9. Luna Park
If there is any place that is part of the fabric of Melbourne’s cultural DNA, it’s Luna Park. Who hasn’t taken a photo in front of its flamboyant, gaping entrance? The popular amusement park opened its, er, mouth in 1912 and has been operating almost continuously ever since. But while many rides have come and gone over its 100-year history, one has remained through all the ups and downs – the Great Scenic Railway. This heritage-listed rollercoaster, which dips and dives around the perimeter of the park, is the oldest continually running wooden rollercoaster in the world. Plus, RACV members save on ride tickets when pre-purchased online.
10. Federation Square
It cost $450 million to build but this now-iconic arena takes the cake for being one of Melbourne’s most controversial public spaces – mainly thanks to its angular, geometric design. Since opening in 2002, Federation Square has had more than 100 million visitors and, in the first year of its life, became the most awarded project in the history of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) Victoria, receiving five major awards for architectural and design excellence. It was even ranked sixth in a top-10 list of the world’s best public squares in 2014. Over the last 200 years the site has been home to the city morgue, a fish market, corporate offices and rail yards. These days, with myriad restaurants, bars, galleries and specialty stores, it is well and truly part of the city’s cultural psyche.
11. Royal Botanic Gardens
This is the ultimate urban oasis. The Royal Botanic Gardens, founded in 1846, is a green wedge that spans 36 perfectly manicured hectares and showcases nearly 50,000 individual plants. Meander through lush rainforests, discover a cactus wonderland, enjoy a picnic by the lake or bring your binoculars and do some bird watching. Or, if a leisurely stroll is more your style, the perennially popular Tan Track is a 3.8-kilometre walk around the gardens’ perimeter. With endless flora and fauna, as well as sweeping views over the city’s skyline, there will be no filters needed when you whip out your camera at this picture-perfect spot.
12. Fitzroy Mills
From fresh produce, to art, to artisan wares, there’s a market to suit all makers in Melbourne. And the Fitzroy Mills market, housed in an old knitting mill, is about as cool as it gets. The point of difference at the weekly wellness festival is the market’s health focus, with more than 70 stalls boasting everything from organic eggs and hydroponic vegetables to raw chocolate, vegan deodorant, native superfoods and all-natural beer. There’s even a canine wellness kitchen – Melbourne’s first doggie-dedicated food truck. Snap a picture of the market’s wrought-iron sign on the graffiti-covered entry wall, then go for broke buying up all the gourmet goodies. And if you want to walk off the indulgence, the Rose Street Artists’ Market is a short stroll away.