Think you've seen and experienced everything Melbourne has to offer? Think again

Travel News from Stuff - 21-11-2022

Visiting Melbourne doesn’t have to be all laneways and navigating awkward hook-turns while driving next to a tram.

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There’s a growing list of out of the ordinary things to do that will keep you on your toes.

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You can pay homage to the King, wander through a cactus wonderland, get up close and personal with a possum that hasn’t been turned into a pair of socks, look at a cupboard full of meteorites, pass through Checkpoint Charlie and fight off a cyborg invasion – all in one day.

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Despite never setting foot in Australia, let alone Melbourne, Elvis Presley has one of the most outstanding memorials in the Melbourne General Cemetery – an unlikely place for a shrine to the King of Rock and Roll.

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Elvis’ shrine is the most visited memorial in the cemetery – surpassing those of former prime ministers Malcolm Fraser and Sir Robert Menzies and even the famed Australian explorers Burke and Wills (which for more than 100 years had drawn the most visitors).

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Built in 1977, the memorial, surrounded by rocks and plants, is believed to be the world’s first memorial erected after Presley’s death and the only official one outside of the US.

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It’s hard to miss, for its size and a large photo of the King himself, and for the fact that it’s covered in flowers – both plastic and real. It’s worth a visit – whether you’re a fan of Elvis or not.

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Put on a VR headset and be transported into one of seven virtual worlds. Singularity is one of the games – and it’s the ultimate race against the machine.

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In the science-fiction shooter game, set on a station stranded in space, you’ll take on killer robots, as you navigate narrow, treacherous corridors, lifts and zero-gravity environments.

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Even though you know you’re standing firmly on concrete ground in a North Melbourne warehouse, this simulation is so realistic you’ll feel like any misstep will send you plummeting into space.

The new Arid Garden – opened at the end of 2020 – is a haven in Melbourne’s botanic gardens for succulent and cacti lovers.

Framed with sweeping views of the city skyline, you can walk through more than 3000 cacti and succulents from 400 species.

The plants were sourced in South America and Arizona in the US and some weigh up to 250 kilos and are older than 80 years old.

Created by landscape architect Andrew Laidlaw, from an aerial view the garden was designed to reflect the molecular pattern of a splayed leaf aeonium (tree houseleek succulent).

The garden is spread out, but split into small spaces linked with pathways to wander through. Despite being in the middle of a major city, you feel transported into an arid land.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, Wunderkammer is your one-stop shop for all weird and wonderful things taxidermy.

You can see cabinets filled with insects, taxidermy, skulls, meteorites and fossils. Beside the two sly looking foxes, you’ll find a wide-eyed stuffed possum.

It’s likely you’ll resist bringing another possum back to New Zealand, but you might want to bring back a framed and sealed set of dead scorpions, a megalodon tooth, a campo meteorite found in 1576 in Argentina, or a tiny vesper bat.

Before splashing out on a prized piece of taxidermy, it’s recommended checking in first with the Ministry for Primary Industries to understand their strict biosecurity requirements for bringing back ornamental animal products into New Zealand.

You can experience a slice of Japan at an arcade near the Target Centre in central Melbourne.

These arcades are everywhere in cities like Tokyo. In Melbourne, there are a few and they’re the perfect opportunity to unleash your inner child.

You can test your coordination on one of the claw machines and win Japanese Gudetama cartoon plush toys, Pokemon key chains and luxury brand items.

You can also have a go on capsule toy machines, known as “Gacha Gacha”.

This lane has gone through what is possibly the best name change in history.

Formerly known as Corporation Lane, the Melbourne City Council voted unanimously to rename it after the raucous legendary Australian rock band AC/DC. Now, the area is a mix of hipsters and suited professionals.

Between Exhibition and Russell Streets, the lane is now a favourite selfie spot next to an image of AC/DC lead vocalist Bon Scott looking like he’s busting through the wall with a microphone in his hand. The lightning bolt on the wall references the band’s iconic logo.

You can take a tour down Australian musical memorial lane with this ode to AC/DC and other rock heroes. It is also home to the rock-and-roll venue Cherry Bar.

The rock band lived in Melbourne early in their career, writing their early hits in Lansdowne Road, East St Kilda.

At the end of the lane is Pastuso – a Peruvian street food restaurant with the most delicious pisco sours.

This bar should be on everyone’s list, and it’s the best way to wrap up a day of the unusual. Berlin Bar is semi-hidden in one of Melbourne’s laneways near Chinatown – close to Little Bourke Street.

To enter, you ring a doorbell and, once cleared through an initial checkpoint, you’re transported into cold war Germany.

East, or West – that is the question? Will you opt for capitalist opulence, or communist austerity?

You can start in the West – it’s glowing and welcoming. You can choose between three areas – the booths with room for up to six people, a main area and a top deck “Ich bin ein Berliner” area that is plush and can seat up to 10.

In the East, there’s no extravagance, aside from the occasional cheese platter. The room is darker, filled with communist propaganda and has larger communal tables.

Giant paintings of Stalin and Lenin by Kyle KM occupy opposite ends of the space, reminding you that you’re being watched.

On the menu in Berlin Bar are the soldiers of the Cold War – some fictional, some real – Rudolf Abel, Klaus Fuchs, Reins Hayhanem. The professional liars and the spies make up the cocktail menu, which is entirely created in-house with all drinks being unique and exceptional.

Old-fashioned table service makes Berlin bar special and relaxed.

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