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Melbourne in November

By Andrew Bellino

Melbourne Cup

Spring closes with a bang in Melbourne in November, as it is one of the liveliest months of the year with the city having a fun and busy atmosphere, largely in part to one main event – The Melbourne Cup.
As the most celebrated and intensely-covered horse racing and social event on the annual Australian calendar, it has been given the nickname “the race that stops a nation” and is referred to by locals as simply “The Cup”.

Held at the iconic Flemington Racecourse, the event typically attracts in excess of 100,000 attendees and is televised to an audience of over 700 million across the globe. If visiting Melbourne from either interstate or overseas during Melbourne Cup week, you can expect crowds and many accommodation facilities to be booked out, with the day of the race itself being a public holiday – although once the race is over prices typically drop back down to cheaper, off-peak levels. Couple this with the increasingly warm and pleasant – albeit still unpredictable – weather, and November can be be one of the busiest months in Melbourne city with the exception of the Christmas/New Year period.

Melbourne in NovemberIn terms of weather, while the temperatures climb higher and are often comfortably warm, as always Melbourne is prone to sudden, unpredictable bouts of rain which means keeping an eye on the daily weather reports and wearing multiple layers of clothing are still as important as ever. Melbourne has a long-standing reputation for being a city with weather capable of encompassing “four seasons in one day”, and November is no exception to this rule with 7-day weather forecasts being notoriously unreliable.

The warmer days however offer a great chance to do some travelling and sightseeing both in and around Melbourne, and for those not in the mood or lacking interest in attending the Melbourne Cup festivities, it may in fact be one of the best times to explore the surroundings of Melbourne in November. Areas such as the Grampians, Great Ocean Road and Dandenong Mountains are wonderful during this time of year, with the weather typically being warm yet mild enough to enjoy activities such as hiking and walking without working up an excessive sweat.

Accordingly, some of the most popular activities and things to do in Melbourne in November include:

Flemington Racecourse

Participate (in some fashion) in the Melbourne Cup

If you’re in Melbourne in the beginning of November, it’s hard not to get caught up in the festivities and energetic atmosphere of Australia’s biggest horse race. Even if you aren’t fortunate enough to get tickets to the race itself (held annually at the historic Flemington Raceway, you’ll likely want view the race at one of the many nearby bars, cafes, restaurants or other facilities that will no doubt have it broadcast on television for public viewing.

If you’re looking to get to the track for the day of the Melbourne Cup itself, it is important to plan ahead when choosing your preferred means of transportation as battling expected crowds of more than 100,000 people can be an ordeal. Public transport makes the track accessible by train, tram, taxi and ferry, while parking is available for cars although the prices are very high and quickly fill up. Those who make it to the track are expected to “dress in their best”, with men in dapper suits and women wearing their best and most colourful hats and dresses as the event is as much a fashion showcase and social event as it is a horse race!

Healesville Sanctuary

Healesville Sanctuary and the Blue Dandenongs

For an experience that truly takes advantage of both the nature of Victoria and the weather conditions of Melbourne in November, this combination tour that takes you to both the crested foothills of the Great Divide and then follows it up with one of the best wildlife parks in Australia is a great option.

Departing from Melbourne city, a trip to the lovely Blue Dandenongs Ranges will showcase the riches of Victoria’s Yarra Valley, offering a pastoral experience of farms and vineyard, wine grapes and haystacks that combine to form a rich tapestry of impressive scenery. Following it up with a visit to Healesville Sanctuary will then emphasise the wildlife aspect of Australia, all cradled in the forested foothills of this lovely Victorian region. The tour includes wine tasting and lunch at Fergussion’s Winery as well as entrance to Healesville Sanctuary and departs daily, returning to Melbourne at 5:30pm.

Grampians Tours

Visit the geological marvels of the Grampians

Victoria’s famously precipitous sandstone ranges of the Grampians are a huge drawcard for visitors to Melbourne, with the drive there being one of the most scenic in Australia and the formations themselves being equally impressive. Having taken shape over the course of millions of years and still proudly standing today, the Grampians are an area abundant in pristine and rugged wilderness that is home to over 1000 varieties of plant life and more than 200 species of bird life, with plenty to see that can be observed from the many panoramic lookouts such as Boroka Lookout and the scarily-named Jaws of Death (or “the Balconies”) which are all accessible via a gentle walk.

When journeying to the Grampians be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes as there will be a large amount easy hiking involved and which is required to reach such highlights as the dazzling cascade of Mackenzie Falls which spills its way through the park. Be sure to bring a camera and keep an eye out for wild kangaroos that gather peacefully at Zumstein’s Park each day around dusk, observe the crazy emus running through distant bush, and much more.

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