Novak Djokovic may have left Melbourne in a grump — but the show goes on in this great sporting city as the Australian Open tennis championships take centre stage.
It is a beautiful city.
Melbourne may not have a fancy opera house like the one in Sydney, but it is home to a buzzing arts scene, a brilliant cricket ground — and some of the best food in Australia. No wonder it’s so often at the top of the world’s best places to live lists.
Melbourne is home to a vibrant arts scene and a great cricket ground. It also has some of Australia’s best food.
For most of the past decade, Australia’s second biggest city has come first or second in the Economist’s Global Liveability Index, ahead of the likes of Tokyo, Toronto and, yes, Sydney.
Many visitors, even those who are well-traveled, fall madly in love with the area. One example is Sir Andy Murray.
It is small and easy to reach all the activities. There are few that are costly and many that are absolutely free.
For most of the past decade, Melbourne has come first or second in the Economist’s Global Liveability Index
Federation Square is an excellent place to begin exploring. A bustling open space for free concerts, screenings and events, it’s opposite the hub of Flinders Street Station (with its famous 13 clocks), and right on the River Yarra.
Most of the city’s biggest attractions are within ten minutes’ walk of here, from the peaceful Botanic Gardens to the looming concrete bowl of the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
It’s the world’s biggest cricket stadium and probably the most famous after Lord’s. Its 160-plus-year history offers a glimpse into the soul of Australian sport psyche.
Melbourne is famous for its ‘four seasons in one day’ weather, but it’s still an active city. The parks south of the city are crowded with walkers, cyclists and walkers, while eight-person rowing boats fill the river.
But you don’t need to join the Lycra-clad hordes running The Tan — a 2.2 mile former horse-riding circuit. Many walking paths can be found along the riverbanks or over bridges that lead to the abundant green spaces. It is an excellent way to learn how to navigate the city and get out of your comfort zone.
Australia is quite far from the UK. However, it is well worth spending a couple of days in Melbourne for anyone who makes the journey.
Melbourne’s balanced celebration of art and food is a big part of its uniqueness. The city values both high-quality coffee and fine cuisine and street art as much as the best. You’ll find the latter in the galleries around Federation Square — while the colourful graffiti is an intrinsic part of Melbourne’s ‘laneway’ culture.
The narrow streets between main roads were once home to dingy garages. Now they’re home to coffee shops, artisan jewellers and indie clothes shops.
Degraves Street is the most popular, and Centre Place is also nearby. However, there are many elegant arches throughout the city, and some boho cut-throughs.
Hosier Lane and others are approved for street art. These images are often funny and poignant. A graffiti artist teaches a class to tourists on spray-can technique.
Melburnians can be equally curious about food. The past 60 years have seen a huge influx of immigrants from Africa, Asia and Europe, and with residents from more than 200 countries it’s no surprise the food, particularly in Flinders Lane, is as diverse as anywhere in the world.
Then there’s Footscray. The poorest immigrant community settled in this area, which is ten minutes away from the center. These were either Vietnamese or Ethiopian refugees, who arrived with little. It’s not going to win any prizes for architecture — think 1970s pedestrianised precinct — but the food scene is amazing. It’s also cheap.
Melbourne Cricket Ground (foreground) is the world’s biggest cricket stadium and probably the most famous after Lord’s
Streets are crowded with restaurants, bakeries, and delis. The streets are crowded with people waiting to get baguettes, Vietnamese buns, freshly made Ethiopian coffee, and doughnuts. There are five kinds of melon and dozens of chillis on the market.
‘They come from Sydney to taste my kitfo,’ says Abdul Hussein outside his restaurant, Konjo. It’s hard to believe that I just regretfully ate the last bit of Abdul Hussein’s doro wat chicken and some Ethiopian bread.
Australia is quite far from the UK. For those that make it, however, Melbourne is worth a visit. Sport lovers will love it.