Have you ever thought of Melbourne’s Docklands area as a must-see tourist destination…somewhere you’d choose to stay, play and eat right at the city’s doorstep?
Today, Docklands is shining as brightly as ever, in some ways due to the re-opening of the giant Ferris wheel which was closed for several years…it’s now called the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. It’s the world’s seventh largest, and it is the focal point of a vibrant new entertainment, dining and shopping precinct called The District.
The District embraces a wide range of activities and attractions including a microbrewery, a “secret forest” for kids of all ages, Archie’s indoor circus with bowling alleys and arcade games, an ice sports arena and a luxury HOYTS cinema complex.
Artvo is proving popular, described as Australia’s first ‘trick art’ gallery experience. The fun starts when you photograph your family or friends against a wide variety of realistic and challenging backgrounds, then send out your Instagrams.
Glow Golf is a highlight, played in a dark, luminescent miniature golf course around iconic Australian sites and includes Melbourne’s smallest bar. Then there’s Dialogue in the Dark, a sensory educational experience in total darkness where you’re led through a simulated Melbourne city by guides who are blind or have low vision … in partnership with Guide Dogs Australia.
Docklands has plenty more to offer, with the promenade now buzzing again with coffee shops and a diverse range of harbourside food outlets. The Docklands Public Art Walk is a curated self-guided walking tour around the district exhibiting more than 36 sculptures and artworks, complementing the urban landscape and architecture. The Portarlington ferry also leaves from here, allowing you a day-trip to the other side of Port Phillip Bay where beautiful beaches, walks and a laid-back lifestyle awaits.
PEPPERS SPICES UP THE DOCKLANDS
Poised next to Marvel (previously Etihad) Stadium and a short, complimentary buggy-ride from Southern Cross Station you’ll find Peppers Docklands Hotel. The opening of this property in 2016 brought a new standard of affordable luxury to the precinct and it’s become an important part of the area’s revitalisation.
The hotel overlooks Victoria Harbour, Central Pier and the promenade, all an easy walk. There are two bike-hire stations close by, and the free City Circle tram stop is right at the door. This means that you’re at the city edge, away from the traffic noise and crowds of shoppers. It’s also a short walk to the Melbourne Arts Centre, home to the wonderful Melbourne Symphony Orchestra; and the world famous National Gallery of Victoria.
Just 3 tram stops from Peppers you’ll find Melbourne’s newest trendy jazz bar/restaurant called Bird’s Basement, a purpose-built live music venue featuring leading Australian and International jazz performers… www.birdsbasement.com
Peppers rooms (some with balconies) are generously sized with large TV screens, and bathrooms feature luxury amenities, a rain shower and fluffy bathrobes.
Unusual for a city hotel, Peppers Docklands gives you access to a fully-equipped gym and an outdoor swimming pool…yes it’s heated, this is Melbourne.
The hotel’s restaurant MOMAMI is a comfortable, understated space off the lobby, with healthy breakfast choices such as house-made granola or a chia bowl with berries and coconut yoghurt. The dinner menu is “modern Australian” with many options offering exceptional value in a town noted for pricey fine dining.
As a footnote, the Peppers team from front desk through to restaurant and housekeeping are the friendliest, most helpful crew we’ve encountered in an Australian hotel for some time. The multicultural staff spiced up our stay with lots of stories of their various homelands and their experiences in Australia.
By Phil Hawkes
Main Picture: Melbourne Star