Melbourne

We stayed in Melbourne for five days, and it took less than that for it to become my favourite city. People forget the capital Canberra for the iconic Sydney, but Melbourne is the real star of the show. It has everything you could need and everything you want. Throw in gorgeous riverside walkways, free public trams, artisan cafés, parks, museums, and a temperature more copable for us brits than anywhere else on this desert continent, and voila! Bliss.

Graffiti
Graffiti has an Eden on Hosier Lane. It’s a set of three backstreets dedicated to, and covered in, street art. Where at you’d usually find ‘Emmitt waz ere 2K10’, Hosier has actual art, layers and layers of it. It works on the idea that each piece is temporary, and that covering your masterpiece with someone else’s is a good thing, a new addition every day. While we were there, the wall had Trump, an aboriginal girl and a marriage proposal, along with thousands of others.

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Eateries
For a dose of yum, go flinders street and around, full of brunches, doughnuts and pastries. For a shabby-chic arty vibe, head out of town to the Fitzroy district. It reminds me of the northern quarter in Manchester, grubby but cute and crazily overpriced. Good place for an explore and to meet some interesting characters.

Museums & Parks
Melbourne is full of big sights you’d expect in the city. We didn’t get to visit it, but Melbourne zoo has a great reputation, as well as the modern museum. I recommend the Victoria National Gallery, just over the bridge, for a look at historical and modern art. They have all the theatres, concert halls and stadiums hosting major events like the Australian Open. Not a rainy day? Get outside. The streets are when the real heart of Melbourne is. Take a walk through Chinatown, have a picnic in the parks, people watch in federation square or if skate boarding is your thing, hit the ramps tucked along the rivers south bank. I love that Melbourne is full of open green spaces, it gives people a space to mingle and adds a bit of lush life.

Queen Victoria markets
Everyone loves a good farmers market, but the Queen Victoria Markets have that little bit extra. They’re based around the old market buildings, and are split into sections of souvenirs, homewares, pets, miscellaneous, toys and food. The main warehouses are spacious and open, but the deli section is more of a warren, with the stalls set high and yummy cheeses, dips, chocolates dancing at eye height. The markets were built in 1878, (if you look above you can still see the old gold plaques) and have been opening almost every day since. It’s absolutely gorgeous! Treat yourself to a fresh olive ciabatta, or get a pancake heart attack at American diner van outside.

Botanical Gardens & War Memorial
A short walk out of the city and over the bridge (you can take a horse and cart if you like), brings you to the city parks and botanical gardens. The grounds are colossal, plenty of room for all the runners, teenagers, tourists etc. The botanical gardens are split into different areas, with some lakes, boardwalks and specialist gardens. We came on the wrong day, but the gardens also hold seasonal events for you to join in with. Across the road from the gardens is a war memorial. Entry is free, the memorial is well done, and there are some great views of the city from the top.

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