There are two ticketing systems.
1) Metcard: Its only $7.60 a day and $4 (in zone 1 that is) for two hours (zone 1, for zone 1 and 2 it’s a bit extra). You can travel on any of Melbourne’s public transport (except taxis) without having to pay extra. NB: for trams make sure that you have enough coins for the journey as the ticket machine is coin only and drivers do not sell tickets. Or alternatively you can buy a ticket from retail shops showing the blue metcard sign saying “metcard sold here”. Authorised officers might take the excuse of “I do not have enough change and I am a visitor to Melbourne”, but some of them might be nasty and just fine you anyway.
And don’t try to buy a concession ticket without concession entitlements as they are likely to fine you. I know I did and I was fined for it. And I know a friend who made up many excuses and false names. Do not do any of these things as you will likely to be caught and detained by the police. You might be fined a lot more than $180 for these things and you might have to go to court. It is not worth the trouble. It is better just to pay the full fare for the ticket.
Make sure that if you are on a tram or bus use the dark green validators for the metcards. The light green validators are for the myki cards (see point two).
2) Myki: I haven’t used it myself, but I have heard that there is problems with this card. This is another ticketing system in Melbourne which always seems to trick visitors everytime when they are in Melbourne. Visitors will try and use the myki card readers to validate their Metcard and they’ll think it doesn’t work. What they don’t know is that you are supposed to use a different machine for the metcard (see point 1). Don’t start using one until it is fully enforced as the Government is trying to fix all the problems with the myki system. Most students I know use the system because it is cheaper, but there might be some problems with it such as overcharging. On trams you only just need to touch on. If you have a myki, don’t forget to touch on and off.
You can check maps and timetable information on www.metlinkmelbourne.com.au.
Note: that if you do not have a valid ticket, you can be fined up to $180. International students (except for Study Abroad students) are not eligible to get transport concession here in Australia; you must pay full fare (Government rules). The RMIT Student Union is fighting this. Study Abroad students can pick up a form at the HUB, fill it out and pay the $9 concession card fees
There are ticket inspectors on board trams, trains and some buses. Whilst most are in uniform there are some in plain clothes. I have heard that some ticket inspectors like to bash up people. But most people are really lovely.
Here you can see that there are two zones. The blue one is zone two and the yellow is zone 1. All tram routes are in zone 1. Most trains travel to zone 2 and beyond. Most of the zone 2 suburbs are far far away from the city so you can safely assume that it would take half an hour or more to travel into the city. You must buy the correct ticket for the zone/s that you are travelling in or otherwise you will be fined.