It was not love at first sight between me and Melbourne. I was about to leave the city for good when I found myself serendipitously getting wrapped around its finger.
It was Elmer’s fault. That’s right. Blame it on the husband.
He kept driving me around the city so we’ve seen most of it before we head back to Singapore.
In the middle of winter, in the midst of demanding young children and while grieving for the loss of my mother, I developed a love affair with the city. It became too good to leave it all behind.
I know I haven’t even scratched beneath the surface yet but here are some of the places which made me change my mind about Melbourne City:
1. St Mary Star of the Sea
How can I not fall in love with this church? You are with God here, in person. Best place to be.
When you are inside, you’ll be awed with the architecture, painting, design of the church.
It is just beautiful.
The Sunday mass goers are more tolerant of noisy young children. You won’t feel bad if your child misbehaves because in another corner is another child misbehaving as well.
Plus, you can always go to confession during or after the Mass in case you lost your temper along the way.
Salvation is here.
2. Queen Victoria Market. String Bean Alley. Flagstaff Garden
After hearing Mass at St Mary’s, you can go to QV Market to shop and eat. I recommend getting lost in it. You can find virtually anything. From souvenirs to wine, Spanish paella, Indian art, Desingual clothes, Greek pastries, American donuts.
At the right edge side of the QV Market is String Bean Alley.
This is easy to miss. You will find all local produce here. The landmark is a street landscape made of wooden cranes.
Right at the corner of this alley is Padre Coffee. You have to try it. You will never think of drinking coffee the same way again. It becomes an experience.
You may wish to sit alfresco and enjoy the street art along the alley.
If the children gets too unsettled, it’s time to walk and bring them to Flagstaff Garden. Release the dragons. You can enjoy reading a book while they forget about the time playing.
3. Laneways and Arcades.
I go around the city mesh when I’m alone or with Elmer. I find it hard to bring our small kids there because its easy for me too lose them when I get enthralled about a place.
This is where your curiosity will you lead from one lane to another then another. Enticing laneways full of cafe, bars, local shops and Melbourne graffiti. Lots of locals.
Its off the main roads and are you can often miss these alleys. But if you find them, Melbourne will mesmerize you even more.
Enjoy live music played by street performers and try Brunetti if you chance upon it along the way. This is how I define leisure walk.
4. Abbotsford Convent
We chanced upon this place on its Open Day last year. It was full of life! Buzzling with arts and music, writers and painters. Food was all around. Families were having picnics and a feast. Real treat.
It used to be a convent turned into artists studios.
The chapel still holds masses.
If you are into the arts and appreciates vast nature spaces, you wouldn’t want to miss this place.
Walking distance from the convent is Collingwood Children’s Farm. The children loved petting the horses there.
5. St Kilda. Brighton.
Every time we want to go to the beach we drive to Brighton Beach Those brightly colored houses lining the beach uplifts the entire place.
We can let the children go loose here without worrying about a thing.
Sand castles. Swimming. Treasure hunts. Playground.
Then Elmer drives us to Acland St at St Kilda to have a bite or more of those super yummy Chocolate Kooglehoupf cake at Monarch Cakeshop. Thanks to Meggy for the recommendation.
Warning: this Polish cake is highly addictive.
6. Carmelite Monastery. Studley Park and Boathouse
I never expected to find a Carmelite Monastery in Melbourne.
If you want some peaceful silence, I highly recommend this place. The nuns are the sweetest. They were overjoyed to see our young children in their chapel outside mass hours. They even called out the other sisters to talk to the kids.
You can go to Studley Park and Boathouse after your tranquil time at the monastery. These two places are located close to each other at Kew.
I recommend having a barbeque picnic at the park. The suspension bridge is pretty cool. The vast natural landscape is great for the children to run around and explore.
This place is invigorating.
7. City Circle Tram Tour . Walk along Yarra River
How do you best go around the city?
Take the City Circle Tram Tour. I love this ride, so does Elmer and the kids. You shouldn’t miss this if you are a tourist in Melbourne. It will bring you to the key places around the city while enjoying a tram ride.
You can go off the tram and walk along the Yarra River for some fresh air and nature walk.
8. Brunswick St.
I can never have enough Brunswick.
Shops. Cafes. Restaurants. Vintage hotels. Arts. Markets.
I love eating at Beans and Bagels, taking my coffee at Alimentari and having dessert at Shocolate.
While at Melbourne, might as well try the best once in a while.
This artsy street leads to the great St Patrick Cathedral. This one is something you shouldn’t miss.
We go to Glenferrie for Our Lady and the coffee. I love going for pilgrimages at the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
Old, historic yet charming.
Axil, the best coffee shop in town, is just at the opposite side.
For nice and hearty meals, I recommend eating at Bread and Jam for Frances. I love that it is jointly located to a bookshop.
We celebrated Tatay’s birthday here.
10. South of Johnston
I love South of Johnston for many different reasons.
Mostly sentimental ones.
Elmer and I enjoyed our first Aussie brunch here.
We had lunch with Meggy and Tony here while they were in town for the Australian Open.
We met up with Ann Nolasco and her young family here when they visited Melbourne.
Best of all, the food is amazing at a reasonable price.
Ambiance is superb. Service is warm. Coffee is equally great.
Maybe I’ll ask Elmer to treat me here for my birthday.