reblog from The Age, 10 June 2007 “24 hours in Melbourne” by Michelle Griffin, Andrew Stephens, Rachel Wells
Have a holiday at home
We plan your perfect day in town at three prices: $30, $300 and $3000
It’s all too easy, in a city full of temptations, to spend unthinkingly on a big day out. But if you know where to go, you’ll soon discover that some of the best things in this city are practically free. Let’s see if you can stretch a $20 and a $10 from breakfast to nightcap.
8am The prices have just gone up again, but your $6.30 all-day zone-one public transport ticket is your best investment for a budget day out. And if you already have a weekly or monthly ticket, why, that’s two more coffees, another glass of wine or an extra slice of cake.
Head for the Queen Victoria Market for breakfast and a stickybeak. Buy your coffee from Coffea on Elizabeth Street: at $3, it’s not the cheapest, but it’s the best at the market. In the Deli, at stall 94-96, buy a chewy Turkish borek pastry, stuffed with either spicy lamb or potato, for $2.50. That’s breakfast, al fresco. Now wander the aisles, sampling cut fruit, cheese samples and even wine. Buy a $1 ciabatta roll from Andrew’s Bread Stall (stall 29-30), $1 worth of Fiddler’s tasty cheddar from Bill’s Farm (stall 17-18) and a 70-cent organic Fuji apple from Garden Organics in the I shed. Maybe $1 worth of baby spinach, too. Don’t eat it yet, this is lunch, GST free, $3.70.
Queen Victoria Market, Elizabeth and Victoria streets, North Melbourne, 9320 5822
10am Time for some cultural tourism. Start at the State Library on Swanston Street. The Mirror of the World exhibit, in the Dome Gallery, is an amazing collection, spanning a leaf of the Gutenberg Bible to a racy collection of 1950s pulp fiction. Plus you get the vertiginous view from the rim of the dome.
State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston Street, city, 8664 7000
11am Take any tram down Swanston Street, alighting at Fed Square, for street performers, live music, passing protests and people-watching. Then wander down to ACMI. Check out the Independent Games Festival in the games lab, where you can play whimsical award-winning computer game Aquaria.
ACMI, Federation Square, 8663 2200
Noon Across the walkway is The Ian Potter Centre, the National Gallery of Victoria’s Australian Art Museum. You can’t view the Australian Impressionism blockbuster on today’s budget, but you can see Katie Pye’s arthouse 1980s outfits, on exhibit in Gallery 12, and visit the permanent Australian collection. If pressed for time, head for Emily Kame Kngwarray’s enormous Big Yarn on the ground floor.
The Ian Potter Centre: NGV, 8620 2222
1.30pm Lunch time, and you’re spoiled for picnic spots. In Birrarung Marr, the new parklands, you can watch the river traffic: canoes, kayaks and ferries. Or catch the number 8 tram around the corner to the Botanic Gardens and have your picnic in the sheltered, sunny herb garden.
If it’s raining, head to Mag Nation. It’s a newsagent but not as we know it: they want you to sit around all afternoon reading their magazines. Buy a coffee ($2.80 small) and settle on the couch upstairs with the latest local or international mag or three, until the rain stops.
Mag Nation, 88 Elizabeth Street, city, 9663 6091
4pm Miraculously, you can still watch the final quarter of the footy free at the MCG, even during the finals. At Telstra Dome, you can see the final 15 minutes or so.Wind down afterwards by walking through the parklands (if you’ve been to the ‘G) or the Docklands (if you’ve been to the Dome) at sunset.
7pm Dinner time. Catch the 109 from Collins Street to Victoria Street, Richmond, our cheapest eat street. The bargain meal of the entire strip is the $6 pho at Thy Thy 2, a big bowl of beef stock, beef, noodles, lime, herbs and chilli – and a gratis thermos of tea. Cheapskate vegetarians should return to the city. Tiny Nila, a South Indian/Malay hangout around the corner from Flinders Street Station, does a mini vegetarian meal (roti, rice and curries) or a masala potato dosai pancake for $4.95. You’ll have to spring $2 for your teh pelaga (hot white tea with cardamom), but the Bollywood videos on the TV are free.
Thy Thy 2, 116 Victoria Street, Richmond, 9428 5914. Nila City, 13 Degraves Street, city, 9014 8822
9pm You’ve got $5 left, but the night’s not over. Catch the 112 to Brunswick Street, get off at stop 15 and turn right into St David Street. You can’t miss The Rainbow Hotel at number 27: it’s the rainbow-coloured joint with the live music seven nights a week and no cover charge. Many of the bands have been playing here for years, and they’re all good. Maybe you’ll luck into a secret gig by a headline act. Buy yourself a $3.50 pot of Coopers and settle down to enjoy the show. You’ve earned it.
