With all the astrological activity in the sky, a little travel blog…just because I can…. My Guide to Melbourne, my way.
Looking over the bridge
To the M.C.G.
And way up on high
The clock on the silo
Says eleven degrees
I’m breathing today
The month of May
All the burning leaves
I’m not hearing a sound
My feet don’t even
Touch the ground
I remember I remember
I go leaps and bounds
Down past the river
And across the playing fields
The fields all empty
Only for the burning leaves
Leaps and Bounds, Paul Kelly
I spent last weekend in Melbourne with my husband recharging batteries and brownie points. It is seriously the most beautiful time of the year down there- cool, crisp, clear (usually) and not too cold. The autumn leaves are out in force and the parks are full of their crunchiness.
I know the city pretty well after spending some great times down there for work over the last 5 or 6 years… and I love it. I would live here in a shot if that was possible. My husband says that If I ever ran away he would know exactly where to find me- either down near Fawkner Park in Prahran/ South Yarra or on St Kilda Pier… he is probably only half joking.
Anyway, here is my guide to my favourite places in Melbourne- in no particular order- there are so very very very many more… All pics are by me.
- The MCG.
I saw my first AFL game here last weekend- Collingwood vs Geelong, a top of the table clash. The sheer excitement of being part of 88000+ people can’t be described. The game is fast, the eye candy on the field is sweet indeed. Even if not game day, the “G” runs a great visitors tour which takes you behind the scenes of this landmark.
- Markets. There are a few around. St Kilda Markets on the Esplanade is an institution. Markets are also down at Southbank at the Arts Centre. This one is about to be refurbished and around 60 stalls cut, so this one is changing. A recent discovery is the Rose St Artists Market in Fitzroy- really well worth a look- smallish, and really great quality art, fashion, jewellery and bags. Abbotsford Convent has monthly shirt and skirt markets which are worth a look- as is the Convent itself.
- Food Markets. While on the subject of markets, the fresh food markets at Prahran and Queen Victoria Markets are both made in foodie heaven. Abbotsford Convent also does a slow food market on the 4th Saturday of each month. St Kilda also has a food market one Saturday a month, as do other suburbs.
- Grossi Florentini Cellar Bar. This qualifies on both the food list and the favourites list. I grab a pasta and a glass of sangiovese every time I am in Melbourne. Brilliant value for less than $25. Sitting at the tiny tables or at the long bar, watching the trams in Bourke St go by and flirting with Italian waiters is an extremely satisfying way of spending a hour or so. Some of the best past in town. And did I mention the waiters? Also attached is the really upmarket posh put on a tie restaurant- Grossi Florentini- and the more medium priced Bistro.
- Shopping. Melbourne is more than mall and High St shopping. Head straight for the laneways, the strip shops and the inner city suburbs. Suburbs like Fitzroy, St Kilda, Prahran have some one-off boutiques by local designers. Some of these also sell through the artists markets (like my favourite handbag shop Mattt).
The laneways in the city are full of cutting edge fashion and shoes to die for. If you are after high end brands, Melbourne is full of them. Also shops such as Husk on the way up the Collins St hill have some really interesting jewellery designers and plenty of gorgeous clothes I could never fit into, let alone justify the cost of.
- Spellbox. I just love this place. Tarot cards, readers, books, spells, crystal balls, all types of wiccan paraphernalia, but also good fun. Spellbox is always (and I mean always) packed with more people than can move. The sister shop The Witches House further up little Bourke St is also worth a look.
- Street Art. Some call it graffiti, I call it art.
There are a couple of companies that specialise in walking tours of the laneways, but some wandering will get you where you need to go.
Degraves Lane, Hosier Lane, AC/DC Lane, Rankins Lane & heaps more in the city. Also wander down Gertrude St, Brunswick St & Rose St in Fitzroy.
- Street Sculpture. Take a walk across the footbridge (a piece of sculpture in itself) at Spencer St Station to Docklands. Alternatively take the free City Circle tram around there. Some cool street sculptures like Cow up a Tree and some really interesting architecture. Other random pieces are dotted all through the city.
- Parks. Melbourne is full of green spaces. No matter the time of year, they are full of people walking dogs, doing boot camp, reading books, playing park football, kicking leaves. Room to breathe.
- St Kilda Pier. This is one of my most favourite spots in the world. I have spent many an hour standing on the edge down here letting the wind blow away whatever fug is in my brain.
- Brighton Beach-houses. Take the 6km boardwalk from St Kilda to Brighton and check out the Port Phillip Bay coastline and the brightly painted beach houses.
- Bookshops. So many great ones. And not just your normal franchise book stores. These are real book shops. Shops specialising in books for cooks, books for sports fans, books for supernatural fans. If you have an interest, Melbourne has a book shop specialising in them. My personal favourite is Hill of Content- you can find it just past Exhibition St on your way up the Bourke St Hill.
- Federation Square. This place is a little like Collingwood Football Club- you either love it or hate it- there is no middle ground. I am in the love it camp…not that I am a Collingwood fan, of course. People eat here, drink here, party here, meet here, watch art here, watch major sporting events on the big screen here.
- Flinders St Station.
Meet you under the clocks- everyone does…
- The Age Good Food Guide. Grab a copy before hitting town. Restaurant listings and ratings. Enough said… except perhaps that heaps of really well rated restaurants in the city and Southbank offer pre theatre dinner specials before 7pm. Brilliant food and good value.
- Laneway Eating. Some of the best food & coffee can be found down the lanes. Hardware Lane, Degraves Lane, Block Lane are all jam packed. Also worth a look is Ca de Vin in the laneway beside the GPO in Bourke St Mall which, incidentally is also a great place to shop and browse.
- Richmond Hill Cafe & Larder. Choose your cheese from the wonderfully stinky fromagerie and match it with a glass of vino. http://www.rhcl.com.au/ Perfect late lunch, keep walking up Bridge Rd past the MCG & Punt Rd. Or you can catch a tram from Flinders St…but then you still have walking to do in order to make room for dinner…
- Koko Black Chocolates. You just have to. There is no choice. http://www.kokoblack.com.au/
- Tea Indulgence. If you are into afternoon teas, which I’m not really, the Windsor Hotel is a classic, but bookings are essential. The other hotels do them too, so check out the offerings from Sofitel, Hyatt and the Westin- all up Collins St.
- Other great spots to eat in & around the city are: Some truly wonderful pre Xmas memories of Punch Lane Wine Bar (Spring St end of Little Bourke St); The European (also in Spring St); heaps of great spots in Southbank & Docklands; Cafe e Cuccina (Chapel St, South Yarra); the dumplings at Dim Sum Cafe (corner of Exhibition & Little Bourke St) or Hu Tong in Market Lane opposite the Flower Drum. (I haven’t eaten at Flower Drum- arguably the priciest & best Cantonese in the country, but they do reasonably priced lunch specials that are special indeed). Donovans on the beach at St Kilda is lovely for a special occasion, but if you want fish & chips, grab them from one of the beachside cafes near the Baths. For Greek go to Lonsdale St, for Asian to Little Bourke. Italian is in Carlton, although Jaspers Coffee in Fitzroy smells 100% caffeinated. The best of European cakeshops line Ackworth St, St Kilda- I once brought a rum baba and the makings of a long black home because thats what Grant said he wanted from Melbourne! In short? Just follow your nose!
I want to see the sun come up
On St Kilda Esplanade
Where the beach needs reconstruction
Where the palm trees have it hard.
I’d give you all of Sydney Harbour,
All that land & all that water
For that one sweet promenade.
From St Kilda to Kings Cross, Paul Kelly