Melbourne Airport, also known as Tullamarine, opened in 1970 replacing Essendon Airport and is now the second largest and busiest airport in Australia with around 36 Mio passsengers in 2017. The airport has 56 gates spread around 4 terminals. Three of the terminals form a single major building housing the majority of the airport’s operations. Aircraft use two intersecting runways but usually all traffic use 16/34, the longest runway at MEL. Thats why the airport is very interesting for plane spotters as its never quiet, except during the night.
MEL is a hub for Qantas/Qantas Link including several intl. destinations to Asia and USA. Jetstar Airways, Virgin Australia, Tigerair Australia and Regional Express Airlines are carriers that using Melbourne as a hub too. Furthermore you will see a nice mix of traffic mainly from Asia and the Pacific. Qantas Freight and Toll Aviation are the major freight operatores at this airport.
The airport authorities are going to build a third new runway, parallel to the exisiting runway 09/27 but just south of the airport boundaries. Therefore its possible that a few spots are sooner or later no longer accessible due to the ongoing constructions works.
Written by Max Getley (local spotter), Jan Seba and S. Hackenberger. Last Update July 2019.
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| (8 votes, average: 4.38 out of 5)
|09/27||2.286 m (7.500 ft)|
|16/34||3.657 m (11.998 ft)|
|Terminal 1||Qantas, Qantas Link|
|Terminal 2||All international Operations|
|Terminal 3||Virgin Australia|
|Terminal 4||Domestic flights opb. Tigerair Australia, Regional Express Airlines, Jetstar and Airnorth|
|Ladder||Just needed at 7 for ground photos and partially at spots 5 and 6.|
|Car/Public Transport||Car is needed as there is no public transport to the locations. You can park directly at every spotting location.|
|Restrooms||Throughout terminals. Nothing around the spots.|
|Drinks/Food||Throughout terminals. Nothing around the spots.|
|Season||Best to go there during the australian summer due to the north/south direction of the main runway. You will have less rainy days and much more sun hours like in the winter months.|
|09/27||Less in use and mainly for smaller aircraft. If so then mainly 27 is used, 09 just once every few months.|
|16/34||Due to its length this is the major runway, used in both directions and usally by all heavy departures.|
|Spot #1 – Terminal 1 and 3|
|WHERE||Terminal 1: Qantas’ terminal has two piers and allows access to the piers through security with a security check. No boarding pass is required.
Terminal 3 Pier A: Virgin’s terminal has two piers and allows access to the piers through security with only a security check. Best is Gate for spotting is Nr. 10. No boarding pass is required.
The international Terminal 2 is only accessable with a valid boarding pass!
|WHAT||Terminal 1: You can get up close to Qantas and Jetstar aircraft at their gates and pushing back through the various windows that look out onto the stands.
Terminal 3 Pier A: From here you have the most action. You can get up close to Virgin aircraft at their gates and pushing back through the various windows that look out onto the stands. All Regional Express and Tiger Airways aircraft pass the pier and you can get a view of runway 16/34 at its end.
|TIME||Best in the morning. There is reflection at all times but decent shots can still be had through the glass with care.|
|MISC.||Everything you need within the terminal. There are multiple obstructions plus the ever present problems of photographing through glass and with heat haze but reasonable shots can be taken with patience.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||50-150 mm|
|Spot #2 – Car park Terminal 4|
|WHERE||Located at Terminal 4 Carpark, Level 6 or 7 is best for getting a good height over the aircraft on the tarmac at T4 or T3. If you arrive by car parking fee is 51 AUD for 24h.|
|WHAT||Most aircraft on tarmac and all traffic on Runways 16 and 34|
|TIME||Early Morning and late night|
|MISC.||Everything you need within the terminal. Be aware with the security. You either meet a guy with good common sense or a guy on a power trip and will be likely to move you on. The airport had openly says that it is fine for photographers to take some snaps from the carpark but the security company might not getting the information.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||A380=150mm; 788=230mm|
|Spot #3 – Operations Rd|
|WHERE||This spot is located by the roadside of “Operations Rd” near Qantas and Jetstar Maintance. The easyiest way to get there (from the city and airport) is to follow “Airport Drive”, then turn into “Link Rd” and then into “S Centre Rd”. After around 200 meters exit the roundabound at the 3rd exit and follow “Operations Rd” for about 500 meters. Park at a car small lot on the side of the road, right next to Melbourne Airport Golf Course entrance. and walk along the road for your favourite spot – this depends on the angle you wanna have and the time.|
