Food and wine will be at the fore when the city plays host to the prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards; visitors will be taken to new heights with the launch of the Arthurs Seat Eagle and the Melbourne Cricket Ground’s soon-to-launch zipline and roof walk; existing events will be injected with new life; and there will be more ways to experience wildlife, and more reasons to hit the water, than ever before – not to mention new places to eat, drink, sleep and be merry.
Here are some of the highlights to look out for in 2017.
Arthurs Seat Eagle
Launching December 2016, just in time for the busy summer season, the much-anticipated gondola ride will allow visitors to get a bird’s eye view of the Mornington Peninsula. The Arthurs Seat Eagle will have 24 gondolas, and the ride will take 15 minutes each way, reaching a summit of 314 metres.
From February, a new self-guided canoe trail will connect the towns dotted along the Loddon River. There are four trails, catering for all physical abilities and levels of enthusiasm: the 3.5 kilometre Laanecoorie Canoe Trail, the 600 metre Bridgewater Canoe Trail, the 4.2 kilometre Serpentine and the 1.5 kilometre Durham Ox.
Australia’s first Legoland discovery centre will open at Chadstone the Fashion Capital in autumn. Specifically designed for families with children aged three to 10 years old, it will include two Lego rides, five themed ‘build and play’ zones, build classes from the Legoland master model builder, special party rooms for birthdays and other celebrations, a 4D cinema, and an exhibit designed to reflect Melbourne’s buildings, skyline, and landmarks.
Pennicott Wilderness Journeys
Eco-tourism operator, Robert Pennicott, will launch Wilsons Promontory Cruises from Tidal River, South Gippsland, mid year. The wilderness cruises will allow visitors to explore the spectacular waterways of the area and learn about the history, culture, flora and fauna of Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park.
Located at Melbourne Airport, Urnbsurf Melbourne will be the first man-made surf park facility in Australia when it opens late in the year. Thanks to clever, wave-generating technology, visitors of all abilities will able to have an authentic surfing experience whatever the weather – without a beach in sight. And LED lighting means keen surfers can ride the waves night and day.
Melbourne Cricket Ground zipline and roof walk
Plans are currently underway to develop a new Roof Walk at the MCG. The new attraction will allow visitors to visitors to walk on the MCG’s roof, taking in spectacular views of the ground itself, as well as Melbourne’s sporting precinct more broadly and the city skyline. A zipline will also be added to transport thrill-seekers from the city-end scoreboard to a landing on the opposite side of the stadium. It is anticipated to launch in 2017.
Wild Oceans EcoBoat tours
Phillip Island’s Wild Oceans EcoBoat tours will offer two new tours from late November 2016. A new 90-minute tour will offer visitors a trip to Seal Rocks, with the chance to experience an up-close encounter with the seals and other wildlife such as gannets, terns and even albatross, along with the spectacular scenery. Run at sunset, it also offers the chance to see short tailed Shearwaters as they fly against the postcard-esque backdrop of the Cape Woolamai sunset. Also launching is the Island Discovery Tour – a three-hour tour that takes in Phillip Island’s coastline and varied wildlife, but also includes a gourmet picnic lunch on a secluded beach on French Island.
An inflatable adventure park on the Murray River, Aquazone opened in November, catering for children aged seven plus, right through to adults. The park includes awesome waterslides, trampolines and obstacle courses, all in deep water, and considered a category 4 of difficulty.
Murray Offroad Adventures
Small group tours with a focus on nature-based attractions. Offering both half and full day tours, showcasing The Murray from Mildura Weir Pool to the Merbein Common.
New helicopter scenic flights showcasing one of Victoria’s finest landscapes – Wilson’s Promontory. Promhelis offers five scenic options over ‘The Prom’ starting at $85 per person for 8 minutes over Shallow Inlet up to the extended Wilsons Promontory and surrounding islands tour at $495 for 45 minutes. Opening early January and operating every day throughout summer.
Children’s Gallery at Melbourne Museum
After months of redevelopment, Melbourne Museum will open a new Children’s Gallery in December 2016. Filled with multi-sensory, play-led activities, it will feature a dinosaur dig to excavate fossils, a discovery garden, museum objects and an immersive ‘camouflage disco’ where children can turn into spotty and stripy animals.
Chadstone The Fashion Capital
Upon complete mid year, Chadstone’s $660 million development project will feature more than 100 new retailers, two new dining precincts, a new cinema complex and Legoland Discovery Centre – bringing the number of retailers to a whopping 600.
Towards the end of 2017, Scienceworks will launch a new exhibition space for zero to five-year-olds, with the aim of igniting a lifelong interest in science, technology, engineering and maths.
