Beautiful in summer, spectacular in winter; Melbourne is a city for all seasons. But, if we’re honest, autumn is when the real magic happens. But where to begin? Lucky for you, we’ve done the leg work. From the city’s brand-new eateries and bars to an exciting line-up of arts events, here are five great new reasons to visit Victoria’s capital.
The delicious new bars and restaurants
We can think of about 15 unique new venues recently open in Melbourne, but among those are a few real standouts. These include Chibong in West Footscray, which takes classic Filipino comfort food and dials its flavours up to 11; the 1920s-style Gimlet at Cavendish House, with its extensive cocktail list (including a progression of gimlets known as ‘The Long Goodbye’); and Poodle Bar & Bistro. Besides its great, accessible name, Poodle also has a serious pedigree, with head chef Josh Fry (formerly at Marion and Cumulus Inc) making magic in the kitchen.
The game-changing new hotels
If you’re planning to sip and savour your way around town, you’ll need somewhere to stay. And you’ll be pleased to know there are some fresh faces. Downtown there’s W Melbourne, which looks to be the hotel version of a Real Housewives personality who loves wild fashion, avant-garde decor and cocktails by the pool; Quincy Hotel Melbourne on vibrant Flinders Lane, which wouldn’t be out of place on a bustling street in Bangkok; and fabulous Lancemore Crossley Street in the city’s East End theatre district and Next Hotel Melbourne on Little Collins Street.
The new spots to explore in old neighbourhoods
Everything old is new again, including the ‘burbs of Melbourne. Beyond the CBD, you’ll find a wealth of colourful neighbourhoods to explore, each with its flavours, culture and community – and they’re still evolving. Footscray in the inner west is a must-visit if you love great Vietnamese food, Windsor has a free-spirited vibe with eclectic bars, and Northcote has a quirky vibe with indie art galleries and vintage clothing stores. Street art mecca Hosier Lane, right in the city, is another spot that’s different each time you visit.
The music, the arts and festivals
This autumn, a bumper crop of events is taking place, including festival RISING; exhibition series NGV’s Melbourne Winter Masterpieces; ACMI exhibits The Story of Moving Image and Disney: The Magic of Animation; the acclaimed play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Princess Theatre; and West Side Place, a new retail precinct dubbed Australia’s first ‘arcade, featuring works from some of the country’s top contemporary artists. Moulin Rouge! The Musical is also set to kick off in August at Regent Theatre.
The new adventures
Eat, sleep, surf, repeat. That’s the name of the game at URBNSURF, an incredible new urban surf park near Tullamarine that produces perfect waves every time. But it’s not the city’s only adrenaline-fuelled offering. If you want to get your adventure on, there’s also shark diving at Melbourne Sea Life Aquarium and Ragged Edge, Extreme 4X4 Adventures. When you’re not gliding on perfect waves at URBNSURF, make sure you stop by the new Three Blue Ducks restaurant onsite. It’s an adventure for your tastebuds.
Like an epic television cliffhanger in real life, Melbourne will always keep you guessing. Whatever you seek, food, wine or good times, the storyline will continually surprise, delight and amaze. And the only way to find out more is to book, stay and explore.
B After all, there’s so much to see and do in the city! If you’re curious why Melbournians have so much fun, then check out these six excellent reasons to visit Melbourne, Australia:
Your taste buds will thank you.
Melbourne is home to people from all walks of life and virtually every culture in the world. Therefore, when you’re looking for a bite to eat, you have plenty of opportunities to sample delicious cuisine from hundreds of different cultures. Melbourne’s streets boast something for everyone, from street food to five-star dining. The best part? A culinary expert prepares everything you eat!
The city’s coffee is to die for.
Many people believe that you need to splurge on a trip to Europe to sample the world’s best coffee, but that’s not the case at all. Melbourne’s coffee culture is world-famous. Trust me; you won’t find any better cup of Joe than in the Victorian capital’s bars and restaurants. If coffee isn’t your thing, don’t panic. Every cafe provides a tempting menu of delicious beverages for everyone, even the kids.
Melbourne is ”sports crazy.”
Australians love sports; Melbourne truly epitomises all the sports fan love. Melbourne hosts some of the world’s most popular sporting events, rain or shine. The city hosts the Australian Open Tennis Championship every January and the Formula One Grand Prix in March. Then, in November, the city goes wild for the Melbourne Cup horse race. No matter your favourite sport, chances are that you’ll find a sporting event to attend anytime you visit the city.
Melbourne Is the perfect place for festival junkies.
Regardless of your favourite kind of festival, Melbourne most likely hosts a festival that appeals to your tastes at some point in the year. The city hosts film fests, an international comedy festival, food and wine tastings, and music festivals... So if hanging with crowds of festival-goers is your cup of tea, you should plan a trip to Melbourne.
