Melbourne Cruise Port (Australia), Things to Do, Shore Excursions

Melbourne, Australia

Welcome to Melbourne cruise port, Australia!

The capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria and the second-largest city in Australia, Melbourne ranks among the top 3 most visited cruise ports in Australia together with Sydney and Brisbane.

In this article, I share with you insider information on:

  • Melbourne cruise port (Melbourne cruise terminal, getting around, useful info & tips)
  • Top 10 things to do in Melbourne, the best Melbourne shore excursions

Read New Zealand and Australian cruise port guides

Melbourne Cruise Terminal

Melbourne port is located at the northern end of Port Phillip Bay, a large metropolitan area where the majority of the city’s population is concentrated.

The cruise ships dock at Station Pier, Melbourne’s main cruise ship terminal that can accommodate two large cruise ships (berth lengths 730 ft/223 m; 1310 ft/400 m) and one small cruise vessel (berth length 310 ft/95 m) at a time. Station Pier cruise terminal also has another pier that serves The Spirit of Tasmania ferries which take passengers between Melbourne and Devonport, Tasmania.

Station Pier is located approximately 5 km/3 miles from Melbourne city center (also known as Central Business District), or a 15-20 minute driving distance.

Melbourne cruise port map
Melbourne cruise port map. Source: google.com/maps/

Station Pier cruise terminal building features a wide range of services including a tourist information center (offers free maps, brochures, cruise ship arrival guides), a small cafe, lounge area, lifts, accessible toilets, a gift shop, security screening, Route 109 tram service counter (level 2), a taxi rank, etc.

The port of Melbourne was formerly named “Railway Pier” and dates back to 1854. Throughout history, it was the center of many significant events for the Victoria state and nowadays port Melbourne is listed in the “Victorian Heritage Register” of protected cultural heritage places. While there, make sure you visit the Gate House and pier, both heritage listed.

Melbourne port is also Australia’s largest containership cargo port and features dry dock facilities for marine vessel refurbishments and repairs.

Useful Info:

  • The currency in Australia is the Australian Dollar (AUD). 1 AUD equals around 0.70 USD. See the currency converter
  • Free wi-fi is available at the end of the pier. The city center also has free wi-fi spots including Melbourne Central Station, the public libraries, Federation Square, Flinders Street, and others.
  • The distance from the main gate (security checkpoint) to the cruise terminal building is around 500 m/1650 ft, so be prepared for a short walk to exit the terminal area. Cars are allowed on the pier only when picking up/dropping off wheelchair-users and passengers with disabilities (this service must be pre-arranged with the cruise ship). During the cruise ship season, there is a wheelchair-accessible shuttle bus service to Beacon Cove terminus (end of the terminal).
  • The best option to go to Melbourne city center is via public transport. To use trams, trains and public buses, you need to buy Myki public transport pass that you can purchase at the “Public Transport Victoria” ticket booth available at the terminal building’s upper level. You can also buy this smart card in station ticket offices, Myki machines at selected stations and stops, shops, “Public Transport Victoria” hubs, online, and hundreds of other places in the Melbourne metropolitan area.
  • The Myki card costs A$6 and then you need to top it up. For cruise passengers and tourists, Myki Explorer/Visitor Pack is the most affordable option; it includes one day’s unlimited travel on public transport in Melbourne, costs A$15 and combines a ready-to-use Myki card, visitor information and special offers all in one.
  • You can buy and read more about how the Myki smartcard works on https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/ 
  • For cruise passengers, Route 109 tram is the most convenient option. The nearest tram station is called “Beacon Cove/Light Rail (Port Melbourne)” and is located within a 10-minute walking distance from the Station Pier cruise terminal. At the tram station’s ticket office, you can purchase the Myki card as well. The tram ride is very scenic and takes 25 minutes’ ride to get to the Melbourne city center (the “Town Hall/Collins St” tram stop at Federation Square). To go back to the cruise terminal, board any of the Route 109 trams whose stations you’ll find along Collins St.
  • On ship call days, Route 109 “City Express” bus (PTV shuttle service) operates from the terminal to Melbourne downtown (Central Business District, also known as CBD). This shuttle service is available only in the morning and requires the use of Myki cards, too. The shuttle drop-off/pick-up point is at the “Arts Centre” bus stop on St Kilda Rd, located opposite Arts Centre Melbourne.
  • Taxis are available outside the cruise terminal area, within a 10-minute walk from the terminal building. You should pre-order them online or from dedicated phones in the cruise terminal building. A taxi to the Central Business District (Melbourne downtown) costs around A$24 per vehicle one-way, so if you are traveling as a couple or in a group of 4, this may be the cheapest option.
  • No public parking is available at the Station Pier cruise ship terminal. Car parking is available at locations “Ace Parking | 43-53 Bay St, Port Melbourne” and “Ace Parking | Bayside Port Melbourne” approximately 950 m/0.6 miles from the Station Pier. Limited short‐term parking is available at Waterfront Place, within a 5-10 minute walk from the terminal building. Melbourne Airport also offers long-term parking facilities.
  • Melbourne Tullamarine Airport (MEL) is located 26 km/16 miles north of Station Pier (a 25-minute drive). To get to the Station Pier terminal from the airport, you can take the Melbourne City Express bus to Melbourne CBD (Southern Cross Station) and then switch to the Route 109 tram on Collins St. A single adult fare is A$19.75 one-way. You can read more on https://www.skybus.com.au/
  • Search for the best hotels in Melbourne

