If you’re not carrying too much with you, I highly recommend taking the V/Line train + bus combo service to the Avalon Airshow. That’s what I did this year and it worked brilliantly.
Last time I went there, we drove. That resulted in over three hours of total driving time — most of that in slow, heavy traffic on narrow lanes behind the airport that went to/from the airshow parking area. And then we had to park a good fifteen minute walk away from the airshow entrance. Not fun. Wouldn’t recommend.
This time someone else did all the driving and I got to nap in a cool, quiet carriage all the way back to the city :)
All this didn’t cost very much either: $13.60 for a return ticket from Footscray railway station to Lara railway station and then a special shuttle from Lara to a convenient drop-off/pick-up point near the airshow entrance. (I bought the ticket in advance, though not online, which is why it cost me more than the online full-fare price but less than the $15 day-of price.)
I could also have used my Myki to get to/from Lara station and then buy a separate paper ticket for just the shuttle bit of the journey. The V/Line folks even had a special ticketing booth set up specifically at Lara for the people who were doing this. But was easier just to get a paper ticket for the whole journey.
Bonus tip: go as early as you possibly can
The other thing I’d highly recommend is that you get to the airshow as early as possible. Gates open at 8am so I caught first train out of Footscray station at 7:08am.
After a quick 45 minute trip we hopped off at Lara railway station where shuttle buses were ready and waiting for. There were enough of on this first train in to fill up two buses, and we set off almost immediately.
I got into the airshow proper (ie past security and ticketing) by 8:26am — so a total front-door to airshow-entrance travel time of about ninety minutes.
The return trip took just a little longer because there was a short wait till the shuttle bus filled up at Avalon. Fortunately, the buses were nicely air conditioned — a huge relief when it was 36 degrees outside!
There was also a fifteen minute wait at Lara station till the next train was due, but that was fine too. The station is quite nice, with a indoor waiting room, lots of out outdoor sheltered waiting/seating space, and even a small cafe.
The train back to the city was my favourite part of the journey because I got a seat in a Quiet Carriage and pretty much napped all the way back to Footscray :)
Oh, and since Nadia both dropped me off to Footscray station in the morning and also picked me up from there in the afternoon, I didn’t have to do any driving that day at all. Yay!