Hi all. We've just returned from Melbourne and had a blast. It's our favourite Aussie city, so we decided to celebrate our 20th anniversary by crossing the Tasman to watch the quarter finals.
Flew Air NZ, as good as always, and then took Skybus to the city where they take you to a central location (Southern Cross Stn) then transfer you to a minibus to your accomodation. Good value, very reliable.
We stayed at the Habitat Apartments on Elizabeth Street - about 10 minutes walk from Flinders train station, and another 15 minutes or so walk to the tennis. We liked the place a lot, very central, tram stop out the front, and loads of restaurants within 2 minutes walking (especially turning right down Lonsdale Street.) Cost just under $200 per night, pretty good value. However we made an error in assuming these apartments would have a front desk (like the places we've been elsewhere in Oz) so the agent Tony didn't know we had arrived. One quick phone call and he was there in 5 minutes. We'd definitely stay there again.
First day we went to the back courts at the tennis watching all the doubles, and a few lower ranked players. You get up VERY close, and it was great fun -loads of other spectators and a fantastic atmosphere.
Next day we visited friends in Torquay - about an hour south of Melbourne. What a beautiful spot, right by Bell's Beach, an iconic surf beach. They also showed us around Geelong, well worth a trip (and the huge crowds from Melbourne also enjoying a great day thought so too!)
Had a shopping day, went to the Comics Lounge one night (really fun) and Draculas Theatre another (been 10 years ago, and enjoyed it just as much.)
Finally, next two days were total tennis. We'd highly recommend becoming AO Members as you get first dibs on the tickets. We ended up pretty much on the baseline both days, once with the sun behind us which was bearable, and the other time in the shade. Under no circumstances get a day session ticket on the side opposite the umpire in the unshaded zone - the temperatures were only mid-low 20s, and even then that was like an oven for those people (which is why it often looks quite empty on tv, you can only take so much before you are fully roasted.) That said, there really are no bad seats as far as views go, so if you end up near the back, it's still feels surprisingly close (I went and had a wee look.) Two fantastic days. My significant other fullfilled her dream to see Roger Federer (in the epic match with Tsonga) and I'm the envy of my mates for spending quality time with Maria Sharapova (and 10000 of our closest friends:-) Unlike other posters, we weren't so shocked at the food prices and thought they were ok, eg a pizza or burritto for $10 which filled you up. Anyway, we bought in a bit of food ourselves and our own water bottles which we filled up on regulalry at all the drinking fountains. If you avoided buying drinks, you could do the day reasonably cheaply. Best of all though was the atmosphere, everyone got into every game and supported all players loudly and fairly. Nothing but smiles from everyone (except those stuck in the oven!) Definitely gonna do it again. Now, just got to get that Nadal chap to turn up...