Autumn swing: 10 reasons to visit Melbourne
MELBOURNE is famous for its unpredictable and crazy weather but during the autumn months it seems to settle into a more consistent pattern. The days can be warm and sunny, the nights cool enough to throw on a jacket. Those hideous hot days have passed and the chill of winter is yet to arrive. Autumn in Melbourne is marvellous and Ann Rickard gives 10 reasons why you should visit.
1. A FIX makes you know you are alive. While Paris, New York or London would be nice, Melbourne is within distance and budget and it definitely has a big city flavour. All the city-life you want is there, from restaurants to theatre to museums and galleries, to shopping...it never stops.
2. THE autumn landscape in Melbourne is gorgeous and the transformation from parched and baked, to a haze of burnished reds, golds and yellows as the trees shed their leaves, is worth a visit alone. A walk along tree-lined St Kilda Rd, or a stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens will make you wish autumn was a permanent season.
3. TRAMS. What's not to love? They're synonymous with Melbourne, and the City Circle Tram is free. It's a very Melbourne way to get around the CBD, and these free maroon and green trams look spiffy with their yellow and gold trimmings.
4. ACCOMMODATION in the heart of the city will have you within walking distance of everything Melbourne has to offer. We love Double Tree by Hilton, opposite the historic Flinders St. station. Its location is perfect, then there are the warm chocolate chip cookies brandished at you on arrival, and the Sweet Dreams bedding and Verbena and Lavender by Crabtree and Evelyn bathroom products.
5. ANY cuisine you want is available in the city from hundreds of bistros, cafes, restaurants and bars that exude style and city-flair. We can never go past MoVida in Hosier Lane with its Spanish wines and the best croquettes outside Madrid. Another favourite is Lucy Liu in Oliver Lane (you'll have to search for it, very hidden) where the Asian share plates will have you giddy for choice. We swooned over the crispy pork buns with spicy kimchi, and the tempura prawn betel leaves.
6. OKAY, more favourite foodie spots. Osteria in Little Bourke St, for its long bar and open kitchen where the chargrilled octopus swept us away. Then there is Longsong, little sister to the wildly popular Longrain. We could barely take our eyes off the décor in the voluminous dining space, kept looking up to the bevy of glowing lanterns, a nod to Thailand's floating lantern tradition.
7. THE National Gallery of Victoria or NGV as it is fondly called, is at your doorstep. Until April 15, the speculator Triennial is showing, and entry is free. Four floors of art, installations, sculpture and everything and anything technological is on display. Do not leave Melbourne without visiting. NGV is a quick 10-minute walk from Flinders St station.
8. THE laneways. Oh, the lanes. Melbourne has embraced lane culture like no other city and what were once dowdy back lanes used to service shops, business and workshops are now jam-packed, bustling lanes filled with shops, bars, eateries, all against a backdrop of dazzling street art. Put on good walking shoes, pick up a laneway map from the friendly people at the information centre in Federation Square, set off on a self-guided tour and lose yourself in the giddy excitement of the iconic lanes.
9. SHOPPING. Myer and David Jones are still there in the Bourke St Mall as reassuring and reliable as ever. Enter their glittering spaces and everything you desire is yours for the buying. And when you tire of so much temptation, both department stores have stylish eateries. Then there is Block Arcade, so glamorous and 19th century and heritage listed with its mosaic floors and glass canopy. Wander, admire, love, and then go into Haigh's Chocolates and let yourself loose.
10. IF YOU have time after your city-fix, all of Victoria is lovelier in the autumn. Hire a car, take to the beaches and restaurants on the Mornington Peninsula or head the Great Ocean Road, or enjoy a wine break in the Yarra Valley and then find out about the luxury retreats at Daylesford, or the historic charms of Bendigo. Just go, before it gets too cold.