Melbourne – a smug little city

Melbourne is a suave and chic destination. It is also smug. Renowned for its food, bars, appreciation of art and culture, you can fully expect a memorable experience. There has been a long standing rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne, and many claim that is why Canberra, Australia’s capital city, was placed in the middle. Melbourne does not have the natural beauty of Sydney so it makes up for it, by its intensity. The rivalry is absurdly funny, and truth be told, everyone likes both cities for different reasons. However, people from Melbourne do consider that they dress better, have better restaurants and a more modern take on the arts and culture.

Melbourne

Melbourne has a bohemian edge to it. It is known for its excellent food and where coffee, and very good coffee at that, is all-consuming; street performance is a stock standard expectation and football is a religion as opposed to a sport; trams are a necessity and there are 4 seasons in every day, so be prepared.

Melbourne is exceptionally easy to navigate around as it is laid out in a grid-like pattern. Streets going across go like this – Collins St, Little Collins, Bourke St, Little Bourke, Lonsdale and Little Lonsdale – easy. Those running down are mostly named after royalty; King, William, Queen and Elizabeth – simple. And it works for visitors. Of course, as you go outside of the immediate CBD, there are variations. If you drive, you must master the ‘hook’ turn (not for the faint hearted), or walk or tram it.

People who visit Melbourne like to eat, shop, see the sights and to hit the bars, the theatre and music venues. All of these are very well catered for.

Coffee

Walk through the Botanic Gardens on your way to get a proper coffee. This is not hard as Melbourne abounds with baristas. Any of the “little” streets, some cobble stoned are really worth a visit for the ‘first’ fix of the day.

Coffee in Melbourne

Eating

Food is a serious business in Melbourne. The Greeks of which Melbourne has one of the largest populations outside of Greece, dominated Lonsdale Street, but now have a big hold over Oakleigh, Northcote and Fairfield. The Italians own Lygon Street. China Town, of which every capital city in the world seems to have one, has some seriously good food. Thai and Vietnamese food can be found all over the place.

For very serious foodies, MoVida is a very highly considered Spanish tapas venue, whilst Cumulus Inc, Vue de Mond, Flower Drum as well as newcomer Brook are all stars. Indian, Japanese and any other cuisines you desire can be easily found in Melbourne. It is worth the tram ride to the beach side suburb of St Kilda for the cakes found in Acland Street.

Shopping

Whatever you are after you will find it. High end? Have a look at the Chapel Street precinct, South Yarra for designer and cutting edge couture, as well as Collins Street. For bohemian chic, Brunswick St in Fitzroy is well worth going to, and seeing some of the avant-garde art and street theatre as you browse. Southgate and the Docklands are also highly popular. The Melbourne Central shopping Centre is popular and interesting as it built around the historic Coops shot tower and has an enormous glass dome over the top.

Sightseeing

Take the City Circle Tram to have a look around Melbourne and the commentary provides you with very interesting information, and then start walking, which is very easy as it is flat. There is a lot to see. Federation Square in the centre, is a hive of performance art as well as various exhibitions and wine and food tastings. The National Gallery of Victoria has the latest international and national exhibitions as well as the superb static displays. The Old Melbourne Gaol where Ned Kelly, the (in)famous bushranger ended his days with the immortal words “such is life” is an interesting historical visit.  Melbourne abounds with markets and the Queen Victoria Market is a favourite, for fresh food as well as handicrafts and other unique stalls.

Melbourne

If you like your cricket have a look at the MCG, the Melbourne Cricket Ground. For tennis buffs the Rod Laver Arena is a great venue, and for those who like the Grand Prix, Albert Park will satisfy. Look anywhere and you will be reminded of the fixation on football. Oh, and the Melbourne Cup, the horse race that stops the nation, is held at Flemington Race Course.

Entertainment

Melbourne is home to many forms of theatre and these are all well publicised. Melbourne also has a very active comedy scene as well as being a great venue from established and emerging musicians. The city prides itself on being able to embrace all forms of the arts disciplines, and it does.

Staying in Melbourne

Melbourne has some very luxurious and boutique hotels like Como, The Prince, The Cullen, and the Mansion Hotel and Spa set in fabulous gardens, all aimed at making your stay as enjoyable as possible. The concierge services in acquiring tickets and providing good local knowledge is invaluable.

