Being a traveller means that you may not always have money. I know this to be the truth, especially over the Christmas period when you take time off work/work in hospitality and therefore are given no work until after January when the world has recovered from Christmas over-spending. During this time, then, it is prudent to find things to do for free. Luckily Melbourne, being such a diverse and cultural city, has so many things to do for free when money is tight.
The first free activity is something I have touched upon a couple of times before; Geocaching. Geocaching is like a worldwide treasure hunt which uses GPS in order to locate hidden treasure in random places you may never have thought to look. The treasure consists of waterproof containers with trinkets and cards inside which you can trade. You can also leave the treasure untouched and simply fill in the log book with your Geocaching name. There is a whole online world devoted to Geocaching where you can record your finds electronically, post a new location or review a cache that you have been lucky enough to find.
The caches are rated from 1-5 in difficulty and the person who planted the cache will leave tips or sometimes obscure clues on how to find the hidden treasure. With the use of an app on her iPhone, Stef has found almost 100 caches all around the world and got Dayna and myself hooked on it when we were looking for something to do one day. We spent around three hours wandering around the South Yarra area finding just under 20 caches in one day. It took us all over the suburb and to some incredibly obscure places, including one cache that was disguised as a boulder in a rock garden.
I recommend Geocaching on a sunny day, and remember to take some hand-sanitizer with you as you may well have to put your hand in some pretty disgusting places. For more information on Geocaching, and to look for caches in your area, head to https://www.geocaching.com/play.
If you are in Melbourne during December and are interested in tennis, may I recommend the Australian Open Wildcard Playoffs? This is an exhibition of Australian tennis players who are outside the world’s top 100 competing for a wildcard for a place in the main draw at the Australian Open. Not only is it a great way to showcase young tennis players, it also gives them a chance to play in conditions they may not be used to playing in, on the iconic Melbourne Park blue tennis courts.
The location of these playoffs great; with the city looming over in the background and within easy reach of the city by train and tram and the time of year means that the weather will be pretty fantastic while you watch. On the day of the final this year, temperatures reached 33°C, and for a match that lasted about five hours, that was some intense heat to be sitting in for that long. I would therefore recommend bringing as much water as you can carry along with sun cream and an umbrella under which you can take cover from the sun.
One place I would say is completely underrated in Melbourne is Port Melbourne beach. Many people talk about St Kilda and how much there is to do there and how great it is, but actually St Kilda is filled with tourists and the beach there isn’t especially good. In St Kilda, I find you can’t walk for all the tourists which means that you find much of your time is spent becoming frustrated by the crowd. Port Melbourne is closer to the city than St Kilda is and much less busy so a more enjoyable place to be all around. There isn’t a great deal to do there but when you are trying not to spend money, that’s actually a very good thing.
If you are willing to branch out a spend some money on food, Bay Street is packed with good restaurants and bars, including Hunky Dory, a fish and chip shop with an enormous selection of fish, salads and combo packs for you to choose from. You can dine in or out depending on your mood and it’s a great place for people-watching.
From my new place in South Yarra, not only are we quite near to the city, but we are also close to the river and several places between here and the city are not only free, but also quite good vantage points from which to see the city. The Royal Botanic Gardens are one such place. It seems that Botanic Gardens are an easy feature of most cities; they provide tranquillity away from busy city life, but also give a refreshing garden scape in the sight of the urban jungle.
If you are someone who likes to read, or like to look at trees (there is an abundance of trees), the Botanic Gardens are the place for you. They’re free to enter, have activities going on all the time and there are ample places for you to sit and read, contemplate or create. The Melbourne skyline is visible over the trees and creates quite an interesting contrast to the lush green plant life and landscapes. There is also an open-air cinema with regular screenings of new and old films until the end of March 2015.
All of these places are accessible by a short tram or train ride and therefore it shouldn’t cost you more that $7 to have a good day out – if you plan properly! If you have done anything for free in Melbourne which you feel is worthwhile, let me know in the comments below and I may just try it out.
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