The city is a shopper’s heaven.
If Melbourne is a foodie’s heaven for food, it’s a paradise for international shoppers. If you have extra cash to spend, visit South Yarra’s Chapel Street, home to a trendy upmarket boutique. If you’re a bargain-chaser, check out the Queen Victoria Markets in the heart of the city. You should also explore the CBD’s many little laneways. There you’ll discover hidden shopping treasures and tasty little cafes.
Melbourne is the gateway to the rest of Victoria.
Since Victoria is not a large state, it’s pretty convenient to stay in Melbourne and hire a car to explore other parts of Victoria. Travel north and immerse yourself in Ballarat’s gold rush history. Or drive a few hours east of the city into Yarra Valley’s stunning wine-making territory of Yarra Valley. And if you journey just a few hours west, you can lose yourself in the majestic Grampians National Park.
There are plenty of reasons why both locals and foreigners love the city of Melbourne. The delicious food, shopping experiences, and vast entertainment offerings make the popular Aussie city bucket list-worthy.
The Yarra River
Australia's cultural capital neighbourhoods hold all kinds of attractions, from bars and boutiques to museums and music halls. Tricia Welsh gives us the highlights.
For years the city turned its back on the Yarra River (pictured here at Princes Bridge), but now it's the social heart of the city.
Walking and bike trails follow the river from the inner suburbs to the Central Business District and along Port Phillip Bay as far as Brighton with its string of colourful bathing boxes. You can cruise the river on a flat-bottomed barge, take a ferry to nearby Williamstown, visit the Scienceworks museum, ride a water taxi, or use your boat to get to Melbourne Park (venue for the Australian Open tennis tournament), the Royal Botanical Gardens and Herring Island's sculptures.
Brunetti This Roman-style pasticceria caffè opened in 1985 in the heart of Carlton. In recent years branches have appeared in City Square, suburban Camberwell and Fitzroy, in the Myer store on Bourke Street, and even in Dubai and Singapore. Brunetti prides itself on its wide selection of artisan cakes and pastries, quality Arabica coffee and Italian hot chocolate.
The original café comprises a gelateria that makes 26 different flavours of ice cream, a paninoteca producing savoury pastries, a cioccolateria with 40 varieties of handmade chocolates, a pasticceria creating cakes, tarts, biscuits and other sweet treats, and a creperie making traditional crêpes.
Melbourne Cricket Ground
Melbourne Cricket Ground Football hero 'Lethal' Leigh Matthews is one of several sports stars immortalised in bronze around the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). As a rover/forward for Hawthorn, he kicked 915 goals in 332 games. The MCG is the home of the Australian Football League and the birthplace of test cricket. With a capacity of 100,000, it draws more than four million spectators each year to events, including pop concerts and the Boxing Day Test (the most popular day in Australia's cricket calendar). It has been central to major sporting events, including the 1956 Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Games. The Australian equivalent of Lord's, it hosted its first cricket match in 1877. The hallowed Long Room displays many sporting memorabilia.
Curtin House One of the hottest venues in town is Cookie, pictured a beer hall, cocktail bar and Thai café with a terrific wine list. It's on Level 1 of Curtin House, a 1922 Art Nouveau building named after the former Labor Prime Minister John Curtin. Also in the building are The Toff in Town, a live music venue on Level 2, and the Rooftop Cinema on Level 6, which operates from November to March and shows classic films as the lights of Melbourne twinkle all around.
Captains Of Industry
Captains of Industry Order a pulled-ham-hock sandwich, sip a house-blend coffee and get tailor Thom Grogan, pictured, to measure you up for a suit at Captains of Industry, a 'gentleman's outfitter & café' tucked away off a backstreet in the city. Of Statler & Waldorf bespoke tailors, Grogan, and his cobbler friend James Roberts, of Roberts & Hassett, are the brains behind the business, including the barber Sam Fordyce. The café is open daily for casual lunches, coffee and drinks.
Regent Theatre When it was built in 1929, with the advent of the talkies, the Regent Theatre was considered one of the most lavish picture palaces in the world. Gutted by fire and then flooded, it was rebuilt in 1945 but fell into disrepair in the 1990s. After a two-year restoration, it reopened in 1996. Rococo in style enthrals today's theatre-goers with its fairytale atmosphere. Blockbuster shows have included Disney's The Lion King, Sunset Boulevard, Wicked, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Love Never Dies. As the cultural capital of Australia, Melbourne is blessed with several heritage theatres: as well as the Regent; there are the Princess and Her Majesty's, both popular venues for musicals.
