It's V for Victoria! The battle has been won and Melbourne is keen to get on with what it does best - culture, coffee and charming visitors, writes Sue Wallace.
The city is looking its pristine best and bursting with energy as Melburnians celebrate an exciting fresh start. There's a new vibrancy to the city as it welcomes everyone back to enjoy its fabulous dining, mural-filled laneways, eclectic galleries and engaging museums.
This week saw the opening of the NSW and Tasmanian borders to Victoria. There were emotional scenes at the airport with loved ones finally being reunited in both Sydney and Melbourne. It's now time to show a bit of love to Victoria's capital city. Famed for its wonderful art galleries, cool coffee culture and fabulous sporting events, Melbourne has something for all. Everyone from fashionistas, sports' lovers and coffee devotees are smitten by this bright southern city.
Stock up on fresh produce at Melbourne's iconic food markets, including the Queen Victoria Market with its many stalls, as well as Prahran and South Melbourne markets.
Create your own picnic by shopping for cheese at Prahran's Maker & Monger or make it easy and order a Park Life picnic box from Cookes Food or a Parisian Pique-nique from Entrecte.
Melbourne's largest outdoor floating bar and restaurant, Arbory Afloat, is back on the Yarra River, this year drawing inspiration from the Australian beach house. Chill out and enjoy the Mediterranean-inspired dishes.
A new outdoor pop-up, Lakeside at Carousel, occupies the iconic Carousel building at Albert Park Lake serves meze platters, salad bowls, charcuterie and cheese boards.
The Commons at Ormond Collective features a beautiful garden cafe and wine bar with a menu of local, seasonal products. The leafy new outdoor venue in St Kilda has four outlets spread across its terraces and gardens. There's a full menu for pooches and puppy parking as well.
Coffee-lovers will enjoy Code Black, a South Melbourne outpost created by popular coffee roasters, who serve signature brews and brunch. To discover the city's culinary bounty, sign up for a food and wine tour.
Where to stay: The Larwill Studio in Parkville has rooms from $180 per night. Visit artserieshotel.com.
Indulge big time at The Langham Melbourne with the new Suite Arrival package which includes a service stylist for your stay, luxe treatments at Chuan Spa and dinner for two served in your own private dining room of the Chairman's Suite paired with wines. Lounge back in your personalised designer pyjamas and enjoy a glass of French champagne with breakfast in bed, plus many extra treats. Langham Guests can also step aboard the hotel's new chic boat for a leisurely cruise on the Yarra River with a delicious picnic for two, plus wine.
For serious pampering Miss Fox in the CBD offers a 4.5-hour Dream Within A Dream Ritual with eight treatments, a spa lunch, artisan teas and bottomless bubbles.
Take to the skies in a private helicopter Microflite tour that will whisk you over Melbourne landmarks or further afield to the Great Ocean Road.
Love perfume? You can create your own bespoke fragrance with Fleurage, a Melbourne perfume studio where you can mix a personalised scent assisted by a perfumer.
Dine at one of Melbourne's top restaurants, Vue de Monde on top of the Rialto, with killer views and sensational tastes including a seasonal tasting menu created by star chef Shannon Bennett.
Enjoy a cocktail or nightcap at Gimlet at Cavendish House where restaurateur Andrew McConnell reigns - it resembles a Chicago-style 1920s building in the CBD. Dress to impress.
Where to stay: The Langham Melbourne has rooms from $250 a night. Visit langhamhotels.com.
Talk to the animals at the Melbourne Zoo in Parkville where you can visit the Lion Gorge, explore the Trail of the Elephants and watch dainty butterflies flit around in the butterfly house. The newly landscaped Dino Lab is home to baby dinosaurs sleeping in a nest and there's an incubation station to see the breeding program. Kids can do their own excavations on a dino dig.
Fancy seeing a teensy-weensy model of a cow or a giant mosquito? Then head to the Mini Mega Model Museum Exhibition at Melbourne Museum on until 11 July 2021.
Watch adorable penguins at play and see sharks dart around at the Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium also home to Pinjarra, a hefty 55-year-old male saltwater crocodile.
Collingwood Children's Farm is a great chance to see cute farm animals and learn about farm life.
Enjoy a bird's-eye view of the city in a cosy cabin on the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel with spectacular views and just for fun, jump aboard one of the city's iconic trams
Fed Square showcases Greenhouse by Joost, a 100-per-cent sustainable modern urban farm, featuring vertical veggie gardens and mushroom walls, and other living inhabitants such as fish, crickets and worms.
Where to stay: Roar 'n' Snore at Melbourne Zoo from $225 per adult ($160 per child). Visit zoo.org.au.
Tick off that bucket list and start with a tandem sky dive over St Kilda Beach - attached to a professional; it's sure to set your heart racing.
Hot-air ballooning offers a slow drift over the city with amazing views followed by a hearty gourmet breakfast.
Ramp up the adrenalin flow with a forward abseil rappelling experience face-first down the side of a seven-storey building in Melbourne's CBD (book through adrenaline.com.au).
WAM Wild Adventures Melbourne offers mountain biking and paddleboarding and you can get behind the wheel of a V8 race car where you will feel the g-force with a leading Australian V8 driver team for four laps at Sandown Raceway.
Learn how to surf with Urbnsurf at Melbourne's urban surf park that caters for all levels.
Melbourne is set to host some great sporting events in the next few months including the traditional Boxing Day Test at the MCG and the Australian Open Tennis at Rod Laver Arena.
Where to stay: The Prince St Kilda has rooms from $208. Visit theprince.com.au.
Drive: Melbourne is a 10-hour drive from Sydney on the Hume Highway.
Fly: Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar are flying from Sydney to Melbourne with prices from $180.
Explore more: visitvictoria.com.au
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