Melbourne, the world’s most liveable city
Please forgive us Melburnians when we constantly remind you that our city has been voted the world’s most liveable, seven years running. With city beaches reached by tram, a buzzing art scene, the country’s best food and coffee and year-round sports festivals, we can afford a little pride.
Jump on board one of the city’s landmark trams, which criss-cross the metropolis. Travel within the city centre is free. You’ll spot blue bikes for hire around the city from $3, perfect for following the inner-city bike tracks (melbournebikeshare.com.au). For longer distances, the city has trains and buses that traverse its sprawling suburbs (ptv.vic.gov.au).
This is one of the world’s great street-art cities – don’t be shy about heading down a laneway in the name of art. Hosier Lane is the best-known street-art gallery in the city, while nearby Centre Place, Duckboard Place and Caledonian Lane are also top scorers.
For murals that span several storeys, the nearby suburb of Fitzroy features works by RONE, Adnate and Smug.
Being a street-art tour guide is now a viable job and streetart tours abound – hit up theblenderstudios.com for tours led by the artists themselves.
For a great overview of the city, head up to Skydeck 88 at the top of the Eureka Tower, Melbourne’s tallest skyscraper (eurekaskydeck.com.au).
Sport lovers, you are among friends. The city’s social calendar is bookended by two world sporting events: January for tennis at the Australian Open and November for the spring racing carnival, crowned by the ‘horse race that stops the nation,’ the Melbourne Cup.
This is also home of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Even if you’re not catching an Australian Football League (AFL) game, a cricket match, or taking a tour of the revered stadium, you can visit the National Sports Museum (mcg.org.au).
To be seen among the trim and terrific, don the lycra and take a walk or jog around ‘the Tan’, the 3.8-kilometre running track through the Royal Botanic Gardens.
The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is renowned for its coups in the art world – this year’s Winter Masterpiece, opening in June, is an exhibition of masterworks from New York’s iconic Museum of Modern Art (ngv.vic.gov.au).
The gallery is split across two sites – on St Kilda Road and at Federation Square, which houses its permanent exhibition of landmark Australian artworks. Beside the NGV, the Arts Centre Melbourne is home to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the new Australian Music Vault, a celebration of pub rock and singer Kylie Minogue’s hotpants.
A key event on Melbourne’s arts calendar is the annual White Night, where the city shines with light installations from dusk until dawn (whitenight.com.au).
Fitzroy’s Rose Street Artists’ Market draws lovers of creativity every weekend (60 Rose Street, Fitzroy, rosestmarket.com.au).
As the skyscrapers attest, the city centre is Melbourne’s business heart. Much of the business networking is done over coffee, a local obsession.
If you need a meeting place, suggest long-timer Brunetti’s new Flinders Lane cafe and order coffee and cannoli like a local (250 Flinders Lane, brunetti.com.au).
For river views with your business meeting, slip into Arbory, wedged between the Yarra River and the city’s main train terminus, Flinders Street Station (1 Flinders Walk, city, arbory.com.au).
For hot-desking options, try depo8 in hip Prahran (depo8. com), while One Roof Women is a co-working and event space for women-led businesses (oneroofwomen.com).
Chadstone Shopping Centre, in the south-eastern suburbs, is the country’s largest shopping mall, while Emporium in the CBD is its most glitzy.
In the suburbs of Fitzroy and Collingwood, Gertrude, Brunswick and Smith streets are hubs for fashion, jewellery and shoes – designed and often also made locally.
Queen Victoria Market and South Melbourne Market are colourful and a good place to stock up for a picnic, perfectly roasted coffee, and possibly a kangaroo-skin wallet (qvm.com.au, southmelbournemarket.com.au).
Cosy up with a bushranger – 1880s gold-rush outlaw Ned Kelly is depicted by Australian artist Adam Cullen at the Art Series Hotels’ Prahran property, The Cullen (164 Commercial Road, Prahran, artserieshotels.com.au).
