The banks of the Yarra in central Melbourne are an ideal place to get a feeling of the Australian metropolis. Yarra River views on a winter day are such a magic sight that on my little Yarra river walk I just had to capture the views in photos, the best of which I want to show you in this post.
River walking is a good way to see Melbourne sights. As most of them are along the Yarra its riverbanks are the best place for Melbourne sightseeing.
Yarra River walk through central Melbourne: CBD skyscrapers
The Yarra River is 242 kilometres long, flowing down from the forested Yarra Ranges first to Yarra Valley, on to Melbourne and down to the sea. There are a lot of nice walking and cycling paths all the way along the Yarra but I think the Melbourne walk is the prettiest of them all. I really like Melbourne!
I finally spent half a day on my little Yarra River walk through central Melbourne, starting at Southbank and walking towards the Royal Botanic Gardens.
About Melbourne Winter
My trip to Melbourne happened to be in August which is mid winter in Australia. Beforehand I was a bit worried what Australian winter weather would be like. As most people told me I thought it would be cold and stormy.
Yes, it was cold, but it was sunny days and clear skies most of the time. So I went out and walked through the city while my husband Clas spent his days in meetings in the halls of the Southbank Convention Centre building.
Winter air was cool and clear which makes all colors shine, even grey and brown look beautiful. The Australian sun is strong all year round and even in winter you will get amazing colors in your photos.
Flinders Street Station from a Yarra bridge
So I made a gallery of the photos I took walking along the Yarra on a sunny winter day.
As you might know I normally prefer nature destinations but Melbourne is an exception. Yarra views make me inspired of city life and you can see so much beauty in skyscrapers.
So river views and skyscrapers make a great combination – this is Melbourne, Australia!
Yarra River Walk: Southbank
Southbank skyscrapers from the Yarra river
This Yarra River walk begins at Southbank which is the area south of the river. Southbank was an industrial area until the 1990s when they started building high-rise office and apartment buildings in the area south of the Yarra.
Here are some views from the bridges and the north bank across the river to the Southbank side.
Yarra River walk: Southbank from Yarra bridges
Southbank is mainly a business area but also a popular entertainment and dining district. Restaurant and bar terraces on this side of the river face north and get the afternoon and evening sun. No wonder crowds of people are spending their afternoons on the heated terraces, even in the coldest winter.
Yarra River walk in Central Melbourne
Here you can see the Southbank Promenade that stretches all the way from the South Wharf to St. Kilda Road.
Yarra and Melbourne CBD
From St. Kilda Road you can continue walking further on, all the way to the Botanic Gardens. The park that begins in Alexandra Gardens and continues to the Royal Botanic Gardens is a popular place for jogging. A perfect place to jog right in the city!
My Yarra River Walk on the Map
Map of my Yarra River walk in Melbourne
Here you can see the Yarra that splits Melbourne in two. The walk from the Convention Centre in the west to Royal Botanic Gardens is 7 km one way. I mainly walked on the south bank but also went a bit into the city which you can see on the map.
The Crown Complex
The Crown Complex, Melbourne
This brownish skyscraper is the huge Crown casino and entertainment centre on the south bank of the Yarra. This casino is one of the largest in the world and there’s not only entertainment offered but also a shopping area.
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
Next to the Crown complex is the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre that has hosted thousands of exhibitions. Even the convention we were here for was arranged in this place.
Right behind the Convention Centre is the Hilton Melbourne South Wharf Hotel where we stayed. The Hilton hotel was directly connected to the convention premises through an indoor corridor which made it very easy to go the work.
Yarra River walk: South Wharf
Right behind the Hilton hides the huge underground DFO South Wharf outlet shopping mall that at the time of my visit had massive discounts of fashion clothing in more than 100 shops. The South Wharf area also has lots of great dining options which was good to us.
Returning from the South Wharf and walking on you can’t miss the highest building in the southern hemisphere, Eureka Tower completed in 2006. The building is 91 stories high.
Eureka Tower doesn’t fit in one photo
This modern blue glass building with white stripes has a connection to the Australian history through some symbols in it. The gold crown at the top represents the gold rush in the 1850s and the red stripe below the crown represents blood spilled in the Eureka Stockade, a revolt during the gold rush.
If you want to see a real walking experience 300 meters above the city look at these pictures on the Skydeck website! Would you like to walk on the glass floor of the Eureka Skydeck?
Southgate, Melbourne Yarra River cruise starting point
This is Southgate, another restaurant centre that has a riverside food court and a choice of other nice dining options. In addition it is a shopping mall and the starting point of Yarra river cruises.
The wide pedestrian street Southbank Promenade looks a bit empty in the winter, despite the nice sunny weather. I can tell you it’s far more crowded here in the summertime.
Yarra River Bridges
Crossing the river
As there are many bridges crossing the Yarra River you can always cross it when you start feeling like getting to the other side.
This is one of the footbridges, called the Queens Bridge, the one leading to the Flinders Street train station. Some of the Yarra bridges have been railway bridges in the past, maybe this one too?
Yarra River walk on the banks of Melbourne
This promenade is called Flinders Walk and beyond it stands another bridge, the Princes Bridge. If you get behind the Princes Bridge you will find the noisy, popular riverside pub Riverland Bar.
Princes Bridge, Melbourne
Princes Bridge is very pretty in winter light, with brown river water in front and a thunder storm approaching in the background.
Below some more photos of the bridge that brings you to Melbourne’s Central Business District and Federation Square.
One of the many Melbourne bridges
Building style of Melbourne Federation Square
Federation Square is Melbourne’s most popular meeting place and events centre. The complex built in 2002 has a stunning architecture. In addition to the glassed events complex there are some restaurants and cafes.
