Melbourne is an amazing city with a really cool vibe. When I first came in from the airport, I was reminded of Chicago in summer. The broad highways leading up to a gorgeous skyline could have been the exact same, if only the bus was on the right side of the road. I stayed in the lovely area of St. Kilda, which is right on the beach and has great restaurants and a cute, vintage feel. When I headed into the city, I was lucky enough to have tons of recommendations from two lovely locals I met during my internship, Mel and Elsie (Thanks, girls!). They let me know about some amazing spots, and I’ll share them with you!
I started the day by hopping on the tram into the city. The trams are super easy to use, all you need is a myki card, which you can get at bigger stops or the old Thailand favorite, 7-11. The tram from St.Kilda takes you right to my first stop of the day- the Royal Botanic Gardens. Walking in, I was again reminded of home. It was strikingly similar to one of my absolute favorite places in the Chicago suburbs- the Morton Arboretum. Both have cute cafes, gift shops, and lovely trees and flowers as soon as you walk in. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Royal Botanic Gardens, unlike the Arboretum, are free, though there is a place to make a donation if you’d like. I began to walk around, with no particular destination in mind. There are helpful signs along the path that point out different notable features. Getting hungry, I headed towards the tea rooms. I walked by palm trees, small ponds, and cute little shelters on my way there. The tea rooms themselves consisted of a little café by a pond (where you could get rowed around on an adorable gondola-style boat) that had pretty good food served by a nice lady who adorably called me “darling” in every sentence.
After lunch I headed back out to explore the rest of the gardens. I came across an adorable rose garden, a “California” garden, and one filled with tons of cacti. My favorite part was Guilfoyle’s Volcano, which as you probably guessed is not a volcano at all. Instead it is a water reservoir, with “islands” on top that help keep the water clean. It was really lovely.
Leaving the gardens, I crossed the street to the Shrine of Remembrance. This monument serves as a memorial to the Australian soldiers who have died in war. It’s a very well done monument, with a nice view of the city.
My next stop was Eureka Skytower. It was an easy walk from the Shrine of Remembrance, on a street filled with joggers next to some pleasant green spaces. As I approached the tower, the area had more of a true city feel. I realized how much I had missed walking by skyscrapers in a big city. Walking in, the line to pay was very short and I was quickly on the elevator up to the 88th floor. The views were stunning. Melbourne has a beautiful skyline, and the water in the background is just the cherry on top. I enjoyed the view as I waited for my turn to experience “The Edge”, an attraction at the Skytower that involves standing in a glass box that moves out of the building, so that you can see the street below you. It’s a bit cheesy, and you can’t take any of your own pictures. However, I think it was worth it, if only because as I was buying my photo, I saw that the Vengaboys had done it. Who wouldn’t want to stand in the same place as the Vengaboys?
After the Skytower, I decided to wander a bit. I feel like this is the best way to see a city, just walking anywhere that seems cool without a plan or a map. I ended up walking by Federation Square, and down a street near the river. As I walked down, I started seeing signs for an exhibition of Banksy works. I decided to check it out, and while it wasn’t much, it was free and there was a pretty cool painting of Kanye. I kept walking, and came to a bridge near the Cricket Grounds that played traditional music from a bunch of different countries. I walked over to Yarra Park, and after sitting for a bit decided to head back the way I came toward Hosier Lane. On the way, an area of metal sculptures was playing Christmas songs. It was a bit surreal, as although Christmas is days away, the weather here and in Thailand has made me feel like summer simply never ended.
I made my way to Hosier Lane, one of Melbourne’s famous laneways known for its street art. It’s definitely worth a look, if not for the graffiti itself, then for all of the tourists taking selfies along the walls.
As it approached dinner time, I walked back along the river. I approached Southgate Mall, which advertised restaurants within. After doing a round checking out my options, I surprised myself by opting for Japanese instead of something cheese-filled. I enjoyed a vegetarian bento box and a beer as I read my book. Afterwards, I found a bench along the river and just watched the sunset. I took in the beautiful view until my phone died, and I got back on the tram back to the hostel. It was my ideal day, filled with moments where I felt immersed in nature and in awe of the city. I really love Melbourne, and I will definitely have to make a trip back!
All my love ❤