Capital city of the state of Victoria and second most populated city in Australia, Melbourne has a lot to offer… The city has been ranked the world’s most liveable city for 6th consecutive years in 2016, thanks to its high rates in education, entertainment, healthcare, research & development, tourism and sport. A lot to discover then, but is Melbourne going to unveil all of its secrets for us in a week? Let’s see…
The hip: Fitzroy, Carlton and Collingwood
The northern suburbs have the smell of ground coffee, vintage cloth and fresh paint. They are the alternative side of Melbourne, the place for all things cool and weird!
Walking along the main drags of these neighbourhoods, it felt like we were back in the Montreal’s Mile-End or Brooklyn’s Williamsburg: lots of small shops, restaurants and cool cafes with a laid back vibe. It’s also full of Indie music, self-made bikes, DIY jewellers, bakers, and candle-stick makers along Brunswick st! Just look around..
We experienced the Queen Victoria Market on a Wednesday evening and it’s as popular as Smorgasburg or Pop Montreal. It’s one of the largest open-air markets on the planet, so Solene led the way through the stands and i followed!
We even found a Pavlova stand but since we tasted a handmade one in Perth, we resisted the temptation!
The buildings and architecture around Fitzroy/Carlton reminded us our previous neighbourhoods. Colorful victorian buildings with a lot of green porches, front yards and balconies or renovated warehouses created a feeling of being home already..
All this area is known to be the heart of the street art scene in Melbourne and it’s everywhere. I don’t think we saw one street without cool graffitis in here!
It was pretty cool to stay in Carlton for our first few days in Melbourne, thanks to our Couchsurfing hosts Ariel and Matilde!
Central Melbourne: Parks, Nature and Sightseeing
The Yarra trail is a green path that loops around Melbourne and is well-known because it hits a lot of monuments and parks. So we jumped on some rental bikes and pedalled away!
It’s amazing how green and quiet the close surroundings of Melbourne can be! We passed several other lively neighbourhoods (Richmond..) before we reached the Botanical Garden. The place is neatly taking care of, there are tonnes of tropical plants and trees along with lovely grass areas where it feels good to take a quick break.
Not far from the Botanical Gardens, we dismounted our bikes to look around the Shrine of Remembrance, a monument built as a memorial to the men and women of Victoria who served in World War I but is now a memorial to all Australians who have served in wars. I went back to have another look at night and found the place totally empty!
Further in the CBD, we cycled along the Victoria Parliament and the nearby Princess theatre before making another stop at The Royal Exhibition Building where a big Design market was going on.
We went back to Carlton, dropped the bikes and packed up our stuff to go spend a few days in St Kilda in the southern part of Melbourne. We hopped on the tram, changed at Flinder Station, the main transportation hub in the city and were off to another part of town!
Beachside: St Kilda and Brighton
St Kilda has the laid back vibe of California mixed up with the waterfront of the French Riviera! In the late 1800’s favoured suburb of Melbourne’s elite, many palatial mansions were constructed along its hills and waterfront. Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, St Kilda served a similar function for Melburnians as did Coney Island to the residents of New York City when the baths and Luna Park were built (1913) to turn the suburb into a full seaside playground.
Today, St Kilda is still one of the most popular beaches of Melbourne and offers entertainment for all budgets. It has been the home of a lot of subcultures until the recent gentrification, but it is still a very nice place to live in!
We then headed further south to get a feel for Brighton, which is a more exclusive suburb. It’s famous for its painted “beach boxes” which sell for $300.000/piece. It’s really a status thing since the boxes don’t even have electricity or water! But it makes for great pictures!
Last stop was Prince Pier, in the Melbourne Harbor. Before being dismantled in 1969, it was a major arrival point for new migrants. Not that it’s the most important landmark, but again, cool images 🙂
All in all, Melbourne has a lot to offer. Modern, yet trendy and laid back with the beach nearby and mountains a few hours away, it really resonated with me. I know that it would really take a couple years to know all the in and out of this city, but already i could see ourselves in one of the victorian houses with a yard and all! 😉