The Wheeler Centre is a cultural institution dedicated to books, writing and ideas. It is the centrepiece of Melbourne’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature and organises events, lectures, readings and debates about literature and a wide range of other issues. All the events I've been to there have been really thought-provoking, and they are a great way to gain insight into both contemporary writing and 21st-century Australia. And one of the best things about The Wheeler Centre is that most of the events are free! Reserving tickets through the website is very simple so if you're visiting Melbourne make sure you check out The Wheeler Centre's programme.
No trip to Melbourne would be complete without a visit to one of the city's great food markets (Queen Victoria market, South Melbourne market & Prahran market are my 3 favourites). And from mid-November to the end of February most of Melbourne's markets are open late one night a week. There's live music, and stalls selling street food from all around the world. Snacks/dishes are usually reasonably priced (under $12) and there's a great atmosphere.
This online poetry collection of works by local Melbourne spoken word artists and poets is a great way to get a feel for the city and its people. Each poem is inspired by a different place (a statue, a building, a street corner) and the poems have been organised into a series of poetry walks, which you can download as MP3 files. Explore Melbourne through its poets and you'll discover what a creative and inspiring city this is.
Before you travel anywhere scan you passport and store it on a hotmail account which has been opened solely for that purpose and remember you password of course.
If you lost your passport the hotmail account will give easy access for getting help, eg from the nearest Embassy etc.
The reason I recommend this is that it enabled me to take advantage of the seniors' reductions in the museums and places of interest. This saved me some money in what is quite an expensive city. I also did not have to take my passport out with me.
The best penguin display I have ever seen although I am sure Antartica is better. Well worth it, was located just near the casino which was also really good
..strange name for a little touch of Italy in bayside Hampton. And more curiously, this new eatery has been set up by Alastair Dobbs, previously the sommelier at the Church St Enoteca.
OS presents a classic simple Italian menu accompanied of course with an excellent wine list. Bookings are advised as OS has become very popular
There are some interesting ways to travel in Melbourne. It has the largest tram network in the world with more than 1700 tram stops. It is a good way to view many parts of the city quickly and up close. For a more feets on approach, Melbourne has a shared cycling system as well. Rent a bike and explore the city at your own leisure!
You could easily miss the lanes in Melbourne. Melbourne is a beautifully laid out city with a grid of wide streets.
However, in between these, in the original service lanes, has developed a unique city culture - really what makes Melbourne special.
This is where the coffee culture small local shops are located, from cup cakes to shoe maker, from barbers to fashion designers and artists.
They are great to stroll through, have lunch, coffee, or find some unique artisan wares.
The most attractive Melbourne lanes are located between Swanston and Elizabeth and Bourke and Flinders Street. You will find them on either side of Flinders Lane. Check www.we-love-melbourne.net/melbourne-lanes.html
The most attractive Melbourne lanes are located between Swanston and Elizabeth and Bourke and Flinders Street. You will find them on either side of Flinders Lane. www.visitmelbourne.com/Regions/Melbourne/Destinations/City-precincts/Laneways.aspx
Google map: bit.ly/pHV1nT
Although it's a very hefty book and not necessarily one to take with you when travelling, if you are planning a big adventure this book is brilliant for suggesting places to go and things to see when you get there.
I was travelling to Australia and was keen not to just do the tourist trail.
This book recommended places to visit to view art in Melbourne and it was a brilliant springboard to make me think about places to go and things to see.
When I'd had enough of artistic viewings I wandered a little further out of Melbourne to St Kilda and spent some time watching the kite surfers on the beach, then headed off for some fun at Luna Park just off the boardwalk at St Kilda.
In need of something yummy to eat after a hard day viewing art and having fun I wandered along St Kilda High Street and struggled to select from the unbelievable number of cake shops!
buy the book from Amazon (or better still buy the e-book and you can carry it with you). A great place for art in Melbourne is the National Gallery Of Victoria. 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne.
Garden Tuscany is a cafe in Moonee Ponds situated down a quiet laneway and it's beautifully designed. Lance's coffees and hot chocolates are some of the best in the area! Highly recommended to those visiting Melbourne.
And that's about all that needs to be said. Smooth, creamy, rich, lush. A tiny place pumping out some seriously good coffee in a city that knows its coffee.
Middle eastern restaurant in the basement of one of the coolest apartments in Melbourne. Local foodie, George Colombaris is part owner of this very swanky bar/restaurant which does terrific middle eastern fare with slick modern twists. Style and substance - quite a coup.
