The Australian city of Melbourne, holds a special place in my heart.
The capital of the south eastern state of Victoria, the people of Melbourne have always prided themselves on being a little bit more cultured, a little bit more cosmopolitan than the brasher Sydney-siders.
There is definitely an under-stated charm and quiet confidence about this city, but also a surprising diversity and an ability to adopt and adapt the very best that the world has to offer.
I always think of Melbourne as a city to experience, rather than a city where you need to go and see things. Here’s a quick guide to a few things to experience while you’re there.
If you’re into food then Melbourne’s thriving cafe and restaurant scene is a joy.
I was in town for a birthday dinner and we dined at Huxtable in Collingwood’s Smith Street. A big table of family and friends we tucked into sharing plates of prawn and eggplant fritters; quail and green mango; tuna tartare with yuzu custard; while drinking Great Western’s Jamsheed 'Garden Gully' Syrah. Across the road is their newest offering Huxtaburger which everyone in Melbourne is excited about - no bookings and the queues are long which is always a good sign.
Other options that show Melbourne at its best include:
Often attributed to the early influence of Italian migrants, Melbourne does good coffee. What sets Melbourne apart in the world of caffeine is that good coffee is the norm - it’s a surprise and shock if you’re unfortunate to find somewhere that doesn’t serve good coffee, whereas in so many other cities around the world the reverse is true.
One of my favorites on this visit was Cafe Rosamond in Charles Street, Collingwood. A small neighborhood joint serving up excellent coffee and stand-out breakfast and brunch options. Clearly loved by locals, the atmosphere was relaxed and casual - it was difficult to tell who was working there and who was just calling in for a chat and a coffee.
Other quality coffee options in Melbourne include:
When I was growing up in Australia I had the distinct impression that Melbourne was the only city in the world with a working tram network as part of its public transport system. Having travelled a bit more in recent years, that’s clearly not the case.
Despite their lack of uniqueness, Melburnians are very proud of their trams and they do define the pace and rhythm of the city as they gently whir along their tracks, gently dinging their bells.
I was visiting in November and the weather was warm and sunny - perfect for the outdoor living that Australia does best. However the weather here can be extreme, with cold winters and intensely hot and dry summers.
Some highlights worth considering when planning your visit include:
I’m just going to have one more cafe latte before I leave...