The Essential Melbourne Checklist

Getting the full experience from one of the world’s most liveable cities is easier than it sounds. Night or day, Summer or Winter; there’s always something worth doing in Melbourne. Here’s your ultimate checklist of the best Melbourne has to offer.  How many have you already ticked off?


1. Attend the Spring Racing Carnival

IMG_5235Photo Credit: Julia Hammond

Since it’s timely let’s start with one of Melbourne’s premier events of the year; the Spring Races. It’s fun, it’s fashionable and it’s oh so Instagram-able. More than just a horse race, it’s a week of festival fun and social atmosphere. Bring along your best picnic blanket for a chilled afternoon on the grass. Or head on over to The Park for food, games and a music line-up that puts the ace in racing. With 4 event days to choose from there’s sure to be one that fits your calendar. Just be sure to double check the dress code for members and their guests. The Spring Races is not the place for a fashion faux pas.


2. Visit a Night Market

NightMarket_Edit1Photo Credit: Julia Hammond

One of Melbourne’s best features is it doesn’t get dull once the sun goes down. But your options aren’t limited to bars and clubs either. With a reputation for good food and festivals, Melbourne’s night markets are worth a look.

The royal ruler has to be Queen Victoria Markets in the heart of the CBD. They’ve just launched the Asian-style Hawker 88 market which runs every Wednesday evening until October 24th.

If you can’t make it to Hawker 88 – or simply can’t get enough Asian hawker style – then next month hold a spot for the Night Noodle Markets in your social schedule. They’ll be taking over Birrarung Marr once again from November 8th-25th and offering up over 20 Asian food stalls to salivate over.

Already conquered both of these? Give yourself a pat on the back and then don your eating pants because there’s one more for the list. The South Melbourne market comes alive on Thursday nights over Summer serving up gourmet delights, live music and their regular rotation of designer shops and stalls.


3. Spend a day at the Australian Open

There are just 4 grand slams in tennis each year and one of those is right at your doorstep. The Australian Open runs for 2 weeks every January; a blessing or a curse depending how you feel about tennis. For the sport lovers it’s a chance to witness the greats in the flesh and potentially be a part of sporting history. For the not so sporting minded here’s the go: start your day with a match or two, take a break in one of the pop-up bars or food stalls then wind down the evening at the AO Live stage with some of the biggest names in music right now. That’s one grand slam down, just three to go!


4. Check out the ever-growing graffiti scene

Essential_Graffiti_EditPhoto Credit: Julia Hammond

Take a break from big events and get to know Melbourne’s grungy, artistic side. Once viewed as an eyesore; graffiti is now a legitimate art form. The city has embraced street artists so much that you can find wall murals all over town. There are the obvious choices such as Hosier Lane in the city. Then there’s the hidden gems worth keeping your eyes peeled for. On the side of cafes, adorning shopping streets and around markets are classic spots for a bit of street art.

Here’s a few spots to get you started:

  • AC/DC Lane, Melbourne
  • Artist’s Lane, Windsor
  • Rose St, Fitzroy
  • Stewart St & Botherambo St, Richmond

For a wander around the best of the CBD check out a walking map here.


5. Snap a shot of the Brighton Beach Boxes

Essential_BeachBox_EditPhoto Credit: Julia Hammond

Not big on laneways and spray paint? There’s always the sandy shores of Brighton; home to an array of artsy beach boxes. If you’re expecting a host of beach scenes painted on wood, think again. These boxes are anything but dull. Their designs range from Aussie icons like the Kangaroo to video game icons like the Space Invaders alien. It’s not just the art that makes these boxes special. They’re heritage listed and the last of their kind made in the true Victorian style.


6. Stay up all night at White Night

Melbourne may not have invented it but it sure knows how to embrace it. White Night (aka Nuit Blanche) began in Paris in 2002 – yet another reason to love the city of lights. Since then it’s been adopted by over 20 cities, including yours truly.  Here at home you’ll find the city awash with light and art installations to inspire and energise your senses. Pro tip: the most popular hours are early evening with families and regular attendees filling the streets. If you can handle the sleep deprivation for one weekend then going after midnight and staying till the sun rises will be much quieter and just as fun.


7. Indulge in a delicious weekend brunch

Essential_Brunch_EditPhoto Credit: Julia Hammond

This one Melbourne did invent; or at least we love to take credit for it. The Aussie brunch style is even travelling overseas to shake up how New Yorker’s have breakfast.  It’s likely you’ve already made a dent in the Melbourne brunch scene but if you haven’t please hold for complete shock and awe.

sourceVia Giphy

The good news is it’s never too late to start. Find your feet at a brunching fave like Top Paddock, Au79 or Rustica.


8. Discover the joys of Asian Fusion cuisine

Miyagi_edit_1Photo Credit: Julia Hammond

Asian Fusion burst onto the scene with Chin Chin opening in 2011 and has since become synonymous with trendy Melbourne dining. From nori tacos at Mr. Miyagi to pan-Asian cuisine by Lucy Liu, restaurants started popping up across the city with one main aim; to bring a bit of Melbourne style to Asian food. While you can still find delicious food focusing on just one of our oriental neighbour’s cuisines, you haven’t truly experienced Melbourne until you’ve ticked off a fusion meal.


9. Hit the trails at the 1000 steps

Grab your activewear and get outta town to one of Melbourne’s most iconic hikes. The name is a touch misleading – there’s actually fewer than 1000 steps on the trail. The name really comes from its status as a Kokoda Memorial and you’ll find 14 plaques dedicated to those military forces along your way. The weekends can become rather crowded so for a quiet experience you’re better off trying a weekday instead. That being said it’s a very popular trail and you should expect there to be other people on your tail. Ideal for beginners or athletic types looking for a change of scenery for their next fitness outing.


10. Test out the acoustics in the Sidney Myer Music Bowl

You’d be forgiven for thinking this has anything to do with Sydney with a Y and letting that put you off all this time. Sidney (with an I) is named after Sidney Myer; the businessman behind Myer department stores who was inspired so much by the Hollywood Bowl in LA he decided to replicate it here.

From major concerts to symphony culture and carols at Christmas; it’s a venue offering diverse event options. There’s even a free concert series every year by the MSO; another innovation by the amphitheatres’ namesake. Check out their website for a full event schedule.


11. Wander the corridors of the MCG

IMG_5847Photo Credit: Julia Hammond

Last but never least, it’s well worth a look inside Melbourne’s main sporting arena in the off-season. If you’re a sport fan then it’s likely you’ve attended the MCG more than once for a match. But did you know there’s a lot to view when the ground is empty as well? Guided tours operate daily giving you a behind-the-scenes look at everything from the changing rooms to the media centre and even a jaunt on the hallowed ground itself.

What are you waiting for? The days are getting longer, the sun is getting stronger – it’s time to go explore.