Episode 20: City of Melbourne
No matter what event or activity you come in to the city of Melbourne for, there's always something else you can do you can do to make your visit even more fun. This week the Postcards team head into town to find some winter warming activities and find out what's hot, including quirky knitting clubs and bookshops, the Napoleon Exhibition, fabulous French food and groovy bars.
South Wharf Promenade
South Wharf Promenade is becoming a popular hang out. You can arrive by water taxi or it's only a ten-minute walk from Federation Square, in easy reach of public transport. After six years of planning and restoration, the historic cargo sheds are ready for their next life as a collection of irresistible restaurants.
The Sharing House has a funky fit out featuring twelve thousand dollars worth of Lego and an Astroturf wall. The food is full of fun too. Next door is Akachochin, a modern Tokyo style bar with a focus on sushi and sake, as well as a range of tempting appetizers, salads, and grilled and simmered dishes. Then there's Bohemian, a lively Spanish bar and restaurant, which looks like it could be on a laneway in Spain with its olive-green tiles, wide timber windows, black metal furniture and terracotta pots with brightly coloured flowers. And don't miss the split personality of the Melbourne Public with fun, footy, live music and pub fare at the front bar, and serious foodie action in the glamorous restaurant at the back.
Craft and culture
Discover the crafy and cultural in cosy corners of the city. Start with L'uccello in the The Nicholas Building where you can spend hours trawling through the buttons, bows and vintage haberdashery. For crafty supplies, there's Morris and Sons, one of the city's largest sellers of needlework and knitting goods with a plethora of thread, yarn, patterns, bobbins, needles and ribbons, and a range craft classes. If your idea of an ideal day is curling up with a good book, then be sure to drop by Embiggen Books, fittingly tucked behind the State Library of Victoria on Little Lonsdale Street. Bookworms should also venture to Kay Craddock, Melbourne's only antiquarian bookseller. In a basement on Collins Street, it's an underground cave filled with leather bound pieces of history and the greatest stories.
2nd Floor, the Nicholas Building
205–37 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Ph 03 9639 0088
Morris and Sons
Level 1, 234 Collins Street, Melbourne
Ph 03 9654 0888
197–203 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Ph 03 9662 2062
Kay Craddock, antiquarian bookseller
156 Collins Street, Melbourne
Ph 03 9654 8506
Looking for somewhere to de-frost with some tasty food and a couple of great cocktails? One cosy city corner is the Strange Wolf basement bar. Hidden down Strachan Lane right near the corner of Collins and Exhibition streets is an artistically designed bar from the same crew behind the Grace Darling Hotel – and it seems we can't get enough of their fabulous burgers. Not too far from the CBD in North Melbourne is The Crimean with an eastern European culinary experience drawn from Latvian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Ukrainian and Russian fare. For a spot to read and a great feed, there's the Moat in the basement of Melbourne's hub for literature and thinking, the Wheeler Centre at the State Library. Distinctively Melbourne, drop in for a pot of tea or latte while you read, and try chef Emma Jeffrey's fantastic food.
Strachan Lane, Melbourne
Ph 03 9662 4914
351 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne
Ph 03 9329 3353
176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Ph 03 9094 7820
With nearly 300 works, the Napoleon exhibition at the NGV includes paintings, sculpture, furniture, textiles, porcelain and fashion that gives us a snapshot of what it was like to live in France from the 1770s through to the 1820s and understand the history of the extraordinary figures. From the stormy period of the French Revolution, and the execution of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette, to the rise in power of a young Napoleon Bonaparte with his wife Josephine.
To continue your French experience in the city, head to Mr Mason on Collins Street. This French inspired restaurant and bar has an ever-changing menu, with a few French classics that always remain. Save room for sweets and go to Little Collins Street for Le Petit Gateau where French pastry chef Pierrick Boyer makes his cakes from his own original recipes.
Napoleon: Revolution to Empire Illuminated at the National Gallery of Victoria
180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Until October 7
Shop 10, 530 Collins Street, Melbourne
Ph 03 9614 5400
Le Petit Gateau
458 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
Ph 03 9944 8893
Architours, Ferdydurke, La Petite Creperie
If you want to learn more about Melbourne's fine buildings, take a tour by Architours. Run by a group of architecture, landscape and design professionals, the tours share knowledge and generate discussion about Melbourne's structural evolution from the very old to the very new.
Ferdydurke in Lonsdale Street is named after the famous novel by Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz and this lofty space of artwork, exposed bricks and beams has a story all of its own. Since opening at the end of 2011, it's also one of the hottest spots in town to enjoy a couple of drinks with a quality Vietnamese snack.
La Petite Creperie set up shop on the corner of Little Collins and Swanston streets earlier this year. And since then, lovers of crepes have been beating a path to the booth of this Parisian style French takeaway where 16 different varieties are offered from sugar and lemon to homemade apricot jam with walnuts or the ever-popular Nutella.
Open House Melbourne
Levels 1 and 2, 239 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Ph 03 9639 3750
La Petite Creperie
Ph 0404 002 341
Winter Skate Festival
Medibank Icehouse's Winter Skate Festival offers loads of school holiday fun for the whole family.
Where: Medibank Icehouse, Docklands
When: to 15 July
Friday night fireworks
At 7pm every Friday night in July, Victoria Harbour comes alive with a fantastic ten-minute fireworks display.
When: Friday nights in July
Hot Spots free booklet
Hot Spots is your essential guide to to what's new and reinvented in Melbourne, and it's free.
Available Melbourne Visitors Centre