I have been asked a lot where I live. For a while I put up station in the world’s most liveable city, Melbourne in Australia. I lived here on and off, somehow the city always seemed to pull me back with its amazing foodie hot spots and constant events. There certainly is no reason to find Melbourne boring.
Victoria’s capital has been in competition with Sydney over the best Australian city seemingly forever but Melbourne won the title ‘most liveable city’ and has lured me back again and again. Three times to be exact and for nearly three months total out of my 7 months in Australia. That’s quite a feat I might add.
It certainly helps that it has a lot to offer. It’s ticking all the right boxes with me: culturally, sightseeing wise and of course in the food department. If you want to the full package, this is where you find it. This is where city meets coastline, where Aussie BBQ meets ethnic cuisine and where a relaxed attitude meets classy fashion.
Witness a Lovestory Spanning Generations
Melbourne is an Australian city and therefore it’s history cannot be as long as, say, European cities with medieval cobblestones, their ancient temples or heathen praying sites. That doesn’t matter though because what it has from the early settlers beginnings up to Victorian times, it has preserved well and knows how to showcase. In an unusual marriage between old ornamented facades and sleek glass and steel skyscrapers Melbourne has managed to transform itself into a modern cityscape with a twist.
Stop by Flinders and Cook’s Cottage to get a feeling of how it must have been back in the early days for (influential and prosperous) settlers. Take a lift at over 9 metres per second up the southern hemisphere’s tallest residential building and take in the spectacle of dancing lights and checkerboard streets marking the CBD. For a retro feel, the Luna Park in St Kilda will give you goosebumps of excitement (and if you have a fear of clown faces).
Treat Your Senses
A match made in heaven: quirky lanes and international cuisine merge into unique places for distinguished palates. Strolling down foodie lanes that are especially marked with golden street inlets for the ultimate foodie scavenger hunt, you will discover many hidden gems. Whether you are looking for sweet or savoury, small or large, fast or slow, the food option is available.
One hot spot is the Queen Victoria market at day for fresh produce and at special night events with special treats. Brunswick street has a lot of eccentric bars and cafes on offer while shopping centres, such as Emporium, offer a more high end eating out experience. Diversity and ethnic cuisines does not fall short, and Chinatown, the Greek and Italian precincts know how to take your tastebuds on a trip.
Head out to Nature
Melbourne is a huge city and has incorporated so many suburbs, it might seem like an eternity to leave the manmade world behind. However, since there are so many suburbs, a quick trip to a park or reserve can do wonders. Discover forests for instance in Bundoora right next to the university and spot a kangaroo or emu. Don’t forget to hang out by the beaches. They might not even come close to those at the east and west coast but with the cute Brighton houses and St Kilda’s vibe they are worth a shot.
If that isn’t enough, popular weekend getaways are just a one to three hours long drive away. That’s nothing for such a big country as Australia and is well worth it when you see places such as Great Lake, Mornington Peninsula, Phillip Island and especially Wilsons Promontory. Get ready for breathtaking coastlines with crazy rock formations, picturesque beaches lined with bathing houses in all colours of the rainbow and iconic Australian animals up close and in their natural habitats.
Do the Catwalk
Melbourne has its own Fashion Week. Now if that doesn’t speak for itself, then just take a look around. Melbourne’s ladies are insanely stylish with their tight cut blazers, fancy bags and high heeled shoes. Dandies also line the streets in colourful outfits with rolled up sleeves and hipster glasses.
Typically Australian, wide brimmed felt hats are all the rage and especially in summer, the skirts get long and floaty. Combined with sandals, the next beach outfit if just a short tram ride away and the bikini season opened along Melbourne’s beaches. (Note: To give you a better insight, an extra blog post will follow shortly).
Get Your Party On
Melbourne knows how to throw a feast and it’s events program is so action packed, it often hosts so many events parallel, it is hard to decide where to go to. A good place to start is always Federation Square. No matter the time of day, a crowd can be found observing a random street artist.
Not only official holidays see a list of artists and performers line the stage but cultural festivals and celebrations of diversity are reason enough for Melbourne to throw in many free activities for good measure. Latin, African, Asian, you name it. There is always a dance festival, a Tai Chi lesson or reading in nearby houses to attend. Even opera. Now don’t tell me there isn’t something for everyone.
Become a Street Connoisseur
If Melbourne is particularly known for something it is street art. Hardly a lane goes by without having a small piece of art that is waiting to be discovered. From the usual tagging over the legit art works and funny cartoons as well as 3D art, there is a lot to be discovered. Whether alone or on a guided tour, you will be hard pressed to not make a finding.
Places for the best graffiti spottings are in the CBD, Richmond and Fitzroy with each having their own distinctive take, highlighting the area’s uniqueness. I have ventured forth on my own little tours and compiled a list of great lanes, backstreets and arcades to look out for. It doesn’t always have to be Hosier Lane, you know.
So these were just an outline of the most redeeming features of this mega city and you can tell me now if you would love to live here as well. If only for a few days. Melbourne should definitely be on every Australia visit list. If it makes your top destination is up to you. Let me know where Melbourne ranks in your list of places you’d love to see if you happened to come to Australia.