Melbourne Part 1: First Impressions

What’s it like living in Melbourne? Here’s a fresh perspective this well-loved city.

Melbourne is commonly referred to Australia’s ‘Culture Capital’ and when you arrive it’s easy to see why. A quick Google search for ideas on how to spend your evening will bring up half a dozen free gigs across the city, a handful of arthouse cinemas and about five million places to eat. Just walking around the city, you’ll be enticed into any number of cute venues or simply sitting down for a coffee (more on that later) you’ll begin to notice a steady stream of people going through a black, unmarked door you never knew was there. It’s a great city to get lost and find yourself in.

As someone who loves to spend their evenings and weekends at shows, galleries, bars and stuffing their face with amazing food, this city has so much to offer me. Our first stop, South Yarra, has tons of eateries on the main drag Toorak Road and heaps of character. Stop two, Northcote, was quieter and cuter with a cycle path along the river through idyllic parks. Our third and final stop, Melbourne CBD, is exciting and quirky and beautiful. I’m in love.

The Melbourne suburbs all have their different quirks and redeeming qualities but what seems to connect all of them together is the Melburnian dedication to good food. There’s that European quality of life here where “Il dolce far niente”, the sweetness of doing nothing, isn’t just a lifestyle choice, it’s practically a prerequisite. Where Sydney is busy and bustling and glamorous and hectic and switched on 111% at all times, Melbourne has a much more chilled out vibe. The people are friendly, the prices are reasonable and did I mention that the city is beautiful?

The rectangular CBD (Central Business District) is easy to navigate and you’ll soon feel like a local. Take a day to get lost and take random turns and streets and you’ll soon figure it all out. To break it down for you:

  • The Southbank area is, surprise surprise, at the south end of the city where you can find pubs and clubs and fancy pants restaurants dotted along both sides of the river. Flinders Station is a good landmark for this area. If you reach this huge train station you’re leaving the Southbank area and entering the CBD.
  • Docklands. To the west of the CBD is Southern Cross Station and beyond that are the Docklands. A great place for a drink or bite to eat and on Australia Day they have some great fireworks where you can quite easily (unlike Sydney on ANY occasion) find a spot to sink a pint and enjoy the display.
  • North Melbourne/Northern Suburbs. Once you get to La Trobe Street, you’ve hit the northern edge of the CBD rectangle. Busy Melbourne Central Station exits out onto La Trobe. Continue up to the left you’ll hit North Melbourne or take a right and walk up La Trobe towards Spring St you’ll pass Melbourne Gaol, Lygon St (the birthplace of Melbourne’s cafe culture) Carlton Gardens and all of the connections to the trendy, hipster Northern Suburbs like Fitzroy and Abbotsford.
  • Parliament Station is at the east of the city and this is where you should head for a dose of history. There are some beautiful buildings here, including the old treasury, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and the Windsor HotelContinue east and you’ll get to East Melbourne, home to Fitzroy Gardens, Yarra Park and the lovely Richmond area.

So take a day or two to explore the CBD and then take a day to explore each of these directions. Take your sweet time, stop for a coffee somewhere, people watch, search for some street art, soak up the atmosphere.

Melbourne is the perfect city for wandering and wanderers (but I do miss you Sydney ♥)

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