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Within a Walking Distance from the Port

The port of Melbourne is perfectly safe to walk around and an enjoyable place to spend a day. The commercial area is located within a 15-minute walking distance from the Station Pier and is centered around Beach Street and Bay Street, where you can find numerous cafes, shops and eateries.

Port Phillip’s Bay is known for its excellent beaches including Port Melbourne Beach, one of the most popular and visited ones, situated within a 20-minute walking distance from the terminal. This wide clean sandy beach is great for swimming and offers various facilities and activities including a workout area, beach volley, cycling path, beach tennis, kayaking, windsurfing, paddle-board and others.

Port Melbourne Beach is family-friendly and known as a popular picnic area boasting gorgeous sunset views. The waterfront area is lined with palms, green areas and you’ll find numerous shops and eateries nearby. The picturesque Lagoon Pier and Kerferd Road Pier are two very popular scenic spots nestled along the beach.

Top 10 Things to Do in Melbourne Cruise Port

Before I share with you the best things to do in Melbourne, I invite you to subscribe below and get my exclusive, insider SHORE EXCURSION GUIDE FOR FREE!

1. Melbourne Skydeck 

Situated on the 88th floor of the Eureka Tower, Melbourne Skydeck is the Southern Hemisphere’s highest observation deck that offers spectacular views of the city and an opportunity to observe Melbourne from a whole different perspective.

Eureka Tower is 297 m (974 ft) high, with 91 floors above ground plus one basement level. The imposing skyscraper ranks among the tallest residential buildings in the world and dominates the skyline with its impressive facade made of 52000 m² of glass and 40 000 m² of aluminum panels.

Eureka Tower Melbourne
Eureka Tower. Source: Pixabay.com

The Skydeck features Bar 88 where visitors can admire the 360° panoramic views of the city while enjoying delicious snacks and drinks. Another feature of the Skydeck is The Edge, a glass cube that projects out from the Skydeck, leaving visitors suspended nearly 300 m above the streets of the city.

If you look for a more sophisticated option, head over to Eureka 89 restaurant for the ultimate fine dining experience where you can indulge in the specialties created by top-class, award-winning Executive Chef Renee Martillano. Eureka 89 is located on the top floor and is a popular event space available for rent.

Virtual reality Plank Experience (VR Plank) and the Voyager Theater are two other Skydeck attractions featuring state-of-the-art virtual reality technology and offering unforgettable moments on Melbourne’s architectural masterpiece.

Useful tips:

  • Find more information on https://www.melbourneskydeck.com.au/
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Bring local currency or credit card.
  • Don’t carry valuables with you.
  • Eureka Tower is located a 20-minute drive from the Station Pier cruise terminal.

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Check out Eureka Skydeck tours and tickets

2. Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

The stunning Melbourne botanic gardens date back to 1848 and extend over 89 acres (36 hectares) displaying over 8.500 different species of plants from around the world, including the rare and threatened species.

