If the cold weather in the northern hemisphere is making you feel down then let Caitlin transport you to Melbourne!
As a student who has pretty much lived her entire life in Melbourne, you do find your own secret (or in most cases not so secret) gems around this city that only the locals know about. And bonus – I know a thing or two to suit any budget!
South Melbourne Market
A hop, skip and a tram’s journey away from Melbourne’s CBD, the South Melbourne Market is a foodie’s dream. It sells everything from fruit and veg to cakes and pastries, dried fruit to cheeses and antipasto. And it also has lots of hand-made goods.
It is open every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 8am – 4pm and bonus, the market is open for an extra hour on Fridays 8am – 5pm! What has really caught my eye this year is that the market has gone completely plastic straw free which is amazing news as it was once a bit overrun by plastic.
It is also super easy to get to the South Melbourne Market on the Corner of Coventry & Cecil Streets in South Melbourne with 2 hours free parking on market days if you’re in a car. Just make sure you leave early enough to get a spot. I’ve been caught out a few times and had to park in the paid parking zones or had a long walk!! So, I now often go by tram from Melbourne CBD. The easiest route is to get the No. 96 tram from Bourke St and get off at South Melbourne at Stop 127 or you can take the No.1 from Federation Square to South Melbourne at Stop 25. It’s then just a quick walk up to Cecil St. (Quick thing with the trams, make sure you have money on your myki card and touch on and off, the same for trains as well).
If you like the look of this sophisticated Melbourne market and are a visitor to this city that I call home make sure you check out the Market to Market Tours which happen on every third Saturday of the month. It is $15 AUD for 1 ½ hours from 10am until 11.30am and includes food samples (which are divine and I’d do it for this alone) and a market bag. The only downside is that you need to make a booking but you can find all of that and more information on their website https://southmelbournemarket.com.au/
Right in the heart of Melbourne are the best shopping strips. You can look to Bourke Street Mall, Emporium andMelbourne Central for student budget friendly shops. They are all a tram’s journey up from Flinders’ Street Station along Elizabeth Street. AND they are all within the free tram zone – whoop whoop!! – so you don’t have to worry about a myki card and touching on and off to get between them all!!
If your shopping budget isn’t so student friendly, make your way down to Chapel Street where you can find all of your high street brands. This area is extremely famous for itsfashion, food, coffee, vintage stores, coffee, street art, markets and did I mention coffee… 😉. It’s even worth a visit if you don’t have a high-end budget just to get a feel of the Melbourne vibe!!
Unless you’ve got a car, the two easiest ways to get to Chapel St are tram or train (remember your myki card)! For the train, get on a Sandringham Line train at Flinders’ St Station to Prahran Railway Station then it’s just a quick walk up. Or for a tram, get on at City Square/Swanston St tram No. 72 for Camberwell. Then after about 20 mins jump off at Chapel St/Commercial Rd (Stop 31) and you’re there. Make sure you do some shopping for me!
It has been said that Melbourne is the sports capital of the world and it is easy to see why!! Any sport you can think of, there is a place to either watch it or play it! Watching sport is a main part of Melburnian and definitely Australian culture!
In January, head to Rod Laver Arena and the Australian Open. A good tip that all the locals know is to just buy general admission tickets and go and watch the matches in the first week. You’ll be able to see some good names playing on the outside courts. I guess that this happens at all tennis events, but Melbourne is definitely the place to do it!! And make sure that you have a hat and sun cream and drink heaps of water – IT IS HOT!!
Definitely go and watch a game of the Australian Football League (AFL) in the winter at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). It’s our national sport. And don’t stress – the rules are very confusing – even for someone who religiously watches Friday Night Footy! It is easier to drive to the MCG and Rod Laver Arena because it’s out of the city a bit however parking is hard to find and quite expensive in the grounds. So, once again train and tram are your best bets. Richmond or Jolimont Train Stations are the closest or alternatively take the No. 75, 48 or 70 trams into this area.
