Melbourne buzzes with creative spirit and energy unlike any other Australian city. Here’s where to go and what to do to get a taste of it.
Most everyone knows about Melbourne’s amazing café culture and culinary scene, but did you know that the city also has urban graffiti, beautiful beaches and inner city rooftop bars? And don’t be surprised if you experience all four seasons in one day either. Whether it’s your first time or your seventh, here’s how to do Melbourne like a local. — Billie Norman
Melbourne is the coffee capital of Australia, and some would even argue the world. That’s a pretty bold statement, but hear me out. It all began in 1954 when the first espresso machine arrived in Melbourne at an Italian restaurant called Pelligrini’s. Since then, coffee became an obsession and the Melbourne way of life. From flat whites to long blacks to batch brew, you can get your caffeine any way you like and the beans probably come from one of the many local specialty coffee roasters. A few of my favourites are Code Black Coffee, Wide Open Road and Seven Seeds. Coffee education is even a thing too. Check out Proud Mary if you want to learn anything and everything about those precious beans.
Whether you’re an early riser or like to sleep in, brunch is a must in Melbourne. Smashed avocado on toast is a statutory basic on any café menu in the city, with each venue putting its own twist on this Melbourne brunch classic. For something a little bit different, I recommend heading northside to Lucy Lockett. With its minimalistic yet elegant design (think hanging green plants, industrial stools, wooden tables and white walls), this is a great place to relax, catch up with friends or get some work done. Notable menu choices include the açaí smoothie bowl, gingerbread pancakes and the chilli corn fritters. South of the river, SOS Café is the go-to especially if you like your caffeine in food form. The three-tier tiramisu pancakes are as fluffy as the clouds above and drizzled in cashew cream, maple syrup ristretto with a side of espresso ice cream.
Anyone who lives in Melbourne will tell you that the best way to get around the city is via bicycle. The city boasts over 135km of lanes, paths and routes. To see a bit of everything cycle the Capital City Trail, a 29km two-way path that winds along the Yarra River. You’ll pedal around the city centre, and some inner northern and eastern suburbs, through some bush (a term Australians use when referring to any forestry), through Collingwood Children’s Farm, the city, the Docklands and the Royal Park.
The Victorian Home
As you walk along the streets of the inner suburbs (notably Fitzroy, Carlton and Collingwood), you’ll think that you have been transported back in time to the late 19th century – to the Victorian era to be exact. At this point in history, the British Empire was in the hands of Queen Victoria, hence the name for this particular style of housing that started to appear all over inner Melbourne. From cast iron lacework verandas to intricate stone headboards and colourful, patterned brickwork, these homes never cease to amaze. Whether terraced or detached, they all stand unique and give the streets a sort of nostalgic charm.
Bar with a view
Drinking on a rooftop bar makes any drink taste better. It could be the sunshine, it could be the altitude, or it could be the urban city landscape that you don’t normally get to see. Rooftop bars are a must when in Melbourne. In Fitzroy, Naked for Satan offers views of the city and its skyline from afar while Rooftop Bar, an inner city dwelling, puts you right amongst the buildings that previously made you feel so small when standing in the streets below. The best time to go is just before sunset, so you can see the skies darken and the city lights come alive.