The immaculately kept gardens are admission free so visitors can freely explore this picturesque oasis located in the heart of the city. You can explore its wonderful flowers, trees, pavilions, tranquil lakes, fountains, lawns on your own, or learn about the garden’s natural treasures on a guided heritage tour. In the gardens, there are also a visitor center, a gift shop and a couple of cafes.

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria - Melbourne, Australia
Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. Photo courtesy of Roxana Popescu.

Useful tips:

  • The walking paths are well maintained, partially accessible/wheelchair-friendly.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes.
  • Bring local currency/credit card.
  • The driving time to the Royal Botanic Garden from the dock is approximately 20 minutes.
  • Find more information on https://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/

Explore Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria tours and activities

3. Queen Victoria Market  

Queen Victoria Market is one of the major landmarks in the Central Business District of Melbourne, dating back to 1878. Covering more than 5 hectares, the iconic market takes up two city blocks and is the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere.

This authentic historic market is home to more than 600 shops and stalls and a great place to find everything you need, from fresh seafood, meat, fruits, veggies, to ground coffee, specialty produce, handmade products, souvenirs, clothing, and so much more!

Queen Victoria Market - Melbourne cruise port
Queen Victoria Market. Source: Pixabay.com

Useful tips:

  • Bring local currency.
  • Queen Victoria Market is wheelchair-friendly.
  • It is located a 20-minute drive from the port of Melbourne.
  • Find out about events and market opening hours on https://qvm.com.au/

Explore Queen Victoria Market tours and activities

4. National Gallery of Victoria 

Situated on St Kilda Rd, in the heart of Melbourne’s central business district, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is the oldest and most visited art museum in Victoria dating from 1861.

The gallery boasts outstanding collections of Australian, Asian and international art including works of Arthur Boyd, John Brack, Russell Drysdale, Nicolas Poussin, Rembrandt, Jan van Eyck, Thomas Gainsborough and other notable world-famous artists.

The National Gallery of Victoria is partially wheelchair accessible. Read more on the official webpage https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/

Explore The National Gallery of Victoria tours and activities

5. Melbourne Cricket Ground

Locally known as “The G”, Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is the legendary Australian sports stadium located in Yarra Park, within a short walking distance from Melbourne’s central business district and the city’s highlights.

This iconic stadium is the home of Australian football, The National Sports Museum and is the largest stadium in the Southern Hemisphere that has hosted the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games, the annual Boxing Day Test Match, and the Australian Football League (AFL) Grand Final.

The stadium features tours, shops, bars, cafes and serves as a venue for music festivals and events. Read more on https://www.mcg.org.au/

Check out Melbourne Cricket Ground tours and activities

6. Werribee Open Range Zoo

Nestled along the banks of Werribee River, 32 km/20 miles (a 30-minute drive) southwest of Melbourne, Werribee Zoo is an African-themed zoo offering a unique African Savannah-like experience.

This amazing zoo offers one-of-a-kind encounters with African native wildlife including Western lowland gorillas, African lions, African wild dogs, hippos, servals, cheetahs, vervet monkeys, leopard tortoises, meerkats, and other rare and endangered species.

Here you can also spot Australian native animals including emu, kangaroos, brolgas, koalas, and more! One of the Werribee Zoo attractions is a safari tour through the 225 hectares of wide-open savannah allowing visitors to see the camels, American bison, ostrich, Indian antelope, nyala, addax, rhinos, zebras, giraffes and other animals of Asia, North America and Africa.

Werribee Open Range Zoo Melbourne
Werribee Open Range Zoo. Source: Pixabay.com

The zoo also features facilities including picnic areas, a BBQ hire, cafe-restaurants and more! Find out more information on https://www.zoo.org.au/werribee/

Explore Werribee Zoo tours and activities

7. Serendip Sanctuary

Serendip Sanctuary is a 227 ha protected wildlife oasis located around 60 km/37 miles southwest of Melbourne, home to hundreds of native animals including kangaroos, wallabies, emus and rare bird species. Some of the wildlife you can encounter here are eastern grey kangaroos, pademelons, tawny frogmouths, bush stone-curlews, Australian bustards, freckled ducks, inland bearded dragon, wild koalas and many other species.

