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What Are The Hidden Gems In Melbourne, Australia?

Underground bars, rooftop cafés, colourful laneways, and grand interiors – Melbourne has many hidden gems that it would take years to discover. The best part? The city reinvents itself often, so there's always something new to add to the list.  

List Of Hidden Gems In Melbourne, Australia

Hosier Lane

Take a walking tour of Melbourne's most famous laneways led by a practising street artist with Melbourne Street Art Tours. Visit outdoor galleries and discuss the difference between art and graffiti.

Where: off Flinders Street, near Federation Square

Hosier Lane is a goldmine for those who love to stumble upon street art. This narrow Melbourne laneway has messy but mesmerising murals and graffiti plastered over every surface. The art here is constantly changing, so you might spot an artist painting a new piece as you wander along. Rutledge Lane, which comes off Hosier, is equally as colourful – even the garbage bins in this alley are covered in graffiti.

Gin Palace

Where: 10 Russell Place, Melbourne

Melbourne's original gin bar is in a basement and accessed via a dark alleyway. As creepy as it might sound, this lavish venue is one where you can sip on a stellar gin martini while surrounded by luxurious lounges and velvet drapes. On World Gin Day each June, Gin Palace staff usually celebrate by hosting classes during the day and having cocktail specials during the evening. With over 200 gins to choose from, including local options like Four Pillars from nearby Yarra Valley, gin fanatics are sure to be satisfied.

Koorie Heritage Trust Cultural Walk

Where: along the Birrarung (Yarra River)

In the centre of the hustle and bustle, almost hidden in plain sight, are incredible works of art that tell the story of the Aboriginal history of the Birrarung Marr (Beside the river of mists) and the Aboriginal Peoples of the Kulin Nation. At 1 pm each day, you can join a guide from the Koorie Heritage Trust in Federation Square for the Birrarung Wilam (Common Ground) Walk. They will point out the Aboriginal art installations, discuss their significance and explain how the land on which Melbourne is located has changed over time. You will leave with a new appreciation for this important place nestled right in the heart of the city. 

Koorie Heritage Trust

Where: along the Birrarung (Yarra River)

In the centre of the hustle and bustle, almost hidden in plain sight, are incredible works of art that tell the story of the Aboriginal history of the Birrarung Marr (Beside the river of mists) and the Aboriginal Peoples of the Kulin Nation. At 1 pm each day, you can join a guide from the Koorie Heritage Trust in Federation Square for the Birrarung Wilam (Common Ground) Walk. They will point out the Aboriginal art installations, discuss their significance and explain how the land on which Melbourne is located has changed over time. You will leave with a new appreciation for this important place nestled right in the heart of the city. 

Easey's

Where: 48 Easey St, Collingwood

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to eat Aussie comfort food while seated in a decommissioned train carriage that has been placed on a rooftop (and who hasn't?), here's your chance to try it. Easey's serves classic meals like fish & chips or burgers and is also a street art gallery and music venue featuring new and classic hip hop beats from the resident DJ. Melbourne's reputation as a grungy trend-setter is truly ingrained in this Collingwood space.

Coop's Shot Tower

Where: Corner of LaTrobe and Swanston Streets, Melbourne

You would never expect to see inside a modern shopping centre is a historic 19th-century shot tower. However, if you step into Melbourne Central and stand under the large glass cone, you'll see that it covers this heritage-listed building sitting in this spot since 1888. The contrast between old and new architecture makes a great travel snap, and you can visit the free museum on the second floor of the building to discover the history of shot manufacture.

Ponyfish Island

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The island is named after the elusive Ponyfish, a mysterious creature rumoured to have been spotted swimming in the Yarra River

Where: Evans Walker Bridge, Southbank

This bar is hardly noticeable until you're practically standing on top of it. Floating underneath a pedestrian bridge on the Yarra River, Ponyfish Island is the best place to get some microbrewed beer along with views of the Melbourne skyline. 

Night Markets

Where: Queen St, Melbourne

The stalls at Queen Victoria Market are popular year-round, but if you're visiting Melbourne over the summer or winter months, you'll discover something special. On Wednesday nights from November to March, the night markets open up in this venue, allowing you to wander through the variety of street food and retail stalls on vibrant summer evenings. On Wednesday nights from June to August, you can experience the winter night markets with cosy warm drinks, raging open fires and live music acts.

Shrine Of Remembrance

Where: Birdwood Ave, Melbourne

In the parkland area of Kings Domain, the Shrine of Remembrance sits as a memorial dedicated to veterans of WWI. It's a lovely building to look at on its own, but what most people don't know is that you can climb the stairs for a personal viewpoint on the first level, which provides an amazing vista of Melbourne's city skyline.

