This page includes notes on Melbourne and Australia. After a few “Survival Notes” from Professor Chantal Morton, we’ve assembled a short list of films and other resources you might want to look at before you head off to the conference.
Survival Notes from Chantal Morton, GLS-13 Co-Chair
December in Melbourne is usually beautiful—warm and sunny; however, the city is also famous for its variable weather. When we say ‘variable,’ we mean it can change from 25C (77F) to 15C (60F) in a few hours, or a few days. So plan to layer up.
There is free tram travel in the downtown/central business district of Melbourne (which ends just one stop short of the law school), but if you are here for a few days, you are likely to want to adventure outside the ‘free tram zone.’ To get around the city, you will want to get a myki card, which works for trams, buses, and trains. Public transport in Melbourne is really easy, reasonable, and effective. There’s even an app that will help you plan a journey and tell you when the next bus/tram/train is due to arrive.
Melbourne is famous for its coffee and restaurants. I have also discovered rooftop patios and hidden bars that buzz with activity throughout the year. We love finding ways to socialize with friends. The links below will lead you to sites that provide reviews on several of the options, but just ask locals for their advice. We all have our favourites.
The museums, art galleries, and zoo are also great value and, finally, you are visiting wine country, so consider a tour of the Yarra Valley or the Mornington Peninsula. TripAdvisor provides a lot of information on your options.
I have grouped some of my favourites according to location, so you can see where you might check out a museum/gallery/site and find something delicious to eat or drink along the way. I am just starting to create this document, so this is just a starter kit to get you excited.
And just a quick tip: If you have an unlocked phone, you can get a SIM card just after you exit with your bags from customs. It is MUCH CHEAPER to buy a pay-as-you-go package (usually around $30 for a month) than to set up roaming options.
Central Business District (CBD) and the Yarra River/Birrarung
You probably already know that there’s a river that runs through Melbourne called the “Yarra” by settlers and “Birrarung” by the Indigenous people.
- The Immigration Museum
- National Gallery of Victoria
- Art Centre Melbourne (shows, etc.)
- Laneways and Arcades
- Walking Tours
- Nicholas Building
- Royal Botanic Gardens (tours, including an Aboriginal Heritage Walk
- Old Melbourne Gaol (might be on Thursday’s legal tour)
It is easy to find great food in Melbourne. I am just starting to list my favourite restaurants and cafes.
Pubs, Bars, and Dancing
- Diesel (Latin music on Thursday nights)
- Spice Market (good venue for a boogie)
- Hopscotch (on the south bank of the Yarra; live acoustic sets on Saturdays and Sundays)
- Boilermaker House (malt whiskey and craft beer)
- Curtain House (six floors with a rooftop bar, restaurant, music, etc.)
- The Arbory (on the north bank of the Yarra)
Carlton, Fitzroy, and North Melbourne
Near the law school; just north of the CBD.
- Billibellary’s Walk (A cultural interpretation of the Parkville campus landscape that provides an experience of connection to country which Wurundjeri people continue to have both physically and spiritually. The Walk is self guided.)
- The Melbourne Museum
- Victoria Market
- Melbourne Zoo
- Victoria Market (Lots of little restaurants around the perimeter—Sri Lankan, Spanish, Italian, etc.)
- Lots of Italian restaurants, including one of my favourites—D.O.C.
- Lots of Asian restaurants
- The Hotel Lincoln (gastropub)
Pubs, Bars, and Dancing
A Bit of a Tram or Train Ride Away
- Brunswick: Rumi (Middle Eastern)
- Brunswick: Hellenic Republic (Greek)
- St. Kilda: Acland Street Cake Crawl (delicious!)
Pubs, Bars, and Dancing
- Spotted Mallard (live music, often free)
- Mornington Penisula
- Yarra Valley (wine tour)
If You’re Traveling with Children
Melbourne Event and Activity Information
- Free events
- The Broadsheet (food and drink, fashion and shopping, art and design, entertainment, etc.)
- What’s On Melbourne
Movies About Australia and Other Resources
The more you know about Australia and Melbourne, the more you’ll enjoy your visit. Here’s a list of movies we’ve enjoyed. Some are serious movies, some are just for fun. You can look for these movies (or excerpts from them) from various sources including Netflix and Youtube. If you can’t find the full movies, you can at least find the trailers. And you’re welcome to send us your additions to this list.
- Mabo (2012) is an Australian docudrama TV film that tells the story of the successful legal battle waged by Torres Strait Islander man Eddie Koiki Mabo to win native land title legislation. The Mabo Court Case is an important decision in the history of Australian law, and this movie will help you understand it.
- Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) is an Australian drama film based on the book Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington Garimara. The film is loosely based on a true story of the author’s mother and two other mixed-race Aboriginal girls who ran away from the Moore River Native Settlement to return to their Aboriginal families, after being placed there in 1931. The film follows the Aboriginal girls as they walk for nine weeks along 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of the Australian rabbit-proof fence to return to their community while being pursued by white law enforcement authorities and an Aboriginal tracker.
- Bran Nue Dae (2009) is a comedy with some great musical dance scenes. In the Summer of 1969, a young man wanted to enjoy fishing and hanging out with his mates, but his mother instead sends him to the religious mission for further schooling. After being punished for an act of youthful rebellion, he runs away from the mission on a journey that ultimately leads him back home.
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) is a musical about the story of two drag queens and a transgender woman who agree to perform a drag show at a resort in Alice Springs, in the remote Australian desert. As they head west from Sydney aboard their lavender bus (named Priscilla), the three friends come to the forefront of a comedy of errors, encountering a number of strange characters, as well as incidents of homophobia, while widening comfort zones and finding new horizons. And you’d be disappointed if this movie was not on this list, right?