Before our Australian cruise on the Carnival Legend our daughter, Sheri, asked other Australians what is good to do in Melbourne with kids. She got a lot of recommendations for Science Works. On the map it didn’t look too far from the cruise ship port. Getting off the boat we stopped by the information desk. They had brochures with suggestions for places to go that passengers could get to on their own, none of which included Science Works. The map showed a free tram loop in the city. The free zone did not extend all the way to the port. The kind lady there showed us where to go on the maps to find Science Works and recommended buying the myki pass, which covers busses, trains and trams. After looking at the line inside the port building, which probably had over 100 people in it, she said we could avoid the que by walking to the end of the dock and out to the tram station where we would find a nearby store that sold the public transportation passes.
That bit of advice saved us a lot of time as there were only a few people in line at the store. With passes in hand we walked to the platform just in time to watch the waiting tram pull away. Another one quickly took its place at the end-of-the-line stop at the port. We boarded the empty tram along with a few other passengers that had not gotten steered onto busses while walking down the dock.
A few other people got on at stops here and there, but the tram did not get overly full as we rode it to a stop near Southern Cross Station. From that large busy urban station we caught a train to Spotswood. Exiting the train at the tiny suburban station far from the touristy area of town, we walked through an industrial area following the signs to Science Works.
We guessed that Science Works probably wasn’t on the tourist maps because people unfamiliar with public transportation could easily get lost trying to get there. Some might feel scared or uncomfortable in the deserted train station or walking through the somewhat rundown industrial area. Other than a few people standing outside a factory on their break we did not see anyone along the way.
Passing by a factory that made new bottles from recycled glass we caught a glimpse through some open window slats of orange glowing molten bottles whizzing down a chute. It looked pretty interesting so we stopped to watch for a few minutes.
The end of that street came to a crossroad with a sign pointing the way to science works. Looking in the direction the arrow pointed we saw the building itself. The base fee to get in was $12, with several extra exhibits for additional fees. We just did the regular one, which had more than enough things to entertain the grandkids until they were ready to go back to the ship for lunch. Exhibits included things like ideas for a greener planet, past and future transportation, health and fitness, and space. Many of the exhibits were interactive. The kids had quite a good time.
In this interactive wheelchair race exhibit the kids spin the wheels to move their onscreen racer.
Hannah tried new sports like snowboarding and rock climbing. They also had exhibits for the mind, some about health, and some about the environment. Some had futuristic possibilities and others items from the past whether real or imagined.
On the walk back to the train station we wondered if the factory across the street from the glass works was abandoned or not. The building looked old and run down. It had no cars in the car park (parking lot). However industrial type noises seemed to emit from one end of the very large building, and a new looking big square green metal box that could have housed a generator or other sort of working equipment sat just outside that end of the building. Perhaps a much smaller enterprise had moved into one end of an otherwise empty building once occupied by a larger company.
We got seats on the train easily enough, but the tram back to the ship had standing room only and not much of that. A few people exited and entered at stops along the way, but the majority stayed on all the way to the port, going either to the Legend like us or to Celebrity Solstice, which someone said had come from New Zealand.
After returning to the ship we had lunch and the kids went to Camp Carnival. We went back out to explore the area near the ship. A trail for walking, jogging, or biking paralleled the beach for quite a distance. Warning signs said the beach had strong currents and uneven ground. We saw a few people on the sand, but nobody in the water.
Not far from the ship we came across a row of bikes next to the path. For just $2.90, people can rent a bike to ride around the city. No more money accrues for half an hour. If the rider stops and returns the bike at other stations within that time they can keep checking out other bikes at no additional charge as long as each segment of the journey takes less then half an hour, with a minimum 5 minute stop before picking up the next bike. Apparently they want to make it easy for tourists to use the bikes to visit shops or the cafés Melborne is famous for.
The pathway, beach, and a nearby pier offered a number of places to photograph the ship. Sheri went off for a jog, John rented a bike, and I walked out to the end of the pier. There were two cruise ships within site and no crowd. People passed by on the trail now and then, but not constantly. A lady had her dog out for a walk on the beach and a few people were fishing from the pier. A one-legged seagull sat on the railing about halfway to the end of the pier.
Ship’s excursions are always an option in any port, but in Melbourne getting around on your own is pretty easy. I don’t think any other passengers went to Science Works like we did though.
More often than not, we do things on our own … so cheers to your adventure. We haven’t been to Australia, but I imagine Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane would be very easy to do on our own.
I haven’t been to Brisbane, but Melbourne and Sydney have great public transportation. Sydney is the best port so far that I’ve started a cruise from because Carnival docks at Circular Quay. We took the train from my daughter’s house and walked a couple hundred yards from the train to the ship. She said Sydney’s main cruise port is kind of in the middle of nowhere, but the Legend can’t go there because it doesn’t fit under the bridge. We did take a ship’s excursion in Hobart because we wanted to see Tasmanian Devils. The wildlife place is quite a distance from the port and Hobart does not have much in the way of public transportation. Overall though we do more and more on our own and less and less excursions from the ship as the years go by. Partly because the more cruises you take the more comfortable you get going around the ports on your own and partly because when we first started cruising there were always quite a few reasonably priced excursions to choose from, but over the years the prices keep going up to where most ship’s excursions now cost too much for us to take more than one or two per cruise.
Thanks for the Aussie scoop … and I hope to get there some day. Price of ship excursions is one thing, but you are like us because we think the Times 2 price … thus, most of the time we do things on our own – which can be more fun. … and if in Europe, we use Rick Steves tour books.
Did you see Lyn’s comments? She lives in Brisbane so she added a bit of info on the transportation there. Hopefully you will make it to Australia someday, whether by plane or by cruise ship.
Thanks for the note … thus I saw it. 🙂
What a great day for you. I am off to Melbourne next month for the Edinburgh Tattoo so this info just might come in handy. Melbourne is a great city with so much to do. We do have the same bike system here in Brisbane and also many bike tracks and walking tracks along the river
I’m glad I could be of help. Do you have the trains and trams in Brisbane as well?
No trams, only trains however there are now trams on the Gold Coast. Melbourne’s public transport system is far better than Brisbane’s
Thanks for the info. At least you have the trains.
Science Works looks like a fun place to go. I always liked the Science Center in Seattle.
You probably would enjoy Science Works, but you would have to travel a very long way to get there.