Kangaroo Country at Healesville Sanctuary
In late 2017, visitors to Healesville Sanctuary will be able to access a new kangaroo enclosure, which has been built to complement the sanctuary’s recently opened Koala Forest exhibit.
Snow Leopards, Tigers oh my! at Melbourne Zoo
A new home for Melbourne Zoo’s Snow Leopards and Sumatran Tigers will take shape at the end of 2017. The facility will take visitors deep into the world of some of the most intriguing, mysterious and endangered predators.
Glamping at Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park
Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park has added six new glamping options to its accommodation offer, and each has its own quirk. The Aero Glamper features a fully functional 737 flight simulator adjacent to a five star luxury safari tent. For each night spent at the Aero Glamper, visitors will receive a free hour of flying with the park’s own flight director. At the other end of the spectrum, the Queen Maxima is a fully equipped vintage caravan complete with a kitchenette and a barbecue and the Retro Glamper sleeps up to five people.
Launched just in time for the summer, Wanderlust Glamping offers visitors the chance to camp in style, without lifting a finger. The mobile service operates in Ararat and throughout the Grampians Region. Visitors can choose from a four metre bell tent or Clementine, a vintage caravan which is complete with reverse cycle air conditioning, kitchen goods and board games. The first night costs $240-$250 and each subsequent night costs $99.
Four Points by Sheraton Melbourne Docklands
Slated to open on 28 March, Four Points by Sheraton Melbourne Docklands will offer 273 guest rooms and suites, all with city or water views, as well as a fitness centre, pool and free WiFi.
Hyatt Place Melbourne
Australia’s first Hyatt Place hotel will be located in Essendon Fields, a thirty-minute drive from the city centre. The eight-storey hotel will offer guests a free hot breakfast and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Jackalope Hotel’s debut property will open in the heart of Mornington Peninsula’s wine region in April 2017. The 46 rooms will be decked out with furniture by Melbourne designer Zuster and the floor to ceiling windows will connect guests with the rural surrounds. A seven-metre-tall namesake Jackalope sculpted by Melbourne artist, Emily Floyd will be sit at the entrance, a prelude to the stunning artwork featured throughout the hotel. The property will be complete with a 30-metre infinity pool overlooking the vines, a poolside pavilion for spa treatments or private dining, fine dining restaurant Doot Doot Doot and cellar door Rare Hare which will showcase the product of the property’s own working winery.
The Goulburn River Valley’s newest accommodation is due for completion mid-2017. Mitchelton Hotel will sit alongside Mitchelton’s restaurant, its Ministry of Chocolate café, and cellar door. The 4.5 star hotel will feature 58 rooms, a day spa and swimming pool, and easy access to nearby bush walking and cycling tracks, Goulburn River cruises and wineries.
Art Series‘ The Chen
Art Series will open a sixth Victorian hotel in Box Hill (half an hour from the city) in July 2017, based on the artwork of Chinese-Australian artist, Zhong Chen. In keeping with Art Series’ philosophy, the team has worked closely with the artist to conceive the details of the hotel, to ensure a true representation of his works and personality. Guided art tours of the hotel will be on offer and the mini bar will be complete with a mini canvas and paints so that guests can create their own souvenir.
Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs will get a new addition with the six-storey Sage Hotel due to be completed in late 2017. The 120-room complex will sit above the southwest corner of Ringwood’s major shopping complex, Eastland, and include a restaurant, bar, function space and gym.
The Sebel Melbourne Moorabbin
Owned by Accor Hotels and opening in January, this new 4.5 star apartment-style hotel will be located at 4 – 6 Station Street, Moorabbin, directly across from Moorabbin Train Station, and approximately 45 minutes drive to Melbourne’s Tullamarine International Airport.
Aeroglamping in the Grampians
A completely new glamping experience has launched at Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park in the Grampians – the the re-vamped tourist park offers guests an exciting first-of-its-kind Aero Glamper, which incorporates a fully functional flight simulator. The Boeing 737 flight simulator is connected to a five-star luxury canvas safari tent with a rugged Australian outback feel that has been fitted out with handmade furniture.
Pullman on the Park
Pullman on the Park will receive a $6 million refurbishment, with the lobby, restaurant and bar to be radically redesigned. The restaurant of the 419-room hotel in Albert Park will receive the biggest overhaul, with a new focus on local produce and the visual theatre of food preparation. Large open plan spaces and semi-private dining room areas will be incorporated into the new restaurant concept, all designed around creating an interactive environment, featuring a large pizza oven, raw bar section for fresh seafood and cured items, a churned ice-creamery and dessert bar. The project is scheduled for completion in July.
