Welcome to Melbourne – consistently voted one of the world’s most liveable cities.
Melbourne’s unofficial northern
boundary begins at the corner of Swanston and La Trobe streets; all you will
need from here are good walking shoes and regular coffee stops.
La Trobe Street is where
you can catch the free City
Circle Tram, a Melbourne icon and a great way to get a sense of the city. For
now, though, walk south down Swanston Street; you will see the regal State
Library of Victoria on your left, where you can absorb the bookish
atmosphere or seek out one of the exhibitions and informative talks on offer. On
the weekend, you will find throngs of people lying on the grass, street dancers
breaking down to boombox tunes and soapbox orators ranting.
Continue along Swanston Street
past the modern QV
shopping centre – a good spot to stock up on groceries or a quick meal. When
you get to the corner of Swanston and Little Bourke Street, look to your left to
see the elaborate gates of Chinatown.
Come back if you are hankering for cheap noodles or dumplings,
Turn right and head west
down Little Bourke Street, cross Elizabeth Street and look out for Brother
Baba Budan. This tiny little cafe serves up some of Melbourne’s best coffee.
If it is too busy, backtrack and go down Somerset Place to Little Mule Co. Grab a latte and check
out the cool fixie bikes on display.
Head back to Elizabeth Street
and continue half a block past the GPO
Building. This former post office dates back to 1859 and now houses
upmarket boutiques. You can get fantastic sushi rolls from Kenzan
and $10 ramen at Ramenya – both on the
eastern side of the building. Follow the commotion and hubbub onto the Bourke
Street Mall. Always busy, this pedestrian- and tram-only street is the heart of
Melbourne’s central business district. Apart from the flagship Myer and David
Jones department stores, you will also find some of the city’s best buskers and
Just off Bourke Street Mall
you will find Causeway Lane. Melbourne thrives on its laneways, the arteries
that pump lifeblood and culture through the city with one-off
boutiques, unique galleries, tiny cafes and hidden bars.
Causeway Lane connects
across to Block Place. This is a popular strip filled with al fresco cafes and
restaurants. Basement Discs, one
of Melbourne’s best music stores, offers free lunchtime gigs. Continue on
through the Block Arcade. This elegant shopping arcade was built in 1891 and
has some of Melbourne’s best-preserved architectural elements – check out the
mosaic tiles, wrought-iron rafters and glass ceilings.
You will pop out onto
Collins Street. To the west lies Melbourne’s commercial heart – banks and offices
are packed into skyscrapers and heritage-listed buildings. Head in the opposite
direction, east, towards the breezy “Paris” end of Collins Street. On the corner
of Collins and Swanston streets is the Melbourne
Town Hall. You will find many innovative and interesting events held here,
such as the Melbourne Comedy
Collins Street soon turns
into an uptown tree-lined boulevard, peppered with high-end boutiques and
several stand-out Victorian buildings. As you approach the corner of Collins
and Russell streets, look out for the Scots’
Church and St Michael’s Uniting
Church. Stop to take some photos before continuing up Collins Street,
turning right onto Exhibition Street and then taking the next right down
Skinny Flinders Lane has an
offshoot that is Melbourne’s most famed laneway. Halfway between Exhibition and
Russell streets, AC/DC Lane -- formerly Corporation Lane -- is named after
Australia’s most famous rock export. Today, the lane is fronted by Cherry Bar, a location
that provided inspiration for many Melbourne rock bands.
Stay on Flinders Lane. Once
you get past Russell Street, turn left down little Hosier Lane. Do not be
surprised to find tourists taking photos of the ever-changing wall of street art
along the lane. The world’s most famous (and pricey) street artist, Banksy,
once graffitti’d this wall, but sadly, it was painted over by the local
Pop out from Hosier Lane
onto Flinders Street and turn right, heading west. You will see several key
Melbourne landmarks on the corner of Flinders and Swanston streets. On your
right is St
Paul’s Cathedral. The current building was erected in 1885 and has several Gothic
elements including the spires and arches. Diagonally across is the iconic
entrance to Flinders
Street Station. The front of the station is covered in clocks and is a
popular meeting spot. “I’ll meet you under the clocks” is a common reference.
Square, a stark example of modern architecture, is opposite St Paul’s.
Since it officially opened in 2002, it has become one of Melbourne’s most
popular attractions and there are often free gigs or performances here. Each
year, thousands pack the square to catch the Australian Open and other key
Melbourne events on the giant screen.
End all that walking with a
well-deserved drink at the Young
& Jackson’s pub on the corner of Flinders and Swanston streets. This is
one of Melbourne’s oldest pubs, serving beer since 1861, and a popular watering
hole with a rooftop cider bar. If alcohol is not your thing, continue along
Flinders Street and turn right into Degraves Street where cafes abound.
The article 'A walking tour of Melbourne' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.