Pokémon Oceanic International Championships: Travel Cheat Sheet

 

With the next Pokémon International Championships announced for Australia in March we have written up a full guide to getting yourself here, and having a good time.

This document is not endorsed officially in any way by, or affiliated with TPCi.

Index

Flights and Australian Visas

All travelers except Australian and New Zealand Citizens must have a visa or travel authority before travelling to Australia, as well as a valid Passport. You will not be allowed to enter the country without these.

Most of you will be able to visit on a 651 or a 601 Visa, which are free except for the online service charge on the 601 Visa. Follow the links provided to find out more, or check out this more general Visa information page.

Many countries have consulates in Melbourne should you need it during your stay – embassies are in our Capital, Canberra, which is a very long drive from Melbourne.

The sooner you book flights to Australia, the more likely they will be cheap – Christmas sales are a good time to look, as are Chinese New Year sales (in late January/early February) depending on the airline you choose to book with. Websites like Webjet, SkyScanner and Expedia are all very good for finding flights and comparing costs and travel times. However, they often have additional fees compared to booking directly with airlines. Domestic flights between Melbourne and other Australian cities such as Sydney or Brisbane are cheap and serviced frequently, and so may present options outside of direct flights to Melbourne.

Arriving in Melbourne

Australia uses the Australian Dollar (AUD) ($) as its currency. Currently, 1 US Dollar will buy you 1.38 AUD, 1 Euro will buy 1.44 AUD, 1 GB Pound will buy 1.71 AUD. These values will change, but should give you a good base to estimate the value of things in Australia. There are many ATM/Cash Machines available in Australia should you wish to use them. There are also many Foreign Exchange stores in Melbourne Airport.

Once you land at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport, there are many options for traveling to the Central Business District (CBD, or Downtown if you’re American). It takes approximately 30 minutes via car, Taxi or the Skybus, depending on traffic. The Skybus is the cheapest and fastest option for getting to the CBD from the airport, costing $18 AUD for a one way trip, and with a free hotel shuttle from its city depot. A taxi ride costs around $50. While Uber is not legally allowed to operate from Melbourne Airport, you are able to use their services at your own risk as this is not policed.

The Skybus is a privately operated bus service which is designed for the sole purpose of getting passengers to and from Southern Cross Station in Melbourne’s CBD. The Skybus ticketing booth is available near the Taxi rank. For more information, visit  https:/www.skybus.com.au.

Once in your hotel, the best way to get around Melbourne is via Public Transport. Trams are free in the CBD area and run frequently. To travel outside of the CBD area you will need to buy a Myki card, which you can buy at marked shops and at train stations. More information about transport in Melbourne will be covered in a section below.

The Venue

The International Championships will be held in Melbourne Park Function Center, which is located a short 5 minute tram ride out of the city in the sporting precinct. It has hosted the 2015 and 2016 Australian VGC and TCG National Championships, and so has experience catering for the Pokémon community. It is right near the famous MCG, a cricket and Australian Football stadium, as well as the venue for the Australian Open tennis tournament, and AAMI Park, a Football (Soccer) and Rugby stadium. It is also accessible by walking from Flinders Street Train Station or Richmond Train Station. Please see the attached map for details.


Blue Circles: Train Stations,  Red Lines: Walking Paths,  Black Line: Tram Path

To get to the venue from Melbourne’s CBD, catch Tram Route 70 from along Flinders St towards Wattle Park and alight at stop 7B, three stops down the line. You will need to pay for this journey as it goes outside the free tram zone (Please see the Public Transport section for more information). Alternatively, you may choose to walk from Flinders Street Station as there is some nice parkland between those locations. If you are staying with friends in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, you may choose to travel to Richmond Station. From there, you may choose to walk or to catch the the Route 70 Tram towards the city, alighting at stop 7B, which is the fourth stop from the station.

You can read more about the venue at www.melbournepark.com.au/.

Nearby Hotels

For those staying in a hotel, there are many options in Melbourne’s CBD which are both close to the venue and let you see the best parts of Melbourne. The cheapest options are dormitory rooms in Youth Hostels, however cheap hotels or AirBnB’s won’t add too much to the cost for a bit more comfort. Suburbs close to the city such as Richmond, Southbank, South Melbourne, Docklands, Carlton, Fitzroy and Collingwood are also good options which allow straightforward transport options to the event venue.

Websites such as Wotif, lastminute, Booking.com, tripadvisor and airbnb are all good options for finding hotels and comparing prices. Sales are less common on these sites than for airline tickets, so the sooner you can book, the more cheap options you will have.

Food

The venue itself will have some food on sale during the event. There are not a lot of shops immediately outside the venue, however it is a short tram ride to the CBD or to Richmond to get some food if you need it and have the time. Where possible, bringing your own food to snack on is advisable, even just to tide yourself over between meals. There are many places to buy fresh fruit and snack packs in the CBD or at convenience stores near train stations.

For meals outside of event hours, there are lots of food options in the CBD, with choices from almost everywhere on the planet available. There are many fast food options near to Flinders Street Station. Chinatown has many good food options. Most restaurants in the CBD cater for those with dietary requirements such as food intolerances/allergies, with some restaurants catering specifically for these.

Transport

Reminder that all values mentioned are in Australian Dollars.