Clifftop Retreat launched three spectacular shipping container retreats in Hepburn Springs this year, and in 2017 will add to its impressive precinct with a fourth container called Solitude. It will be the retreat’s most luxurious accommodation, with sheer glass floors, bottomless infinity daybeds overhanging a spectacular precipice, the world’s best massage chair and a metre-wide chromotherapy shower head.
Chum Creek Huts
Chum Creek is a picturesque 136 acre horse property in the heart of the Yarra Valley. In addition to trail rides with impressive views of the Yarra Valley and the Great Dividing Range, the property also features huts that offer ‘rustic luxury’ accommodation. Two new huts will be completed in March; one of which was an original worker’s cottage and the other the former barn which was used to store horse feed and as accommodation for overnight bush riders.
Shepparton’s Parklake Hotel has undergone significant renovation, including construction of 30 new rooms, taking the number of rooms up to 101. The new facilities will open in March.
Nagambie’s Waterfront Motel will receive a significant upgrade, with 12 new rooms, bringing the total to 36. Due for completion in June.
New destination dining
Thai chef extraordinaire David Thompson will open a casual Thai restaurant and bar along the Crown Riverwalk in early 2017. Taking inspiration from the street food and local markets of Bangkok, it will be Thompson’s first Melbourne restaurant.
Food truck precincts
The City of Melbourne will establish five permanent food-truck precincts in March, which will house a mix of 17 permanent and rotating trucks. The sites will be on St Kilda Road (outside the NGV and Arts Centre); Peel Street (next to the Queen Victoria Market); Les Erdi Plaza on the Yarra River (near Arbory Bar & Eatery); Batman Park (opposite Crown); and the underpass on the corner of Spencer and Flinders Streets.
With a menu developed by Michelin Star chef Fransico Araya, this dining experience/retail concept offering features sustainable and ethical produce (including fish from Mark Eather, in his first retail venture). There will be a strong focus on high quality produce at an affordable price. Opening in December, 2016.
Melbourne’s bustling St Kilda Road is going green with the impending launch of The Alley, a vegan eatery that’s all about wholesome, fast and sustainable comfort food. Opening February 2017.
Scott Pickett’s new venture
Melbourne chef Scott Pickett, of Estelle and Saint Crispin, will be opening a yet-to-be-named 100-seat restaurant and bar on the ground floor of a boutique hotel development in South Yarra. The restaurant will be informal with an in-house rotisserie and roast specials that change daily. It will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, serving brunch on weekends and is anticipated to launch in September 2017.
Nagambie Café and Brewhouse
There will be a new reason to visit the regional haven of Nagambie, when Nagambie Café and Brewhouse opens in December 2017. It will feature a 120-seat restaurant, a microbrewery and distillery, an indoor and outdoor café, complete with a deck overlooking Lake Nagambie – not to mention a lakeside walkway and public boat jetty, so nautical types can sail right on in.
New food experiences
Mornington Peninsula winery Polperro will add a stylish picnic experience to its repertoire, in the summer months of 2016/17. Head chef Daniel Kerekes has crafted an elegant, rustic menu that blends European and Asian flavours, and utilises produce from the Polperro kitchen garden and nearby local suppliers. Picnic hampers are prepared fresh daily, and can be picked up from the Bistro, before guests wander off to explore the nine-acre vineyard.
This family owned business, founded in 1999 is set to launch a new showroom and visitor experience by mid-2017. The independent craft-beer creator already welcomes visitors to view the beer making process and taste the results at its brewery in Woodend.
The Strawberry Pick
Echuca Moama’s newest attraction, the Strawberry Pick allows visitors to pick their own strawberries at farm located on the outskirts of Echuca, Victoria. It is open during the growing season, which is typically November to April, however this can vary depending on seasonal conditions. 359 Lady Augusta Rd, Echuca, +61 414 555 044.
It seems cruise ships are increasingly transport of choice for a growing number of visitors to Melbourne. The sector is experiencing significant growth with a record 99 ships scheduled to call into Victoria’s ports during the 16-17 cruise season. This will include inaugural visits by Seabourn Encore, a new five star luxury cruise ship that will visit Phillip Island (4 February) and Melbourne (5 February), as well as first time visits by Maasdam, Emerald Princess, Norwegian Star, Azamara Journey and Sirena.
Nestled into Barkly Square’s quaint laneway precinct, Barkly Square Open Air Cinema will offer a diverse mix of arthouse, modern and family-friendly films. But neighbours in surrounding streets won’t have to worry about noise, as, at this cinema, punters will be kitted out with state-of-the-art headphones, as well while watching films on a five-metre-wide screen. Tickets are just $10, with all proceeds going towards VicDeaf, the Victorian Deaf Society. From December 16, 2016 to January 28, 2017. 90-106 Sydney Road, Brunswick.