Melbourne is a very likeable city. It is a little smug and precocious in a good way, and considers itself to be a little less showy, but more avant-garde than its rival, Sydney.

Comments (8)

  1. Nicole says:

    I would never label Melbourne a smug city and think this needs to be reconsidered.

    Sydney, on the face, is a smug city but Melbourne not so.
    Melbourne is a ‘proud’ city. We’re proud that we have a big city with such a well balanced lifestyle. We’re proud of our nightlife, bars, laneways, arts and food scene and we’re proud to be the home of sport in Australia.

  2. Stacey says:

    Having married someone from there and lived in the CBD for about a year, I too wouldn’t label the city smug at all. The rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne is similar to that of Boston and New York-in sport, arts, food and the like. Melbourne definitely has heaps of eats, fabulous baristas, an intense love of sports and the arts, interesting lane ways and beaches that are easy to get to. Definitely more seasonal than Sydney, it’s winter is nothing that of the Northeast coast of the states and life of leisure activities can be led year ’round. I loved every minute that I lived there and can’t wait to return each year.

  3. Anastasia says:

    Melbourne has shown contemporary architecture can be beautiful, with developments making the most of its coastal site.

    In every direction, there are house plots for sale far out from the city. Unlike other cities, this means single homes surrounded by neat gardens.

    The airport will be upgraded as will the roads around it. The parking well organised and close to the exits / entrances.

    Well organised special events at marinas with serious money, amongst some traditional Australian architecture.

    Wherever you go there is not one sign of the recession in Melbourne, with never a closed down shop left vacant for years as in England. A city bursting with wealth and new development.

    The drive along the coast is gorgeous. And some of the real estate along it is also serious money and architecture in keeping with the area.

    All in all, Melbourne is a city that shows somewhere where serious money can escape the Eurozone and the young can find work and a chance of a career path.

    Well worth living in, let alone just visiting in luxury.

  4. Renuka says:

    I have been to Melbourne once. I found it to be extremely charming! I loved the trams, streets, cafes, laneways, bakeries and the whole atmosphere!

  5. Hey!

    Melbourne is such an amazing city!
    The best thing is definitely the coffee culture – I miss it so much!

    What is your favourite place in Melbourne? Love to share stories!

  6. davidbrent says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how much hype is written about this city. Its always the same things that are mentioned – food, arts culture and coffee.

    Melbourne has these things, sure – but they pale in comparison with any major or even minor European city. The National Gallery of Victoria is not bad but the rest is pretty mediocre.

    Great coffee – the fact that this is even talked about says a lot in itself – a city of 4 million people can make coffee. Wow.Just Wow.

    The food is hideously expensive – and is pretty bland and samey. And the fact that food is even raised as a point of interest means there is little all else to do.

    The reality living in Melbourne is dull, and the people are dull. I guess I would be too if I spent my days driving on flat, straight roads through identikit suburbs all with their own tacky local high street.

    Finally – the people. When I visited last year, Melbourne has definitely caught the ‘hipster’ bug – again a symptom of it having no real culture of its own.

    Oh – and Anastacia – no one with serious money would ever consider living in Melbourne when they have the rest of the world to choose from. If I was a billionaire, would I be buying some pretentious mock Georgian mansion in Toorak? Its a provincial city at the end of the earth.

  7. In response to the comment by David Brent. I am not sure which Melbourne you visited, but Melbourne Australia has one of the most contemporary food scenes in the world. It is a vibrant and multicultural city that is welcoming of all people. However it is Australia, and Australians don’t take people who take themselves too seriously too well. Is this resonating? You might like to try Gazi, Arbory Bar & Eatery, Entrecôte, Maha, Mastic etc etc etc and then re-assess your comments about the food here. Yes we do have great coffee, and yes it is worth raving about. It deserves all of the wows that you have given it, and maybe one more wow for effect because it outranks coffee anywhere else in the world, and trust me, we have travelled extensively. The people are dull? How very interesting. A multicultural city is dull? A city if such diversity is dull? I am sorry that you had such a bad experience. What happened to make you so bitter?

  8. Mark says:

    I have just come back from Italy (Apr 2017) and so glad to be back in Melbourne where everything works beautifully and people are in general helpful and friendly.
    So proud of my city, it has so much going for it.

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