The Melbourne Run

Your Alarm is set for 4:30am – you are sure of it because you’ve checked it 20 times along with any other household appliance that keeps time & can promise you a morning that you WON’T sleep in! Here goes … Zzzzzz .. ling ling .. buzz buzz .. honk honk .. and you spring out of bed like a lightning bolt and the run begins…

By 6am you are stepping out of your house, on your way to a 9am meeting that you have scheduled with some important clients. The only trouble is, the meeting is 1,000km away. How do you do it? Well, by rushing to the airport, catching one of those “flying buses” and hope there are no delays along the way.

That’s exactly what thousands of Australians do every single week, and many probably a couple times a week even. Australia’s two biggest cities Melbourne and Sydney compete on all levels with each other. It’s therefore no surprise that there is also a lot of business done between the two cities. Plus there’s probably no larger company in the country that doesn’t employ people in both cities. So, I’m calling this form of a commute “the Melbourne run”.

I’d say it takes a new Melbourne resident a few attempts to figure out the optimal route, time and coffee pick up point on the Melbourne run. So, let me provide you some guidance as after all this wouldn’t be LateDeparture if I didn’t have a list for you:

1.       Getting to the airport: Melbourne’s International airport (IATA: MEL) is located about 25km North-West of the city. It is well connected by a motorway but surprisingly for train and tram rich Melbourne, the road is the only way to get there. The airport doesn’t have a train link. If you come from the city, it’s a lot easier getting to the airport in the morning as it is in the evening when you have to share the road with all other glorious peak hour traffic leaving the city. But be aware Monday mornings and days at the start or end of school holidays can mean more airport traffic and you should add 10 to 15 minutes to your journey. In terms how to get there, you have the option of taking a cab (about $60 from the city), catching the airport express bus, “Skybus” ($26 return from Southern Cross Station) or driving yourself. My general rule is if I’m only going away for up to 3 days, driving yourself is the best option as it’s cheaper than 2 taxis (2 days in the long-term car park for $46, 3 to 6 days $69) and  more convenient than the bus. Either way, the journey from the city takes about 20 to 30 minutes on most days.

2.       The terminals: Depending on which terminal you’re in, there are different options. Terminal 1 and 3 are Domestic terminals with 1 being Qantas and 3 being Virgin Blue where as terminal 2 hosts the International flights (yes there is a 4th terminal which hosts Tiger Airways but in it’s current form, this terminal plays a negligible role). Unlike other airports where the terminal buildings are apart from each other, at Melbourne everything (apart from terminal 4) is under one roof which means you can easily get to and from other terminals. But beware, once you are through security, you can’t get to the other terminals without exiting the flight-side area again.

3.       Where to get coffee: Since the Melbourne run is mostly done in the morning, you probably want to find a spot for a quick coffee before boarding your flight. Don’t forget the airlines won’t allow you to bring your hot drink onboard. In terminal 3 I prefer to get my caffeine fix from Hudson Coffee after the security checks. Now l wouldn’t normally suggest this given Melbourne’s reputation for amazing coffee and talented barrista’s (which is true l might add) but good old Hudsons never seems to let me down: Efficient, reliably quick  and the coffee is reasonably good. If a healthier juice is your preference, try the Boost Juice close by.
In terminal 1, I prefer the coffee joint straight in front of you after the security gate. If you hold a Qantas lounge pass, turn right after the security and head upstairs for some free nibbles. I would still advise you to buy a coffee downstairs unless you are a lover of very average coffee. If you have ample time (which shouldn’t happen if you planned the Melbourne run properly), you’re better off in terminal 1 as there are a lot more shops than in terminal 3.

So with all that, how long does the Melbourne run take? Well, as so often, the answer is “it depends”. When I’m on the Melbourne run to Sydney departing at 7.30am with carry-on only, I can leave my front door  in Port Melbourne at 6.30am on the knocker. This gives me a few snooze sessions with my alarm clock, 15 minutes to go through security and slug down a coffee before boarding at 7.15. See – perfectly timed!  Cutting it a little thin you think?, Well  I didn’t call it the Melbourne run for nothing ;-).

[Photo by LateDeparture – all rights reserved]