Don’t get us wrong – we love our Queensland coastlines. But, when the weather cools and you feel like trekking a little further afield (but not too far) a wintry Melbourne getaway could be just what the doctor ordered.
Sure, they may play their football on an oval field instead of a rectangular one, and they care way too much about coffee (more on that later), but Melbourne offers an array of wining, dining and sightseeing activities that make it the perfect one-stop-shop for a long weekend vacay.
Eat yourself silly in Carlton
Carlton has always been the go-to destination for authentic espresso and pizza with its rich Italian heritage, but a new wave of culinary openings has given this northside neighbourhood a modern-day renaissance. Hit up King & Godfree or Capitano for dinner, visit Carlton Wine Bar for a post-dinner drink, grab gelati at Pidapipo and then, the next morning, try to find Parco – one of many tiny cafes in Melbourne that’s perched on a traffic island!
Experience the Melbourne magic
Even if you can’t get tickets to Melbourne’s must-see stage show, ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’, there is plenty of magic to be found in the city. From Newt Scamander’s wand, personalised Marauder’s Maps and Triwizard Tournament garbs, Smith Street’s Store of Requirement specialises in the kind of objects that would please even a dark wizard. This inspired store has everything an aspiring wizard or witch could ever want and is worth a visit – even for non-magical folks. And, in a building flanked by the mythical figures Gog and Magog, a little store with an impressive magical catalogue can be found. Far from the flare and showmanship of stage magic, SpellBox is a bewitching little specialty store where spells, potions and charms are used to awaken the heart and mind. With everything from magic classes for mystical artists and wannabe enchanters to in-store readings, there’s magic to be found at SpellBox. And, for parents, Storyville offers a world of childhood favourites in beverage form. Inspired by famous fairytales and fables, Storyville’s signature cocktail list boasts a truly unique collection of drinks, all influenced by famous literature.
Chow down on some seafood…
The oceans and waterways of Victoria are teeming with bountiful varietals of fresh Australian seafood – it’s practically nature’s pantry. Southern Rock lobsters are marine crustaceans most commonly found in caves and under rocks, which are harvested all along the Victorian coastline – riverside Atlantic Bar and Grill at Crown Melbourne is a great place to try one. If you’re after more, delicious scallops can be found at Claypots Evening Star at South Melbourne Market, you can grab a crab at Miss Katie’s Crab Shack in Fitzroy, while Rockpool and Attica are undoubtedly the best places to eat mussels in Melbourne.
Afterlife, after dark…
Dead but not forgotten, Paranormal tourism is thriving in the old city of Williamstown with Lantern Ghost Tours. Setting off from Nelson Place, the tour explores King William’s Town, the original capital of Victoria, by lamp light. Steeped with history, apparitions, alleyways and lager – it was once a thriving town full of colourful ladies, drunken sailors and convicts. Guests will visit the state’s oldest (abandoned) morgue, forgotten burial grounds, hidden laneways and Australia’s Timeball Tower in Victoria’s most historic seaport. A pre-tour dinner option is available at the historic and haunted Steampacket Hotel.
Tour Melbourne in style…
Led by personal stylists, Fashion by Foot takes shoppers on a retail journey to meet Melbourne-based designers in Melbourne, Brunswick, Fitzroy and Collingwood. On the tour, shoppers will have the opportunity to discover and go behind the scenes of micro-sized businesses that design and produce exceptional, indie and bespoke clothing and accessories. The walking tours run exclusively once a month retailing at $185 per person and shopping is optional, if they can resist.
Just for laughs…
Melbourne’s comedy scene provides visitors with the chance to increase their endorphin levels at any time of year. From bespoke comedy clubs to open-mic nights at venues in neighbourhoods only a tram ride away. Spleen Bar, for example, hosts a comedy night every Monday, with the experience one of the hottest tickets in town. Drop-in guests in recent times include the likes of Jimeoin, Arj Barker, Adam Hills, Wil Anderson, Dave Hughes, Celia Pacquola, Charlie Pickering, Fiona O’Loughlin, Tom Gleeson and many more. The Big Hoo-Ha on Friday nights at the Butterfly Club is one of the longest running improv nights in Melbourne, while the likes of Nazeem Hussain, Claire Hooper, Joel Creasey and Tommy Little have thrilled the masses at Catfish in Fitzroy, when comedy comes to the front bar on Tuesday nights. Arguably Melbourne’s most iconic comedy venue, The Comics Lounge welcomes live comedy six nights a week. From comedians testing their new material ahead of international and national tours, to open-mic nights, up and coming performances and the likes of Lawrence Mooney, Liz Miele and Christian Hull on their event listing, there’s something for everyone.
When in Rome…
We already mentioned how much Melbournians love a cuppa joe – their café scene is well and truly thriving, and it seems like a new coffee combination is being made up every day. Don’t panic when you get to the front of the queue with these unique orders.
A cortado – similar to a latte, but less foamy, and less quantity, usually served in a small glass. It consists of espresso mixed with a roughly equal amount of warm milk.
Macchiato – sometimes called espresso macchiato, is an espresso coffee drink with a small amount of milk, usually foamed.
Ristretto – traditionally a short shot of espresso coffee made with the normal amount of ground coffee but extracted with about half the amount of water in the same amount of time by using a finer grind. This produces a more concentrated shot of coffee per volume.
Piccolo – Somewhere in-between a cafe latte, macchiato and cortado, the piccolo is a single espresso shot topped up with milk in a 90ml glass. Bascially, more coffee, less milk.
A Magic – a piccolo latte made with double Ristretto. Both the Piccolo and the Magic arguably originated in Melbourne, most baristas worth their weight in coffee beans will happily serve one up.
Bulletproof Coffee (or butter coffee) – one for the paleos. Coffee, with butter, and claimed to have health benefits including increased energy and focus. It will most likely be found in cafés specialising in health food. In Melbourne this includes Fitzroy’s FitIn, Flinders Lane’s Seedling and Patch café in Richmond.