Melbourne, Australia

[ 0 ] June 7, 2012 |

Ever since I heard one of my best friends, Justin, rave about Melbourne and his time spent living there, Melbourne has been a place I’ve been dying to visit.  Melbourne was our first stop on our Australian Adventure, and I couldn’t help but be excited – not only for another country to explore but also for a highly anticipated cosmopolitan city.

Cosmopolitan City of Melbourne

The population of Australia is around 23 million and is highly urbanized with around 50% of its citizens living in its three largest cities – Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.  Fun factoid is that after the discovery of gold in Melbourne in 1851 and the economic boom that followed, by the 1880’s Melbourne was the richest city in the world and the second largest after London.  It was around this time that many of Melbourne’s iconic Victorian era buildings where built such as the Queen Victoria Market, Federal Coffee Palace, Flinders Street Station, Royal Exhibition Building, Princess Theater, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Flinders Street Station

St. Pauls Cathedral

With four days to explore Melbourne our first evening was spent checking out the St. Kilda and Fitzroy areas just south of the city.  We were told this area comes alive at night and the advice didn’t let us down.  Fitzroy Street was bustling with people pouring in and out of the bars and restaurants that lined the street.  The first of our two favorite discoveries that night was Santa Anna Tapas Bar.  Santa Anna had the best ceviche I’ve ever had as well as featured live Spanish acoustic music – a very cool place.  Second on our favorites list from that night was Dogs Bar.   Dogs Bar was an amazing wine bar that had great wine, great food, and featured an incredible three man Jazz band.  Looking forward to returning here someday.

Wanting to get a good feel of our surroundings we started our second day out by riding the Free City Circle Tram (antique 19th Century era cable car) which circles the Melbourne CBD.  Our very own free hop-on hop-off tour.  A little over crowded we hopped off after making our first full loop and headed into china town on the eastern side of the CBD.  Searching for dim sum for lunch we finally found a hole in the wall that people seemed to be pouring into.  Joining the crowd we found ourselves in a very “authentic” environment where English speakers were definitely a minority. The food was good and cheap which was probably cause for its popularity.

We wondered around the CBD after lunch checking out Melbourne’s famous “Lane Ways”.

Melbourne's Laneways

The central business district is very methodically laid out in a grid, the lane ways are basically alleys between the buildings that are home to as many restaurants and cafés that they can squeeze in there.  Over the course of our four day visit perusing the streets and laneways of Melbourne’s CBD, we certainly developed a couple favorite laneways we would highly recommend:  Breakfast on Degraves Street and Dinner on Hardware Lane.

Degraves Street

Federation Square was next on our list of must do’s, and more specifically the Ian Potter Centre which houses the Australian part of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)’s art collection.  Since Aussies understandably have a shorter history of involvement in the art world (respectively speaking) the Australian NGV collection doesn’t take too long to sift through and concentrates primarily on 20th century art.  I did manage to eye a couple favorites – some 50’s furniture, an aboriginal piece painted on a tambourine, and a massive charcoal self portrait.  All in all, the Ian Potter is well worth a couple of hours of your day, and best of all – admission is free.

Aboriginal Self Portrait

NGV Sculpture

NGV Sculpture

Federation Square itself seems, from an outsider’s perspective, to be the heartbeat of the city, or at least its grand central station.    A geometric explosion, the federation square building has been honored as one of the worlds ugliest buildings – an accolade not frequently advertised.  Aside from its aesthetic shortcomings, the area is certainly alive and full pedestrians no matter what the time.

Facade of Federation Square Building

View Out the Facade of Federation Square Building

ACMI

Federation Square

Federation Square with Flinders Street Station in Background

Next we were off to peruse the endless stalls and corridors of the famous Queen Victoria Market.  Known for its food and produce, this gigantic market has anything you could ever imagine and certainly made for some great photo opps.

Queen Victoria Market

Kangaroo Anyone?

Kangaroo Sausage

Pretty Fruits

Cheeses

Vegetables Galore

Queen Victoria Market Lane

The next day we were able to catch up with two of our favorite Melburnians, Jordan and Kelly Zander.  The Zanders are a perfect example of the wonderful people you meet on the road.  We met Jordan and Kelly at a hostel in Cinque Terre, Italy almost a year ago.  We both just so happened to be going to Nice the next day and since the Zanders had a car with a couple extra seats they graciously offered us a ride.  Kiwis (New Zealanders) by birth, the Zanders moved to Melbourne about three months ago to start a new job and we were so thankful to get some time to catch up with them.

Wilsons and Zanders Meet in Melbourne

The day we got to spend with the Zanders just so happened to be the annual Moomba festival in Melbourne, which happens every year in early March.  This free city wide festival has been held annually for 57 years now and was host to some bizarrely cool events that we were able to witness first hand.  From the tightrope walkers and skateboarders to the water ski jumping competition, carnival rides, and fireworks show, this festival prides itself on its ability to continually change in order to stay relevant.

Moomba Ski Jumpers

Moomba Skateboarders

Moomba Tightrope Walking

With a full day of festival under our belts, we sadly parted ways with the Zanders vowing to meet up again soon.  A huge thanks goes out to the Zanders for entertaining us once again.  You guys are an amazing couple and we certainly look forward to seeming more of you two in the future.

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Category: Australia, Blog, Destinations, Featured Posts, Pat's Blog

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