Aside from being great for shopping, Melbourne CBD has a thriving cultural centre and is perfectly situated next to the beautiful trifecta of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Alexandra Gardens and Queen Victoria Gardens in Kings Domain. In Federation Square, there’s a whole host of creative activities and cultural events on offer throughout the year, and it’s a great meeting place and starting point for Melbourne venturing. You could easily pass a day wandering the city laneways, gardens in the Domain and the Arts Centre, where there’s a weekly Sunday market filled with artisan and locally made products. The National Gallery of Victoria has some really high quality collections, and is currently holding the spectacular Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition. Since I had already been to the JPG, I spent a decent part of my last day in Melbourne exploring some of the other galleries, including the Modern European and Asian collections and the Decorative Arts Passage, which has some seriously heist-worthy kitchenalia. I had to settle for tea in the gallery cafe, which I have to say is a pretty lovely setting itself. If you’re lucky enough to visit between now and 1 March 2015, you can even take a ride on Carston Höller’s Golden Mirror Carousel in the gallery foyer. I was wishing I had one of my nephews or the ability to shed my self conscious and take a solitary ride and a trip back down the memory lanes of childhood.
Getting around Melbourne is so easy. I bought a Myki card on the first day and a $35.00 weekly pass which allowed for unlimited travel city-wide. I especially loved getting around on the trams, such an integral part of the Melbourne landscape, as is Flinders Street railway station. I love these focal points around the city and imagining the countless stories of the lives of people crossing paths there. And winding through it all, the Yarra River provides a peaceful backdrop for those (like me) who crave for water bodies.
There was so much in Melbourne that I didn’t get to see and do on my short trip, and I particularly would have loved to have spent more time exploring the Fitzroy/Brunswick area. I’ve put together a little list of stores that I did happen to chance upon, and would love to come back to. It’s by no means an exclusive guide to the very best of Melbourne, because there really is a lot on offer, but it’s my little list of places I did get to visit, and loved, on this trip.
After walking through the Botanic Gardens in Kings Domain, I stumbled on the lovely Turner & Lane, chock full of beautifully crafted homewares, gift inspiration and boutique clothing lines. 179 Domain Road, South Yarra.
I got oodles of inspiration for my own little online boutique at The Fabric Store, 184 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.
I think I could have done all of my Christmas shopping at Third Wing, 2/180, Toorak Road, South Yarra.
Probably the (equal) best of several excellent coffees consumed in Melbourne, was from tom dick and harry, 1/242 Toorak Road, South Yarra.
I had two very good Japanese meals at Teppankai, 34 Bray Street, South Yarra. Lovely food, excellent and very friendly service. The maître d sat down next to me, asked me all about my trip and gave me Melbourne foodie tips, plus a copy of the Good Food Month guide from The Age to help me navigate my culinary course.
Famished and fairly tired on my last night in Melbourne, I had a really nicely done steak at Squire’s Loft, 166 Toorak Road, South Yarra.
I had my other equal best coffee at A La Folie, an authentic French patisserie in South Yarra. 589 Chapel Street, South Yarra.
I can’t wait to get back to Melbourne, because I get the feeling I’ve only just scratched the surface of everything the city has to offer. And did I mention the shopping? Perhaps it’s best I’m home for now.