Sunday, February 2, 2014

Melbourne, Australia

Yarra River and city skyline

Executive summary by darmansjah

SeeBest For Art – The National Gallery of Victoria on Southbank houses arguably Australia’s finest art collection, including works by Rembrandt, Monet and Rubens. It’s also worth visiting its Ian Potter Centre on the opposite side of the river, which displays exclusively Australian art (; both free).

The national Gallery of Victoria's Ian Potter Centre.

Best For MarketsQueen Victora Market is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest open-air-market, with stalls selling everything from sheepskin moccasins to organic vegetables. Music and dance performances and culinary events take place periodically (; 513 Elizabeth St; closed Mon and Wed).

Best For Aussie RulesMelbourne Cricket Ground hosted the first-ever game of Aussie Rules football, and was the site of the first Test Match between Australia and England. Four teams now call it home in winter, while summer features many crickets games (; Brunton Ave, Yarra Pk; international cricket from US$32).

Best For SeasideSt Kilda foreshore retains many of the trappings of a seaside resort – a palm-fringed promenade, an amusement park and a creaky pier. A breakwater in the harbor is now home to a penguin colony. Penguin waters offers two-hour tours from Southbank (; US$56).

Best For Walk – The Royal Botanic Gardens are among the finest of their kind in the world. Living alongside joggers, Frisbee throwers and strollers, wildlife includes cockatoos, parrots and possums. Turtles and eels can be found In the lakes (; free).

Why Go? Melbourne is Australia’s cultural and sporting capital, home to some of the Southern Hemisphere’s best art, food and music. Those who linger will be rewarded by the city’s slow-burning charm – from antique trams to leafy parks an bay promenades.

When To Go – Melbourne is infamous for its erratic climate. December to February is usually warmest – and most hectic. The city has a busy festival schedule year round, including the International Comedy Festiaval ( in April and the Melbourne Festival of the Arts in October (

How To Go – melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport can be reached from Jakarta, Singapore direct with Emirates (, Jetstar (, Singapore Airlines ( and Qantas ( from Kuala Lumpur, fly with AirAsia X (, Emirates, or Malaysian Arilines ( regular buses run between the airport and downtown (US$16;

Eat & DrinkPiadina Slowfood flies the flag for Italian flatbreads. Fillings might include meatballs or provolone and tomato, and stews, curries and bakes are also on offer (rear 57 Lonsdale St; closed weekends; piadinas from US$8).

Bar Lourinha specializes in northern Spanish and Portuguese tapas dishes. Perch at the counter and order homemade chorizo with cider, or wagyu bresaola (salted beef) with anchovy-stuffed olives (; 37 Little Collins St; closed Sun; tapas from US$16).

Wine is the focus at St Jude’s Cellar, its bare-bricked walls stacked with bottles. The kitchen is refreshingly upretentious, and weekend brunch is a typically Australian affair – try toasted almond porridge with baked rhubarb, or a salt cod omelette (; Brunswick St, Fitzory; mains from US$16). 

Press Club is a staple of the city’s modern Greek dining scene. Its dining room strikes a chord with polished surfaces and sultry lighting, but the kitchen sticks to the script with lamb with green tomatoes and tryokafteri – a spicy cheese dip (; 72 Flinders St; lunch from US$40).

Recently relocated to the upper floors of Melbourne’s Rialto Towers, Vue de Monde is a favoured spot for occasion dining with spectacular views. The menu deftly matches French culinary flair with Australian produce – kangaroo might feature on the tasting menu (; Level 55 Rialto, 525 Collins St; two-course lunch US$64).

Essentials-Getting Around

Downtown is pedestrian-friendly with an extensive tram network. Trains and buses also operate, and the ‘myki’ card, now being rolled out is reusable smart card that allows you to pay fares on trams, trains and buses. (; fares from US$3).


An 1890s mansion in South Yarra is the setting for the eccentric Albany Hotel. Recently refitted in a rock’n’roll theme, comfortable rooms see picture of rock luminaries decorating everything from the walls to the bedheads. Be sure to get a room looking out onto attractive Millswyn Street (; cnr Toorak Rd & Millswyn St; rooms from US$95).

The Pensione Hotel is a reasonably priced and understated hotel in central Melbourne, reputedly modeled on a European Pensione. Sparsely decorated rooms can be small but are nonetheless perfectly formed, and the rooftop sundeck is a summer bonus (; 16 Spencer St; from US$120).

Owned and operated by Victoria’s YWCA, the Jasper Hotel is a stylish boutique place to stay with all profits going to disadvantage locals-in-need. Each floor is decorated in a different colour, while spacious rooms feature louvered panels and patterned soft furnishings (; 489 Elizabeth St; from US$140).

Set in a converted downtown warehouse, Adelphi Hotel was something of a trailblazer for the city’s nice hotels in the early 1990s. there are 34 fashionably Spartan suites-but the hotel’s trump card is a glass-bottomed swimming pool on the seventh floor that juts out above the street (; 187 Flinders Ln; from US$185).

An impeccably -intained Italianate villa which previously served as an archibishop’s residence an then a massage parlour, Villa Donati is now a small b&b. Rooms  feature a mish-mash of European and Asian furnishings (; 377 church St; from US$230).

Your Recommendations

Starter To Relish-Darkly atmospheric and very exotic, Red Spice Road does communal dining with a difference. Their southeast Asian food is out of this world. They serve an amazingly sticky-sweet pork belly and thebest starter I’ve ever eaten-watermelon with shredded pork and prawn relish. Their cocktails are fabulous, too, and the perfect accompaniment to the food (; 27 McKillop St; shared mains from US$24). By Mary Lim

Ferry Good Tip-A ferry to Williamstown is a great way to spend a sunny afternoon. The boat travels down the Yarra River, giving spectacular views of the city. Walk among old bluestone buildings and visit cafes on the waterfront of Williamstown. Melbourne’s skyscrapers glimmer across the bay at dusk, and you can also try an-ice cream from Wicecream, which has an amazing 70 different flavours (; from US$16). By Michael Little

Ranges Rover-By.Nicole Trewatha

Escape the city heat and head to the Dandenong Ranges for lovely vistas and gardens. Visit town such as Sassafras with its cafes, Olinda with its National Rhododendron Gardens, an Mount Dandenong, where you can see William Ricketts’s mystical sculpture. Try staying at one of the area’s many boutique b&bs, ideal for relaxing and pampering (

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