A Guide to Melbourne, Australia

After spending a few days exploring the wild outdoors (see earlier posts on the Queensland and Uluru), it was time to be back in a city. Having heard great things about Melbourne, I knew right away it was a must-see destination. What I didn’t know was how much I’d fall in love with it. As soon as we stepped off the plane, it was crystal clear – Melbourne was home away from home.

In 2015, Melbourne was named the world’s “most liveable city” for the fifth year in a row by the Economist. However, despite also earning the rank of sixth most expensive city to live in the world, Melbourne isn’t at all pretentious — quite the contrary, in fact — and immediately appealed to my taste for all things lifestyle.

Boasting a strong influence from Europe and the Mediterranean, Melbourne was born with strong roots, and today, exudes a palpable, youthful energy. Remarkably, it almost makes you wonder if you’ve stepped into an alternate universe of sorts.

Graffiti lanes and street art are well known in Melbourne, showcasing the city’s unique cultural identity. Found juxtaposed against the classical buildings of the Victorian era, graffiti is given a place in the city, unlike many other places around the world.

Street art is not only a form of expression, but a testament to the city’s perspective on youth, modernity and advancement. Most recently, citizens mourned the loss of a historical piece of art, a 30-year old mural on Smith Street in North Fitzroy, a trendy suburb just outside of the city center. A calamity of sorts, it was destroyed by another paint artist who took to covering half of it with a black and white tag. The mural held such profound meaning to Melbournians that this left many feeling distraught, just one example of the city’s appreciation of human expression through the visual arts.

Named From Bonbonniere to Barbed Wire, otherwise known as “the Women’s Mural”, the mural was created in 1986 by a team of artists led by Eve Glenn and Megan Evans. A feminist expression, the Woman’s Mural was made by young Melbournian women who had something to say, who wanted to take a stance against the objectification of women in the media. Through their art, they were intent on representing women as they are, as real people. From an article on Broadsheet, Evans said:

“It was supposed to be a representative mural. We felt that women were totally objectified in advertising and on billboards – and they still are – and we saw the mural as a chance to represent them as real people. We began trying to decide how to depict the issues of women at the time, but eventually, after meetings and photographing hundreds of women from Northcote, we decided the best thing to do was to paint the actual women that lived in the area.

Although the mural is but a small part of the socio-economic fabric of the city, it’s an example of much more — a voice, an identity. With about a third of its residents aged between 12 and 24 and having the fastest growing population in Australia, Melbourne is slated to takeover Sydney by 2040. With such a demographic, we stand to learn a lot from the city with a lot to say.

For more on the mural and its significance, click here.

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Dayna’s Travel Guide to Melbourne, Australia

Where We Ate:

Supernormal: At first glance, you would never know this was one of Melbourne’s best places to eat. Great atmosphere, open late, get in while you can and be sure to enjoy some of their sake imports. If you don’t know, now you know.

Mr. Miyagi: Focus, grasshopper! Stop by this trendy spot for some amazing Japanese-fusion, sushi and cocktails. Even better for its 80’s Karate Kid references. Must try!

Cumulus: Brother-sister restaurant of the Supernormal family, brunching at Cumulus was top notch. Located on Flinders’ Lane, otherwise known as the foodie street of Melbourne, this restaurant has it all. Chic, low-key ambiance, a quaint, unique menu and perfect coffee. Yes, please!

Chin Chin: Also standing on Flinders’ Lane, Chin Chin was a favourite. Because we only had about 48 hours in Melbourne, we stopped by this place at around four in the afternoon before our “second” dinner at Mr. Miyagi later on that evening. The sticky pork was so good, I nearly died and went to heaven. They also sell their cookbook which now has a proud place in my collection at home (I have a thing for authentic cookbooks).

Gingerboy: Flying out to New Zealand that night, we quickly stopped over at Ginger Boy for our final supper in this wonderful city. Absolutely incredible ambiance and food. One more bite and I would have literally fallen in a food coma. Insider tip: 1) Reservations are a must. 2) Order the son-in-law eggs (pictured below).

Places To Visit:

Wake up. Eat. Learn as much about Melbourne’s culture as possible with the hop-on, hop-off tour bus. Visit the beach at St-Kilda’s. Shop. Then eat again. Repeat.

It goes without saying that a stop at The Queen Victoria Market was necessary, although we arrived around closing. A charming place, especially the charcuterie and cheese section. A special shout-out to Curds and Whey. The owner, Anna, is delightful and has a particularly exquisite selection of cheeses and much more.

Where We Stayed:

Grand Hyatt: As I was so busy admiring (and eating) Melbourne, I barely took pictures of all the great sites, so I don’t have any for the hotel. But let me tell you, this hotel was spectacular. It was not only grandiose (hello, floor-to-ceiling marble bathroom), but also had great service and the best location. Nestled between Collins Street (great shopping) and Flinders Lane (yes, dining), we could not have asked for better especially when booking from the other side of the world. Along with the Hilton Sydney, this was also a favourite. Highly, highly recommend.

Where We Had Coffee:

Sensory Lab: Who could go to Melbourne and not seek out the best coffee shops? Tucked away on Little Collins, about a five minute walk from our hotel, was this gem called Sensory Lab. Love! It was our go-to for flat whites and tasty treats (like the chocolate and Nutella croissant pictured below).

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Love this, great captures!