Or if you are in Melbourne in the summer still nip down to the MCG to watch some test cricket and the Boxing Day Test. Or even have a wander around the MCG museum (although I haven’t done it and don’t know what it’s like). If the MCG doesn’t take your fancy, there is always the Big Bash League and Twenty20 cricket down at the Docklands and Marvel Stadium which is always entertaining!! I love watching the Big Bash League, it’s fun and exciting and a lot cheaper. You can find prices around the $20 AUD mark for adults and $5 AUD for kids!! If you get yourself to Southern Cross TrainStation it’s a quick walk across the footbridge to Marvel Stadium.
Now if cricket, AFL and tennis aren’t your cup of tea then there’s always Albert Park for the Grand Prix in March. But if you are visiting outside of this time you can drive your car around the track – it’s a part of our road system surrounding Albert Park – just please don’t drive at the speeds that the professional drivers do, you will most definitely be arrested!!
Head to Melbourne Sports and Aquatics Centre (MSAC) for all swimming, diving, badminton, table tennis, pilates and more. You can even swim at MSAC and access to all swimming facilities costs $11.10 AUD for one adult. I’ve often had swimming competitions here and it gives a really nice atmosphere (somewhat similar to an Olympic Games 😊). Driving once again is the easiest option because the centre is out of the city a bit. However, you can take a tram from the city centre on Route 12 towards South Melbourne and St Kilda and hop off at Stop 131.
Or alternatively, head down to AAMI Park, Hisense Arena or Margaret Court Arena for everything soccer, rugby, netballand basketball. You can have a look on www.ticketek.com.auto buy tickets to see some of the games!
For everything involving fun, head down to St. Kilda. It’s common to see people running and cycling along the promenade in one of Melbourne’s more well-to-do suburbs. If you are shaking your head at me and saying ‘well that’s no fun’ 😂, St. Kilda is also the home of Luna Park, a typical seaside amusement park. So, have a walk through the mouth(the entrance 😊), into this park and go wild!!! Entry is a $5 AUD fee to preserve the park because it is heritage–listed with the scenic railway around the outside. But, it’s $49.95 AUD for unlimited rides for anyone over 13 years old (definitely worth it!!) and check out the website here for more information https://lunapark.com.au/.
You can go and have a swim at St. Kilda beach. If you go early enough in the morning and in the winter, you can see some of the AFL players doing a recovery session in the water. Beware, the water temperature is freezing at this time of the year!!! Then after a morning of running, cycling and swimming, have a wander up into the streets. There are some amazing cafes for brunch or even just coffee and cake in the afternoon 😊. You’ll find some really quaint ones that I probably haven’t even been in yet 😉.
St. Kilda market is a definite go-to if you’re in the area. Along the beach front you’ll find all sorts of handmade arts and crafts as well as gorgeous foods 😊. It’s open every Sunday from 10am-4pm and until 5pm in daylight saving times – it’s along the promenade and you can’t miss it!!!
The home of Italy in Melbourne!! Some say that you don’t need to visit Italy in order to try the food because it is all there in Lygon St (me, personally I’d still go to Italy to see everything else and try the food in their home country). It also brought coffee to Melbourne and integrated it into our culture. I am greatly thankful for that 😉.
Brunetti’s is a must-eat if only for the pastries alone!! But they also serve pizza, gelato, pasta and COFFEE!! Even so definitely check out the other awesome restaurants and cafes here in the area!!
To get to Lygon St from the CBD, you’ll want to hop on a tram at Federation Square/Swanston St (opposite Flinders’ St Station) Stop 13 towards East Coburg and get off at Albert St/Lygon St Stop 123 and you’re there!!!
Thank you all for making it to the end (I know – it was a long one 😊) but I am truly grateful and really passionate about my little gem of a city, Melbourne!!
You can find me at overthenextwave.com and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @overthenextwave, but for now until next time, let’s see what’s over the next wave.