10. Smelly shoes pass off as art
Anything and everything is art in Melbourne. It has no boundaries. Though when a collection of shoes passes as an art installation, questions have to be asked.
9. Shop Sui you can’t eat
Shop Sui is a boutique store that sells everything from doll clothes to homeware designs. Typical of boutique shopping in Melbourne, the shopping is tasty.
8. A bay you can loop in a day
Start in Melbourne and wind through wine districts of Mornington, then down to the historic towns of Portsea and Sorrento. From there, jump or drive on the boat to Queenscliffe –- from there you’re in the home straight: Melbourne via Geelong.
7. Residential factories
While the rest of the world knocks down history, Melbourne integrates heritage. The old Collingwood department store, Foy & Gibson, is typical. It once belonged to the big end of town, but now belongs to whoever has six-figure spare cash for an integrated studio apartment.
Old buildings sit in an inner city where grandeur and gutter are dichotomous. Very Oscar Wilde.
6. Bike paths that stretch to Canberra
OK, you could cycle to Canberra, anyway — if you’re Cadel Evans. But there are 670 kilometers of bike paths around the city, which would get you to Canberra with 10 kilometers to spare. By then you’d be out-pedalling Amsterdam.
5. Australia’s first espresso machine
The nation’s first espresso machine popped up on Lygon Street, Carlton, less than half a century ago. To say it’s caught on would be an understatement.
May as well go where it all began and order a coffee or bowl of pasta among street-side dining so magnifico it could easily squeeze into Florence.
The Grinders Coffee store on Lygon Street is where Giancarlo first roasted beans in Melbourne — and still does for local cafés.
4. There’s something to love about pre-loves
Roll up to cool gigs in grungy fashion. The range of second-hand stores in Melbourne could truly clothe a city, so don’t fret if your wardrobe is looking a bit too neat and business-like.
3. An airport that’s easy to get to and away from
It’s just as important to get out of a big city as it is to get to it. Slow transport to the major airport can be a rip-off, a waste of time or cause you to miss your flight.
Skybus operates between the city and airport for $16, gets you there in 20 minutes and leaves every 10 minutes.
2. If there’s nothing else to do, you can go to Kent St
About a decade ago, a piece of toilet humor appeared in a bathroom wall on Smith Street.
It read, “F this, I’m going to Kent St”. Must have resonated with the masses, as replica stickers of this off-the-cuff expression have now made their way around the world. They’ve even been spotted in Moscow.
And why not? At Kent St (a bar/café) people with similar sentiments can grab a coffee by day and beer by night, in an art deco terrace while playing board games, writing scripts and listening to local DJs.
1. Culture really is important
As the Melbourne Festival draws to a grand finale, people rightly ask why Melbourne just does these culture gigs a little more naturally.
Festival director Brett Sheehy weighs in: “One thing that distinguishes Melbourne from other cities is the average woman and man on the street will say that arts and culture are a critical part of the town.”
And that’s easy to live with.
by Susan Floyd