For such a sprawling city, getting around Melbourne with children is surprisingly easy. Public transport is so easy to navigate too, with very regular services operating until late at night to all of the major tourist attractions and popular areas of the city.
When you arrive…
The first thing you will need to do when you get to Melbourne is navigate your way from the airport to your accommodation. After some on the ground research, we found that for a family of 4 (2 adults and two children aged over 4 and under 16 years) the Skybus was the most economical option. Skybus offers an express service from their dedicated kerb-side locations at Terminals 1 and 3 at Melbourne Airport—servicing both domestic and international travellers. The Skybus operates 24 hours a day, and will deliver you to Southern Cross Station in the Melbourne CBD, where you can then take advantage of the complimentary Skybus Hotel Transfer service to a select range of CBD hotels and apartments. Even for a family of four, one way and return Skybus tickets cost substantially less than a taxi ride to Melbourne’s CBD. Leaving every 10 minutes from Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport during the day (and only slightly less frequently at other times), the Skybus is an efficient and comfortable way to travel from or to the airport, and has the added benefit of free Wi-Fi on board.
To find out more about the Skybus service, please visit www.skybus.com.au.
Public transport in Melbourne
Melbourne public transport operates on a Myki card system—credit can be added to one single card that is able to be used on all forms of public transport within the city (Melbourne’s trains, trams and buses, V/Line commuter train services and buses in Seymour, Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, the Latrobe Valley and Warragul). Myki cards are readily available for visitors to purchase or top-up at a number of outlets, including 7-Eleven stores and major stations, however we found it easiest to buy our card at the Melbourne airport Skybus station when we arrived so that we were all ready to go. A Myki Visitor Value Pack is available, consisting of a Myki loaded with a small amount of credit for getting around Melbourne, a Myki card wallet, plus a bundle of discount vouchers for family friendly attractions in Melbourne. Credit can be added to your Myki online, at official outlets, or at any one of the numerous Myki machines located at public transport stops across the city. You should touch your Myki on to a Myki reader on board your transport (or at the train station gates) at the start of your journey and each time you change mode or board a different vehicle. You then simply touch off at the end of each trip, and each time you change your mode of transport or exit a vehicle, so the system charges you the lowest fare for your journey.
You can find out more about Myki cards here – www.ptv.vic.gov.au/tickets/myki.
Trams in Melbourne
Trams really are the easiest mode of transport for getting around Melbourne. They run frequently and are comfortable and easy to use. Being low to the ground, the modern Yarra Trams are reasonably easy to board with a pram too. The tram network covers so much of the city that there are not many places that cannot be reached on a tram.
A FREE tram zone encompasses the entire CBD area. This zone spreads from Flinders Street in the south, to Latrobe Street and the Queen Victoria Market in the north, and from Victoria Harbour in the west to Spring Street in the east. This means that you can jump on and off city trams within this zone without paying or needing to swipe your Myki card. If you are hopping on in the free zone, but disembarking outside of the free zone, you will need to touch on and off with your Myki card.
A map of the free tram zone can be found here – www.ptv.vic.gov.au/assets/Images/maps/Network-maps/PTV_FreeTramZone_Map.pdf
Apps to help you navigate transport in Melbourne
As long as you have data or Wi-Fi access on your smart phone or tablet, navigating public transport in Melbourne can be a breeze! Two FREE apps helped us greatly on our family visit –
- Public Transport Victoria (PTV) – Available for iOS and Android
Input your destination and this app will give you public transport options for reaching it from your current location. It even includes connecting instructions to get you from one stop to another on foot, with GPS tracking showing you where you are on the map along the way!
- Tram Tracker – Available for iOS and Android
Tram Tracker offers real-time tram arrival information for any tram stop in Melbourne. Every tram within Melbourne also has a unique ID, which can be usually be found above the doors inside the tram. Using the ‘myTRAM’ function, you can type in your tram ID and the Tram Tracker will track your journey. This comes in especially handy when you want to relax on your journey knowing exactly how many stops you have until you reach your destination!
The Public Transport Victoria website contains lots more info for planning your transport within Melbourne.