Friday 6 September 2019

Inside Guide to Melbourne (Part 4: South)

Continuing my guide to Melbourne's hotspots, taken from a downloadable guide I once wrote which is no longer available in that format (don't worry, I've updated it). Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Visit Victoria

Day 3 – Cross the River

Gritty laneways and converted shopfronts have their appeal, but Melbourne’s natural attractions are also worth seeing. Catch any tram except the number 1 down St Kilda Road to Stop 19. Walk across the road and up the green slopes beyond, pausing at the impressive Shrine of Remembrance and the old Melbourne Observatory, then enter the Royal Botanic Gardens.

This vast and beautiful collection of plant life is arranged between green lawns and a lake, and is threaded by pathways and dotted with decorative buildings. Created from a swampy arm of the Yarra River in the 19th century, the gardens are the lungs of central Melbourne. Wander, admire, then stretch out on the grass and enjoy the serenity.

Find it:
Shrine of Remembrance (Birdwood Ave,
Melbourne Observatory (Birdwood Ave,
Royal Botanic Gardens (Birdwood Ave,

Photo courtesy of Visit Victoria

Cakes and the bay

Catch a number 3a or number 16 tram from St Kilda Road to the bayside suburb of St Kilda. Overlooking the broad, placid waters of Port Phillip Bay, this area has long been Melbourne’s playground.

A short walk from Stop 138 (Luna Park/Esplanade) is Acland Street, famous for its old-fashioned cake shops which were set up by an early wave of migrants from Central Europe; my favourite is the Europa.

Walking along the Esplanade, you encounter some magnificent buildings including the Palais Theatre, which often hosts live music, and the Coney Island-style Luna Park with its famous roller-coaster and other amusement park rides.

For lunch at a local secret unknown to the tourist hordes, visit Cowderoy’s Dairy. This former grocery is now home to a popular cafĂ© within a residential zone, overlooking a small park.

After that, if the weather is warm enough, take a dip in the bay at sandy St Kilda Beach, or relax in the palm-tree-studded Catani Gardens. If you feel like some exercise, follow the trail for walking, cycling and rollerblading which stretches from St Kilda to Port Melbourne, with continuous water views.

Find it:
Europa Cake Shop (81 Acland St,
Palais Theatre (12 Lower Esplanade,
Luna Park (18 Lower Esplanade,
Cowderoy’s Dairy (14 Cowderoy St,

Fine food and entertainment on tap

In the evening, have dinner at one of the many restaurants on busy Fitzroy Street, St Kilda. You could treat yourself to tasty Mediterranean dishes at Prince Dining Room, or top-quality modern Chinese food at Lau’s Family Kitchen.

To finish the evening you have two options: either take in a new Australian theatre production at Theatre Works, or enjoy some live music at the Esplanade Hotel. The Espy, as it’s affectionately known, is the home of live music in St Kilda and often has free gigs in its basement bar. With a beer in hand and live music to listen to, it’s a great place to end your Melbourne visit.

Find it:
Prince Dining Room (2 Acland St,
Lau’s Family Kitchen (4 Acland St,
Theatre Works (14 Acland St,
Esplanade Hotel (11 The Esplanade,


There’s so much more to see in Melbourne. If you have more time, check out the ultra-modern architecture of Federation Square and visit its great museums, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and the National Gallery of Victoria. Take the lift to the Eureka Skydeck at the top of the strikingly modern Eureka Tower and dangle above the city streets via its Edge Experience.

Even better, jump on one of the city’s iconic trams at random and explore a neighbourhood along the route. You never know what you might discover.

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