It's a mouthful, but that seems to be what it's called on the Flipkey page where my wife found it. However I grant it this indulgence as it is truly a hidden gem and a find that were I to visit Melbourne more often I would not be so keen to share with my Guardian friends. Fear of never being able to get in again would arouse my selfish gene. Fortunately for you Melbourne is a long way from home and not somewhere I visit regularly.
So, it's essentially a serviced apartment/ short stay accommodation in the centre of the city that isn't outrageously overpriced and has style and comfort way above its price tag. Leather couches, stunning artwork, polished concrete flooring, aesop products. Ticks all the boxes.
These relatively new gardens (opened in 2006) are both a visual delight and an uplifting educational experience at any time of the year. A firm commitment to the environment and the Aboriginal heritage of the land is evident as clearly marked walking tracks take you on a journey of discovery of Australian landscapes such as 'the red sand garden','the rock pool waterway', 'the arid garden' or 'the eucalypt walk'. Each area portrays the the subtle beauty and diversity of Australian native plants. A number of themed exhibition gardens show clever ideas for a suburban garden and expert volunteers are available to answer questions. Add a native orchid house, excellent visitor centre, garden shop, cafe, picnic and barbecue areas, bush walks to discover birds and wildlife as well as helpful information guides, you have a full-day visit that leaves you inspired and appreciative of the rugged natural beauty of Australia.
"I want some culture / Never mind the cheese / I just wanna hear music / And originality / I want some culture / Never mind the TV / Just wanna hear music / Down at the 303..."
And so with these lyrics began my quest to track down this must-see live music venue in trendy Northcote, north Melbourne. These are the opening lines of a song called "Down at the 303" by Melbourne's most famous sons, The Cat Empire, a band who my Australian wife had introduced me to over here in grey old England when we were a-courtin'. And I fell in love with her, and with the band. And with Melbourne, though I'd never been there. No matter, my wife and I arranged our wedding and honeymoon so I could see it. We got married in Australia, on the Gold Coast, then flew down to Melbourne for the honeymoon. And I fell in love again. It was July, winter time, totally out of season, but I loved it. The sun shone, it rained, it hailed, all on the same tram ride through town. And on our last night in Melbourne, we made it down to the 303.
Barely noticeable on High Street, Northcote, they don't really even have a sign outside, but it's identifiable as being next door to the Northcote Social Club.
We walked in, my heart pounding. An intimate, cosy bar upstairs, low lighting, and conspiratorial chats between young lovers. We got a drink. We moved downstairs to the venue. It was heaving, and sweaty. Some of the quietest, most beautiful live music I've ever heard was being played by a band I've now forgotten the name of. But there was no hustle or bustle, no angry, angsty pushing and shoving. Everyone was sat cross-legged on the floor. My wife and I joined them, rubbing knees with smiling strangers. It was a beautiful evening.
The Cat Empire's song (see youtube link below) is about the joy of seeing a local band in a small, local, intimate venue. It's about getting out there and finding the girl of your dreams at the gig of a lifetime, not sitting at home watching TV, not listening to cheese.
"Music is for living/ Yes, music is essential/ Music should take risks and be experimental/ In the cultchaaaa!!!"
Go check it out, go find the life of your dreams.
This place is an amazing little gig venue.
Genuinely intimate and and acoustically excellent, you will be able to get up close and personal with your favourite artists.
The best thing about it is that often up and coming British bands will gig here before they've really cracked Australia so you get a chance to see a band you love in a room barely bigger than your front room.
Oh and stay at the Prince Hotel too - it's fantastic.
Interesting restaurant. Vegetarian only, and you pay what you feel your meal was worth. All food is organic and locally sourced, and despite the unusual - and potentially bankrupting - ethos, the food is absolutely delicious and the atmosphere warm and friendly. Highly recommended!
There are three restaurants in Melbourne: St Kilda, Fitzroy and Footscray
Wonderful European-style bistro in the inner city area of Carlton North. A cosy spot to sip coffee and savour ricotta hotcakes for brunch, or devour a grilled eye fillet and a bottle of red for dinner.
555 Nicholson Street,
Carlton North, 3054
+61 3 9381 4443
The Toff in Town is a fabulous venue hosting a variety of events and performances from jazz, cabaret and burlesque nights.
There’s an old fashioned glamour to the place, evoking Paris of the 1920s, in particular the partitioned section of the venue which has private booths, a bit like an old fashioned railway carriage.
Superb wine and nibbles, ideal for a midnight encounter.
Second Floor, Curtin House
252 Swanston Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
+ 61 3 9639 8770
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