Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Funky Melbourne

I've just returned from a few days in Melbourne, Australia, and had a great time visiting familiar haunts and hanging out with family.  The main purpose of this trip was to attend a nephew's wedding which was a beautiful, joyous occasion,  however, while there, I took the opportunity to enjoy many of the interesting corners of this lively, bustling, artistic city.

Hosier Lane - the graffiti in this lane is prized and a  real tourist attraction.
  The Movida bar is atmospheric and has a fantastic range of tapas.

Melbourne is a big city, the capital of the state of Victoria it has a population of more than 4 million in mainly low rise housing that sprawls over a vast area nevertheless I spent most of my time in and around the city centre and was never at a loss as to how to fill my day.  Simply wandering the streets is as much fun as anything but the city does have a lot to offer. Here are some of my picks and hints for some of the funky things to see and do in Melbourne City.  I will do further posts looking at different aspects of Melbourne later.

Howey Place
Laneways: I love the Laneways of Melbourne.  These tiny lanes were originally access points and delivery lanes for businesses fronting onto major streets but they have since become destinations in their own right.  Now crammed with cafes and boutiques  many of them have a personality all their own. Some of the coffee shops are tiny and make wonderful coffee They are great places to hang out with a cup and watch the world go by. Hosier Lane absolutely covered in artistic graffiti is a major tourist destination, Hardware Lane, full of restaurants and cafes, has a very european feel to it while Howey Place boasts designer boutiques amongst the cafes.

I also love Block Arcade.  This is not a "lane" but a beautifully elegant arcade with wonderful architecture and home to the very popular Hopetoun Tearooms.

That's me, in white jeans, photographing me on the giant screen
in Federation Square
Federation Square: Right on the banks of the Yarra River, which flows through the heart of Melbourne, the square is  known as "the" meeting place in Melbourne.  This large sloping square is a buzzy, funky place.  It is where festivals are held, I lucked into an International Cultural Festival while I was there. It is also the location of the visitors centre.  It's a bit of a mission to get down the long staircase to it, alright for me but not for the aged or infirm, but it offers very good service  The Art Gallery at Federation Square is an absolute must.  It is a wonderful gallery with constantly evolving exhibitions.  The adjoining Ian Potter Centre is a fantastic place to familiarise yourself with aboriginal culture and art. And after all that just grab a sandwich and sit by the peaceful, gently flowing Yarra for a quiet interlude.  There is also free Wifi in the square.
The National Art Gallery at Federation Square, in front of the Cathedral
 spire on the banks of the Yarra River
An interesting and definitely
"funky" sculpture at the
National Gallery

Street artist, working in pastels, on Swanston Street

Street Artists:  I enjoyed Melbourne's street artists and performers.  There is such a variety of artists doing all sorts of things and they are very good.  Lingering for a few minutes to watch a performance always brought a smile to my face.  The good thing is if you don't like a performer you just keep walking.

Trams: Melbourne has a wonderful tram system. I've included it in my "funky" posting because some of the trams truly are old and funky....but great fun.  They are frequent and fast and get you to most places around the city and inner suburbs. The best thing for tourists is the free tram which circles the city centre in both directions and includes an informative commentary. I made very good use of this on several occasions. The city is beautifully laid out in a grid system so it is very easy to find your way around and never too far to walk from the free tram to your inner city destination.