Collins Street Architecture
The architecture on Collins Street Modelled on Chicago's Tribune Tower, the Manchester Unity Building on Collins Street is an outstanding example of 1930s Gothic skyscraper style. Melbourne's Central Business District has a delightful mix of Gothic, Art Deco, Victorian architecture, and cutting-edge contemporary design. Particularly noteworthy on Collins Street are the 'floating' columns at 101, the Block Arcade near the corner of Elizabeth Street (see page 24), the internal dome of the former CBA Bank at 333, the ANZ Bank on the corner of Queen Street, the Olderfleet Buildings at 471-477, the façade of the InterContinental hotel at 495 and the Rialto Towers at 525. The city's tallest skyscraper, the mainly residential Eureka Tower, is at Southbank.
Lui Bar And Vue De Monde
Lui Bar & Vue de Monde, The lavish Lui Bar, adjoins Shannon Bennett's stunning new Vue de Monde restaurant on the 55th floor of the Rialto Tower. You can enjoy a 360-degree panorama over Melbourne and Port Phillip Bay, sipping cocktails that reflect the city's most opulent era, the gold rush of the mid-1800s. Ice is hand-cut to order, and the choice of cognacs and whiskies is staggering. Vue de Monde is Australia's first carbon-neutral restaurant, with furniture made from recycled material and upholstered in kangaroo leather. Two original viewing decks are now dining terraces.
Aami Park Stadium
AAMI Park Stadium AAMI Park, with its soap-bubble 'bioframe' design and geodesic-dome roof, is the new home of Melbourne soccer, rugby league and rugby union. Opened in mid-2010, it has no view-obstructing pillars and provides full shade for most spectators. Melburnians love their sport. In January, the Australian Open is contested at Melbourne Park; the Australian Master’s golf tournament is held in November or December; the Formula 1 Grand Prix takes place in picturesque Albert Park in March; and the Melbourne Cup ('the race that stops a nation), the culmination of the city's Spring Racing Carnival, is on the first Tuesday in November.
St Ali Cafe
St Ali Café Owner Salvatore Malatesta travels to coffee plantations in Honduras, Brazil, Nicaragua, Peru, Columbia and Rwanda to source coffee shops and catering outlets. He tastes, roasts and blends coffee for sale around the country. At St Ali alone, a trendy backstreet warehouse in South Melbourne, his baristas serve some 6,000 hits of caffeine each week. Melbourne has a wonderfully rich coffee culture that dates back to when Australia's first espresso machine was imported here in 1954.
Birrarung Marr Parkland
Birrarung Marr parkland The city's newest park, Birrarung Marr links Federation Square and the Yarra River; its name means 'river of mist' in the Woiwurrung language Wurundjeri people, the area's original inhabitants. The park, built on disused railway land and opened in 2002, was developed as part of the controversial Federation Square complex (see page 20), which has managed to win favour mainly through its principal tenant, The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. Housing artworks from the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria in 20 spaces over three levels, it is the world's first central gallery dedicated to Australian art.
Street Art Melbourne is becoming internationally known for creative and colourful street art, including Banksy's signature 'rats' in its alleys and laneways. Some of the most vibrant examples are Hosier Lane alongside Melbourne's best-loved Spanish diner, MoVida. Other sites worth checking out include Croft Alley off Little Bourke Street in Chinatown, the privately-owned Blender Lane off 110 Franklin Street, and Post Office Lane off Victoria Street in Little Vietnam. You can take a tour with Melbourne Street Art Tours.
Melbourne Museum Hailed as the southern hemisphere's largest and most innovative museum; the slick new Melbourne Museum contrasts significantly with the neighbouring, Victorian-era Royal Exhibition Building, which hosted Australia's first Federal Parliament in 1901. The museum's emphasis is on education and interaction, and it is home to an Aboriginal centre, Bunjilaka, dedicated to the history, culture and art of the indigenous people. There is also a room celebrating Phar Lap. This champion racehorse captured the heart of the nation during the Depression years with an incredible winning streak, including a Melbourne Cup.
Manchester Press Coffee House
Is Manchester Press coffee house Fancy having your caffè latte decorated with a smiling face, a girl with curly hair or perhaps a heart between two lovers? This barista and his colleagues at inner-city coffee house Manchester Press excel at latte art, vying to produce the best work. Off busy Little Bourke Street, it's just one of the many city cafés where locals flock for their daily caffeine fix. The lane in which it is located is typical of the backstreets, arcades, and alleys dotted throughout the Central Business District. Some are filled with pavement cafés or lined with cosy bars and stylish boutiques, selling an eclectic mix from the elegant to the quirky.
The Twelve Apostles
The Twelve Apostles Pounding seas and erosion have created the rock formations known as the Twelve Apostles, a natural highlight of the Great Ocean Road. Considered one of the most incredible drives globally, the route starts in Torquay, 100km south-west of Melbourne, and follows the coast for 247km to Warrnambool. Thanks to its central location, Melbourne is the gateway to Victoria's abundant attractions. Drive for an hour or so, and you can be wine-tasting in the Yarra Valley, swimming off the Mornington Peninsula, being pampered in Australia's leading spa region around Daylesford and Hepburn Springs, or watching fairy penguins on Phillip Island.
