There’s nothing like a sense of urgency to inspire you to make the most of somewhere. As was the case with Melbourne, we only had one day to really get to know it and as a result I’d say we made pretty good use of our time in this vibrant city, known for its consistent placing in ‘Top 10 Cities in the World’ lists and the fact it can experience all four seasons in one day. So here I have for you, a surprisingly jam-packed list of all the things we squeezed in to one day in Melbourne…
Visit to Neighbours Set, Vermont
Now you’ll have to let me off here because we actually did get a chance to experience a smidgen of Melbourne magic on route to our Great Ocean Road trip in the preceding days when we visited the real-life Ramsay Street (located at Pin Oak Court in Vermont). And seeing as it didn’t really fit the Great Ocean Road itinerary in any kind of useful way I thought I may as well throw it in here.
All in all, this is a bizarre experience for anyone who doesn’t watch Australian soap Neighbours because this isn’t the studio itself; it’s just a real life street where they do the outside filming. Consequently, if you – like 50% of our party – aren’t up for some novel appreciation of a TV programme you grew up watching, I’d say it’s worth giving this a miss. The choice is yours because, at the end of the day, it is essentially just driving to look at some run-of the-mill suburban houses so the novelty probably does need to be there.
Coffee and Brunch
We definitely need to talk about the coffee and brunch situation in Melbourne (and quite frankly any gentrified part of Australia) because it really is something special. They have made a fine art of marrying the most aromatic, flavoursome coffee bean with the most exquisitely foamed milk to bring you a coffee experience you’ll never forget. Goodness knows how Australia came to be one of the leaders in coffee creation but there I said it, it really is unbelievable and if you’re after a plethora of choice then Melbourne is your caffeine Mecca. Then there is the brunch… If you manage to forego taking a picture of your mouth-watering avocado toast then I salute you. I, however, was not quite so strong.
Believe it or not, the actual ‘city’ part of Melbourne is relatively small, or at least much smaller than I was expecting coming from the overflowing streets of London. But this actually worked in our favour taking in to consideration our time scale. Speaking of London, I couldn’t help but draw some distinct parallels between my native city and Melbourne, especially when walking down the South Bank, which looks like a very similar albeit much glossier version of its namesake in the Big Smoke. With better weather too, of course, but that is almost too obvious to mention.
If you’re looking to take in the major sights I would recommend starting at the historic Flinders Street station before making your way through the incredible street art-laden Laneways, on to Federation Square and then the South Bank where you can rest up with some good old gambling at the questionably glamorous Crown Casino.
I’m aware I’ve already mentioned the Laneways but I do feel they deserve a special mention because this is definitely some of the best street art I’ve ever seen and the best part about it is that it is always changing, making way for new up and coming talent. Even if you’re not that in to art, I’d say you should definitely give these revamped city back streets a chance.
Like many a city in the world, Melbourne very much holds its own in the rooftop stakes. So much so, we thought it worth visiting two of them on our day in the city, each as quirky and unique as the next. I’d say the first, interestingly named Madame Brussels, is a brilliant one for the girls with its tongue-in-cheek cocktail list and pink tennis-themed décor.
Then there was the Campari House roof on Hardware Lane, which couldn’t be a better location to enjoy an Aperol Spritz in the sun. That’s if the sun decides to grace you with its presence on that day. If it doesn’t then then fear not, this bar has 5 other floors worth of hospitable drinking space.
After taking a quick pit stop to change for the evening, we were ready to experience the nightlife that Melbourne is so renowned for. We couldn’t have been given a more perfect start-point for this than St Kilda: a 19th century seaside resort with a bohemian history and an atmosphere to rival any other city in the world that’s lucky enough to possess a beach.
There’s no mistaking we lost out by not allocating more time in St Kilda, but as it was we took in the sunset vibes before enjoying dinner at swanky restaurant-come-bar, Pontoon. If any of you go, then please go to Luna Park for me, it looked like so much fun.
Every city needs a buzzing bohemian enclave; for London it is Shoreditch, for New York it’s Brooklyn and for Melbourne it is definitely Chapel Street and the surrounding area of Prahran. Seeing as this was the area we were staying in, I got to experience the wonder of how much this place comes alive at night, with endless bars and restaurants turning in to hip hangouts as soon as night time hits. Good luck choosing one place to go out here though. I can’t remember how many bars we visited but it’s safe to say it got us through until the early hours where my memory starts to get a little hazy.