The Backlot Rooftop Drive-in
From its elevated site in Melbourne’s Docklands, The Backlot Rooftop Drive-in will accommodate 65 vehicles and will show films against a 360-degree view of Melbourne’s dazzling city lights. On offer are
first-release films, encompassing all genres, via staggered evening sessions across two giant, state-of-the art raised screens. For those without a car, there will be an intimate ‘blue-deck’ seating area with sound received through supplied headphones. From December 26. 90 Waterfront Way, Docklands.
Those heading to the Mornington Peninsula this summer will welcome the arrival of a brand new outdoor cinema experience – complete with one of the best views on offer. Nestled within Point Nepean National Park in Portsea, Barefoot Cinema takes advantage of a natural amphitheatre that looks out across Port Phillip Bay and along the breathtakingly beautiful Portsea cliffs. From 27 December, 2016 to 6 January, 2017. Point Nepean National Park, Point Nepean Road, Portsea.
From the Shadow Electric team, Shimmerlands is a new two-month long outdoor festival that will be held at Melbourne University’s Parkville campus. The campus will be divided into four main entertainment areas: The Cinema, The Pavilion, Live Music and The Food Quarter. In addition to multiple bars and outdoor dining areas, the grounds will host a concert hall, outdoor cinema and an open-air amphitheatre. January 1 to February 26, 2017. Grattan Street, Parkville.
Circus 1903 celebrates the golden age of circus with a cast of acts from all over the world. From strong men to contortionists, acrobats to musicians, knife throwers to high wire performers, this show has a little bit of everything. But the real highlight will no doubt be the two life size elephants created by the puppeteers and model makers who made the life-like horse that featured in War Horse. Put together by the producers of The Illusionists, Circus 1903 will launch 3 January at Regent Theatre.
The Australian Open will move one step closer to the city in 2017, thanks to the newly opened Tanderrum Bridge. Not only will the new bridge act as the new entry point to Rod Laver, it will directly link the city and Birrarung Marr to all the action at Melbourne Park. Other new initiatives include $5 tickets for kids, a free opening weekend concert series at Birrarung Marr, and a new-look Grand Slam Oval themed around Grand Slam host cities -Paris, London, New York and Melbourne. 16 – 29 January.
Melbourne eGames Expo
In an Australian first, Melbourne eGames Expo (MEGEX) will showcase some of the world’s hottest electronic games and attract some of the world’s best gamers over two days, 25 – 26 January. To be held at Hisense Arena the event will take place against the backdrop of the Australian Open. It will feature show matches as the professionals battle it out on stage, master classes, superstar meet and greets, and competitions. Home to almost half of Australia’s digital games industry, Melbourne and has been dubbed the capital of digital games making it a clear choice for the event.
The Book of Mormon
In an Australian premiere, The Book of Mormon – the first Broadway Musical by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker – will land in Melbourne in January. Resulting in sell-out seasons wherever it goes, this cheeky musical has already sold out the first month of its Melbourne run. Opens 18 January at the Princess Theatre.
Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race joins UCI WorldTour
In just its third year, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race has reached the pinnacle of road cycling, securing a place on the coveted UCI WorldTour racing calendar from 2017–2019. The 174km men’s one-day classic will now sit alongside the likes of the Tour de France and Europe’s prestigious Spring Classics on the UCI WorldTour line-up, cementing Australia as one of the great locations for major cycling events outside Europe. Held on 27-29 January 2017, the ride follows one of the most spectacular courses in international cycling, starting at Geelong’s waterfront, travelling through Evans’ home town of Barwon Heads, then along the coast to Thirteenth Beach, Torquay, the famed Bells Beach before looping back through the hinterland hills.
A new blockbuster athletics event will be added to Victoria’s calendar of major events in 2017, attracting some of the world’s best athletes including the fastest man in history, Usain Bolt. The world-exclusive event, Nitro Athletics will take place over three action-packed nights at Melbourne’s Lakeside Stadium – 4 February, 9 February and culminating with a final on 11 February. Offering a fresh take on traditional athletics, the event will include a mix of power, endurance, technique and teamwork disciplines across sprints, distance, relay, field and para-athletics events.
Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts
For the first time ever, Melbourne will host Asia TOPA (Triennial of Performing Arts) from January to April. The festival of Asian-focused performance and culture will present performing, visual, screen and literary arts programs, commissioned works and collaborations between Australian artists, and artists from the region. It will be hosted at and with Melbourne arts venues and companies including Arts Centre Melbourne, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Federation Square, and Australian Centre for the Moving Image.