Chocolate At Koko Black, you can enjoy melt-in-the-mouth chocolate truffles, watch chocolatiers create delectable moulded chocolates, and sample a selection of 38 different handmade pralines. Popular choices include salted caramel, hazelnut praline, Tasmanian leatherwood honey, Bakery Hill single-malt whisky and Gianduja truffle. In the upstairs lounge, you can sip divine hot chocolate and indulge in a 'Belgian Spoil': chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, chocolate mousse and pralines. Melbourne is heaven for chocoholics, with many more, similarly indulgent shops including Gânache, Haigh's Chocolates, Max Brenner, The Chocolate Box and Cacao Fine Chocolates & Patisserie. You can take a chocoholic walking tour; sampling chocolate treats as you go.
Circa At The Prince
Circa, The Prince Award-winning restaurant Circa is within the stylish Prince hotel in the cosmopolitan bayside suburb of St Kilda (see page 25). This informal yet sophisticated restaurant has attracted appreciative diners for more than 12 years with its modern Australian fare. You can order individually, but sometimes it's more fun to share: options for two include roasted Moroccan chicken, a 48-hour mutton cassoulet, and spiced honey-roasted duck. The restaurant is open daily for everything from full breakfasts to cocktails and nightcaps at the fabulous, underlit bar.
The Stokehouse Restaurant
The Stokehouse restaurant Regular diners at the Stokehouse won't allow 'The Bombe' dessert to be taken off the menu. Comprising frozen white-chocolate parfait with strawberry sorbet and toasted meringue, it has been served here for more than five years. In an enviable location on the St Kilda foreshore (see page 25) overlooking Port Phillip Bay, the shabby-chic beach restaurant has a near-cult following with its unfussy concept of casual, fun dining and an ever-evolving menu of modern Mediterranean cuisine.
Scanlan & Theodore And Chapel Street
Scanlan & Theodore and Chapel Street For more than 20 years, Scanlan & Theodore has created elegant, well-crafted designs for the fashion-conscious woman. A charming rule-breaker, the label has attracted style leaders such as Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Sienna Miller, Princess Mary of Denmark, Naomi Watts and Kylie Minogue.
The store is just one of many cutting-edge fashion boutiques on bustling Chapel Street. Others include Collette Dinnigan, Alannah Hill, Ellin Ambe, Wayne Cooper and a host of young designers' outlets; you'll also find sought-after labels such as Akira Isogawa, Brave, Marcs, Saba and Zimmermann. Chapel Street epitomises Australian fashion today. It's great for people-watching, too.
Trams Icons of Melbourne, trams run through the city streets, their lines extending like tentacles out into the suburbs. The traditional 'W-class trams are green and yellow and provide the actual tram experience (although in recent years some have become mobile billboards while local artists have painted others).
New hi-tech European models on certain routes are mere people-movers. Travel is free on the special sightseeing Circle Line trams, and The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant operates three trams on which surprisingly good three-course dinners are served; there are several sittings each night as they trundle through the city and inner suburbs of South Melbourne.
Hopetown Tea Rooms
Hopetown Tea Rooms Where London has Burlington Arcade, Melbourne has the Block Arcade. It has a beautiful ceiling and decorative, mosaic-tiled floors. Still, the real traffic-stopper here is the mouthwatering display of exquisite cakes and sweet treats in the window of the historic Hopetoun Tea Rooms. Named after Lady Hopetoun, wife of a former Governor of Victoria, it opened in 1892 and has just 20 intimate tables.
St Kilda Walk to the end of the jetty, sip a cappuccino in the kiosk and enjoy the view of the city skyline from St Kilda Marina. The cosmopolitan bayside suburb is a melting pot of cultures and socio-economic groups. You can sunbathe on the beach, fish from the jetty, ride the roller-coaster at Luna Park funfair, luxuriate in the St Kilda Sea Baths, listen to free live music at the 'Espy' (Esplanade Hotel), boggle at the cake shops in Acland Street and, on Sundays, buy souvenirs and bric-a-brac from the Esplanade Market.
For six years Melbourne has scored highly in stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure. Melbourne is also known as a leading financial city in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia's culture and sporting capital and is recognised as a UNESCO City of Literature.
Melbourne is the cultural capital of Australia, known for its music, art centres and museums, and celebration and expression of art. It has been ranked, year after year, the most 'livable city' and it's not hard to see why.
The city is known for its many laneways, its cultural diversity, excellent dining options for all budgets, and amazing street art. It's also known for being the coffee capital of the world, and for being regularly voted as the world's most livable city!