MELBOURNECOFFEE, SHOPPING & BATS...
WHY I LOVEMELBOURNE
- There’s always something new.
- Being able to ride a bike everywhere.
- It’s great at community and supports the small, crazy but awesome ideas.
24 HOURS IN MELBOURNESEE, EAT & DO
Head to Patricia for a quintessential Melbourne coffee experience and then to see the inner city laneways (you can do tours of the laneways and prominent graffiti artists in and around the city). Good cafes in Melbourne will be crazy busy on the weekends so get there earlier or not crazy hungry. Mixed business is our local and has a gorgeous garden courtyard with nana blankets if it’s a bit chilly.
Then head out on one of the bike trails. Note: If you are riding around Melbourne, pop into a bike shop or ask a bike hire for a map of the trials that you can ride. Although central Melbourne is set up for bikes (I would avoid the CBD unless a confident rider), it is much nicer to not ride on the roads.
Or, pop into Queen Vic markets for delicious picnic treats then head to Carlton Gardens to munch.
On a Saturday, check out the Collingwood Childrens Farm (a working urban farm for children, not of children!) or Abbotsford Convent that share adjacent grounds. Great local produce and wares. The convent is well worth a look – beautiful buildings on beautiful grounds, the once nunnery is now home to artist studios as well as restaurants and bars. Some sections are preserved and available for tours if history and architecture are of interest. There is also a open air cinema that runs over the summer months in the evening showing films as well as music performances.
Or, wander down Gertrude Street for a spot of shopping and local craft. If you are up for a journey out of town, head to Montsalvat a gorgeous old arts community space in Eltham, around 30 minutes out of the city (on the Hurstbridge line, if going by train).
Head to Messina for ice-cream to re-fuel after riding. I’d definitely go and peek in my favourite shop Dagmarrousset for an inevitable wardrobe update. Come evening, head to Joe’s Shoe Store. Definitely sit in the courtyard, weather permitting. If you get peckish, they don’t serve food but the pizza shop next door does and will bring it over.
Or, have a beverage or two at Siglo on the top floor of The European for a sophisticated rooftop bar experience plus a great drinks list and cigars, if you fancy.
TOP 3 BESTSPOTS TO EAT
Disclaimer: Melbourne is crazy about food, drinks and coffee. The next best thing is always opening up tomorrow so if my list isn’t for you, check out Broadsheet – it’s the hip local guide to any café/bar/restaurant worth visiting in the city.
Long Play our local go-to. It’s a non-pretentious, small but awesome bar with great service and drinks and the food won’t disappoint. If it’s on the menu, try the ceviche. And definitely drink a Negroni.
Ora, a tiny café about 20 minutes out of the city, it reflects why Melbourne is known for great food and coffee. Owned by a guy with the delightful name of John Vroom, the food is meticulously presented and utterly delicious and the coffee awesome. Try a cold drip coffee if you want something different.
The Town Mouse is a gorgeous little restaurant, owned by New Zealanders (I have to promote!), it’s only been around about 18 months but has quickly become a city favourite. It’s fine dining without the pretence. Be prepared to spend a bit but it’s worth it. Sophisticated and very now, these guys reflect what the Melbourne food scene is all about. And they have glow in the dark business cards.
Melbourne is best in spring (September to November) or autumn (March to May) – the weather can vary wildly at this time but summer can be HOT. I’m talking 35+ degrees celsius, sometimes into the 40’s. I would pick autumn as the best time – Melbourne becomes super pretty.
Melbourne can be done on any budget. If on the cheaper end, hostels are in abundance and cheap eats are everywhere. A great place to eat is the Moroccan Soup Bar in Fitzroy North – a banquet of Moroccan vege feasting will set you back $20-25 for more food than you can eat in one sitting. The chickpea, yoghurt and toasted pita dish sounds odd but is addictively delcious. There’s always festivals and events on and a lot of things are free – just keep a look out for what’s on. Keep an eye out for walking tours too!
If you don’t mind gross (that is perspective!), go and see the bats leave their roosting spot and fly out for the night. There’s a spot on the Yarra where they roost along with viewing platforms/information signs etc if you’re not completely creeped out.
Otherwise, go see the Reading Room in the State Library. It is just a room but it IS worth seeing.
The public transport system is good – it’s easy to get around the central city and close suburbs by tram or train. You will need a myki card for any public transport which are available from all main stations as well as 7-eleven and other selected stores. The myki is a pre-paid card that you touch on/touch off when you board/alight. There are NO paper tickets in Melbourne (I know, it’s ridiculous!) so you do need one if you are going to use the public system.
Taxis are on the expensive side but the best way home in the early hours of the morning. Otherwise, Melbourne is pretty flat so riding a bike is a great way to get around. There are a lot of bike hire places but Little Creatures has free hire of Kronan bikes – you just need a credit card (as a bond) and ID and you’re set!!
Just use common sense. Melbourne is fairly safe, as far as cities go, but it’s not exempt from things we’d all rather avoid. If you choose to drive in Melbourne, the CBD can be a bit hair-raising. Not only are there trams to contend with, there is also the weirdest road rule in existence – the hook turn. This is when cars wanting to turn right pull over the extreme left then join the flow of traffic to their left when the lights change. Confused? Yup, don’t say I didn’t warn you!!!
QVM – Queen Victoria Markets are a well-known central city market and are worth going to for the food stalls but NOT for the merchandise, unless you want resale sweatshop t-shirts or Harley Davidson belts.