Whether you’ve just moved to Melbourne or have lived here all your life, studying at this University is the perfect initiation into the delights this city has to offer.
While the commute for those living in the suburbs is often long and tedious (but a great opportunity to do your readings!) getting around the city once you’re there is relatively easy.
Melbourne has three forms of public transport: trams, trains and buses. Check out the Journey Planner function on the PTV website: ptv.vic.gov.au. Allow for delays in peak hour.
To travel on public transport, you will need a Myki. These can be bought and topped up at 7-Elevens, Australia Post offices and train stations. Eligible students may use a concession Myki. However, it requires a PTV Concession Card or a Healthcare Card, not just your student card.
Pedestrian safety tips
First and foremost, you better be prepared to do some walking because everything in Melbourne is relatively close to each other and accessible on foot. Drivers in Australia are courteous and usually give way to pedestrians, but here are some things to keep in mind nonetheless:
- Always look to your right for oncoming traffic on Australian roads.
- At traffic lights, don’t start to cross the road when you see the red walking signal start to flash.
- In Australia, cars make left turns when pedestrians are crossing (although as previously mentioned, they are expected to give way to pedestrians) so be aware of this.
- Never try to cross a road from between parked cars. Drivers can’t see you and you can’t see them.
- Always walk on the footpath.
If a footpath is not available, walk facing oncoming traffic and stick to the kerb as closely as possible.
- Be aware of cyclists who may be riding their bicycles on the footpath.
- If you absolutely have to walk when it is late at night, be aware of your surroundings. Some drunk and disorderly people might be encountered, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.
Trams, trains and buses
Trams are a quick and effective way to get around, and most of the CBD is covered by a free tram zone — although this doesn’t extend to Parkville campus, so make sure you ‘touch on’ your Myki if you’re getting off at the uni Swanston Street tram stop. Ticket inspectors love hanging out there!
Myki can now be used on all trams, trains and buses in metropolitan Melbourne. It is also simple to use: just top up credit in your Myki before you travel, and “touch on” each time you board and touch off when you alight. Myki automatically calculates the cheapest fare for you (which saves you the trouble of having to figure it out on your own) and can be purchased/topped-up online or at certain tram stops.
When topping up your Myki, you can choose between Myki Pass, Myki Money or a combination of the two. Deciding on which works best for you depends on your travel patterns. If you commute often and normally travel in the same zones, go for Myki Pass. On the other hand, if your travel patterns vary and you want flexibility then you should pick Myki Money. Note that your Myki can store both options, but it will always use the Myki Pass first. For more information or to get your Myki, visit myki website.
Melbourne Bike Share
Riding a bike is a great and cheap way to get around. Known for its bike culture, there are many Bike Share outposts, including Union House: melbournebikeshare.com.au. Bikes are free for less than 30 minutes. Or subscribe for little money a day / week / month. Make sure you grab a free helmet or bring your own helmet as it is required by law for cyclists to wear one! There are excellent bike routes: bicyclenetwork.com.au. Happy cycling!
Taxis / cabs
Melbourne taxis are abundant and very easy to spot as they are all uniformly yellow. While cabs often wait in designated ranks that are clearly signposted, you can also hail one in the street. Pick taxis with illuminated rooftop lights, as this means they are available for hire. Alternatively, you can book one by phone. Some handy numbers include those for 13CABS (132 227) and Silvertop Taxi Service (131 008).
Some useful notes:
- If you’re in a big group, it may be a good idea to book in advance and ask for a “maxi taxi”.
- Melbourne taxi meters are usually clearly visible, so you can easily keep check of your fare.
- Late night taxi trips (between 10pm and 5am) must be paid for in advance. Use the fare estimator (http://www.transport.vic.gov.au/taxis/customers/taxi-fares-in-victoria) to work out what your up-front costs are likely to be.
- Melbourne cabs may attract additional fees like a late night surcharge (midnight to 6am), fee for phone bookings, a fee for using the Citylink freeway and even a fee for taxis waiting at the airport rank.
V/Line is the train and coach service that serves areas in Regional Victoria such as Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo. It even connects to Sydney and Adelaide. So if you’re longing to explore but don’t have a car, then this could be the best option for you. V/Line’s main terminal is located at Southern Cross Station, Spencer Street. For fare and destination details, visit www.vline.com.au.
Travelling to / from the airport
Melbourne is mainly served by the Melbourne Tullamarine Airport (also know as the Tulla), as well as the Avalon Airport for some domestic flights. The Tullamarine Airport currently serves most international flights and international students will find themselves frequenting it each time they fly to/from home. As a result, here are a couple of convenient ways to travel to and from the airport. The first of course, is to hail a cab.
A one-way trip from the CBD to the Tullamarine Airport is estimated to cost about AUD$50. While this is a good arrangement if you’re travelling with companions (and thus able to split cab fare), it can be a little steep if you’re travelling solo.
Other options include:
- Trips to/from the Southern Cross Station (corner Bourke & Spencer Streets) and kerbside outside international and domestic arrivals.
- Leaves every 10-15 minutes
- No booking or reservations required
- New service that travels along major arterial roads (eg Epping and Broadmeadows train stations) and terminates at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport
- Metcard and Myki are acceptable payment methods
- Call +613 9791 2988 for more information
- Departs to/from your doorstep and outside the terminal from which your flight leaves
- Call +613 8378 8700 for more information
Other than using public transport, some students may opt to buy a car to drive themselves around. While this is convenient, bear in mind that finding a parking space around campus or in the CBD during peak hours can be quite a hassle. Parking charges may also be quite steep for students on a budget.
That aside, keep in mind that you need a valid driver’s license to handle a vehicle. In Victoria, Overseas driver’s licenses are accepted provided that they are current and in English (or if accompanied by an English translation). Translations are only accepted by a NAATI accredited (any level) translator, an official translation from the country of origin, or appropriate consulate in Australia. An International Driving Permit is also acceptable as a translation of your driver’s license.
Alternatively, you can apply for a Victorian driver’s license. For more information, visit Victoria Roads.
There’s plenty of interesting activities to do around the city like visiting cute cafes, art galleries, traditional pubs, libraries, street festivals, graffiti laneways… Many events and attractions are discounted or free for students: thatsmelbourne.com.au.
If you have days off, free time on weekends or gaps between classes, make the most of studying so close to the city. You’ll never run out of things to do in Melbourne!