The Melbourne CBD is well serviced by trains, trams and buses. To travel on these, you will need to purchase a Myki card, which services all three modes of public transport. Similar to London’s oyster card, you can purchase this card for a $6 card fee, and then you will need to place additional money on it to travel. Simply touch on at the start of your journey at a myki reader or gate, then touch off at the end of your journey, and the system will charge you accordingly. You can purchase a myki card from over 800 locations, including any 7-11 store, and even at the Airport when you land – check out https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/tickets/myki/myki-retail-outlets/ to see where you can buy one and top up. A 2 hour fare costs $4.10, and a whole day will cost $8.20. Please note that there is a free travel zone close to the venue, so be mindful before putting too much money on your card. For more information on myki ticketing, visit https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/tickets/myki.

At the end of your time in Melbourne, you can obtain a refund on the unused balance on your Myki card. To obtain a refund, if the balance is under $50.00, you can simply take your myki card to Southern Cross Station within Melbourne’s CBD and have the balance refunded on the spot. This is convenient because it is the same place you can catch the Skybus to get to the airport from. To ensure you don’t require much if any refund, try to not top up more than you need. Starting with $20, then topping up with $10 if your balance runs below $5 should cover you. When you touch on or touch off on most readers, your balance will be displayed. Please make sure you travel on a valid ticket, as ticket inspectors do operate in areas where you need to pay for your travel, and will fine passengers without a valid ticket, regardless of whether they are locals.

The best and most simplest method of transport around Melbourne’s CBD are Trams. Most of Melbourne’s CBD operates on a grid, and it makes it easy to get from one end to the other via one or two Tram services. The majority of Melbourne’s CBD is within the Free Tram Zone, meaning it costs you absolutely nothing to travel within this area (and no need to touch on your myki card – if you do it will charge you). For more information, check https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/tickets/zones/#FTZ

To travel between Melbourne’s CBD and suburban areas, you can either catch a Train or a Tram for the simplest journeys. To travel between different suburbs in the outer areas of Melbourne, you’ll find that Buses and Trams will be the primary modes of travel. For more information, check out https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/getting-around/maps/.

Climate

The average Melbourne temperature in March is 21-23°c or about 70-74° in Fahrenheit. It can still get quite warm in March, above 30°c, however some cooler rainier days with temperatures below 20°c are also common. It is advisable to prepare for mostly warm weather with some warmer options should the weather turn inclement. The venue is air conditioned, so there should be no issues with weather whilst you are competing.

Australian Pokémon Community

There are many groups dedicated to Pokémon in Australia – TCG and VGC. If you want to talk to any local players or see if events/meetups are planned around your stay, we suggest you join any of the below groups. All of these groups have helpful members of the community.

Gaming Stores

If you’re looking for places to hang out and playtest, buy sleeves, singles, booster packs, or maybe you want to get involved in some RP or board games, Melbourne is home to many game stores.

Extra Activities

Melbourne’s culture is very diverse and offers a range of activities that aren’t Pokémon related. The best place to check out interesting things to see is the That’s Melbourne Website.

In addition to seasonal/annual events, Melbourne also offers some mainstay attractions and things to do, such as:

Sporting Events

For those interested in sporting events, there unfortunately won’t be any Australian Football League (AFL) on in March. However, following play on Saturday 11th, there is a Football (Soccer) match nearby at AAMI Park featuring the local Melbourne Victory FC.

Eating

For shopping, lunch or if you want to catch a movie, Melbourne Central, located within the heart of Melbourne’s CBD has a Hoyts cinema and is also home to many mainstream take out places, as well as some restaurants to sit and eat. Also within the CBD, along Little Bourke St, we have a Chinatown which is home to some amazing Asian restaurants!

18+ Events

For those over 18, Melbourne has a very active nightlife and clubbing scene. Australia’s love of good food and good drinks can offer a great night out. Every Friday night, the insanely popular Beta Bar is open which is a gaming/nerd themed Bar located a quick train ride from Melbourne’s CBD.

In a similar vein to Beta Bar, two other gaming/nerd themed bars exist within Melbourne’s CBD and are open most nights – Bartronica and Alchemist’s Refuge (Located underneath Games Laboratory.

Melbourne is also home to the very popular Crown Casino which also plays host to a number of high end restaurants.

Lastly, a Pokémon Australian rite of passage is to eat a Crazy Wing. Results best served on video. Make sure you have a milk based drink on hand….

Miscellaneous Information

Australians drive on the left side of the road, so make sure to look the right way before crossing the road.

Australia uses Type I power plugs. As Australia’s electricity voltage is 240V, Americans are advised to get a voltage converter for their devices – trying to charge a device that accepts 110V with 240V will result in some major problems for the device.

Tax is included in price tags when purchasing anything, so the price at the counter is the same as on the tag. Australia does not have a tipping culture when dining out. Tips will be accepted if you insist, and some cafes may have a tip jar, however it is not standard etiquette.

The drinking age for those wishing to enjoy the nightlife in Australia is 18.  Make sure you familiarise yourself with our alcohol laws if you intend to go out on the town for the night, and if you do drink alcohol, drink responsibly. The most important thing is that you make it back home safely with all your belongings.

If Australians challenge you to eat a spoonful of Vegemite, be wary, as it is usually intended to be spread thinly over bread. We do recommend you try some though. Drop Bears are not usually an issue in the city, but if you do visit our wonderful bushland, be careful under trees as they are known to attack travelers. We can also recommend you try Tim Tam biscuits while you are in Australia.

 

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