|WHAT||All arrivals on runway 34 and some heavy 16 departures.|
|TIME||Usually the whole day, except midday.|
|MISC.||Closest facilities nearby are at the terminals|
A330 = 110mm / Saab340 = 320mm / B738 = 160mm
|Spot #4 – Link Road|
|WHERE||Located in the cargo area use same direction as #3 but continue on Link Road and drive till the end at the front of a truck station. Park on the side of the road.|
|WHAT||Runway 34 arrivals only.|
|TIME||Time is good from sunrise till (late) midday.|
|MISC||Closest facilities nearby are at the terminals|
|Spot #5 – Operations Road|
|WHERE||This spot is along Operations Road. Just continue from #3 for a kilometer. Park your car on the side of the road .|
|WHAT||Best for arrivals on RWY34 and aircraft holding short for 34 take off. Smaller aircraft don´t use the full length of the runway and using an earlier entrance.|
|TIME||From afternoon till sunset.|
|MISC||Closest facilities nearby are at the terminals. Ladder recommend for line up photos.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||A332=100mm; A350 line up = 260mm|
|Spot #6 – Airport View Point/Operations Road|
|WHERE||This spot is another official aircraft viewing point for Melbourne Airport located on Operations Road. Just continue from #5 until you see a parking lot to your left. This spot is great to chill back in the car and watch the planes takeoff and land on the main runway at Melbourne. The green box have been topped off with a triangular shape tip, meaning that you couldn’t stand on it anymore. Either you shoot through the fence or you bring a ladder higher than 1.5m or you stand on the wooden poles at the carpark (which is risky in windy conditions) to clear the fence.|
|WHAT||All Runway 16 and 34 action.|
|TIME||From afternoon till sunset.|
|MISC||Closest facilities nearby are at the terminals. Ladder recommend for ground photos.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||150 mm for A320|
|Spot #7 – Mansfield Road|
+++ UPDATE JULY 2019. Due to constuction works this spot is not available at the moment +++
|WHAT||All movements. Departures on 27 and arrivals that vacating the runway. Line up and arrivals on 09 but which is pretty rare.|
|TIME||Only in the summer months in the morning and from late afternoon till sunset.|
|MISC.||Here is absolutley nothing and the spot is pretty far from any facilities. Ladder recommend for ground photos.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||A320=230mm; 787=120mm|
|Spot #8 – Old Bulla Rd|
|WHERE||From the terminals drive northwards on Sunbury road, pass the official viewing area spot #9 and then take the next left into the Old Bulla Rd. The last part of the road is closed with an iron chain, so check out your favourite position, where you can shoot between the trees (example Qatar 380, Ethiad 787, Sichuan 350).|
|WHAT||RWY 16 arrivals only. Better angle for afternoon arrivals compared to spot 9.|
|TIME||From afternoon till sunset.|
|MISC.||Nothing nearby. Don’t pass the iron chain, as the residents of the nearby house don’t like spotters there.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||250 mm for A320|
|Spot #9 – Airport Viewing Area|
|WHERE||There is an official viewing area north of the terminals directly under the approach of runway 16 located at the roundabout Sunbary Rd / Oaklands Rd. Park directly at the park. The park itself is not the best place for photography as you are directly under the aircraft but its a nice place to have a break and relax. But from there you can walk on the grass a bit to the east along Sunbury Rd. and west till the Bulla Uniting Church (you can park there too) to gather a perfect angle.|
|WHAT||All Runway 16 Arrivals and 34 heavy takeoffs.|
|TIME||Usually the whole day except midday.|
|MISC.||The park has some benches to sit down and sometimes a food truck appears.|
From the viewing area:
East side (morning):
|Spot #10 – Sunbury Rd.|
Its also within the walking distance from the terminal but we did not checked that.
+++ Update January 2019: Due to recent road reconstruction completed last year, Spot 10 on your guide has disappeared. The lay-by/car park has been removed. A steel crash barrier has been installed from near spot 9 and runs continuously on both sides of the road towards the terminals to a point just past RWY 27. +++
|WHAT||Arrivals on RWY27 and RWY34 heavy departures.|
|TIME||For RWY27 the whole day in winter. In summer you have backlit in the morning and evening.
For RWY34 from sunrise till (late) midday.
|MISC.||All you need within the terminals which are very close.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||100-200mm for RWY27
300-400mm for RWY34