I know there are a kajillion more credible people and sources than me who have published and provided travel guides to Melbourne, but everyone has their own take on how to travel, just as everyone has their own way of travelling. Here are the highlights from my trip and a few suggestions, not all of them necessarily sensible, most of them to do with eating yourself into a coma.
Ok, so I don’t have any good recommendations in this department. I’m lucky enough to have a few friends already living in Melbourne, so it was spare bed surfing first out in Preston for the first night (about 1 hour public transport ride from the CBD) and then mattress surfing for the remaining 2 nights in a borrowed apartment opposite the Crown Casino. Basically you can’t go wrong by basing yourself city centre, or as close as you affordably can for sheer ease of getting everywhere. Trams that run in the immediate CBD precinct are free to ride, just remember to listen out for the on board announcements that let you know when you’re exiting or entering the free zones.
So my main reason for booking this trip was to see Pentatonix live at the Palais Theatre. Words cannot describe what an unworldly experience it was to see a band that I absolutely love, live, for the first time in my life. Incredible energy, sincere love from the performers, a respectful but equally energetic audience, and the beauty of hearing 5 flawless voices work in utter perfection together. My ears were ringing and my heart was singing (and I was literally singing along as well).
Other things to do are alley walking, checking out the neighbouring suburbs, sampling sweet delights, walking the Yarra, visit a farmers market, ogle at local tap dancing buskers who remind me of Cillian Murphy, and staying up way past your usual bed time on a school night because you can!
Now you’re talking my language! This was one of those trips where I wished I had a second stomach, or even a bottomless one like the chap in the movie, Interstate 60. While I’m loving the array of creative and seasonal food becoming available in Hobart, sometimes all you want is a smorgasbord of choice from around the world that all pack a punch. You know, most of the time you make sure you’re eating consciously and aim for quality products and things that will fuel your body, but sometimes you just want to let loose and devour whatever takes your fancy. The latter scene was me in Melbourne – Doughnut Time doughnuts, Brunetti cakes, Korean crispy fried chicken, gigantic bowls of ramen at Melbourne’s only 24hr ramen store, pizza and garlic bread at 1.30am during a mammoth game of Settlers of Catan (finished at 3am).
Try out the following places for a truly satisfying gastronomic experience though:
- Uncommon. // A bustling cafe resplendent in white concrete and hanging plants that serve up wholefoods, locally sourced, “connecting farm or field to plate…”. The usual array of dietary consideration and conscious consumption – no chemically processed ingredients, additives, refined sugar or bleached flour, gluten free, and dairy free. I had the crumbed green tomatoes & haloumi – the tomatoes were served on a slab of the savoury, salty but firm cheese, along with an oozing soft egg and a mountain of salad greens.
- Industry Beans // Another very busy, positively pumping eatery located in what essentially looks like an industrial/residential area. I believe the main draw to this place is their coffee, namely cold drip (which seems to be the latest thing in caffeinated beverages these days), but seeing as I don’t drink the stuff, I can’t give any indication as to how good the coffee actually was. A definite point to the establishment though, free fill up of your tea beaker if you order a loose leaf. Since we were mostly full from brunch at Uncommon, we just shared a serve of vegetable chips and polenta chips. The former was delicious out of this world, the latter was definitely tasty but paled in comparison to the paper thin, crispy and green-tea salty goodness that was deep friend vegetables. Both served with coriander & lime aioli.
- ChangGo Korean BBQ // A high ceiling, sit down restaurant with plenty of bare boards, exposed brick walls, and exhaust fans to remove the multitude of smoke you will inevitably generate while barbecuing at the table. We ordered the very popular (and signature dish) Death by Pork, which consisted of 8 rolls of pork in various marinades, a tureen of soup, and a variety of sides, pickles, extras, and rice. ChangGo opens from 5.30pm and don’t take bookings due to their popularity. Just line up early to ensure you get a table.
What are your favourite things to do in Melbourne? I have to go back to spend more time with friends, visit more places, and find that one alleyway that looked so much like Diagon Alley, I wish I’d taken a photo at the time!