Hands down, Melbourne is one of the greatest cities on this planet. It’s got everything that you could want: cool neighbourhoods, great bars & restaurants, awesome people and greats arts & culture. On our recent Australian adventure, we spent five days in Melbourne. Two years ago while in Tequila, Mexico, we met an awesome Australian couple called Bianca & Matt(y). We hit it off and when they heard that we were heading Down Under, they immediately offered up their spare room to us. Of course, we said yes. Not only did we crash with them on this lag of our trip, but they acted as the best tour guides around. I am so happy to have these two in our lives. So how should one spend their time whilst in Melbourne? Oh let me count the ways!
Wander the Neighbourhoods
When visiting new cities, we love walking around them. This is how you get to know the place the best. Our favourite neighbourhood in Melbourne was Fitzroy. Fitzroy is a lot like our home neighbourhood of Parkdale. A little rundown but filled with awesome cafes and shops. The street art here was also wonderful.
We had brunch here at Stagger Lee’s and let me tell you, everything here was ridiculously delicious. Seriously. Our pal Chris Hamburger is the chef here and he filled us to the brim with his awesome food. We literally did not eat again until eight hours later.
We happened upon the Rose Street Market while wandering around Fitzroy. I love visiting markets and picking up handcrafted things. I picked up some jewellery and cards here. What I really wanted was one of those itty bitty terrarium necklaces that you see below but, alas, there are laws about bringing back living plants from overseas. The Rose Street Market is open on weekends from 11am until 5pm and is totally worth checking out. (Sidenote: When I got home from Australia, a new issue of Frankie magazine was waiting for me and guess what was in it? Oh you know, an article about Plant by Packwood, the people who create those necklaces that I was lusting over.)
A short walk from Fitzroy is another great spot to check out called Carlton Gardens. Carlton Gardens is actually a World Heritage Site and includes a beautiful park, the Royal Exhibition Building and the Melbourne Museum. We didn’t check out the Museum but they do have wonderful bathrooms (and free wifi!). The Exhibition Building seen below was completed in 1880 which we found hard to believe because it looked so clean – I guess that is how building age when there is no threat of a snowy winter.
Wander the Alleyways
The alleyways of Melbourne are famous. If you are unsure of where they are, just follow the groups of people who are flocking to them. The most popular to visit are off of Flinders Lane. This is where you will find AC|DC Lane. We visited it and basically, Josh’s life is now complete. 🙂 There is so much artwork to see in the lanes and you could truly get lost in them. There are also lots of great cocktail bars hidden amongst the graffiti which are both fun to find and rewarding when you finally do.
See that phone booth with the pink top? It’s not just any ordinary phone booth. That baby has free wifi as well! We quickly discovered this which meant that it was not necessary for us to buy an Australian plan for our phones (and also allowed us to annoy the world with all of our Instagram posts!).
Below is one of the many bars of Melbourne whose entrance is in an alley. This is the Croft Institute located in Chinatown which we sadly did not get to visit since they were not open when we wandered by. I can only imagine how fun this joint is in the evenings.
See the Views
One day Matt(y) drove us up the Dandenong Mountains Observatory to see Melbourne from afar. The drive there was beautiful with the winding road and stunning forest full of ferns and all things green (keep in mind that when we left, Toronto was in brown April!). From the lookout, you can basically see all of Melbourne which was pretty cool. As well, we saw our first Kookaburra of the trip here. He was hanging out in a tree and let me get pretty close to him to take photos. Don’t you just want to give him a cuddle?!
Walk the River
The Yarra River cuts through Melbourne and is really beautiful to walk along. They have walking/cycling trails there that we took full advantage of. We did this walk close to sunset and the views of the city were stunning. We also saw a bunch of different birds which I obviously loved.
No, not that Batman. Batman Avenue is named after John Batman who apparently founded what has become Melbourne. Word has it that he wasn’t the kindest man in his treatment towards the Aboriginal people so I will just leave this by saying that every time we saw the Batman sign, Josh would get really excited.
Visit the Bars
When traveling with Josh, you must check out all of the cocktail bars. We had just come from Sydney where we did a good job of that and Melbourne was no different. Section 8 is a cool outdoor bar located in (you guessed it!), an alley off of Lonsdale Street. Section 8 is basically a storage container in the middle of a parking lot. There one drinks big bottles of Coopers beer while sitting on skids. Hours may pass while here before you even realise it and I loved it for that.
Melbourne seems to also have many bars that are on rooftops. This city knows how to take advantage of all of their space. We checked out one of these rooftop bars called Bomba. There was a cool view from up there plus they let us bring the babies. I had a cocktail that had ash on the rim and I really liked it.
We visited Eau-de-Vie in Sydney so just had to check out the Melbourne one as well. While in the city, we hired a photographer called Alan Moyle to take some portraits of us. He brought us here and since it was the beginning of service, they kindly let us take photos inside. Josh ordered an Aviation and it came with a cotton candy garnish topped with a paper plane. I ordered something smokey and it arrived in a bell jar.
One evening Matt(y) and B took us on a big bar hop. We started with dinner at Vegie Bar because the key to any bar hop is getting a belly full of food straight from the start. I didn’t take any photos while here but trust me, the food was great. From there we headed to Thomas Olive which is a cute room above a restaurant that has great drinks. To get there, you literally have to walk through the restaurant and up a flight of stairs. There may have also been a secret word involved to get in, I’m not sure. (Again, no photos – whoops!) After Thomas Olive, we headed to The Everleigh which was one of the most beautiful cocktail bars that I have been to. A three piece band played in the corner. We sat at the bar and soaked it all in. I can see why they have placed in the top fifty bars of the world.
Our final stop that evening was the Black Pearl. This bar feels like home and everyone knows your name, more or less. One of the bartenders actually did recognise Josh which was pretty funny. The cocktail menu was a binder with each drink printed on a playing card. It made me think of something that Trick Dog in San Francisco would do.
Get out of the City
Melbourne is really close to a lot of cool things like the famous Great Ocean Road and Phillip Island (you can see penguins here!). On our last day in Melbourne, we decided to skip town and see some nature. We headed to Wilsons Promontory National Park which is about two hours from the city. I was excited to see some nature. Since from the moment that we arrived in Oz, we had been in cities, I was really excited for Josh to see his first kangaroo. Literally just after we entered the park there at the side of the road were two Emus and three Kangaroos. It was as though they were just waiting for us to drop by.
There are a bunch of hikes that you can do at the Prom. We got out of the car, grabbed some flat whites and headed out on one. We thought that it would just be a short 1km walk, it ended up being close to seven. Whoops! The entire time I was just hoping that we would see a koala to make all of those upward climbs worth the sweat but alas, we didn’t see one. (This was my third trip to Australia and I have yet to see a wild Koala.)
We did see some stunning views here and also a ton of birds including another Laughing Kookaburra (too cute!), Rainbow Lorikeets (my favourite!) and those gorgeous Crimson Rosellas (yes, they are wild!).
As we were leaving the Prom, we were lucky enough to see a Wombat crossing the road. Australians loves these guys. We also saw a Wallaby near the exit of the park. I think that he was planted there to give us a proper send-off.
All in all, Melbourne is a fantastic city and I think that all of you should visit it. Yes, all of you.