Old Melbourne Gaol

The Old Melbourne Gaol (old spelling of ‘jail’) is one of Melbourne’s lesser-known tourist attractions and is tucked away within a college campus that was built around it. First constructed in 1839, just four years after the city was founded and operational from 1842 until 1992, the gaol is both creepy and historically fascinating. You can find the gaol by walking through the RMIT campus to the courtyard in the middle.

 

  • Creepy fact:
  • What is now a college events courtyard was actually the site of dozens of hangings while the gaol was in service. You can enter the gaol for a small fee and learn about its history, how it used to operate, what criminals were kept there, and even the logistics that went into hanging them. Some parts you might want to close your ears for. The famous criminal and convicted police murderer, Ned Kelly, was kept and hanged there, which is a big draw for many people who visit.

Chuckle Park

Where: 322 Little Collins St, Melbourne

It would be easy to walk straight past this alleyway bar unless you knew where to look. In a tiny lane off Little Collins Street, Chuckle Park is a caravan café serving cocktail jugs of sangria and pulled pork rolls. The décor features hanging lanterns and plenty of plant life, making it a favourite hangout spot for anyone who enjoys some casual afternoon drinks.

  • Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.
  • Fort Bragg, California.
  • Devils Tower, Wyoming.
  • Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia.
  • Estes Park, Colorado.
  • Ludington State Park, Michigan.
  • Hamilton Pool Preserve, Texas.
  • Ohiopyle State Park, Pennsylvania.

The following are simple sources of inspiration for finding hidden gems and places elsewhere.

  • Pinterest.
  • Google Maps.
  • TV and Film.
  • Wikitravel.
  • Other Social Media.
  • In-Flight Magazines.
  • Word-of-Mouth.

You can find secluded camping spots on BLM and national forest lands using online mapping tools from Google Maps and FreeRoam. These spots can be located using satellite imagery by following dirt roads that lead into clearings.

The city is known for its many laneways, cultural diversity, excellent dining options for all budgets, and amazing street art. It's also known for being the world's coffee capital and for being regularly voted as the world's most livable city!

FAQs About The Hidden Gems In Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne's Hidden Bars

Trinket

Flinders Lane has its fair share of buzzing restaurants and happening joints to blow off some steam. From the outside, Trinket is one of those unassuming cocktail bars that could easily be missed, but once inside this beautifully unique venue, it's all about stunning old-world charm. So while the main floor has you covered with pizzas and cocktails, venture through the wardrobe to discover the secret cellar bar and settle in for the night with a good drop (or two). 

Siglo

A true everyone's club steeped in old-world charm, Siglo's table-clothed rooftop terrace is without a doubt a city icon. Perched above the Princess Theatre at the cocktail-loving 'Paris end', a sense of European style and elegance permeates as chatty patrons savour fine wines whilst overlooking the glittering streetscape below, for the cigar-loving gentlemen and women have your lighters at the ready because Cohiba Siglo's are the venue's signature. 

Fifty-five

Fifty-five is back, baby! Open until 3 am on Fridays and Saturdays, this CBD basement bar is a go-to for late-night antics. Creative types sit shoulder-to-shoulder with city workers, drinking beer and eating pizza under fairy lights, hanging plants and wooden walls that make the bar feel like a mate's place. There are DJs on most nights and an art space hosting shows by local artists.

Goldilocks Bar

There are two key elements to the perfect summer spot. For starters, the drinks need to be ice cold, and most importantly, it needs to be on a rooftop. Perched on top of the Deniers Building in the CBD is an intimate bar that, as Goldilocks would say, is; just right! Supporting local has never been easier (or tastier) with an exclusively Victorian beer, wine and cider list, supporting local has never been easier (or tastier). Good news for all the amaretto sour loving vegans, Goldilocks does not use any animal products in their drinks, choosing animal-friendly alternatives across the board.

Above Board

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There are cocktail bars, and then there is Above Board. The Narnia of all cocktail joints is hidden within the sea of pubs and themed bars that Collingwood is known for. Headed by cocktail expert Hayden Lambert (ex Bar Americano), Above Board's curated menu will have you questioning every drink you've ever had. ⁠So if you're looking for a spot to have a quiet solo drink, look no further. Please take a seat at the bar and let the crew work their magic. If you can find it, that is. The menu proudly declares that Lambert delivers cocktails and bad banter: something worth mentioning as he’s had years honing his daggy dad jokes, dry wit and old-man grump. This adds to your experience, rather than takes away, as the offering at Above Board is not just personalised, but personal. Sure, a chat with Lambert will help you determine if you’re after a classic or a signature cocktail (all $21), but you’re also getting a little bit of his life story with every drink.

