Melbourne is this epic city in Australia that is full of fun, food, cocktails and shopping. It’s one of the most liveable cities in the world, and after spending nearly 3 years there, I can fully agree with this claim!
The main city centre is a grid-like system of roads for trams to traverse, and then there’s a fine cobweb of alleyways spidering around the entire city. You’ll find plenty of hip and cool bars hidden in these, and insignificant doorways that lead to an amazing rooftop bar that will have you shouting, “I LOVE THIS CITY!” to the skyscrapers.
Of course, don’t forget the inner suburbs that provide different personalities and vibes. There’s something for everyone, whether you like heels and body con dresses or grungy dive bars and vintage apparel. The northern ‘burbs are (in my opinion) the cool areas. I rarely frequented the south of the city as I had found my nook of Melbourne and was perfectly comfortable staying there.
I lived on the border of Fitzroy and Carlton, where bars, venues, vintage shops and coffee shops were in sheer abundance! Leaving this place was heart-breaking, and quite frankly, has ruined my life. Nothing quite compares to life in Melbourne and when you get there you won’t want to leave.
So here’s my rundown on why it will ruin your life too:
1. You’ll never enjoy coffee again:
After living in this city and working in cafes, you get around a bit and taste a wide variety of coffees. It’ll be very rare to taste a bad coffee here, and if you do you can be sure that that business will fail and be a laughing stock. A cafe in Melbourne with shit coffee? Get outta town!
Cafes, such as, South of Johnston (Collingwood suburb), Small Victories (Carlton) and Three Bags Full (Collingwood) are such places where you can inhale the scent of fragrant quality beans and sip away at expertly poured lattes. So when you go back to your home country and pop into random cafes for a pick-me-up, you’ll be bitterly crying into your curdled soy latte while moaning and lamenting the coffee of Australian past-times.
2. Brunch will never taste as good:
Due to the excellent cafe culture in Melbourne, I got a bit addicted to brunches. It was what made my days off an experience to revel in and made me want to declare every Sunday as National Poached Egg and Avocado Day. Wandering in the ole sunshine and popping into your favourite eateries to fill your belly with baked eggs and other treats made my days glow.
A particular favourite was Cafe Lua which was literally opposite my Aussie flat (it is now either closed or under new management) and had amazing Huevos Rancheros, expertly smashed avocado and sweetcorn fritters.
Now I’m back, I trawl the streets in tears continuously searching for a place that has inventive brunch dishes and eggs that are poached to perfection. The good news is that I’ve had to learn to poach eggs and I can now do a pretty mean one. The bad news is that brunch is now a hollow and empty word.
(NB: In Bristol, I have finally found my brunch spiritual home. And that is Bakers & Co on Gloucester Road. Go there.).
3. Alleyways won’t be hiding hidden bars, just dumpsters:
As I previously mentioned, the city centre of Melbourne has muchos hidden bars. It made nights out on the town an adventure where you wouldn’t know what lurks around the next corner and you were never sure if you’d make it out of the labyrinth.
My personal faves were the dive skater bar Sister Bella, the shipping container bar that is Section 8 and the hidden and cute Seamstress bar that had tiny Chinese outfits dangling from the ceiling on coat hangers. You kind of need to know about them to find them as if you stick to the main streets, you wouldn’t have a clue that they were lurking nearby.
Now when I find myself in an alleyway, it’s usually finding people puking in drunken stupors or endless stinking dumpsters. You can try and search for bars as good as Melbourne down these alleys, but you’ll be the crazy person lurking in the darkened corners and will probably be maced.
4. Rooftop bars will have crap views:
Melbourne is a bustling city that is alive and kicking. The skyscrapers of the centre stand proud and tall, making awesome views for everyone. Whether you’re out in the suburbs or sitting on top of a skyscraper, you’re guaranteed to have a sight to behold!
Madame Brussels in the centre has a large balcony on the 7th floor and you can get a good birds eye view of the hustle and bustle. Naked for Satan in Fitzroy is my top choice for a rooftop bar as it’s the tallest building on Brunswick street and you can see for miles on one side and have a perfect view of the city on the other. And of course, there’s Rooftop Bar in the city. You’ll find yourself nestled among the buildings, under the stars with a great drink in hand.
Now I’m no longer in Melbourne, rooftop bars are slim to none. And if you do find a roof top, you’re left worrying whether the floor can take your weight and that this risk is only for a second story view of a brick wall.
5. Charity shopping will be depressing:
There’s nothing more energising than walking into a second hand store where an abundance of cool and quirky clothes greet you at fantastically cheap prices.
Real wool cable-knit jumpers? Vintage dresses in funky colours? Genuine leather loafers? Old ballroom-style dresses that you’d never wear out in public? All of these can be found in Melbourne’s epic warehouses of second-hand treasures, also known as, Savers. These massive stores are strewn in and around Melbourne and will literally have you prancing down the aisles in a fur coat singing ‘Thrift Shop’.
