48 hours in Melbourne
Got 48 hours in Melbourne as part of a tailor-made Australian holiday? Let city resident Nikki Stefanoff show you around
Author: Nikki Stefanoff is a Melbourne-based journalist, editor and contributor to A&K’s biannual Sundowner magazine
Reading time: 4 minutes
It may seem contrary to arrive in Melbourne and then immediately leave the city, but there’s just so much to see and do in the surrounding areas, starting with a trip to the Yarra Valley. Whether you’re travelling with children or sans enfants, time spent at Healesville Sanctuary is never wasted. Home to every Australian native animal you can imagine, it’s the place to go if you want see koalas and wombats and dingos, oh my!
Once you’ve finished with the animals, it’s time to start with the wines. Wineries in the Yarra Valley are as plentiful as the grapes within them so, as there isn’t enough time to visit all of them, you’ll need to hit the highlights. For fans of sparkling tipples, head to Domaine Chandon. Established by Moët & Chandon in 1986, this is a place where French traditions still thrive, albeit with an Aussie twist. TarraWarra Estate is next on the list. As famous for its contemporary art gallery as it is for the wines, which are meticulously grown, handpicked, vinified, and aged on the estate. On to Yering Station – a destination winery complete with architect-designed restaurant and bar, historic cellar door, art space, local produce store, and stunning grounds. Oh, and wine. Lots of wine.
On the way to Melbourne, the designated driver should set the sat nav for the beachside suburb of St Kilda, a special part of Melbourne where the old and new collide. Art Deco architecture sits alongside contemporary apartments as well as the Palais Theatre and Luna Park – city stalwarts, which have pulled in the crowds for more than 100 years. St Kilda’s always buzzing foreshore and ocean views make it unlike any other Melbourne suburb, particularly in summer when locals and visitors alike can sink a beer over a late lunch of fish and chips and watch the world skate, scoot, ride, walk, or run by along the water’s edge.
It’s worth sticking around St Kilda at sunset to see the small, cute, furry local penguin (eudyptula minor) make the nightly pilgrimage across the beach back to their nests. Much like Phillip Island’s Penguin Parade (which can be seen nightly and is two hours outside of Melbourne), these penguins are present all year round and can be spotted waddling from the sea to their St Kilda burrows once the sun goes down. Before calling it a night, St Kilda’s Supernormal Canteen is the only place to head for dinner – their lobster rolls are spoken about with hushed reverence.
Yes, it’s an early start but if you want to sample what The New York Times called the world’s best croissant then you need to get ahead of the crowds. Tucked away in a suburban Fitzroy side street is Lune Croissanterie, home to these aforementioned award-winning delights. Located in an ultra-modern warehouse conversion, at Lune you can watch the croissants made, before you tuck into your flavour of choice with a flat white. Weekend queues are inevitable, and it has been known to take an hour to get through the door, which is why you may want to set your alarm clock.
Now you’re full of buttery goodness, take a trip over to the suburb of Carlton and more specifically to Lygon Street, Melbourne’s Little Italy. The origins of Melbourne’s coffee culture lie on this strip, and the street continues to be lined with alfresco dining options. Grab an espresso from King and Godfree then take a short wander to Melbourne’s best bookshop, Readings Carlton, before crossing over the road and diving into Brunetti’s for ‘morning tea’. Brunetti’s is a local institution, a Roman-style café/restaurant/bar/patisserie that is always packed to the rafters and as Melbourne as it gets.
Jump on a tram and head into the CBD where you can pay your respects to the altar of Australian sport – the MCG. The Melbourne Cricket Ground – or just simply ‘the G’ to locals – is the place where sporting magic happens. Head into the city and check out the city’s famous laneways – both Hosier Lane and AC/DC Lane are worth a look if you’re a fan of street art. Finish your walk with another espresso in Degraves Street, where alfresco Parisian charm meets Melbourne’s café culture, before heading up to Emporium for the ultimate in shopping experiences.
Melbourne is famous for having four seasons in one day, which can sometimes have an effect on your chosen excursion. So, here are two: if the sun is shining, go punting in the gorgeous Botanical Gardens; and if the weather isn’t playing ball, spend the afternoon wandering around the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Melbourne’s art gallery.
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