Monday 16 January 2012
In the spring a young woman’s fancy turns to Australia. Is that not how the line goes?
You don’t need to join the library for any of this – and as a bonus, the building itself (which also used to house the collections now in the Melbourne Museum) is wonderful.
Anyway, it’s not spring yet (although it’s been so weirdly mild here that several trees have blossom on them … they’re going to have a rude shock when we get a cold snap, and you know we will) but I am making plans to return to Melbourne in February for a few weeks.
With this in mind, I decided it was high time to publish my hints for Melbourne. In no particular order:
1. Visit the Collingwood Children’s Farm, say hi to Greta the pig, have a coffee at their outdoor café (with complimentary blankets in case it’s chilly) and then saunter over to next-door Abbotsford Convent for a look at the art and a drink at Handsome Steve’s.
2. A walk (and picnic if the weather’s good) in Fitzroy Gardens with stops to find the fairy tree, the model village and the statue of Robbie Burns (the statue is, strictly speaking, in Treasury Gardens which abuts – great word – Fitzroy Gardens.)
3. Be charmed by the home, art collection and stories of Sunday and John Reed and their circle at Heide (and have brunch/lunch/afternoon tea at Café Vue.)
4. Explore everything that the splendidly art nouveau Curtin House on Swanston St has to offer – it’s worth taking the stairs and peeping into the shops and studios on every level. Particular favourites are Metropolis bookshop, Cookie for Thai food and the rooftop bar and cinema.
5. Go on a walking tour of Melbourne’s very happening art scene with Walk to Art. Bernie Alibrando will introduce you to the best of the city’s street art (with a glossary of different types) and take you to artist-run spaces, galleries and studios that you would more than likely never find on your own. The tour starts with a great coffee and ends with cheese and wine. Perfect.
6. Take the tram out to seaside St Kilda on a sunny day. Have coffee and cake at Monarch Cake Shop on Acland St (just beside the terminus of the 96 tram) and then go for a walk along the Espy. (That’s Australian for esplanade.)
7. Enjoy the splendour and colour of Victoria Market in North Melbourne. The stallholders are passionate, the architecture of the original Victorian market building is fabulous, and the food – the food! To fortify yourself, you can get coffee at Market Lane Coffee which may be my favourite coffee shop in all of Melbourne. Maybe.
8. Walk the full length of Gertrude St and try to resist the temptation that so elegantly lines it. Have breakfast at De Clieu, grab pizza to go from Fatto a Mano, drool at the clothes in Obus, buy an exquisite ceramic bowl at Mud Australia (or a hilarious souvenir from Third Drawer Down – are they tea towels or are they art?), drinks at Gertrude St Enoteca and tapas for dinner at Anada.
9. Go to the Indigenous Art Gallery at NGV Australia in Federation Square. For non-Australians (even for Australians) the art is a revelation. Fascinating, colourful, mind-stretching … will give you a heightened appreciation for the history and landscape of Australia.
10. Visit the State Library of Victoria for any of the following reasons:
- the great café, Mr Tulk
- the free wifi
- the comfortable chairs and extensive selection of magazines available in their reading room
- the free exhibitions about the history of Victoria (highlights include Ned Kelly’s armour) and rolling programme of temporary shows