Stretching along the Yarra River just a short stroll from the city center, Southbank is a vibrant area of restaurants, cafes, cultural institutions and shops. It is a major hub of live entertainment, with venues such as Hamer Hall, the State Theatre and the Playhouse situated within the Arts Centre, as well as being home to the famous Crown Casino.Southbank was once a largely dilapidated industrial area that was reinvigorated to become one of Melbourne’s cultural hot spots. It’s dotted with outdoor art sculptures and is always frequented by street performers and live musicians. By day there are beautiful views across the Yarra River towards the city skyscrapers, while at night the promenade is illuminated by twinkling lights.
Architectural landmarks in Southbank include the iconic Melbourne Convention And Exhibition Centre, which has won numerous awards for its design, and the Eureka Tower that boasts the Southern Hemisphere’s highest viewing platform. Take the elevator up to the 297-meter high Skydeck 88 for unparalleled views over the city within its glass-bottomed cube known as The Edge.
A short walk from the Exhibition and Conference Centre is the Polly Woodside Maritime Museum, set around a beautifully restored tall ship. You can tour this late-19th-century vessel which originated from Belfast and learn more in the interactive visitor’s center.
Also of note is the Sandridge Pedestrian Bridge that runs diagonally to the river banks and was transformed from an old railway line. It features a row of abstract sculptures known as “The Travellers” by artist Nadim Karam, which represent the immigrants that once arrived at Melbourne’s Station Pier by train.
Time your visit for a Sunday when the Southbank arts and crafts market sets up shop, with local artisans selling unique gifts and home wares. Or soak up the views of Southbank on a cruise along the Yarra River, some of which travel all the way to Melbourne’s oldest maritime seaport at Williamstown Bay.