Melbourne. Melbourne Melbourne Melbourne Melbourne!! You are delightful! From the moment I set foot in this city it felt like the place to be. From street bands playing my favourite music to the horse and carriages trotting around Flinders Station, this place felt like home from the start. Everyone said it would be wonderful but I didn’t realise just how.
The area I have been calling home for the past 2 and a half months is Fitzroy, a super chill and trendy suburb just outside the CBD. I suppose it is comparable to Camden in London but far nicer in my opinion. Brunswick street forms the heart of the neighbourhood and boasts an exhaustive variety of bespoke cafés, exotic restaurants, lively bars and boutique shops. Gertrude St, Smith St and Johnston St form a block with Brunswick St and are very exciting to walk around. There are posters taped around every lamp post and graffiti art is around every corner. There’s an energy about the place that I have never come across before; it’s like the feeling that something exciting is about to happen, it’s great and I can’t get enough. Carlton Gardens is just off Nicholson St and is a lovely place to hang out with friends or read a book or draw. People can be seen taking yoga classes or dog walking or modelling for photo shoots – it’s all going on!
The CBD must also be mentioned as it is the heart of the city. I found it can be a little distasteful in parts what with the hoards of tourists wanting convenience, cheap goods, however it makes up for this with its assortment of wonderfully quaint and artisan cafés in the lane ways off of Flinders Lane. They all sell amazing food for brunch and lunch mostly, as well as great coffee of course! The art scene here is also electric. It is of such a high standard that I think no one would even think of graffiti-(ing)? over the top of it. It makes the place feel alive and lived in and can be found all over the city as well as the more well known locations such as Hozier Lane opposite Federation Square.
The transport should also be mentioned as trams here are an excellent way of getting around. The free tram zone in the CBD is certainly very helpful and all adds to the generous nature of the people that live here.
After a couple of weeks of being here, I got myself a job in a small near-by café off of Brunswick St. The job was just running food, clearing plates, taking orders and sometimes making coffees, of which I became quite good at, not to toot my own horn! The other staff were lovely and it was a very pleasant experience working there, although of course it interfered with my social life and what a social life it was! I met up with many people whilst in this city, friends from back home and visiting family. It all added to my good feelings about Melbourne and it was so nice to have places to be and people to see almost every weekend.
Having a job made me feel more like a local and as a result more integrated into the Melbournian lifestyle. I knew where I was going when I was on trams (not that it’s hard) and would often direct visitors around the city. This place really became my home and I could easily live here. On this note, Melbourne was a bit of a game changer for me as up until this point I had thought of Australia as staggeringly beautiful but yet not a country I could spend any real amount of time in. Not a place to call home. Melbourne turned that around and I would happily call it my home again but this time for a few years.
I managed to see a lot of the city whilst I was here. On my days off from work I enjoyed exploring on my own and would make a conscious effort to visit places I hadn’t been before. Some places I got round to ticking off the list:
The Royal Botanical Gardens – a real heart throb. Sarah and I went for a wander on her birthday and sat in the sun watching a white wedding.
Fitzroy Gardens – not as spectacular but still beautiful. It has a Shakespearian mini village in the middle and an old country cottage.
South bank – home to a plethora of touristy foody venues and beautiful riverside views. Favourite bars on this stretch are Ponyfish Island, a bar set in the middle of the river and Flinders Bar, set on the outskirts of platform 13 of Flinders Station.
Chapel Street (Windsor) – an exciting and vast array of exotic eateries and shopping digs. It has a must see bar named Jungleboy and a sensational breakfast place named Journeyman.
Richmond – went for an afternoon just to check it out. London Richmond it is not but a nice suburb all the same. We stayed for tea and cake (obviously).
Brighton Beach – Pam picked me up one sunny Saturday and we made our way to the coast. The water was warm for Victoria and the beach huts are beautiful. Fish and chips for lunch.
Brunswick – went one lunchtime to check it out. Not as wonderful as Fitzroy by any means but we did find a super little café to have lunch in. East Elevation, a real gem.
Glen Waverley – Livi and her parents were visiting and took me out with some of their friends for a slap up Sri Lankan meal in the town of GW. It is best known for its Indian cuisine.