New on the scene, QT Melbourne blends lavish luxury with wild-eyed art installations, not to mention a stellar rooftop bar (133 Russell Street, qthotelsandresorts. com), while the signature shot of the 34-room Adelphi is its pool overhanging the streets below (187 Flinders Lane, adelphi.com.au).
The waterfront precincts are finally growing up. The newest accommodation at Southbank is the Novotel Melbourne South Wharf (7 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf, accorhotels.com), while further around, the Four Points by Sheraton in Docklands is easy on the hip pocket – and the tram pulls up right out the front (443 Docklands Drive, Docklands, fourpointsmelbournedocklands. com).
In a town that loves to eat, put a few key eat streets on your radar, including Little Bourke Street in Chinatown for plump dumplings and slurpable noodles.
Chapel Street, in Windsor, heaves with cafes catering to the latest health whim, designer turmeric/ matcha/ beetroot lattes or pulledpork breakfast plates, while St Kilda’s Acland Street is renowned for its cake scene – perfect after a walk along the beach promenade.
And don’t be shy about veering off down the city’s alleyways. In fact, the laneways are where some of the best food is found, from Peruvian to top modern Australian.
In Ripponlea, Attica is currently ranked 32nd in the World’s Best Restaurants (74 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea, attica.com.au), while sky-high Vue de Monde, in the CBD’s Rialto Tower, is a winner for its unsurpassed views and ultrafine dining (525 Collins Street, city, vuedemonde.com.au). Crown Melbourne has a string of riverfront fine-dining restaurants (Southbank, crownmelbourne.com.au).
Each March, the city goes foodmad for the Melbourne Food & Wine festival, with more than 300 events (melbournefoodandwine.com.au).
The rule of thumb when drinking in Melbourne is that the smaller the bar, the better the drinks. Take, for instance, the world-renowned Bar Americano in the CBD, with room for just 10 drinkers (20 Presgrave Place, baramericano.com).
A broad brushstroke of Victorian wines is found at Smithward (48 Smith Street, Collingwood, smithward.com.au).
Rooftop bars are plentiful – try Madame Brussels for croquet and quirk (59 Bourke Street, city, madamebrussels.com), socially conscious Feast of Merit (117 Swan Street, Richmond, feastofmerit.com) or elegant Siglo, which overlooks the floodlit Victorian parliament (11 Spring Street, city, siglobar.com.au).
Airileke Ingram, below, is a Papua New Guinean-Australian drummer, percussionist and music producer. He has performed in bands including Yothu Yindi and Telek. In 2015, he co-directed the Pacific Games opening ceremony in Port Moresby. His family comes from Gabagaba village, in Central Province (onepagelink.com/ Airileke/). I love Melbourne because …
it’s one of the best music cities and the best coffee city in the world. Summertime is for festivals, and the hip-hop culture is alive and well here in ‘Burn City’, with DJs like world champ DJ Dexter.
A great night out is … Sunday nights at The Horn for Ethiopian jazz, then the Night Cat to check out a 15-piece live Latin band before kicking on at to the Evelyn for hip-hop or reggae: all three are walking distance from each other (thehorncafe.com.au, thenightcat. com.au, evelynhotel.com.au).
We all gather at … the Lomond pub in East Brunswick. It’s just across the road from my recording studio and they’ve got a soft spot for PNG. There’s not a very big PNG community in Melbourne, so I recommend linking up with our
wantoks from the West Papuan community. They also have the very popular Black Orchard String band.
The best sport is … the ‘Dreamtime at the G’ game between Essendon and Richmond, an annual match dedicated to recognising indigenous people.
Don’t forget to … pay respects to the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, papa graun lain (land owners) of Melbourne. See the permanent Aboriginal art exhibition at the National Gallery or Museum (ngv.com.au), which happens to be looked after by Tolai artist Lisa Hilli.
By night ... Melbourne has a thriving food and bar scene, with some of the city's finest places tucked down laneways in the CBD.
Art form ... Hosier Lane (left); Brunswick Street (above).
Water views ... the Arbory stretches alongside the Yarra River.
City attractions ... Chinatown (opposite page); Gertrude Street (above left); Bar Americano (above).