Australia’s capital of culture brings many surprises for travellers on the hunt for exciting city-based experiences
Ranked as the world’s most liveable city for the sixth year running, Melbourne has all the elements of a must-visit urban destination: a buzzing culture-rich core, a love for coffee and celebration, hip precincts, and lush parkland topped off with breathtaking nature. Here are five experiences that showcase the city at its best and most distinctive:
1. Eat Your Way to the Top
Melbourne is a haven for any seasoned Singaporean foodie. At one of the city’s many cafes, pair creative brunch fare with coffee micro-roasted to perfection. For a spin on café culture, pop by Seven Seeds in Carlton for its university vibe, recycled timber interior and top-notch cappuccino.
The world’s best pizza is not in Italy, it’s at 400 Gradi on Lygon Street in Brunswick. Affable Aussie owner Johnny Di Francesco’s wood-fired Margherita is a must-try, having bested global contenders to win the 2014 World Pizza Championships in Italy.
For a spectacular view in an unusual setting, pay a visit to Easeys in Collingwood. Tuck into a cheesy burger as you perch on a rooftop in one of three train carriages. Try your best not to spill the tomato sauce!
2. Off the Beaten Truck
Food truck parks are an iconic part of Melbourne’s food scene. These food truck gatherings often occupy both an indoor and outdoor area, which makes for a lovely dining-under-the-stars experience — particularly in the summer.
Indulge in top-notch grub from over 40 street food vendors at Hank Marvin Market, which opens every Saturday at St Kilda East. This park transforms into a hub of fresh produce, food trucks and street food stalls serving everything from pizzas to wood-fired bagels.
Just 20 minutes north of the city is Welcome to Thornbury, Melbourne’s first permanent food truck stop. With up to 43 trucks onsite and a host of craft beers and cocktail jugs for sharing, this park is the perfect eating spot for travellers who are new to the food truck scene. The 4,000-square metre venue features a 200-seater bar, where you can knock back some grilled bites and beer.
3. Heed the Call of Collingwood
Popular with locals, this neighbourhood is home to a monthly farmers’ market showcasing local goodies produced within a 160-kilometre radius. Grab a punnet of fresh berries, set out for nearby Yarra Bend Park and hop on a rowboat for the chance to see native grey-headed flying foxes in action.
Those itching to bring home a piece of Melbourne can hit the stores along Smith Street on Collingwood for unique collectibles. These stores typically specialise in handcrafted trinkets and jewellery with unusual features, like laminated flowers, pencils and recycled vinyl records.
4. Turn Up the Swag Factor
Standing next to the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral on Swanston Street, Nicholas Building is an understated 1920s Art Deco landmark hiding some of Melbourne's finest artisanal gems. Here you can admire contemporary art in galleries housed on different floors of the building.
Creative souls can try their hand at woodblock printing, patchwork quilting or other craft workshops conducted by various shops within the building. For more collectibles, head to the nearby suburb of East Brunswick for the Lost & Found Market, an emporium stocking a mind-boggling array of retro and one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
5. Groove to the Outdoor Beat
Music is one of Melbourne’s biggest pastimes, and festivals are its lifeblood. Ever been to St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival in Singapore? This indie music fest started in Melbourne! Experience the festival at its home ground every January for an explosion of music and culture. Don’t forget to slap on some sunscreen to shield your skin against the hot Australian sun.