My 2nd Home : Melbourne [ gardens, arts + culture, cafes ]

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the ‘first word’ game always comes to mind every time someone says Melbourne … Melbourne – Garden City – Fitzroy Garden – MCG – North Melbourne Kangaroos … which quickly transforms into an intricate mind map. So, this is really a tough one to write on. My thoughts, whilst organised in my own way is really very dis-organised when one tries to pin it down on paper.
So, let’s try this:
gardens, arts + culture(experimentation and melting pot), cafes
Yes, that’s what Melbourne is all about.
gardens
No matter how rush you are, you can never miss all the flower beds that are literally competing foot paths with you, especially in Spring and Summer. From a practical standpoint, I am not suggesting the Royal Botanical Garden … simply because on vacation most people form an “allergy” towards floras and faunas (even if there has never been evidence of hay fever in their entire life) once the area exceeds 2 hectares of land – though it has to be said the Herbarium and Aboriginal Heritage site  in the Royal Botanical Garden is impressive.
See, I figured, most people who visits Melbourne actually intends to visit Victoria and have used the term interchangeably. Given this, they rather look at bits of giant looking “tooth” that is crying for the orthodontics’s attention sticking out of the middle of the ocean (12 Apostles -lah!), the purple patches that stretches as far as the eye can see, and oh if you are of Chinese origin or come from one of the East Asian or South East Asian emerging (questionable economic terminology/classification), the vineyards are a must! Not because we are big wine connoisseurs (ha!) but wine tasting is FREE.OF.CHARGE.
So, I’m suggesting Fitzroy Garden;
a smallish and quintessential garden which everyone (even on vacation) should walk through.
Situated smack between the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), with the  impressive National Sports Museum on the 2nd floor (Australia never seem to lack sporting talents!) and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Parliament House and Royal Exhibition Building on the North East, one should take advantage of walking through Fitzroy Garden; linking the two points of attractions in Melbourne, and stopping by the Fairy Tree, Conservatory and model Tudor Village that is clustered close by one another right in the middle of the garden.

Once done, that should pretty much cover the need to do the gardens  in Melbourne: The Garden City, a tag-line of theirs, unless you are compelled to see the Corroboree Tree in Richmond Garden. If truly that’s the case, I’d suggest going to St. Kilda where a Corroboree Tree – a red gum eucalyptus – estimated to being between 400-700 years old is located next to Queens Road (close to the junction with Fitzroy Street).

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To get to MCG, walk from Flinders Train Station / Federation Square. Alternatively hop onto the Melbourne City FREE Tourist Shuttle from Federation Square and stop at the next stop – Stop 3 Sports Precinct.
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arts + culture(experimentation and melting pot)
Besides the obvious and countless numbers of museums, art galleries, theater and play houses (that was a refuge of sanity for me) … nothing defines Melbourne’s arts + culture scene like the the various City Lanes, Brunswick Street (Fitzroy) and St. Kilda.
This to me is what Melbourne’s arts + culture is; in its unadulterated organic form.
Andrew McDonald, director of the Citylights public art project, with British graffiti artist Banksy’s “little diver”.
Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones (The Age)
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{yes, I am Banksy nuts as confessed HERE, but read this too – Could laneway graffiti be worth more than your average house?” The Age}
The City Laneways (particularly Hosier Lane, Union Lane, Cocker Alley, Caledonian Lane) provides a feast of colour, ideas and energy with captivating artistic exploration and expression. These lanes come to live in the winter months with the annual (and temporary) Laneway Commissions underway, not to mention the hosting of the St Jeromes bar and annual laneway festival.However, on any other day, the ‘spray paint, stenciling and papering’ on wall is still well worth a visit and at night the pubs and bars are bustling away …

 to the beat of rock n roll;
exhibiting attitude and aesthetics with panache and a name to live up to – the ACDC Lane!

For the more subdued, Bennetts Lane and Manchester Lane is the place to go to sip your Grey Goose and be soothed by the tempo of jazz. Being the two dedicated jazz venues, they have hosted some of the world’s biggest jazz acts and have plenty of local talent to offer.

Other than a handsome display of street art and music, the City Laneway boast an array of eateries – cafes, pubs and bars – as well as one-off shops with artistic flair.

Photo © Penelope Haque – All Rights Reserved
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A good way to explore the Lanes and throw in some shopping Arcades with the feel of yesteryear, take Melbourne Walk #4 – Arcades and Lanes (1.5 hours, 2.5 kilometres)
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Brunswick Street (Fitzroy) takes on a more Bohemian flavour, with a dollop of Mediterranean influence in its neighbouring Smith Street and Johnston Street. It is known for its  edgy mix of alternative, artistic and trendy elements with a wide selection of quaint and quirky shops, and eclectic art on offer in studios, galleries and workshops.

An enclave for budding artists, the Rose Street Artists’ Market held every Saturday showcases over 70 of Melbourne’s best designers and artists.

