Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

January 27, 2022

© Anson Smart/Tourism Australia

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Go south and get your sport on

Melburnians love to Tan. You will too. Winter (June to August) is a great season to do it, when highs average 15°C and lows 7°C. We’re talking, of course, about the hitting the Tan Track, a former horse track for the city’s well-to-dos, today a popular 3.8-kilometre fitness circuit around the King’s Domain gardens and the Royal Botanic Gardens (Birdwood Avenue, South Yarra;; admission free), the latter of which is worth a few hours visit for its 50,000 plants in 26 collections. Its camellia collection includes 300 varieties — the leaves of its sinensis variety gives us tea — and there are many native Eucalyptus (or gum) trees too.

The Tan, so named for the colour of its gravel surface — or because of its proximity to the Bo-TAN-ical gardens, no one knows for sure — unofficially starts at the Swan Street bridge; most joggers, including some pro-football players, run clockwise east up Anderson Street. There are water fountains along the way. The circuit’s northern stretch is parallel to the Yarra River and part of the Capital City (bike) Trail.

The Capital City Trail is another great way to combine exercise and sightseeing. Rent some wheels from one of the 50-odd Melbourne Bike Share stations (; $3 daily, $8 weekly, the first 30 minutes free then additional charges apply) throughout the CBD then pick up the 29-kilometre loop anywhere you want. Helmets are required and are available for $5 at 7-Elevens and IGA grocery stores.

Or, pick one of three legs: Riverside Riding (13 kilometres), Zip to the Zoo (nine kilometres) or Destination Docklands (also nine kilometres). The Bicycle Network Victoria ( a great guide on its website that lists the highlights of each leg, things to look out for — flights of stairs, steep descents, traffic at certain crossings — and where to grab some grub to refuel. There’s also a map. Save the PDF version of the guide or print it.

The Riverside route is the one that’ll get you to the Melbourne Cricket Ground (Brunton Avenue, East Melbourne/Richmond;, where the fitness minded should finally put their feet up. Australia’s favorite spectator sport is football or “footy” as it’s called there. Despite its nickname, “footy” is indeed a rough-and-tumble sport that’s played without padding — albeit in short shorts. The ball can be kicked and punched (sort of à la volleyball), but never thrown, and leaping (à la kangaroo) and tackling happens a lot. Don’t be embarrassed to ask the mate next to you “what are the rules?!” Do practice cheering “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!” before you attend a match.

The season starts in March and ends with the grandest of finales in September. For game info, visit the Australian Football League’s website (

Stay on track

The locals in Melbourne take the tram and you should too. After all, Australia’s only tram network dates to 1889, which certainly says something. It consists of two zones, 30 routes and 1763 stops.

The new myki smart-card ticketing system ( covers all bus, train and tram transport. The myki visitor pack (adults $15; kids $7) is specifically for tourists; its pre-loaded card includes $8 of fare for travel within zone one (downtown and the inner suburbs). The pack also includes instructions on how to use the card, a tram map and discounts at 15 attractions worth $135. The card is refillable; two-hours of travel within zone one will cost an adult $4; a day of travel $7.

Of course, travelling on the City Circle Tram ( is absolutely free. The burgundy-and-gold tram’s one-hour circular route runs along Flinders Street, Harbour Esplanade, Docklands Drive, La Trobe Street and Spring Street past the city’s biggest attractions with automated commentary on points of interest. It runs in both directions every 12 minutes Sundays to Wednesdays from 10am to 6pm, Thursdays to Saturdays until 9pm.

Or combine sightseeing with supper. The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant (Tram stop #125, Normanby Road near Clarendon Street; gets rave reviews for its four-course lunches ($86) and three- and five-course dinners ($80 to $143) served aboard shiny burgundy trams kitted out in velvet and brass. The tram moves (from the CBD through South Melbourne and Albert Park then on to St. Kilda) while you munch (grilled barramundi or seared kangaroo as an entree, grilled chicken breast or Victorian farmed eye fillet of beef as your main). The food is good, but the friendly service is said to be even better. If this is a working-vacation, note that the resto departs from and returns to a tram stop adjacent to the city’s Convention Centre.

Australia’s shore things

Can’t leave without getting at least a little wet? Buy the new 101 Best Australian Beaches by marine biologist Professor Andrew Short and lifelong-surfer Brad Farmer, or visit their website,

Australia has 11,761 beaches, and Short and Farmer have visited them all. They’ve also chosen their top 10 based on sand, surf, headlands, views and amenities. Short’s top 10 includes one in Melbourne’s state of Victoria: Ninety Mile Beach. Farmer’s includes Tidal River in Wilsons Promontory National Park. Both beaches are in the Gippsland region; both are three hours southeast of Melbourne.

Brighton Beach, however, is only 45 minutes south of the city. One of the book’s 101, it’s hard to miss what with its rainbow of Victorian bathing boxes, a 19th-century contribution to preserve modesty on the beach.

For more on travel to the region: and

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