01. Get your arts fix
Laneway bars and street art are the conjoined twins of Melbourne’s underground cultural life. Their inseparable nature is showcased in the likes of Hosier Lane, where aerosol artists can often be seen working in broad daylight on the exterior walls of acclaimed tapas bar MoVida (movida.com.au) and its sibling bodega, Bar Tini (bartini.com.au). The truly bohemian go for a gander to AC/DC Lane, where the band’s first lead singer, Bon Scott, is reborn as a 3D sculpture emerging from the wall of the raucous rock ’n’ roll Cherry Bar (cherrybar.com.au).
02. Be a culture vulture
Melbourne’s thriving arts scene is no stranger to the blockbuster, be it headline exhibitions at the National Gallery of Victoria (ngv.vic.gov.au) or masterpieces at Heide Museum of Modern Art (heide.com.au) and the best names on the comedy circuit at The Comic’s Lounge (thecomicslounge.com.au). The city’s artistic desire is also satisfied by the quirky and unique, from the adventurous modern-art collection of the Lyon Housemuseum (lyonhouse museum.com.au), viewed in the owners’ remarkable modern Kew residence, to the clever cabaret at South Melbourne’s kitsch-to-the-max Butterfly Club (thebutterflyclub.com).
03. Shop then drop
If Melbourne is our fashion capital, the glittering Emporium (emporiummelbourne.com.au) is its Parliament House, bringing together a host of big names in international and Australian design. For clothing with a more vintage bent, there’s no beating Chapel Street’s Windsor end, where cowboy boots and retro dresses are de rigueur. But to really sink your retail teeth into the city’s independent labels such as the whimsical prints and quirky colours of Obus (obus.com.au) or the boho-chic of Megan Park (meganpark.com.au), take your credit card directly to Fitzroy’s Gertrude Street.
04. Put your game face on
Walking the Tan Track around the Royal Botanic Gardens (rbg.vic.gov.au) is more than an obsession here – it’s a patriotic duty. After completing the 3.8kilometre circuit, let your feet take you across the river to the nearby Melbourne Cricket Ground and the National Sports Museum (nsm.org.au), where you can test your bowling skills against a hologram of Warnie and see Bradman’s baggy green. And to clock one up for only-in-Melbourne pride, try a game of Trugo (trugo.org. au), the mallet-and-rubber-ring sport invented by Newport railway workers in the 1920s.
05. CELEBRATE IN ST KILDA
The city’s most storied bayside ’burb, which has played host to artists and adventurers, musicians and muses, remains one of the most colourful areas. Take a walk along the historic pier, say hello to the penguin colony that waddles ashore at sunset near the breakwater (stkildapenguins.com.au) and pop into the revamped Hotel Esplanade (hotelesplanade.com.au) for live music in one of three band rooms. Get a grip on the ’hood that Nick Cave, Sidney Nolan and Mirka Mora have called home by booking a table at Café Di Stasio (distasio.com.au), where champagne cork marks on the ceiling bear witness to 30 years of fun overseen by ebullient owner Ronnie Di Stasio. If it’s festivities of a more low-key kind you’re after, grab a game of barefoot bowls and a beer at the St Kilda Sports Club (stkildasportsclub.com.au).
Take a break from St Kilda’s bustle with a stroll along the boardwalk