The Rainbow Hotel, 27 St David Street, Fitzroy, 9419 4193
— Michelle Griffin
9am You’ve scored a room with a view over the Yarra River, the muddy murk that for so long Melbourne failed to celebrate. But this end of town – once the drabbest part of Flinders Street – is reviving. Which is why a cosy choice is the Rendezvous, a grand 1913 building at number 328 that has had various incarnations: strip club, squat and Commercial Travellers’ Club.
But it’s time to hit the streets, not loll around in that gorgeous “club” room ($199 a night), with the highest ceilings you’ve ever seen (10 metres) and its enormous bay window, looking out over Eureka Tower.
First stop is urgent: breakfast. Opt for the warmth of the European on Spring Street and decide to get there (161 Spring Street) by lanes and ”Little” streets only. It’s one of Melbourne’s pleasures. Head through Degraves (a neighbourhood, really, not a street) and up Little Collins, past all the wonderful menswear shops – Dom Bagnato, Versace, Armani, Roy. After a warming breakfast of pikelets and treacle, and a strong coffee ($15) – it’s time for some elevating art galleries, and the top end of Flinders Lane is chockers with some of the best.
Rendezvous Hotel, 328 Flinders Street, city, 9250 1888; European, 161 Spring Street, city, 9654 0811
10am Craft Victoria (31 Flinders Lane) tends to have interesting shows and its shop is crammed with interesting objects by local craftspeople. Other highlights along here include fortyfivedownstairs, Span, Gallery 101, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi and the Flinders Lane Gallery and you can easily spend a couple of hours meandering through them. All of which leads to the Nicholas Building on the corner of Flinders Lane and Swanston, a rabbit warren of artists’ studios, small galleries, tailors and the funky Retro Star clothing shop.
For morning tea, something traditional is in order: the Hopetoun Tea Rooms (282 Collins Street), with its Edwardian wallpaper and fancy little cakes, superb tea and hatted clientele remains the jewel in the crown – or at least the brooch in the beret ($9.50 for a pot of tea and a big slice of cream-filled sponge). Afterwards, wander through the arcades doing a little window shopping.
Craft Victoria, 31 Flinders Lane, city, 9650 7775, Hopetoun Tea Rooms, 282 Collins Street, city, 9650 2777
1pm Somehow, lunchtime has crept up and Melbourne’s Asian restaurants are renowned. If you can find it (no sign, of course, it’s a red door on a grungy lane just east of Russell Street), you could try the serenely elegant, Yu-U (137 Flinders Lane) and scoff down divine King George whiting poached in ginger and soy and some tasty grilled chicken balls ($12.50).
Once sated, it’s more laneways: Duckboard Place, ACDC Lane, Higson Lane and Hosier Lane.
Yu-U, 137 Flinders Lane, city 9639 7073
3.30pm After all this dashing around the city, you’ll want a change of scene. So hit the number 96 tram and head down to St Kilda. The best views of the coolest suburb-on-the-sea are from the self-proclaimed Scenic Railway in Luna Park. The Edwardian timber roller-coaster rattles along its undulating tracks at a leisurely pace, so you really can enjoy the view of the bay. And at $7 a ride (and free entry to the fun park), it’s a bargain. Afterwards, you’ll need to lie down. Totter towards the St Kilda Sea Baths (entry $12) on the foreshore. The indoor sea baths, in the awfully renovated South Pacific building, are delightful in the winter. You can steep in the spa and gaze out the windows across the bay. Afterwards, steamed like dumplings, hit some of the better shops around about: Surround Interiors in Inkerman Street, Velour in Barkly Street and most of Carlisle Street’s funky boutiques.
Luna Park, Lower Esplanade, St Kilda, 1300 888 272
South Pacific @ St Kilda Sea Baths, 10-18 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda, 9525 4888
7pm To wind down, return to the city via the number 96 light rail and get off at the Spring Street end of Bourke Street. Grab a stool at Pellegrinis for a comforting bowl of pasta, a coffee ($15) and quality eavesdropping. Then steal through back lanes in the city to find The Croft Institute, with all its glass beakers, test tubes and friendly atmosphere for a bit of a wind-down over a pot of Beck’s ($5).
Before you leave the CBD – and perhaps before you hit the cocktails – take in an overview of this wonderful day; it’s not far to Eureka Tower and its newly opened Skydeck ($16.50 for adults). The elevator gets you to the 88th floor in seconds and you can gaze giddily out of the huge windows across the night-lit city of Melbourne. It’s beautiful.
