000 along the way
  • Having strolled around St Kilda (if you've not seen the pier and at least four cake shops you've missed some of it!), take the 96 tram back to the city (final destination East Brunswick)
  • If you didn't get to see Albert Park on the way, get off at the Middle Park stop to take a peek at the Grand Prix pits and lake beyond (the excellent café MART 130 is on the platform here too)
  • This tram returns past the casino and Southern Cross train station before heading down the length of Bourke Street
  • You can carry on using trams, busses and trains for the rest of the day :-)
Note, when travelling on trams/busses near the city centre, you need to 'touch on' a green sensor, until it beeps each time you board, but you don't need to 'touch off'.

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