The Royal Melbourne Show (Saturday 20 September 2014 – Wednesday 1 October 2014) is an annual event held in Spring / September school holidays which brings together entertainment, agriculture, attractions and food for a fun and memorable day out.
The show can be overwhelming for first-time visitors, especially if you have young children under 5. Here are 10 tips for getting the most out of your day.
1. Go early in the day
It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekend or weekday but be at the gate by 9:30am. In fact, when we arrived at 9:15am on Sunday the gates were already open. This meant Lady AB got to have a look around before the loud music and the whirring rides started. It also meant that we left around 11:30am just as Lady AB’s energy started flagging and the crowds started swelling.
2. Enter via Gate 6 if you can
Gate 6 is the best entrance for families with under 5s. It’s small so not many people know about it (fewer queues) and it leads right into the children’s area. Incidentally it’s also about as far away from the Showbag Pavilion as you can get :–)
3. Take public transport or ride a bike
There’s a train station for Flemington Showgrounds that opens during special events which drops you off right at one of the entrances. Trams and buses also operate in the area.
Better still, ride a bike! We cycled right up to the Gate 6, parked our bike and strolled in.
If you decide to drive show parking is $20 and it can be a bit of a hike to get from the car to the entrance. There are also limited spaces so if you don’t time your arrival carefully (see tip 1) you either won’t be allowed in the carpark at all or you could be circling in nearby residential streets – and still have to hike to the entrance.
4. Take small kids to My Backyard
Lady AB is very sensitive to loud noise and intense crowds so she most enjoyed My Backyard.
There are some quiet activities there where you can decorate a rock, pat some chickens and dress a scarecrow.
For more energetic kids there’s a whole Kids Carnival. Having said that, see tip 5.
5. Just ride the ferris wheel
The Giant Sky Wheel is the most iconic ride at the show.
It’s a hefty $8 per person (including children) but it’s great for toddlers as it’s gentle, relatively short and provides 360 degree views over the showgrounds and Melbourne’s cityscape. The queues get quite long as the day passes so get in early.
We found plenty of other free activities for Lady AB that didn’t require more ride tickets – so if you’re on a budget just go on this one ride.
6. See some animals
The show is all about bringing a bit of the country to the city so you should definitely head to Paddock to Plate and the Animal Nursery. Lady AB loved watching the sheep sheering. Note the Animal Nursery gets really busy so head there early.
7. For the best food, eat at Taste of Victoria Pavilion
Of course fairy floss, dagwood dogs and hot chips are all available at the show. But if you’re after the best food (and a break from the hectic atmosphere) then visit the pop up restaurants at the Taste of Victoria Pavilion – The Estelle, Pho Nom and Hammer and Tong. There are also lots of stalls with samples and tastings.
Finish off with a sweet treat from the Burch and Purchese Dessert Bar.
8. The best adult’s show bag
If you’re a foodie then the Fine Food Deli bag is the best value bag, full of show award-winning produce.
9. Bring a water bottle
Walking around the showgrounds is thirsty work and you don’t want to keep buying bottled water. Bring a bottle to refill and maybe some healthy snacks too.
10. Avoid taking babies or a pram
We decided to only take Lady AB to the show this year.
Why? The showgrounds are big and baby change facilities are few and far between. The show get really busy as the day goes on and pushing a pram through crowds is no fun. And if you have a bolter like Baby 2.0 then he would have to be restrained almost the whole time.
10. What’s in the Frozen show bag?
The hottest show bag at this year’s show has got to be the Frozen show bag. For $28.50 you receive the expected amount of tat as well as a couple of fun items which have to be shipped out to you later – an Elsa glove set, an Anna earmuff set and an Olaf beanie.
Personally I’m not a fan of showbags but Lady AB was indulged by her Dad this time. Fortunately all the showbags are housed in one large shed so you can just avoid the area altogether if you don’t want to get into arguments about showbags.
Also, either buy your showbags at the end or hire a locker in the public stand (a good midway point between all the attractions) so you’re not hauling stuff around everywhere.
What are your tips for enjoying the Royal Melbourne Show?