East Malvern – whilst Chloe visited she stayed at her cousin’s house in East Malvern. What I did see of the suburb looked very pleasant and best of all their house was amazing! We had a fun movie night.
The Australian Open – couldn’t not see the champs in action whilst I was here! Got to see Djokovic in the flesh and watch Tomic win on centre court.
Abbotsford – not far from Fitzroy and home to a wee little foody sanctuary called ‘lentil as anything’. My veggie friends and I would meet up here for dinner sometimes and always be greeted with kind service and wonderful food. After your meal, you only pay for what you think it’s worth, or what you can afford. The whole place is full of lots of hippies and like-minded people all sharing tables and conversations. Their wait staff and cooks are all volunteers and they do a sterling job keeping lots of bellies full!
Bar hopping – Melbourne is well known for its plentiful variety of snazzy bars all across the city. I researched a few ‘secret’ bars and took some friends out to go enjoy a few cocktails! Fall from Grace is on Collins St and the entrance is through the restaurant’s bathroom door. There then lies a bookcase where upon levering the right book, it will slide open to reveal an eloquent staircase leading to the underground bar. The bar is very smart and was full of the ‘after work drinks’ crew when we popped in from the tennis with our t-shirts and thongs on. Nevertheless we got chatting to a couple of friendly guys who were no doubt delighted three girls had sat down next to them. Other digs worth a visit are Goldilocks on Swanston St (enter via noodle bar), The Rooftop Bar, The Everleigh on Gertrude St (go for bartenders choice of cocktail), Naked for Satan on Brunswick st (amazing panoramic views of city) and many more. I have an exhaustive list in my journal which I plan on ticking off next time around!
Elsternwick – Sarah’s cousin lives here and this was the first place I went to after dropping the boys off at the airport. Their house is small but cute and I had a lot of fun visiting for a few days.
St Kilda – didn’t visit here an awful lot seeing as it was a fair distance away from Fitzroy but came down for Australia Day to wander the pier, see the town and the gardens. It is known for its backpacker community and penguins on the beach and is a very lively place.
Mornington Peninsula (Rye) – whilst Graham and Elaine were visiting I got to stay with them in their motor home. I took the train and two buses to get there but it is a beautiful place and well worth a visit. The water looks the same as when you run a clear bath and I could see small puffer fish in the shallows. We walked along the small pier and spent time reading and drinking wine on deck chairs in the sun.
Docklands – not much here other than a few restaurants and the port for The Spirit of Tasmania ferry. It’s the end of the line for the trams on this route.
White Night – not a place but an experience! Melbourne organises a yearly light show that encompasses the whole city. From 7pm to 7am the state library, the museum, the church, the laneways and the rest of the city were shown in all their glory through performances and light shows. The city was as busy as Oxford Street at Christmas time so there was plenty of queuing involved but I was lucky enough to be with a fun group of people so it was a truly brilliant night.
Cafés – also not a specific place of course but I have to mention a few of my most loved and it all starts with The Vegie Bar. I swear I could eat there every night and not get bored by the food or the people watching. Radhey Chai Bar comes a close second with its scrumptious veggie meals and lovely atmosphere. It’s a small place but is nicely decorated with Asian themed music and comfy cushions. I would spend all my tip money in there on the way back from work ordering chai tea lattes and cupcakes. Naughty! The Grub Van up at the top of Brunswick St is also a contender and is made special by its wonderful outside seating area. If I wanted to get away from hostel life I would grab a book and head here for a pot of tea. In the CBD the lane way cafés are brilliant and for dinner, a trip to ChinChin must be made – a Thai place that doesn’t take bookings. Instead you must get there early and wait in the queue before giving your name and number and waiting for a text to say your table is ready. It’s brilliant food so well worth waiting, although you do have to shout to be heard by whoever you’re with its that busy.
So I think the conclusion here is that eating great food, a lot of the time by myself haha, became a pretty big part of my Melbourne experience. I’m so glad I got to spend a fair bit of time in this gorgeous city and I’m already planning my next visit! See you soon Melbs! ❤️