Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne

May 12, 2017
Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne



Oh Melbourne, what a ride you've been. Between eating my way senseless around your endless gastronomical offerings to riding the stomach-churning rollercoasters in St Kilda (in that order, too!) it was an amazing 10 days of coffee, culture, and sweet, sweet lovin'. Melbourne is a city that's rather dear to me because of family and other reasons close to my heart, but even for those without physical and emotional ties to the city there is a smogasbord of offerings that don't involve being punched by kangaroos or getting a lift from bike gangs (if you get the reference, let's be friends). Whether or not you are staying for 3 weeks or 3 days, here are 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne.



Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne
Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne

1. CENTRAL PLACE

I wondered why my date was leading me, according to Google Maps, away from where we wanted to go until I realised that he was taking the scenic route - the colour, the chaos of Central Place. The pedestrianised precinct's laneway (above, right) which has starred in many a tourism campaign, is the closest thing Melbourne has to a Diagon Alley (albeit somewhat more grungy) what with vibrant bars, cafes, restaurants and boutiques all jostling a little too close for comfort against each other. If you want to throw yourself into the deep end on Day 1, that's the street to walk down. For a gentler experience, navigate and shop at the more serene, upscale Block Arcade.


Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne
Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne


2. STREET ART AT HOSIER LANE

Even if the dizzing variety of street art that put the Melbourne art scene on the globe isn't your cup of tea (can of paint?), the bluestone laneway of famous Hosier Lane warrants a peek. If not for the chance to watch an artist at work then at least for the comedy of watching tourists get in the way of the locals as they balance precariously on the cobblestones while posing in front of the painted walls. 

Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne
Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne

3. CULTURE VULTURE

At NGV International is the Festival of Photography: a feast for the eyes that see through the lens. Especially arresting is Higher Ground (above, right) a Type C photograph by Richard Mosse created on discontinued Kodak Aerochrome film, whose infra-red sensitive properties transforms jungle greens and khaki camouflage into a striking flourescent pink.

I cannot recommend enough the exhibition 'The Right To Offend Is Sacred' by artist Brook Andrew (above, left) at NGV Federation Square. This inter-discplinary medley photography, mixed media, sculpture, and neon is a gleeful middle finger in the face of contemporary PC squeamishness - forcing the viewer to confront notions about history and culture, the discussions of which are uncomfortable but vital. 

Equally important is the Immigration Museum (below). The museum is a fascinating study of Australian history, an exercise in empathy vs. bureaucracy (there are games where you simulate the role of immigration officers interviewing applicants), and also a heartbreaking collection of Stories from detention in the exhibit They Cannot Take The Sky. It's a must visit that encourages a much-needed and very timely dialogue in this political climate.

Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne
Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne

4. LET'S GET HIGH

So you want to rise above it all? See the city from a bird's eye view and get the perfect photo, to boot? Like any proper metropolis, Melbourne has more than a few ways to get high - whether it's while sipping cocktails on the 55th floor at Lui Bar, being shaken in a glass cube dangling off a 80-something storey building, or seeing the sunrise from a hot air balloon.
Read my post on The 5 Ways To Get The Highest and Best Views of Melbourne.
Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne

5. ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS

Flowers, schmowers. Look - I suffer from hayfever, I have a phobia of soil, and my idea of nature is "wood floors in my new apartment". But even if I won't stop to sit and smell the roses (with coffee and book in hand) I can still appreciate Melbourne's internationally renowned Royal Botanic Gardens (above) - an inner-city oasis heaving with 8,500 plant species and wildlife thriving amongst sweeping lawns, tranquil lakes and majestic trees. Besides, there are plenty of educational attractions of the artistic and scientific sort - although sadly, none with the answers to "Why do I have panic attacks when I'm confronted with handfuls of earth?"

6. CITY CIRCLE TRAM

So, I have serious doubts about Melbourne's title of 'world's most livable city' given that their house prices and cost on living is on par, if not higher than London's. But the one thing they get oh-so-right is their 'hop on, hop off' City Circle Tram (below) aka the tourist tram: the no.35 in its original livery that takes you, for free, in a circle (hence the name) around the city's historical landmarks. It's a fantastic way for any visitor to see the sights and get their bearings in Central Melbourne. Rather an improvement over the yellow purgatory of hungover doom that is London's own Circle Line...
Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne

Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne
Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne
7. ST KILDA

How do I even begin to describe the seaside suburb of St Kilda? It's the good, the bad, and the ugly of Venice Beach, the Mediterranean, and Brighton all rolled into one and then dusted liberally with the inimitable flavour of Aussie craziness. There's creaky rollercoasters from 1912! Fairy penguins nesting in the rocks! A smashing view of the Melbourne skyline from the beach! Green pancakes and vegan eggs! Unmissable; if not for the nostalgia then at least for the novelty factor.




8. GREAT OCEAN ROAD

If you'd much rather get stoned, it's the 12 Apostles (below) you want - towering rock stacks rising up dramatically from the Southern Ocean on Victoria's dramatic coastline. These magnificent monuments, created by constant erosion of the mainland's limestone cliffs of the mainland beginning 10–20 million years ago, are one of many natural wonders to be seen on the Great Ocean Road - well worth a day's road trip from Melbourne.
Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne

Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne
Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne



9. DINNER BY HESTON

No self-respecting foodie with the means would pass up the chance to experience what could be Melbourne's best gastronomical experience, or at least a culinary arrival so wildly anticipated especially as it follows the limited edition Fat Duck pop up. It's a destination you literally have to go to the opposite ends of the earth for, being the second and only branch of the famous Dinner by Heston in Mandarin Oriental, London. The Melbourne edition of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal has all the signature dishes (like Meat Fruit and Tipsy Cake) and trademark mad-cap magic of the original, with a twist - Australian-inspired dishes such as kangaroo tail risotto and Vegemite ice-cream.




Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne
Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne
Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne


10. BREAKFASTS, COFFEES, 
AND BRUNCH; OH MY!

Of course, if you don't fancy shelling out $200-$300 per person at a meal (and that's before you even get to the wine...) there are other ways to get your foodie fix in Melbourne without splashing the cash. We have English writer Guy Beringer to thank for inventing brunch as a way to normalise Sunday morning hangovers, Sex And The City for making it part of the '90s (and beyond) lexicon, but at the risk of angering the collective New York City it's the Melbournians that truly take it to the next level - I mean, have you seen the queue outside Hardware Societe?! 

That's not to say that it's a one-trick pony: whether it's fine-dining in the sky, matcha cafes with plant-based menus and trademarked vegan eggs (yes, that's a thing), chemistry-inspired coffees you pour from a beaker onto fairy floss, or just good ol' smashed avo on toast; Melbourne has all your delicious desires covered. Attempt to conquer at your (waistline's) peril.




CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT; MELBOURNE'S UNOFFICIAL NATIONAL DISH AT IL FORNAIO, SCOTCH EGGS AT GOOD EGG, FRENCH TOAST AND FAIRY FLOSS MATCHA LATTE AT HASH SPECIALTY COFFEE

Melbourne, Australia: 10 Things You Must Do In Melbourne

...thank you, Melbourne, for the tears, the joys, and the food comas. 
Have you been to Melbourne? Is it on the cards? What would you do differently if you did?



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