It can be appealing in winter to stay inside all day, and it doesn’t hurt to save some money. However, there are plenty of free things you can do around Melbourne that might tempt you to head out into the cold. I’ll be looking at free tours you can take in and around some of Melbourne’s most iconic landmarks.
The classic introduction to Melbourne. This tour takes you around the city centre to places that every local will know about a couple that they won’t. You may get to see a great view of the city, hear the story about Australia’s favourite criminal, and learn about the Indigenous people who were around long before the British. Make a booking or just turn up to one of the 2 tours that are held every day. Buddy Free Walking Tours also offer an alternative free walking tour of the CBD in English, Spanish, French, Italian and Chinese.
It might be news to some that the parliament house in Melbourne used to be where the Prime Minister sat with Australia’s Federal Government. Although a little dull on the outside, the beautiful interior of the building is a testament to Victoria’s Gold Rush history, and to Melbourne’s former standing as the richest city in the world. Always check dates before booking the tour, as holidays and parliamentary sessions can affect tour times.
Royal Botanic Gardens Tours
There are two free tours that can be taken at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne. The first is a daily tour, which takes you on a guided walk around the gardens with plenty of photo opportunities and some interesting historical insights into its development. The second tour is the Aboriginal Heritage Tour, which walks visitors through the connection that exists between Indigenous Australians and the land around us. Due to limited numbers and dates, this tour needs to be booked in advance.
The social history tour at Abbotsford Convent, an arts and culture quarter that supports dance, music and the fine arts, runs intermittently on Sundays at 2pm. Not only are the old monastic buildings beautiful, they also have intriguing stories to tell. Tours in French and Art Tours are also available via appointment.
Street Art Tour
Want to take in the sites at your own pace? There are a couple of Street Art tours that you can take yourself on in Melbourne by following a map/directions online, namely: Walking Maps and Tight Arse Tours. They might not be completely up-to-date, but they’ll take you to all the major graffiti sites around the city.
Have a look behind the scenes at the Melbourne Town Hall during this hour-long tour and see where the Queen took (or didn’t take) tea, the piano that the Beatles played, and a great view over Swanston Street. A highlight of the tour is the Grand Organ, which spans three levels of the town hall. Moreover, there are often free concerts held, if you wish to see the organ in action. Booking for the town hall tour is a must.
If you’re interested in learning about the unique architecture and engineering that went into the construction of Federation Square, one of Melbourne’s most recognisable landmarks, then this is the tour for you. It runs from Monday to Saturday at 11am daily, and no bookings are required.
And if you get through all of those, there are other tours available. The State Library tour teaches you about the library and how to access its facilities. While you’re there you can also take the Ned Kelly tour and decide if he really was a hero or just a criminal. The National Gallery of Victoria International and the Ian Potter Gallery tours are also free, but you may have to pay a fee for entrance into the exhibitions. Students have free entry to the main exhibitions.
So, now you have no excuse, head out and enjoy Melbourne!