SEVEN ICONIC THINGS TO DO AT MELBOURNE’S FAVOURITE SEASIDE DESTINATION. BY MARY O’BRIEN.
1 Spot a Penguin
Join the crowds and stroll down St Kilda Pier, past the historic St Kilda Kiosk, to see the sun slide into the sea at sunset. Continue further down the breakwater to catch a glimpse of the little penguin colony (now numbering more than 1,000) right in the heart of the city. Summer is the best time to spot the little guys as it’s breeding season. Volunteers ask you to turn off your flash and leave your selfie stick at home. The pier offers spectacular views of Melbourne city and Little Blue restaurant is a good spot to enjoy it all.
St Kilda Esplanade. Photo: Chris Cassar Photography Pty Ltd. 2 Shop till you Drop
Every Sunday the St Kilda Esplanade Market is thronged with people fossicking through the 140 art and craft stalls. The market, which has been going since the 1970s, is full of interesting characters and their handmade wares. Also keep an eye out for the monthly Veg Out farmers’ market for local produce.
3 Ride a Rickshaw
Just a short (#96, #16 or #12) tram ride from the city, St Kilda Beach has been drawing in the crowds since the 19th century. Not a place to rest on its laurels, the foreshore is having a facelift. The iconic Stokehouse restaurant on the beachfront reopened in November. Grab a fish ’n’ chips from Paper Fish or try the popular restaurants inside. Next door the St Kilda Life Saving Club has just reopened while the famous Palais Theatre is under wraps for a $20 million restoration (but still operating as a live music venue). The St Kilda Foreshore Trail is a lovely 11-kilometre walk. Why not order a St Kilda Rickshaw to pick you up at the end for an unforgettable lazy ride home?
4 Play Time
The young, and the not so young, will enjoy the rides of Luna Park while teens flock to the skate park near St Kilda Marina. The adventurous might like to get a bird’s eye view by jumping from a plane over St Kilda Beach with Skydive Australia. Join the locals for a swim at St Kilda Sea Baths, a dip in the sea outside, and then warm up in the spa.
5 Do a Cake Crawl
A cake crawl down Acland Street is a must—visitors ogle the windows of the cake shops that have been sweetening lives since the 1930s. Start your day with a delicious brekkie at Il Fornaio, try lunch at buzzy Fitzrovia overlooking the park and maybe a sunset drink at Republica on the beachfront. Join the bright young things at newish Matcha Mylkbar, a vegan café known for its beetroot lattes. For dinner, Good Food Guide stalwarts include Cicciolina, Café Di Stasio, Lau’s Family Kitchen, Circa, Araliya and Luxembourg. Donovans is for celebrating within a splash of the sea while Claypots cooks up sea critters to perfection.
6 Toast Your Friends
Wonder where the locals go for a drink? Misery Guts (it’s anything but) is a relaxed watering hole in a historic building on Grey Street. Run by Jules Pleadin, it has a great drinks list and snacky bites. Try the St. Hotel for a cool drink, Lona for pintxos or The Snug Public House, a new Irish pub. For gourmet cheese and wine, head to Milk the Cow fromagerie.
7 Be Creative
St Kilda has always been a haven for artists and creative types. On the quiet end of Acland Street, look at the beautiful historic mansions, including Linden New Art, which has been a gallery for 30 years. There’s always an interesting show on and it’s a good place to pick up reasonably priced art. Pop into Tolarnos Hotel to see the famous murals by legendary Mirka Mora. For edgy street art, explore the laneways off Acland Street.