 Photo from the Provisional Resident – blog HERE
 
A gastronomical hot pot, Brunswick Street’s cool cafes, restaurants, pubs and boisterous bars offer anything at any time, serving all-day breakfasts. However it’s pubs and bars comes to live at night with crowds of locals turning up to eat, drink and enjoy themselves.
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To get there take Tram Number 112 from Collins Street or Number 86 from Bourke Street.
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Postwar St Kilda bloomed as a red-light district and home to low-cost houses. A bohemian area of Melbourne in the 1960s, it was a home to artists, musicians, and an incubator to many of Melbourne’s subculture including the punks. Rapid gentrification however, has pushed many of the lower socio-economic groups out of this suburb; transforming it to one of Melbourne’s favourite beach side town that excludes an air of cosmopolitan coolness with a lingering edgy vibe.
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Luna Park, St. Kilda | St. Kilda Tram | Laughing Clown Shop, St. Kilda
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Famed for the Gay Pride March, St Kilda Festival, the Luna Park and the Esplanade Hotel (with interesting and mesmerizing gigs), that provides a glimpse to the vibrant past, St Kilda’s beaches and pier provides a playground for the locals and tourist alike today with beach activities that includes most waters ports, wind surfing, sailing, kites surfing, beach volleyball, jet skiing, water skiing, rollerblading, swimming, sun bathing …etc.
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 Sample gigs in Esplanade Hotel
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On Sundays this place comes to live with the Art and Craft market as well as the jostling and bustling Acland and Fitzroy Street nearby that provides for convenient shopping, (with a twist) food (restaurants including cuisines from Vietnam, India, Malaysia, Italian, and cafes) and famous watering holes.

Acland is particularly famous for its cake shops and cafes, some of which is said to have lingered on since the 1950s, and a few public art work displays.

Art Galleries are aplenty on the top floor of restaurants and cafes, some providing short art courses, of which I was once a student and had my first and only experience of admittedly gawking a fully naked man from head to toe for 45 minutes, unable to get pass the elaborate body piercings found on his erogenous body part.
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To get there take Tram Number 6 from Swanston Street, Number 96 from Bourke Street, or Number 112 from Collins Street (around 25 minutes) to St Kilda; Number 3 from Swanston Street to Carlisle Street (around 35 minutes) and Alma Road (around 40 minutes)
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cafe {EATERIES}

Melbournians are obsessed and preoccupied with eating food and drinking coffee. Hence, its hardly surprising that Melbourne has been nominated as one of the great cities of the world when it comes to eating out; and made el fresco dining popular – a notion that was unthinkable to the settlers’ fore fathers who weren’t convicts.
The good news is, in terms of culinary delights, Melbourne is the CAPITAL of Australia. You have literally thousands of restaurants, cafes and coffee shops to choose from, and, what’s more, most of them are probably ethnic, thanks to Australia’s immigration policy during the past 50 years has seen the acceptance of European, Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines as part of Melbourne’s culture.
So when it comes to the eating out theme, restaurants and sidewalk cafes are firmly entrenched in other parts of Melbourne’s inner suburbs, including Albert Part, Middle Park, South Melbourne, Williamstown, Yarraville, Elwood, Footscray, Hardware Lane (city), Port Melbourne, Brighton, Hampton, Hawthorn, Kew and Brunswick.

Putting it the other way, one can easily conclude that there are few suburbs left in Melbourne that don’t have at least one good restaurant and/or a cafe with tables and chairs set up on the footpath (and which sell quality espresso coffee).

With that in mind, you won’t be left disappointed. But nonetheless,  ‘whilst all EATERIES are equal,  some eateries are MORE equal’, the highly recommended areas that won’t break the Bank would be:
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Lygon Street, Carlton (Italian – Little Italy)
Brunswick Street, Fitzroy (Bohemian)
Acland Street, St Kilda (Bohemian)
Chapel Street, South Yarra (Modern)
Southbank – Melbourne CBD (Modern)
Smith Street, Collingwood (Bohemian)
Chinatown, Melbourne CBD (Chinese)
 
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To get to Lygon Street: Tram Number 1 or 8 heading north from Swanston Street.
To get to Brunswick Street: Tram Number 112 from Collins Street or Number 86 from Bourke Street.
To get to Acland Street: Tram Number 6 from Swanston Street, Number 96 from Bourke Street, or Number 112 from Collins Street (around 25 minutes) to St Kilda; Number 3 from Swanston Street to Carlisle Street (around 35 minutes) and Alma Road (around 40 minutes)
To get to Smith Street: Tram Route 86 from Bundoora/RMIT or Waterfront City/Dockland
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3 thoughts on “My 2nd Home : Melbourne [ gardens, arts + culture, cafes ]

  1. The true artsy fartsy … street dance, underground music, grafitti … The true cultured snob … classical, opera, fine art …You are full of surprises and contradictions.

  2. i was there in 1999 and walked the entire (almost) length of st kilda and tell my frens that i love st kilda apart fromt he vietnamese fare in springvale….lol. also walked into the school of arch in MelbU and its surroundings….tak nampak u pun. lolz.

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