As this post goes up, Chris and I are on our way to the pub in a little town in New South Wales called Huskissen. Since leaving Melbourne around a week ago we have been making our lazy way along the stunning coast of NSW, stopping for an amazing long weekend in Malua Bay with my cousin, her partner and their two adorable doggies. We ate prawns on the beach at sunset, swam at some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen in my life, and I rode a mountain bike for the first time. But more on that story later, because I still have to spare a little internet space to celebrate the kooky hippy that is Melbourne.
Chris and I are not really city people. Too noisy, too populous and not enough green space. But Aussie cities seem to agree with us, in short bursts. Adelaide was super because the entire city centre is ringed by protected parks, and the whole place has a great relaxed vibe to it. Melbourne likes to dress posh, with shiny skyscrapers and a suave city attitude, but underneath she is a beach bum with a passion for food, just like us. I’ve heard that Sydney can be more like London – unnecessarily hectic and work-oriented, but that is all to look forward to. Here are five things that we loved about the Victoria capital.
Festivals, festivals, festivals
During our first day of exploring central Melbourne Chris and I stumbled upon a sustainability fair, featuring an eco home, an electric car display, and a rapping compost heap.
Chris works in sustainability and is the biggest save-the-world hippy you will ever meet, so he loved it. And I loved it because I am also a save-the-world hippy, I appreciate a compost heap that can bust rhymes as much as the next gal, and because some glorious person or persons unknown had friggin’ YARN BOMBED the surrounding trees. Gotta love a good yarn bomb.
After grooving along to the funky compost we stumbled across a Greek food festival in Lonsdale Street. Eeerrrhhmaahghaad souvlaki omnomnomnomnom. And liquid nitrogen ice cream for afters. None of which got photographed because we were too busy eating it at the time and getting lamb chunks everywhere.
Our AirBnB hostess directed us towards the Chinese New Year food stalls near the casino, so we watched dragon dances and drumming demonstrations while chowing down on pad thai, fried rice cakes and char sui pork buns.
And if all that wasn’t enough the following day we found our way to Degraves Street for brunch. French toast for me yes please thank you very much om nom nom nom. I really need to get some surfing done now, I have a Melbourne food baby.
Strictly Ballroom, the musical
I shouldn’t admit this in Australia, but I don’t really rate Baz Lurhman that much. Except for Strictly Ballroom, the greatest movie ever.
My Australian relatives periodically sent us DVDs of classic Australian films (Adventures of Priscilla, Breaker Morant, Picnic at Hanging Rock), and when we were given this one I watched it obsessively. Time After Time is my frigging jam.
I didn’t even know that it was a musical until we got off the tram at Flinders Street Station and saw a giant billboard ad for it. Chris took a deep breath (because he hates musicals but is a wonderful husband) and said we should go to the theatre to enquire about matinee tickets. We snagged two grand circle seats for a performance that afternoon, and it was wonderful. I got so teary at the end when Doug asks Shirley to dance! I really hope that the show transfers to the UK at some point, because then I can go and see it all over again.
I’m a fabric hound in the big city, so this had to happen. After our epic brunch antics, Chris and I wondered back up Flinders Lane to Tessuti. I deposited Chris on the husbands and boyfriends chair, and set to browsing their beautiful assortment of linens. It’s such a lovely, bright, airy space, and everything is beautifully displayed.
The prices are the same as the UK, so I was very restrained and bought myself one pattern – the Laura Pants – and a beautiful white and blue striped linen to make them in. This project has just jumped to the top of the list for when I get home in April. I reckon they’ll be amazing for UK summer with a plain white shirt or tee, and some simple flat sandals.
The Formula 1 circuit
I would be a poor wife indeed if I didn’t mention this. Melbourne is getting ready to host the season opener on March 15th, so the hoardings are going up, the grandstands are being built and the gravel traps are under construction.
We drove along the start/finish straight, which was still open to the public, not once, not twice, but three times. I love the F1 too, but not as much as Chris, who adores everything from the race itself to the seriously technical differences between the cars. So it makes me pretty happy to see him so giddy!