If Aussies aren’t migrating north to ski the Rockies, then Canadians are certainly heading south to lounge on sunny beaches. With many parallels between our two cultures — such as both being Commonwealth countries and possessing an internationally renowned penchant for friendliness — it is no surprise that Canadians and Aussies share a sense of camaraderie. With a vibrant food scene, wild nightlife, beautiful beaches and distinct street style, Melbourne is among one of the favourite picks for wanderlust-stricken Canucks.
Caffeinate like a Melbournite.
Like in Calgary, life in Melbourne starts early, with most of the city’s residents rising with the sun. Coffee culture is an integral part of life in the city with coffee shops practically lining the sidewalks. Cafés are particularly prevalent in the popular backpacking district of St. Kilda. Check out Neighbour’s Cafe where you can grab a flat white and some smashed avo on toast. This hidden gem has arguably the best coffee in St. Kilda and, more importantly, boasts a dog-friendly courtyard. Make a new furry friend while starting your day off right.
Shop your heart out along Acland Street.
Only a hop-skip-and-a-jump from the beach, Acland Street is perfect for boutique shopping in St. Kilda. Melbournites have serious style, and a visit to Seagulls of St. Kilda or In Store Clothing can fix you up with a pair of distressed jeans, matching-patterned separates and quirky printed tees. And, as the old adage goes: “never shop on an empty stomach,” so be sure to make a stop at Monarch Cakes to pick up a slice of quite literally the most delicious Polish cheesecake. This institution has been operating at its Acland Street location since 1935 and also offers up a delectable array of pastries, desserts, and coffee.
Be a beach bum.
No trip to Melbourne is complete without a visit to the beach. Within walking distance from Acland Street and just across from the landmark Luna Park Theme Park, St. Kilda Beach stretches for 700-metres from the St. Kilda Marina to the St. Kilda Harbour. Venture down the Esplanade for a leisurely walk towards the St. Kilda Pier where, if you are lucky, you may spy a wild penguin or two. Alternatively, tap into your inner beach baby and stretch out a towel, plug in your headphones, and soak up the sun.
Only a 20-minute tram ride out of St. Kilda into Melbourne’s Central Business District, the NGV building is an impressive sight in its own right. With over 70,000 works of art in its permanent collection which showcases everything from Australian prints and drawings to international sculpture — which alone is well worth a trip down to the gallery — the space is also the transformative Krystyna Campbell-Pretty Fashion Gift. The collection — a microcosm of the world of haute couture and Parisian fashion from the late nineteenth century to the twenty-first century — runs until July 14and includes over 200 garments and archive works from the extensive fashion research collection comprising hundreds of designers’ sketches; workbooks; photographs; and fashion magazines, journals and periodicals from the early nineteenth century onwards.
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The Krystyna Campbell-Pretty Fashion Gift is a testament to how a dedicated supporter can transform a gallery’s collection. The exhibition charts important early revolutions in women’s dress, from Charles Frederick Worth, to Madeleine Vionnet and Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Madame Grès. Representing the late twentieth century, iconic and ground breaking designs by Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Lacroix and Alexander McQueen trace key moments in fashion history, with many being exhibited in Australia for the first time. Now open, Level 2 NGV International. Free entry. #NGV • Image: Installation view The Krystyna Campbell-Pretty Fashion Gift at NGV International
Stop for lunch at the Crafty Squire.
Home to the James Squire Brewhouse — the only working microbrewery in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD — the Crafty Squire is also a modern bar and restaurant in the iconic Portland Hotel. The Portland was one of Melbourne’s oldest hotels — and one of the city’s first “gentlemen’s clubs” — until the brewing company took over the space in 2001, adding the bar and restaurant in 2015. Soak in the historic ambience and taste test some of Melbourne’s finest microbrews including The Portland Pale Ale and The Craic Traditional Irish Stout.
Take in the Melbourne’s sites from the water, SUP style.
Check-off seeing many of Melbourne’s most recognizable sites including the Princess Bridge, Federation Square, and the Royal Botanic Gardens astride a Stand Up Paddleboard. Not only will you fit a fun workout into your day and partake in one of Melbourne’s most popular activities, but you will also actively experience the Yarra River from a viewpoint seldom experienced by tourists.
Put on your party pants and prepare for a trip to the infamous Chapel Street.
If there is one thing that Melbournites can do better than anyone else, that’s having a party. And Chapel Street is the place to do it. Specifically, a visit to the notorious Revolver Upstairs will give you all the Aussie party experience you will (possibly ever) need. By day, the establishment is a restaurant, the interior of which is a kaleidoscope of colourful, cozy sofas and art-lined walls featuring works by artists such as Shepard Fairey, Banksy, and James Jarvis. By night, the lights dim to near blackness and the club features some of Australia’s top DJs. On Sundays, the party lasts until 9 a.m. Following a night of revelry, those who survive the evening take the party through until brunch by joining the Breakfast Club at onesixone, only two minutes away.
By Sarah Comber
Looking for more ways to embrace Canada’s neverending winter? Check out our guide to winter sports around Calgary!