Not long ago, this area was a grim eyesore of run-down docks but a renovation program during the 1990s transformed the southern bank of Melbourne’s Yarra River into a clean, green and modern city leisure zone. Today’s Southbank offers something for everybody. Here’s you guide to culture, shopping, eating and drinking, and entertainment in this beguiling part of Melbourne.
First, let’s look at Southbank’s cultural offerings. The queen of them all is the National Gallery of Victoria on St Kilda Road. It offers extensive collections and exhibitions along with a range of programs, guided tours, and cultural and social events and activities.
Nearby is the Arts Centre, a complex that includes something for everyone including Hamer Hall for concerts. Here you can enjoy varied performances such as those of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. There’s also the State Theatre for opera performances, BlackBox for cabaret, modern music, stand-up comedy, and experimental theatre, Fairfax Studio for drama, and Playhouse for drama.
Also in the area are the Australian Ballet, Melbourne Symphony, NGV International, and Malthouse Theatre.
For shopping, the Arts Centre Market is held on Sundays along the footways at the eastern end of the riverbank. This market features more than 150 stalls offering the products of local artisans. All of the stallholders’ wares must pass a quality examination in order to be sold here so you’re assured of good buys.
Then there’s the Southgate Leisure Precinct housing more than 40 unique shops, along with a food court, restaurants, bars and cafés. It’s a great place to pick up Australian souvenirs and unique gifts.
In fact the Southbank eating and drinking scene is comprehensive and has a distinct Mediterranean touch with its al fresco venues, terraces, balconies, with colourful parasols. The main strip, Southgate Promenade offers a host of pubs, restaurants, and food mall to choose from. It stretches all the way from the Southgate complex to the Crown Casino. You can often enjoy street performers and people watching with your meal and fabulous views of the illuminated city skyline at night.
Finally for entertainment, you can do no better than head for the Crown Entertainment Complex, Other than being the largest casino in the southern hemisphere, the complex also houses an array of restaurants and shops.
Other than gambling, you can enjoy a range of shows at The Palms at Crown and the Club Odeon and Fusion nightclubs features music from live bands and top DJs from Melbourne and abroad.
If you’re short on time and want to do everything in one place, just head for the Southgate Arts & Leisure Precinct which offers upmarket shops and award-winning restaurants, chic cafes, food courts and a five-star hotel.
But it would be a shame to rush. Not only is Mebourne’s Southbank a great place to visit, it makes a fine area to base yourself during your Melbourne holiday. You can choose from a fine range of Southbank hotels including the Crown Towers Hotel Melbourne and the Pacific International Apartments Southbank Melbourne.