Grampians Music Festival
The inaugural Grampians Music Festival will offer a mix of indie folk, pop, rock and blues music in a range of venues around Halls Gap on 24–26 February. There will be a mix of acts both big and small featuring up-and-coming artists and local talent, as well as musicians who just turn up and play.
AFL Women’s League
Australia’s first national women’s Australian Football League (AFL) will kick off in 2017. The inaugural season is scheduled to begin in February with eight teams competing. Three of the eight teams will hail from Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, placing the city at the centre of the competition in keeping with AFL tradition. The line-up includes: Melbourne, Carlton, Collingwood, Western Bulldogs, Adelaide, Brisbane, Greater Western Sydney and Fremantle.
White Night Ballarat
For the first time ever, White Night Melbourne will be joined by a regional counterpart, with the inaugural White Night Ballarat set to take place on 4 March – two weeks after the Melbourne event. White Night Ballarat will showcase the city’s heritage streetscape in a whole new light with projections to feature on some of the city’s most historic buildings. In another first, both events will be under the artistic direction of David Atkins OAM.
The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards
In 2017, Melbourne will become only the third city in the world (after London and New York) to host the annual World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards – the global ranking which has become the most coveted for the world’s best chefs. On 5 April, Victoria will welcome more than 800 of the world’s culinary elite for the program of events – cementing the city’s reputation as a global food destination and trend-setter. The annual Melbourne Food and Wine Festival will coincide with this major international awards program, positioning Victoria at the centre of a celebration of food and drink culture on a scale never before seen in Australia.
Lord of the Flies
Arts Centre Melbourne will host choreographer Matthew Bourne’s production of Lord of the Flies, an adaptation of William Golding’s classic novel, from 5–9 April. An Australian exclusive, the production will see the story transferred from deserted island to a deserted theatre, as a group of schoolboys find themselves abandoned. With no adults around they start to make their own rules and create their own civilisation, before order breaks down and the story builds to an electrifying climax.
Van Gogh and the Seasons
The National Gallery of Victoria will present Van Gogh and the Seasons from 28 April – 9 July. Curated by Sjraar van Heugten (former Head of Collections at the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam), the exhibition will be exclusive to Melbourne and feature works belonging to several museums including the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. It will feature approximately 40 paintings and 25 drawings, presented within sections devoted to each of the four seasons.
Phillip Island and South Gippsland Food and Wine Festival
This new festival will be held 28 – 30 April at venues across San Remo and Phillip Island with mini events spread throughout the weekend. The festival will showcase the best of the region’s land and sea-based produce.
The musical theatre version of Disney’s Aladdin will open at Her Majesty’s Theatre in April. The show will be one of the largest productions mounted in Australia, with a cast of 37, a total of 337 costumes made with 500,000 Swarovski crystals, and 30 tonnes of ‘flying’ scenery.
My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady, Lerner and Loewe’s classic musical based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, will open in Melbourne in May. It will be directed by musical theatre icon Dame Julie Andrews, who was originally cast in the Broadway production. From 11 May at Regent Theatre.
Creative Record Festival
Bring out your vinyl, bring out your vinyl! In the beautiful gold rush town of Inglewood a new festival will launch in May. Some of the finest music players in the business have come up with some creative ways of spinning tunes.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
In September, the Australian Ballet will complete its 2017 season with the Australian premiere of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. This new production, by choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, will bring Lewis Carroll’s classic story to the stage, blending the spectacle of Broadway with his rigorous ballet style.
Rugby League World Cup 2017
For the first time, Melbourne will host the opening match of the Rugby League World Cup (RLWC), with the home team – the Kangaroos – beginning its campaign against England on 27 October. Melbourne will also host a RLWC quarter-final which is likely to feature the highly fancied England outfit, as they look to progress to the semi-finals.
Archibald Prize 2017
The country’s most recognised portraiture award will call Geelong Gallery home from 28 October – 10 December. In what is now an annual tradition, the Archibald Prize will showcase some of Australia’s most prominent artists and their depiction on canvas of the who’s who of Australian culture.
Romancing The Skull
The Art Gallery of Ballarat will turn its attention to all things skeletal, when it launches Romancing The Skull in October. The exhibition will examine the human skull and skeleton in contemporary culture, exploring themes surrounding the depiction of the skull as a reminder of our mortality, and its use in political satire, contemporary art and pop culture.
For further events, attractions and experiences in Melbourne and Victoria, see visitvictoria.com.au
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