Melbourne Airport enters middle age in style ….
Most people dread entering their fourth decade, but reaching 40 turned out to be a rather happy occasion for Melbourne Airport last year. An influx of Chinese visitors and English cricket fans to this vibrant, cosmopolitan city helped swell passenger numbers at Australia’s second largest airport to a record total of 27.7m.After all those birthday celebrations it looks like 2011 is set to be another landmark year for the Aussie airport as it finally unveils a massive A$330m (£215m) expansion of its International Terminal 2 (T2). It has taken five years to construct and is being billed as the biggest upgrade at the airport since it opened in 1960.In all some 7,000 square metres of space are being added to the terminal, which means that there is now plenty enough room for 11 more shops and restaurants to open their doors. More about this impressive retail development later, but let’s start our shopping guide to Melbourne airport at Terminal 1 (T1), a domestic terminal reserved for Qantas and JetStar.
Terminal 1 (Qantas and JetStar)
This domestic terminal dedicated to the national flag carrier was given a major A$50m (£32.6m) facelift at the end of the last century. Over a decade on Terminal 1, which is privately managed by Qantas, still boasts a decent selection of more than 60 different retail outlets.
The fashion offer is particularly strong featuring everything from the cheap and cheerful accessories store Bijoux Terner , where everything costs A$20 (£13), to formal men’s business attire from Australian menswear retailer Henry Bucks , and youthful Aussie women’s accessories brand Mimco.
Seed, another Antipodean brand with over 30 stores nationwide, sells stylish, but practical kids’ clothing and accessories in a store, which is decked out with traditional nursery-style furniture and toys to give it a nostalgic look. With an emphasis on colour and comfort, Seed’s range of clothing, shoes and accessories are targeted at children aged from birth to 10. See the company’s website, www.seechild.com.au, for more details.
If you want to catch up with the latest news or buy your favourite magazine, the Newslink outlet is your best bet (it also sells bottled water, soft drinks and confectionery). For those who prefer a longer read, head to the Watermark Books outlet.
‘Stationery’ is hardly a word to set the pulses racing, but the Smiggle outlet in Terminal 1 tries hard to change the image of a traditionally rather dull product category with its wide range of boldly colourful, quirky stationery at reasonable prices. Only established in 2003, this Melbourne-based retailer has gone from strength to strength and now boasts 20 stores across Australia.
Australian cuisine has come on in leaps and bounds over the past two decades as newly arrived immigrant populations have left their mark on the country’s food culture. Terminal 1 certainly boasts an eclectic mix: travellers can choose from Italian (Pasta Pomodoro); Asian noodles and dim sum (Billie Chu), sushi (Noribu Sushi), healthy salads and soups (Villa & Hut Kafe), and even spicy Portuguese Piri-Piri chicken (Oporto).
Terminal 2 (all international flights)
The newly revamped Terminal 2 is a great place to shop for those travellers lucky enough to hold an international ticket, boasting 34 stores. Over 5,000 square metres of extra retail space are coming on line by the end of 2011, which are being split up into five distinct retail areas, several of which have been designed to reflect aspects of Melbourne’s architecture. Travellers stopping for a bite at the terminal’s many bars and eateries will have stunning views onto the runway thanks to soaring 10-foot glass walls.When it comes to duty-free, Swiss travel-retailer runs the concession in the new terminal under the easy-to-remember name F1RST Tax & Duty Free. It runs a separate Technology shop, which stocks a great range of digital cameras, iPods, laptops, games, mobile phones and DVD players. Newly listed products there include Blackberry Curve smartphones, Iluv Flexi-Gel Ipad cases and Nintendo 3DS Cosmos Black game consoles.
Back in the main duty-free store check out the selection of Aussie wines, which has been greatly improved in recent years and now features many fine and rare lines. Examples of high-end wines currently sold there include Taylors St. Andrews 40th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon at A$99 (£64.55), Henschke Mount Edelstone 1993 at A$199 (£130), and the St. Hugo Museum Triple Pack at A$399 (£260), which contains three vintage bottles from Jacob’s Creek’s most prestigious range.
F1RST Tax & Duty Free does run a well-stocked arrivals shop at Melbourne International so it is worth pointing out that a family of four can pool their individual allowances of duty-free goods. Log on to the retailer’s website, www.firstdutyfree.com.au, for more details.
Elsewhere in T2, our pick of the many stores selling specifically Australian souvenirs and merchandise is the Australian Produce Store, which sells some quirky foodstuffs such as kangaroo meat, scallops, abalone, royal jelly, honey, Golden Boronia nougat, macadamia nuts and wines from smaller, boutique wineries.
The range of fashion and accessories stores available in T2 has been given a big boost by the expansion project. For instance, watches are now well represented with a Swatch kiosk for younger, fashion-conscious travellers, and for those with more money to splurge there is a high-end JR Watch boutique, which sellis high-ticket watches from brands such as Breitling, Tiffany & Co, Cartier, Dior, Chopard, Omega and Tissot.
Australian fashion also has a strong presence in the new retail line up, especially when it comes to surfer and beach clothing (look out for the beachculture and Rip Curl outlets). Other highlights include Diva, a contemporary fashion jeweller with bright, edgy designs inspired by the latest catwalk styles from London, New York and Tokyo, and Forever New , a Melbourne-based ladies fashion brand with over 110 stores in seven countries worldwide.
The choice of restaurants, cafés and bars in the new T2 is excellent. Take your pick from sandwich bars (Healthy Habits), stylish wine bars (Plonk Bar), Portuguese fast food (Nando’s), and superb coffee, cakes and patisserie from the recommended Café Vue.
Terminal Three (Virgin Australia)
The selection of shops in this much smaller terminal dedicated to Virgin Australia, Australia’s second largest airline, and Regional Express (REX) is limited to a couple of newsagents, Newslink and News Travels; a Sunglass Hut outlet, and Sportsgirl Accessories, a well-established Aussie fashion brand aimed at younger women.
The food and beverage offer is much broader, however, ranging from Asian choices (Sushi Sushi), fast food (McDonald’s) to Italian-style cafés (Machinetta).
Terminal Four (Tiger Airways)
T4 is the first terminal dedicated to a budget airline to open at an Australian airport, and sadly it is no-frills all the way when it comes to the shopping offer here. Airport owners operating budget terminals often (incorrectly) assume low-cost airline passengers have no extra cash to spend before catching their flight, and cut back on their retail offers accordingly.
Melbourne airport certainly seems to have done so. The only thing on offer here is a beachculture fashion store and a newsagent, Newslink, so if you are flying out of this terminal you have been warned!
Qantas’ T1 Shopping Guide
Melbourne Airport Shopping & Eating Guide (T2, T3 and T4)
See our Tax Free Travel shopping guides to: