Unique Melbourne: the Lure of the Yarra River

With its trams, expansive parks and gardens, alluring architecture and vibrant cultural, sporting, dining and shopping scenes, Melbourne packs in enough attractions to cater for a lifetime of holidays. But to experience the real Melbourne, you need to spend some time on the Yarra River, home to many of the city’s major holiday attractions.

Melbourne is built on the Yarra River and this waterway has played a key role in the city’s history and social life. And with recent redevelopments, the river area offers day long attractions in the form of walks and sightseeing tours along with riverside bar hopping and shopping.

A morning walk through the city on the Yarra is very rewarding. You can view the Polly Woodside, a historic sailing ship, the Turning Basin, the Exhibition Centre and the Botanic Gardens and Melbourne Park. In fact both banks of the river are rich in greenery. Often you forget you’re walking through the heart of a great city as you find yourself in the midst of nature.

A great way to experience the whole river and grasp its importance to the city of Melbourne is to take a river cruise. You can view such sights as the harbour of Southern Hemisphere, Southgate Arts and Leisure Precinct, Crown Entertainment Complex, The World Congress Centre and Trade Centre, Westgate Bridge and great city views all the way. Upriver you’ll see the Royal Botanic Gardens, Governor’s residence, National Tennis Centre, The Glasshouse, Olympic Park and Herring Island.

 

Nowadays, one of the most important leisure areas on the Yarra River is Southgate. Long an area of factories and seedy warehouses, this area on the south bank of the river was revamped in the early 1990s and transformed into a charming riverside stretch of shops, bars and restaurants.

The area begins at the picturesque Alexandria Bridge to the rear of Flinders Street Station. From here you can stroll through Southgate’s collection of shops, bars and restaurants in a scenic riverside setting.

Not only is the riverside area delightful in itself but many of Melbourne’s major attractions such as Federation Square with its galleries are nearby.

After lunch you can rent a canoe at Studley Park. From here you can paddle along one of the most beautiful stretches of the Yarra River. Kayaks are also available for rent.

In the evening, Southgate is a fine place for a sundowner and if you fell like trying your luck, you can head for the Crown Casino, part of the Crown Entertainment complex which is a major landmark on the Yarra River. If it’s gambling you’re after, you’ll find everything you want but there’s plenty to see and do outside the gaming area.

There’s a host of shops and eateries and the atrium area puts on frequent exhibitions. It’s also the venue for the city’s many annual international events. Altogether there are 17 bars, 35 restaurants, along with cafes, apartments, and cinemas.

Experiencing the Yarra River is one of the major keys to getting to know the wonderful city of Melbourne. And when you do, you’ll be pleased to find a great collection of Melbourne City hotels to suit every taste and pocket.

Richard Greaves has over 20 years experience in the travel industry and writes for Cheaper than Hotels. Cheaper Than Hotels offers Melbourne City hotels as Comfort Inn and Suites Flagstaff City Melbourne and HarbourView Apartment Hotel Melbourne.