July 2013. It was my final month in Melbourne before flying the coop in search of…something. Something different, maybe. Now before this heads down a path of self-pity, I have to say my life was in no way “bad”. I am one of the lucky ones and I know that. My life in Melbourne had simply become mundane.
After being kicked out of my beloved London at the end of two years (read: my visa expired), I was far from ready to return to the Melbourne of old. In my head, it felt like a backwards step. It felt like all the happiness and ‘appreciation for life’ I had found in London would just disappear. Thankfully, Sydney was calling…and I answered.
As you may have gathered by now from previous posts, Sydney didn’t work out so well. Oh well. As is often the case, however, something good still came of the experience. (This may further exacerbate the fully fledged rivalry between my previous home and my forever home…but hey, it keeps things interesting.) My one year in Sydney gave me the chance to actually miss Melbourne.
Now, almost five months into my new adventure, I see my city with fresh eyes. A city full of culinary delights and cultural highlights: these are seven of the reasons Melbourne is still so magical to me…
A bounty of brunches
Brunch at Touchwood, Richmond
When I think of Melbourne, brunch is pretty much the first thing that comes to mind. That may seem unhealthy…but it’s fine, don’t worry about it. My brunching capers took a brief hiatus whilst in Sydney (no mojo, no avocado) but lately it’s been nothing but brunch. From sweet to savoury, suburbs to city, matcha to single origin espresso; Melbourne has it all. Check out some of my brunch reviews here.
Life in the laneways
Hosier Lane, CBD
I am somewhat ashamed to admit that whilst I am very much aware of my city’s laneway culture, I had not actually spent that much time in the alleys that house some of our most famed art. Degraves Street and Hardware Lane are home to some of the world’s best coffee and culinary treats, but Hosier Lane provides a canvas for some truly spectacular artwork. (Check out my favourite piece here.) Whilst these are the most well-known, the CBD is simply littered with dodgy looking alleyways; home to some of the best dumplings, cocktail bars and more. Come see!
Sports fanatics rejoice
Melbourne Cricket Ground
I am a sports nut. Pure and simple. Cricket, netball, football, soccer…you name it, I’ll watch it. Although it has to be a pretty slow day for me to actively seek out a game of golf. As it so happened, my move across the hemispheres came at quite the opportune moment, with my beloved football team in the midst of a less-than-favourable “investigation”. It’s over now though so please don’t talk about it. Seriously, don’t. I may be the only one of my friends who would organise their social life around the schedule of a test match, but in Melbourne I am no oddity. I never miss an Australian Open (except when a 24 hour flight is involved) and to be honest, when there are freebies, food trucks and Peking Duk…why would I?!
Reliving the tales of Marvellous Melbourne
Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton
27 years on this earth before I took the time to walk through my own city and learn about its history. It took a visit from a London friend to finally go on an organised walking tour and learn about the grand history of “Marvellous Melbourne”. She was excited to see the sun, I was excited to see things in a different light. Ned Kelly’s final words, European colonisation, the gold rush of the 1880s which saw Melbourne temporarily claim the title of the wealthiest city in the world (and throw back more champagne than the French, thank you very much). There is a story waiting to be heard around every corner.
A theatrical life
Matilda the musical at the Princess Theatre, CBD
London truly spoils you when it comes to the theatre. The fact that you can still enjoy Phantom of the Opera three decades after it first opened, pretty much says it all. Whilst Melbourne may not have quite the same offering, it always had enough to warrant the formation of “theatre club”. Yes, it is exactly as cool as it sounds. My mum, my best friend and I regularly attended shows, from South Pacific to Hairspray, in the beautiful old theatres dotted around Melbourne. To me, nothing beats a night out at the theatre.
Wining and dining
Stones of the Yarra Valley winery, Coldstream
Sun’s out, wine’s out. Rain’s here…so is the wine. You get the picture. Many people think that there are only a handful of wine regions in Australia: Yarra Valley, Barossa Valley, Margaret River. In actual fact, there are around 50! Probably explains why Aussies are so laid back… The food and drink offerings at these places are just incredible. Fresh, innovative produce paired with wines to please even the most clued-up connoisseur, together with views of lush rolling hills and rows of vines, a trip to the winery always puts a smile on my face. Or maybe that’s just the wine…
My gorgeous family who you can totally say hi to if you bump into them
This one’s obviously more personal. Although, in theory, you could visit my family if you felt so inclined. They are a pretty welcoming bunch. After three years away from my family, I no longer just missed my mother’s world famous butter chicken. I missed the moments. The traditional family birthday dinners, the random trips to the cinema, takeout and movie nights…the simple things that become so much more when shared with those who matter most.
They say home is where the heart is and although I left a piece of it back in London, a part of my heart will always be in Melbourne.
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