If you’ve never been to Melbourne then it’s high time you made the trip. Voted the world’s most liveable city in both 2011 and 2012, a day spent in Melbourne is a day spent amongst trendy cafes, amazing shopping destinations, luscious gardens, world-class art galleries and museums and, of course, secret laneways full of surprises.
Equipped with everything that makes it one of the world’s greatest cities but without the hustle-and-bustle, Melbournites are known for their laid-back attitudes, love of great coffee and appreciation of great local music.
It is, in fact, to the credit of these local musicians that Melbourne is known as the music and cultural capital of Australia. The muse of talented artists such as Paul Kelly, The Living End and Skyhooks, Melbourne and its myriad live venues continue to be the heart and soul of the Australian live music scene. From the Northcote Social Club and the Wesley Anne in the north to the Prince of Wales and the Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda, the city is buzzing with local (and international) talent live on stage 7 nights a week, 365 days a year.
If you’re less of a night owl and more of a daytime enthusiast, then you can easily get your cultural fix by going for a stroll (or a tram ride) around the city centre. Set up on an easy-to-follow grid, Melbourne’s CBD streets are intersected by laneways and secret alleys full of unique shops, local restaurants, incredible galleries.
Melbourne is well known for its street art (known as graffiti to those not from the cultural capital), and none more so than the ever-changing canvas that is the brick walls of Hosier Lane. Full of paintings of characters, landscapes, political comments and even Hindu goddesses, head on down any day of the week to catch the artists of Hosier Lane in the act.
If art-in-a-frame is more your style, the short stroll down Hosier Lane will see you at the incredible ACMI/NGV complex at Federation Square where the National Gallery of Victoria awaits.
If there’s one piece of advice I can offer from a local’s perspective it would be to escape the city and explore Melbourne’s inner suburbs.
Melbourne is famous for its café culture, and there is no better place to experience this than in the ‘burbs like a true local.
The thing I love about Melbourne is that all you can be a 10 minute tram ride out of the city and already you’re in a completely different setting with its own local must-sees, funky cafes, eclectic shops and locally owned bars and restaurants.
Brunswick St, Fitzroy is one of Melbourne’s most famous streets for those favouring something out of the ordinary, while Lygon St, Carlton’s Little Italy, makes you feel like you’ve stepped onto the streets of Florence or Rome.
Heading South of the River you have South Yarrah/Prahran’s Chapel St – a shopper’s paradise, and a short ride north on the tram or train will get you to my own little suburban paradise, Northcote.
Melbourne | The Garden City
Melbourne is also great for it’s parklands and gardens – the reason it is also known as the ‘garden city’. Merri Creek runs right the way through the northern suburbs and joins the iconic Yarra River, and the adjacent bike track provides a great place to run, cycle, or stroll your way through a lazy Sunday afternoon. Along the bike track you will find great open spaces and secret playgrounds and skate parks, complete with a stunning view of the city skyline.
A run-down of Melbourne would not be complete without mention of the weather.
As famously sung by Melbourne residents You Am I, Melbourne really does have the tendency to offer visitors four seasons in one day.
One thing I was told when I first moved to this incredible city was to “always carry an umbrella, a jacket, and a pair of shorts” – which has turned out be some of the best advice I have received this year! Sunny one minute, torrential downpour the next, if I had one word to describe Melbourne it would be unpredictable.
You never know what you may stumble upon down the next laneway, what characters you will meet on the tram or just when that blue sky will be replaced by grey clouds.
Regardless of the weather or time of day, however, there is always something to do in Melbourne, so come on down and experience it for yourself!