FROM the chilly alpine resorts to the hot tropics – yes, right here in Melbourne, Amanda Yap offers you five holiday ideas to send the winter blues packing.
Hit the slopes
Here in Melbourne over the winter break, or have some time on your hands over the weekend? Take the opportunity to visit one of Victoria’s seven alpine resorts. While many of us dread the low temperatures of the chilly winter months, the positive side to it is that snow forms on the mountains, and that means it’s time to break out the skis and snowboards!
Popular snow resorts include Mt Buller, Mt Hotham and Falls Creek. If you can’t be fussed doing all the planning yourself, you can join university clubs and societies like MoMU and IESS on their annual ski trips. Otherwise, you can always catch a coach to Mt Buller and Falls Creek or share a rented car with some friends and make the drive up to the mountains yourself. Mt Buller is a three-hour drive from the city, while getting to Mt Hotham and Falls Creek will take a longer four-and-a-half hours. And don’t forget to secure accommodation at the various resorts before you go – snow trips do require quite a lot of careful pre-planning.
If you’re wondering about equipment, you will be able to hire skis, snowboards and waterproof outer snow parkas from rental outlets at the resorts. You must, however, bring your own underclothes, gloves and beanies. Make sure too to take along a pair of snow goggles or sunglasses as well as sunblock, to protect yourself from the harmful UV rays on top of the mountains.
Apart from skiing and snowboarding, you will also be able to engage in other snow activities like tobogganing and snowbiking at the alpine resorts. And when the sun goes down and your muscles are burning from the day’s exertions, why not hit one of the massage spas at Mt Buller, Mt Hotham or Falls Creek to unwind? There are also cinemas on Mt Buller and Falls Creek.
When it comes to dining, there are numerous restaurants and cafes open at Mt Buller, Mt Hotham and Falls Creek, but most people prefer to cook their own meals. It’s cheaper, and lots more fun, to boot.
Attend an exhibition
If you don’t warm up to the idea of the great outdoors, there’s lots going on in the city too.
Don’t miss New York based artist Nathan Sawaya’s incredible large-scale LEGO sculpture exhibition The Art of the Brick taking place at Federation Square. If you’ve ever enjoyed tinkering with LEGO, you’ll adore this. The exhibit is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm and Fridays till 9 pm. Concession tickets are priced at $12.50 each, and we recommend you prebook to avoid disappointment at the door.
Move on to the National Gallery of Victoria to catch the Vienna: Art and Design exhibition. A little over 100 years ago in Vienna, Austria, a group of radical young creators and thinkers overturned all the rules and created a brave new world. Find out what this world looked like, from the perspective of some of the greatest Viennese artists of the early 20th century.
Go to the theatre
Winter’s also a good time to indulge in musical theatre especially if you’ve never been before, with many shows playing in venues around the city.
Fans of 80s rock hits by iconic bands like Journey and Bon Jovi will definitely enjoy the Broadway comedy musical Rock of Ages. The show has received rave reviews from all over Melbourne, with The Age giving it a five-star review, calling it “exuberant, hilarious [and] fantastically slick fun”.
Those after more classical theatre performances might want to think about purchasing tickets to see Dr Zhivago. Based on a famous novel, this fairly new revised musical is directed by successful Broadway director Desmond McAnuff. Alternately, you can go and see Love Never Dies, the sequel to the legendary musical, Phantom of the Opera.
Dr Zhivago is playing its final two weeks at Her Majesty’s Theatre, while Love Never Dies is playing at The Regent Theatre on Collins St. Opt for weekday afternoon showing times if you can – they tend to be cheaper.
Experience the tropics
Winter’s a great time to visit the Glasshouse at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne (North-west of E Gate, west of Nymphaea Lily Lake) where you can escape the cold, see the orchids flowering and walk through a tropical rainforest.
A great way to uncover the many plant stories in the tropical collection is to take one of the three self-guided walks. Simply pick up a brochure at the entrance and follow the numbers to discover more about one of three themes: Botanical Marvels, Plant Evolution or Vital Plants.
Throw a party!
And now that you’ve done all that, celebrate by throwing a Christmas in July party! And to make it a little bit more fancy, head down to the Madam Truffles pop-up store in South Melbourne (it will only be here in July and is open Thursday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm) for some of the most expensive and prized delicacies on earth. And while you’re there, you might as well visit the South Melbourne market to pick up some lovely local produce. For those looking for recipe ideas, taste.com.au has a great collection for this occasion.
Or, do it the Aussie way, and rug up for a winter barbecue by the Yarra River.