The Docklands is a neighbourhood in Melbourne filled with energy and a sense of modernity.
The local institutions are young but are by no means insignificant. For no other Melbournian neighbourhoods can say they host the world’s busiest multi-purpose stadium, that is for sure.
From the stadium to its restaurants, here is the list of things to do in Docklands, Melbourne.
It would be difficult to have mentioned the world’s busiest multi-purpose stadium and not make it the first attraction on this list.
Marvel Stadium, formerly The Etihad, reigns supreme in the Docklands skyline. Whilst corporate high-rises may stand taller, there is nothing more dominating than the 55,000-seat arena.
Calling itself a multi-purpose venue is no exaggeration either. Not only does the stadium retain tenancy from 6 professional sports teams – 5 AFL heavyweights and one of Melbourne’s two Twenty20 cricket outfits – but when sports are on hiatus, the Marvel also hosts some of the largest music acts on the planet. Previous headliners have been Foo Fighters, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran.
But sports are still the real crowd drawers in the Docklands area. AFL fans of Essendon, Carlton, Western Bulldogs, St Kilda, and North Melbourne all make the journey to the waterfront suburb each week to support their teams.
Since opening in the year 2000, over 42 million people have passed through the stadium’s gates. That’s 2 million a year – a seriously staggering figure.
Travellers finding themselves in and around the Docklands area must make attending an event at Marvel Stadium a priority – sport, music, or otherwise.
Mission to Seafarers Victoria
From Docklands’ premier contemporary landmark to perhaps one of its oldest.
Mission to Seafarers Victoria is a still-operating relic of Melbourne’s maritime history. In the heritage-listed facility, a community of volunteers provide much-needed services to those that find themselves far from home when working at sea. Mission to Seafarers continues to offer, as they have done for decades, physical and mental care to those that need it.
Alongside the vital work done, Mission to Seafarers Victoria also hosts a significant collection of stories and memorabilia from years of involvement within the maritime profession. Visitors to the establishment are strongly encouraged to explore the building and delve into its collections’ tales.
It makes sense that Docklands would have a generous offering of retail outlets, with it being an area of such modern development. Case and point: District Docklands.
The district is an open-air precinct hosting some of the highstreets’ top shopping and lifestyle outlets. It also has a significant number of restaurants and eateries.
Other District highlights are its resident ice arena and ArtVo, a gallery founded on the idea of interaction with its art.
Docklands Sunday Market
Now from high street retail haven to the independent, local market.
Every Sunday morning, Newquay Promenade hosts the Docklands Sunday Market, a place where local artisans go to showcase their wares – from unique clothing to handmade jewellery, accessories, and even food.
Travellers will struggle to find a better Sunday morning activity than meandering through this local market.
Those looking for something else to do after perusing through the Sunday Market – especially those with a love and appreciation for art – should start themselves on the hunt for Docklands’ urban sculptures.
The Docklands area is renowned for having several contemporary art sculptures adorning its streets. So much so that the suburb has been likened to an open-air art gallery.
Cow in a Tree is one of the most famous pieces that decorate the Dockland streets. It is a sculpture resembling the moment when floodwater prompted a cow to balance on the branches of a tree.
Travellers wanting to visit Docklands’ sculptures can follow the ‘Public Art Walk Trail’ for a tour of all 36 pieces.
Sunset at Central Pier
There are few sights on this earth as wholesome and heart-warming as a sky-burning sunset. Central Pier at sundown is a great spot to do so.
Grab yourself a portion of fish and chips and migrate down to the pier before sunset. On a clear night, the sunset reflects and bounces off of the water.
If sitting on the pier during sunset is not quite memorable enough, how about you get out on the water?
Kayak Melbourne offer an evening kayak tour along the Yarra River. From sunset in Victoria Harbour to the Melbourne CBD and Fed Square, illuminated by light as night prevails.
The evening kayak tours are understandably more expensive than watching the sunset for free on the pier. That said, they make for a truly unique nighttime experience.
Good food awaits those who cross the Yarra.
Travellers can access a small strip of the Docklands area across the Yarra River via Webb Bridge. Those who make the walk will come across Coriche Restaurant, a Lebanese establishment well-regarded for its Mediterranean cuisine.
Corniche happily accommodates all dietary requirements, too.
Travellers wanting an authentic international dining experience should highlight Corniche on their Docklands map.
Ginger Leaf Thai
Back on the leading site of the Yarra is Ginger Leaf Thai, another international eatery that is renowned for its offering of authentic dishes. Ginger Leaf is also one of the cheaper restaurants within the somewhat upmarket Docklands area.
Find Ginger Leaf just south of the Marvel Stadium campus – an excellent location for pre, or post, AFL-game food.
Urban Alley Brewery
It seems that every Melbournian suburb must have a renowned brewery. Urban Alley is Docklands’.
You can find the Urban Alley Brewery and Brewpub within the reaches of District Docklands. It’s there that the establishment has been brewing its signature blonde ale since 2015. Along with a supporting cast of other quality beverages, that signature blonde ale has won Urban Alley over 14 internationally recognised awards.
‘Brewpub’ might be a little of an understatement too. Urban Alley can accommodate over 600 customers at a time within its premises, so think of it more like a beer hall.
Signature blonde ale? A pale Aussie ale? Perhaps a sour red ale? Or a punchy oatmeal stout? Urban Alley offers more than you could ever hope to try in one visit.
Docklands Park is a landscaped area next to the Victoria Harbour featuring large grass fields and plenty of native flora.
With its offering of recreational sports spaces, there is no better place to try and replicate what you see at a game in the neighbouring Marvel Stadium.
Public barbecuing facilities also make the area an excellent spot for families to come together.
Last but not least, A25. Traditional artisan pizza.
Restaurants are easy to come by in Melbourne. But good restaurants? That’s a different story.
A25 puts itself firmly within the ring of good restaurants – serving handcrafted pizzas through traditional Italian cooking methods passed down through generations. The ingredients are top draw, too, with the restaurant focusing solely on small Italian artisan suppliers. In essence, quality is paramount at A25.
Capitalise on A25’s offering Monday pizza deals and the Tuesday pasta deals to get the best value for your money.
For many, Docklands’ youth is what defines it. The contemporary art sculptures that mark its streets, or the respectively recent construction of shopping outlets like District Docklands – the prevalence of these entities exists as reminders of the area’s infancy compared to some of Melbourne’s more historical suburbs.
But modernity and youth do not mean the absence of spirit.
Few places in the city are as electric as Marvel Stadium during an AFL game or world-tour concert. And few places offer the ambience that Central Pier does during sunset hours – kayak or no kayak.
It’s true, Docklands’ rise to travel relevance is recent. But it is a rise that is greatly deserved.