Serendip Sanctuary displays the open grassy woodlands and wetlands of the volcanic Western Plains and is the perfect place for native wildlife spotting. Facilities are available and they include a visitor center and a public picnic area with a fully accessible toilet. The entrance is free of charge.

Useful tips:

  • Make sure you bring a local currency/credit card.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Serendip Sanctuary is wheelchair-accessible.
  • It is located at 100 Windermere Road, Lara, a 45-minute drive from the port of Melbourne.
  • Read more on https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/

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8. Dandenong Ranges

Dotted with rolling hills, waterfalls, tall mountain ash trees and numerous hiking and biking trails, The Dandenong Ranges National Park consists of low mountain ranges rising to 633 m/2076 ft.

The area is popular for a multitude of beautiful picnic spots including the Fern Tree Gully Picnic Ground, One Tree Hill or Sherbrooke Forest, home to an array of colorful birds and the world’s tallest flowering plant, the mountain ash. Most cruise lines offer shore excursions to Sherbrooke Forest, where you can spend an enjoyable day with your loved ones, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Numerous tracks and trails are available if you want to walk, hike or cycle, and if you want to explore the region head out for a scenic drive through the ranges with lookouts offering wonderful views of the ocean and surrounding mountains.

If you are a wine lover, you will get the chance to taste the prestigious and delicious wines of Yarra Valley, a famous wine region nestled at the foot of Dandenong Ranges, home to more than 150 wineries, award-winning vineyards and cellar doors whose winemaking tradition dates back to the first half of the 19th century. Another popular wine region is Mornington Peninsula, located southwest of Port Phillip and southeast of Dandenong Ranges National Park.

Useful tips:

  • Dandenong Ranges are located approximately 50 km/31 miles (a 1-hour drive) east of Melbourne cruise port.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes and comfortable attire.
  • Bring local currency.
  • If you are going for the wine tasting, keep in mind the age restrictions for consuming alcohol (in Australia, you are allowed to consume alcohol if you are 18 and older).
  • Mornington Peninsula is located around 75 km/46 miles (around a 1 hour 15 minutes drive) from the port.

Check out Dandenong Ranges tours and attractions

9. Healesville Town

Healesville is a town in Victoria located around 70 km/43 miles (a 1-hour 20-minute drive) northeast of Melbourne, in the scenic Yarra Valley grape growing region known for its picturesque landscapes and renowned wines.

Healesville Victoria - Yarra Valley
Yarra Valley. Source: Pixabay.com

Surrounded by rolling hills, vineyards, fruit and berry farms and mountains, Healesville is a popular tourist destination and a popular getaway to Melbourne’s countryside. This charming town is centered around the shady tree-lined boulevard of Nicholson Street, where you can enjoy a great variety of specialty shops, cafes, restaurants and a modern shopping complex built around a large supermarket.

Two other major attractions are Healesville Sanctuary where you can interact with Australian wildlife and the historic Yarra Valley Railway, offering an incredible heritage journey through the valley (more about the railway on http://www.yvr.org.au/)

10. Healesville Sanctuary

Healesville Sanctuary is located 4 km/2.5 miles south of Healesville town and is one of the major attractions of this part of Victoria state.

This historic wildlife refuge dates back to 1934 and boasts an impressive collection of Australian native birds, mammals and reptiles. The sanctuary features numerous tracks and boardwalks where you can get close to kangaroos, koalas, platypus, dingo and other native animals in their natural habitat. Within the complex, you can also find facilities including three cafe-restaurants, picnic areas, playgrounds, and more.

Useful tips: 

  • Closed-toe shoes are recommended.
  • Find more information on https://www.zoo.org.au/healesville
  • Healesville Sanctuary is located a 1-hour 20-minute drive from the Station Pier cruise terminal.

Explore Healesville Sanctuary tours and activities

Wrapping Up

If you are visiting Melbourne cruise port, make sure to plan the day to get the most of this incredible port of call!

Read more about New Zealand and Australian cruise ports here

10 Best Things to Do in Melbourne Cruise Port
  1. Melbourne Skydeck
  2. Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
  3. Queen Victoria Market
  4. National Gallery of Victoria
  5. Melbourne Cricket Ground
  6. Werribee Open Range Zoo
  7. Serendip Sanctuary
  8. Dandenong Ranges
  9. Healesville Town
  10. Healesville Sanctuary

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