Royal Talk

Melbourne is the capital city of Victoria – and probably the cultural and sporting capital of the Southern Hemisphere, most proud Melburnians will tell you. It’s a large metropolis, populated by peoples from all corners of the globe. This town is stylish and sophisticated, energetic and enigmatic. We get four seasons in one day, and we love it (mostly). Melbourne boasts stunning architecture and streetscapes. It has more carefully curated parks and gardens than most other cities on earth. There are more cafes and restaurants than you can shake a stick at (patrons are friendly, though can be fierce when it comes to coffee and food). There’s always a show you can catch, a fascinating or fun location to check out, and sensational shopping. Melbourne is a starting point for all sorts of delightful day trips. Regularly ranked as the most liveable city in the world, it’s a home and a destination with so much on offer, and March/April is a terrific time of year to make the most of our marvellous Melbourne. Check out 5 of the best things to do in Melbourne this autumn:

COFFEE & CUISINE

Melbourne is world renowned for the quality of its many and varied eating establishments. We have the finest coffee in the universe. Many districts around Melbourne are famous for their cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs. When you’re in the city, wander through the wondrous network of lanes and alleys and you’ll come across all manner of places to stop and savour delectable treats. This neighbourhood is an astonishing labyrinth of charismatic, cobbled thoroughfares abundant with smart shops, vivid street art and grand Victorian era arcades. Lygon Street in Carlton is our own little Italy where ‘per favore’ and ‘grazie’ will serve you just as well as please and thank you. Chapel St, South Yarra is fashionista central, lined with glamorous boutiques and brash bars. Our old favourite, St Kilda, is a short ride on the light rail, where there’s a remarkable mix of edgy and old school eateries and drinkeries in Fitzroy St and Acland St. (when you visit, you’ll want to check out our dear old Luna Park and St Kilda beach, as well). Brunswick St Fitzroy has a plethora of amazing and funky places for nibbling and imbibing. Really, the hospitality scenes in all of our inner suburbs surrounding the CBD are incredible in their own slightly different ways. Just hop on a tram – whether it’s Collingwood, Richmond, North or South or East or West Melbourne (!); they all have bustling, happening strips with appealing, cheerful spaces serving delicious food and beverages and the best flat whites ever. Melbourne pubs are synonymous with gastronomic excellence and also live music, which is coming back into play after a two-year hiatus. Melbourne, of course, has plenty of fine dining options; many are world-renowned.

BROWSING & BUYING

Shop till you drop or ‘just looking’- at one of the thousands of shops in and around Melbourne. From tiny boutique ateliers through to enormous, exciting shopping centres, whatever your shopping preference, we can cater to it. In the CBD you will find artisan wares and specialist retailers, as well as old world, elegant department stores. Our wonderful historic arcades and emporiums boast a myriad of exclusive merchants and unique stores. There are fantastic food halls to be found in town and suburbs too, as well as sensational markets; the Queen Victoria Market, as mentioned, and also the markets at Prahran and South Melbourne are the most well-loved. Around Melbourne you’ll find traders offering cheap & cheerful products and also highest-end goods. You have vintage and second-hand shops here; there you have premium jewellery retailers, cosmopolitan outlets and top shelf designer labels in the Paris end of Collins St. In Flinders Lane and around the inner suburbs there are commercial galleries with Australian and international artworks for sale. 

GALLERIES & MUSEUMS 

Melbourne has a strong artistic life and outstanding cultural precincts and institutions. The National Gallery of Victoria is located adjacent the CBD; a short walk across the Yarra River via Princes Bridge will get you to this striking structure, which houses a world class collection and has amazing exhibitions. It’s Australia’s oldest art gallery, first opened in 1861, at the time when Melbourne was the wealthiest town in the world, mostly due to the incredible riches generated by the famous goldrush of that era. For in depth insight into our past and people, visit the Melbourne Museum in Carlton Gardens, which has regular new displays. There’s heaps of activities here to keep kids entertained and intrigued. Heide Museum of Museum of Modern Art and Garden is a short trip from town; it’s an institution which is integral to the evolution of Australian art. Luncheon at the gourmet café or picnic in the gorgeous gardens. Australia, and especially Melbourne, is a modern multicultural success story; learn more about it at the Immigration Museum in the city. The Museum of Chinese Australian History in Chinatown documents an important and intriguing part of our town’s tale (and grab some seriously yummy yum cha whilst you’re here). 

HISTORY & HERITAGE

Buffs will love the historic buildings and architectural landmarks around Melbourne, as well as the various significant locations. As Melbourne is the continent’s cuisine capital, it’s well worth visiting the historic Queen Victoria Market just north of the city. More than a market, it’s a community centre, and there’s probably nothing you can’t find here, when it comes to food glorious food. Melbourne has some of the best examples in the world of exceptionally grand Victorian era buildings. They are all over town, but particularly impressive in the way they have held fast in the stately boulevards in our CBD, especially around Collins and Bourke Streets. There are also many extraordinary edifices from later periods – Edwardian and Art Deco & Art Nouveau buildings, impeccably preserved; some have been painstakingly restored, others re-purposed inside with tasteful, contemporary designs sympathetic to the original spirit of the structure. The Old Melbourne Gaol is worth a visit – easy to walk to – it’s a brooding reminder of a sometimes rather brutal and sombre past, yet you can breathe easy knowing how far we’ve come since those days! There are quite a few heritage walks and trails around Melbourne; brush up on our history and clock up your step count with one of these enchanting guided or self-guided tours.

PARKS & GARDENS

Victoria is often referred to as the ‘Garden State’. Yes, sometimes we get teased about the capricious weather we get, but all that play of sunshine and rain makes for great gardens. Melbourne has a multitude of public parks and gardens which are a joy to wander through; step away from the hustle and bustle, immerse yourself in the green spaces and take some time out to exhale. In the city we have the charming Fitzroy and Flagstaff Gardens, which are located opposite major city loop train stations, so are splendid spaces to stop and smell the roses in between riding the rails. Then there’s the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens, which has sculpted terrain and lake features, trees and flora representing species from all over the natural world, and breathtaking views. There are bush reserves at various places along our Yarra River, where you can pretend you’re a thousand miles away from a major city. And there are sprawling, graceful gardens along the foreshores of Port Philip Bay at St Kilda and Brighton. 

You can get around the CBD on the city circle tram, it’s the brown one which is free to board. The town and suburbs are easy to get around by public transport or car; most streets in the central parts of Melbourne were laid out by the founders in a sensible grid system. There are cruising barges and boats up and down the river which are a fun way to view the city and you might even decide to go further up or down stream. Ferries can whisk you across the bay to seaside hamlets. Take a drive down the spectacular Great Ocean Road or out to the wineries of the Yarra Valley (whilst you’re there you could up, up and away in a beautiful balloon). 

Melbourne is a grand old town; it’s attractive, it’s classy, it’s got substance. Melbourne has a strong sense of style as well as a good sense of humour. Our city is rich in historic detail, contemporary flair and spaces which will delight and surprise you. The southern capital has a colourful personality which you’ll want to get to know. 

Nick Resch | Wordsmith