Now I walk into charity shops to only find that anything good was long ago rinsed by hipsters or the owner of the boutique has hiked the prices obscenely high. I find I have to hire a car and drive to the outback of Wales to find shops with ok stuff at proper el cheapo prices. All I wanna do is pop some tags!!
6. Cycling will be terrifying:
I had a lovely powder blue vintage bike in Melbourne that was dubbed ‘The Flying Pigeon’. With bike lanes galore and police officers enforcing the whole ‘cycle with a helmet or you’ll be booked’ thing, you feel pretty darn safe. It helps that Melbourne is flat and there are some roads that are practically dedicated to cyclists, and can whisk you from the tip of the northern suburbs, all the way down to the coast of St Kilda.
In England, if you choose to cycle it’s also called your daily dice with death. Be sure to wear a neon vest with flashing fairy lights strewn across your shoulders, lest angry motorists will purposefully try to mow you down. It’s almost like they have a secret game of how many bikes can you clip before you get home.
And bike lanes? It means nothing to drivers. They think it’s a mere extension of the road that they are allowed to weave in and out of.
7. Outdoor pools won’t be the same. Well, in England we just won’t really bother:
My personal favourites were Fitzroy Pools and Carlton’s out door swimming pool. It certainly helped that they were either a quick stroll away or a fast pedal from my home, but you just can’t beat a refreshing swim under the hot beating Aussies sun!
Fitzroy Pool was certainly a cool place to hang out at during the week, when there were minimal kids screaming and just a bunch of good-looking people strewn poolside.
Now in England, all you have are stinking leisure centre pools with dirty plasters floating in the water. Sure, you could shell out your life savings for a fancy boutique out-door pool attached to a hotel or a fancy tapas bar, but when you’re shivering your pants off on the side, you’ll damn the day you ever felt that Aussie heat which makes an English summer pale in comparison.
8. Themed bars will just feel naff:
Themed bars are certainly a tricky thing to get right. They’re either super naff or just involve the bar staff dressed in some weird get up. The secret to a great themed bar is insane drinks by people who know what they’re doing and the decor has to be friggin’ cool.
The LuWow is a tikki bar which is decked out to the nines. I think the interior decorators worled on movie sets so they knew what would make a great voodoo style bar! The huge cocktails also add to the fun. Kodiak Club is an American style bar that specialises in bourbon and Buffalo Wings. There’s even a wing eating contest like a true Yank bar, and dancing on the bar sometimes happens. It’s all fun and games though until someone gets bit on the arm.
Black Pearl is a swanky cocktail bar which is dimly lit and feels like a speakeasy. The staff are suited up to the nines and the low vintage, mismatched seating will get you sinking deep with your cocktail. And lastly, how could I not mention the Croft Institute?? Hidden down an alley in the city, the first floor is like a scientists lab with test tubes and other experimental apparatus. It’s uber cool ,and apparently there’s another level with fake grass, but I don’t think I was ever sober enough to make it up those stairs.
Out of Melbourne, bars are full of Hawaiian leis that are either sticky plastic or wilted and sad. ‘Speakeasy’ bars consist of the odd velvet lamp shade, and all in all, it leaves you wondering why you paid the jacked up prices to be surrounded by half-arsed decorations. Poor show.
9. Bar work? Forget about it!
When I was in ole Melbz, the dollar was hugely strong. I couldn’t help counting up my cash and calculating how much in British pounds it was. And the amount I could earn was mind blowing.
The hourly rate for bar work averages at about $18 per hour, and if you’re a cocktail wonder you could easily be bringing in $23 – $29 per hour. That means a 6 hour shift could get your mitts on nearly $150 which was a weeks rent where I was living. And if you get paid in cash at the end of every shift, you find yourself throwing the cash around your bedroom screaming “I’M A MILLIONAIRE, BITCHEZ!!”
Back in England, I was scraping a ridiculous low £7 per hour in bar work. Now that, my friends, is depressing. Especially when you have to deal with drunken louts who puke in pint glasses and you have to pretend that the customer is always right. Hell no!
10. Street parties just won’t be cool.
Alley way parties and street festivals are a thing of summer norm in Melbourne. There’s always some bar event, some gallery opening or some excuse to party in the streets! And when a legendary cafe, like the arty Juddy Roller in Fitzroy, closes off an entire street to have a shindig with free beer and live graffiti, you really feel like the city is embracing life.
Back in England, the police are out in hordes just waiting for some dickhead/innocent bystander to do something before they whip out the mace and batons. Bristol does have some awesome carnivals though, and St Paul’s Carnival is a top one to attend where everyone gets loose and messy in a whole neighbourhood! I do love Notting Hill Festival in London, especially as the police get into the twerking spirit of things. But i just wish they did things like Melbourne more often.
So all in all, don’t bother going to Melbourne unless you’ve got a chance to live there forever. Once you step foot in that city, you’re bound to it for life and everything just seems naff in comparison. Life ruined.
1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17 via my talented gal Jennifer Aitchison, image 5 Sophie Saint, image 6 Giphy, image 8 Giphy, image 9 & 16 via my lovely lady Ella Hope, image 10 Giphy, image 14 Meet Up, video YouTube.