Little Lon

The former red-light district and slum between Exhibition and Spring, Little Lonsdale and La Trobe. It included Madame Brussels' famous brothels on Lonsdale Street, but the seedier houses of ill repute were down laneways, such as Casselden Place. The laneway was home to seven three-room brick cottages, and only number 17 remains. Number 17, the only single-storey house remaining in the CBD, definitely has a storied history. It was a seedy brothel (its most famous madam/working girl was a Chinese prostitute nicknamed Yokohama (real name Tiecome Ah Chung), a sly grog establishment and the site of numerous police complaints. Now it's the site of boutique gin distillery Little Lon and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it tasting bar, which can hold maybe 12 people, and only if they're very good friends. 

Biff Tannin's

Tucked away off Sydney Road in Brunswick is a pizza and wine bar that lets you decide how much vino your glass can hold. With self-serve wine, you can choose if you're all-in or want a sample of 32 different options. The laidback local is also home to an impressive whisky selection focusing on rare and unique drops. So soak up all the wine with one of their classic $8 pizzas or treat the table to one of their Deluxe Charcuterie Boards.

Lock & Key

Hidden atop the city's oldest pub Captain Melville, this after-hours joint are a favourite of the hospo crowd and those looking for a cheeky pint in the wee hours of the morning. Dark, wood interiors give the space an antique yet cozy feel with less CBD bar and more house in the woods. Relax and soak up the sunshine on the huge balcony overlooking Franklin St or retreat to the plush couches inside for an intimate evening complete with cocktails. 

Bar Americano

Only ten people can fit inside this snug standing-room-only cocktail bar at any time, so it's probably a good thing that it's tucked away in Presgrave Place, away from the public gaze. A vintage blue tabacchi (Italian for "tobacco shop") sign marks out the 1930s-inspired venue, where you'll be served a selection of exactingly prepared classic cocktails that change each week according to the bar's whim.

Bar Margaux

A hidden gem worth knowing about, step under Lonsdale Street and be transported to the classic French brasseries of New York via Bar Margaux, where the gun team is serving classic cocktails and bistro fare until 5 am. Vintage-inspired red-leather banquettes, black-and-white subway tiles and dim lighting snatch away all sense of time as you keep the orders rolling, from oysters and champagne to lobster Croque Monsieur and Manhattans.

Jungle Boy

This secret tiki bar is hidden behind a sandwich shop and entered via the cool-room door – how very Melbourne. Inside you'll be greeted with a dark, buzzy bar where animated bartenders shake up tropical cocktails with a side of A+ banter. Pot plants and knick-knacks add to the off-kilter vibe, and if you get peckish, well, you know a sandwich is never far away.

Beneath Driver Lane

Tucked behind the grand GPO building, Beneath Driver Lane is doubly hard to find but equally worth the effort. Listen to blues and drink Martinis blasted with liquid nitrogen as you settle into cosy leather booths lit by candlelight. Peckish? The kitchen serves bar snacks, including Jamon croquettes and moules marinière till 3am.

Bodega Underground

Educate yourself in mezcal, tequila's in-vogue relative, at this underground bar and taqueria specialising in the smoky Mexican spirit. They offer seventy varieties to sip straight or punchy cocktails like the Ancho, which blends jalapeno mezcal with grilled lime, agave and chilli salt. The perfect companion to your tequila, tacos are at the centre of this China Town eatery. Pork, fish, black beans, you name it - they have it. Spy an eclectic decor of fairy lights, film posters, prints and other knick-knacks accumulated from trips to Mexico. 

The Cornish Arms Hotel

Boasting eight craft beer taps, a rooftop with views of the city and a dedicated vegan menu, there's something for everyone at friendly local Cornish Arms. By allowing plant-based fans of pub grub to join their omnivorous mates for a mock chicken parma, seitan souvlaki or even fishless fish and chips, they're doing their bit to bring people together.

Conclusion

As a city known for tiny laneways and concealed bars, Melbourne, Australia, has always had an element of mystery to it. So it's no surprise that there are some amazing hidden places in Melbourne as well as "best-kept secrets," if you will, both within the city centre and outside of it. Melbourne isn't as much of a city of landmarks as many large metropolitan cities are, but it truly makes up for it in its unique character.

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