Down the stairs of the glass house in the middle of the square hides the excellent Melbourne Visitor Information Centre where you can get all tourist information on Melbourne you’ll ever need. In addition they sell event and tour tickets and Myki cards which is a tram and bus card. Melbourne Visitor Information also sells tickets to a hop on hop off Melbourne sightseeing tour.
People on Federation Square
There are always lots of tourists and school groups sitting on Federation Square and of course locals like hanging out in a place like this.
Tram stopping at Federation Square
Melbourne has a good tram network and it’s very easey to use trams. What’s best tram travel is free within the city centre so you don’t have to bother about finding out how to buy tickets. Yet for longer tram journeys you will need a Myki card.
Tram stops are always at traffic lights which was a new experience to me but I soon noticed that it’s very practical. The trams don’t have to stop to take passengers between traffic lights and again at the light, They only have to stop once in each block.
Atrium, Federation Square, Melbourne
This is the Atrium, a very special glass structure, made of glass, steel and zinc. The Atrium changes colours at dark, from green to blue, purple and pink.
Views from Federation Square
Across Flinder’s Street you can see anold church, the St Paul’s Cathedral and next to it are some other remarkable buildings like this Venetian-style house.
Federation Square is also home to the Ian Potter Centre that is part of the National Gallery of Victoria. Most of the exhibitions are free, just enter and enjoy Australian art!
Entrance to Melbourne Ian Potter Centre
Ian Potter Centre
Artworks in Ian Potter Centre, Melbourne
The Ian Potter Centre is dedicated to Australian art. When I was visiting there was a fantastic contemporary art exhibition where I spent a long time but what was even more fascinating was the collection of artworks by Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities. I will show some samples in these pictures:
Ian Potter Museum Aboriginal art
Aboriginal art is based on ancient stories and the artworks are typically dot paintings. Aboriginal art is the oldest ongoing tradition of art in the world and it’s amazing how the tradition is reflected in modern art. These works of art are just great!
But after all this dreaming it’s time to get out again.
Flinders Street Railway Station
Melbourne’s busiest train station Flinders Street
Flinders Street Station is right opposite Federation Square, at the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets,. The red and yellow building is the oldest railway station in Australia and a result of an 1902 architectural competition.
Millions of commuters are using Flinders Street station and it’s said to be the busiest railway station in the southern hemisphere. Melbourne has a good rail network with more than 200 suburban train stations.
Yarra River Walk: Central Business District
Collins Street, Melbourne
This picture shows Melbourne CBD and Collins Street that has exceptional grand old buildings left: theaters, churches and store and office buildings. Also Melbourne City Town Hall (in the middle in the picture) stands on Collins Street.
Collins Street is a nice mixture of old Victorian buildings and glass and concrete skyscrapers added years later.
Yarra Rivcr walk in Melbourne: Swanston Street
Melbourne CBD has long rows of trees needed to protect pedestrians from the hot Australian summer sun. In winter again there are no leaves and you can see better what all building are like.
Even in winter time one of the streets, Swanston Street, has flower stalls selling winter flowers. Like some other CBD streets Swanston Street has been made a pedestrian and tram zone.
Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens
In the Royal Botanic Gardens of Melbourne
After having walked most of the day in the city you might want to surround yourself with some nature. Then head straight back to the Yarra and follow it to the Royal Botanic Gardens of Melbourne to see Australian plants and vegetation from different parts of the continent.
Wetlands and Banksias
Australian banksias in the botanic gardens
Wander through a wetland area and on to a corner full of different kinds of banksias. Banksias are common trees all over Australia and there are about 170 sorts of them. Banksia first has nice colourful flowers but when banksia flowers dry up they get big, brown and ugly.
An Australain black swan
So many little and big things are different in Australia from what I’m used to at home. Even swans are black, not white like in Europe.
Rainforest gully in the Royal Botanic Gardens of Melbourne
The Royal Botanic Gardens of Melbourne also hides in it a small rainforest pouch. The rainforest has a little winding stream lined by paths and boardwalks.
In this place you really get a feeling of being in a tropical rainforest, far away from the huge metropolis of four million people. There are benches where you can sit and have a rest but I just want to wander around in the fern gully.
The tropical part of Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens
Acacia, also called wattle, is another plant very typical of Australia. Yet Eucalyptus trees are still more common, they can be seen everywhere in Australia. Wattles can be either small bushes or tall trees but they all are known for their yellow flowers.
Wattles bloom at all times of the year and especially in winter time.
Australian wattle in bloom
This again looks like spring in Europe, March, April, May. But clearly here in Australia daffodils are winter flowers.
Yarra River winter walk: daffodils in the Royal Gardens
If you want to learn more about the Royal Botanic Gardens of Melbourne and their other gardens in Cranbourne south of Melbourne, visit the Royal Botanic Gardens website.
More Yarra River Walks
So this was my short city walk along the Yarra. If you want to walk along the river outside central Melbourne you can check out the walking route descriptions on the Only Melbourne website.
My other Posts about Melbourne
- If you want to know more about Melbourne sights see my other blog post Sightseeing in Melbourne.
- You can see penguins and possums right in Melbourne: Melbourne Evening Nature Tour
- A big event in Melbourne is the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix that’s held each the autumn.
- How does it feel to return to Melbourne and start living there again? Settling in Melbourne
Day Trips from Melbourne:
- It’s a must to make a trip to the Great Ocean Road. Read my post about the Great Ocean Road.
- Phillip Island is another popular day trip from Melbourne: Phillip Island from Melbourne
- And your third day trip from Melbourne should go to the scenic Yarra Valley. Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges from Melbourne