Pellegrinis, 66 Bourke Street, city, 9662 1885
Croft Institute, 21-25 Croft Alley, city, 9671 4399
Eureka Skydeck, Riverside Quay, Southbank, 9693 8888
— Andrew Stephens
8am Breakfast – served on white linen tablecloths – doesn’t get much better than at Harveys in South Yarra. A favourite among the South Yarra/Toorak set, the people-watching isn’t too bad, either. Bypass the outdoor terrace for a table by the open fireplaces. Specialties include roesti served with steamed asparagus, poached eggs, truffle oil and reggiano or Bircher muesli with stewed rhubarb – but you can’t go past the eggs (served whichever way you like) with bacon and eggs ($20 for food and coffee)
Harveys, 10 Murphy Street, South Yarra, 9867 3605.
10am Hail a cab and head for Melbourne’s newer (and quieter) version of Chapel Street – High Street in Armadale. Dotted among an eclectic mix of antique stores, bridal boutiques and art galleries (check out Vintage Posters Only at 1136), is an exciting line-up of up-and-coming local labels, old favourites and great mixed-label boutiques, including Shelley’s Shop (1077) and Chambermaid (1052), where you can grab a pair of this season’s must-have Dico Copenhagen boots for $400.
Start at Kooyong Road and head east. The cardboard fitout at ksubi (1021) is worth a peek. Buy a knock-out shift or silk frock for tonight at Scanlan & Theodore (1039). Revive with an organic fruit juice from the Macro Wholefoods Market (1068). ($600 for a dress; $6 for a juice; $15 for a cab)
Noon Flag down another cab and ask the driver to take you to Donovans. If he doesn’t know where it is, don’t tip. This classy seaside restaurant is an institution in this city, and lunch is the best time to take in the waves lapping on the beach while joggers and rollerbladers whiz by. Order from their barbecued seafood menu (you can’t go wrong) and a glass of Toolangi Pinot Noir – a recommendation from owner Kevin Donovan. Be sure to book. ($50 per person, plus $25 for the cab)
Donovans, 40 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda, 9534 8221
2pm Time to take in a matinee – whether it be ballet under the spire at the Arts Centre or a big-name show at one of the grand old Melbourne theatres. There are plenty to choose from in coming months, including the Australian Ballet’s New Romantics at the Arts Centre (1.30pm matinees, $26 to $107), Miss Saigon at Her Majesty’s and The Phantom of the Opera, which returns to the Princess Theatre on July 19 (2pm matinees, $99.90 for A reserve). (Allow $100 for show, cab $18)
Ticketek 13 2849
4pm Next port of call is the Hotel Windsor, where they’ve been serving afternoon tea beneath the chandeliers since 1883. And with Nigel Braithwaite (ex-Savoy Hotel, London) in charge of pastries, high tea never tasted better. The scones and ribbon sandwiches are divine – but leave room for the Chocolate Indulgence buffet, a mouth-watering selection of rich desserts and petit fours. Afternoon tea is served daily from 3.30pm – $55 per person on weekends, plus $15 for a refreshing flute of sparkling Domaine Chandon.
Hotel Windsor, 111 Spring Street, Melbourne, 9633 6000
6pm Leave glamour to the experts at the Crown Spa at Crown Towers. Book in for a blow wave (from $75), an express manicure ($70) and express makeup ($65) and within 90 minutes you’ll be ready to hit the town. ($135)
Crown Spa, Level 3, Crown Towers, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank, 9292 6182
7.30pm By the time you wander back – a five-minute stroll along the Yarra – to your $1200-a-night club suite at the Langham Hotel – all marble bathrooms and a couch you won’t want to get out of – the maid will have turned down the sheets on your $2500 Blissful king bed. (Yep, you can buy it, if you like it.) Put your feet up for a bit to take in the spectacular views of the bay, the Yarra and the city skyline.
Langham Hotel, 1 Southgate Avenue, Southbank, 8696 8888
8.30pm Join the well-heeled on a butter-coloured banquette for a cocktail (try the Satre) in the uber-chic Comme Wine Room (formerly Mietta’s) before settling into the charming Comme Kitchen, off to the side. The best way to navigate Simon Arkless’ thoughtful French-Spanish-inspired menu is to order a selection of small and large plates to share. Try the roast stuffed baby calamari ($19), pan-fried Wagyu rump ($39) and the flathead with potatoes and smoked salmon mayonnaise ($29). ($150, including cocktails and wine)
Comme, 7 Alfred Place, city, 9631 4000
10.30pm Grab a nightcap at the Long Room. This basement bar in the old George’s building is where the beautiful people – who look even prettier under dim lights – lounge on leather sofas sipping martinis. ($16 for a cocktail)
Long Room, Georges Building, 162-168 Collins Street, city, 9663 7226
— Rachel Wells