So it’s getting to that time of semester: you envisaged having explored Melbourne by now, but then Ormond happened. Why not set aside a day this week to test my template for a downtown frolic?
Bikes make everything more fun, so get hold of one if you can. I recommend some kind of windcheater as well; even if it doesn’t seem too cold out, it will when the air’s rushing straight through your sleeves. Melbourne winter hss got bite, and it’s coming, so be prepared.
What else to bring:
Water bottle. Why waste three dollars on bottled water? That’s half a $6 ‘Cheap Monday’ ticket at the Nova (380 Lygon St)
Helmet. TC? $146 fine – not an option.
Smartphone. Map if you’re old school.
Cycle down Royal Parade, turn onto Elizabeth St, and stop at Queen Victoria Markets (513 Elizabeth St). Queen Vic offers a plethora of delectable goods and is my ideal morning destination any day of the week (except when it’s closed, on Mondays and Wednesdays). Grab a smoothie from Juice Haven (Shop 57-60) to stave off the hunger, and sip while you enjoy the banter between stalls. Choose yourself an avocado and a fresh Turkish roll, and don’t forget to haggle.
You’re packing a picnic, but if you’re looking for the perfect appetiser, stop at the American Doughnut Kitchen. You won’t be disappointed. Cooked on site, rolled in sugar and oozing raspberry jam, the flavours are enough to make you yearn for a life in the comforting arms of Uncle Sam.
Back on the bike, cross over Elizabeth St onto Swanston St where the cycle paths are somewhat less erratic. Follow Swanston until it becomes St Kilda Road, and turn left into the Botanical Gardens; a great place to set up your little picnic provided you’re not drenched and shivering, cursing me for sending you out into a torrential downpour (you should know by now to read BOM before you leave your room). Sit back, chew slowly, and take pleasure in a good book or lively conversation.
It’s about 10 o’clock now. Full of omegas after that heady melange of baker’s bread, avocado, and nature, you should be raring to go. Take it easy back over the bridge, and swing a right at Flinders St, then left up Spring St, continuing as it transforms into Nicholson – you’ll be cycling for a while. Take a right onto Gertrude St, and park your bike.
There’s a lot to see on Melbourne’s premier hipster street, from expensive boutiques to op-shops that actually have great, cheap stuff. You know how you can feel completely overwhelmed upon entering Savers? How your friend looks bangin’ in that vintage paisley shirt they just ‘picked up’, while you spend ages prising apart the items on each rack, finding nothing but size 18 Supré clothing from the ‘90s? That’s why you go to Gertrude St. You might pay a bit more, but they’ve done the crap-cutting for you. Puf’n’Stuff (116 Gertrude St) is a fairly reliable place to get your indie on. If your wardrobe’s already full, there are plenty of shops for kitting out your room. Title offers an eclectic mix of records and CDs, and nearby on Brunswick St, Zetta Florence (197 Brunswick St) is the perfect place to blow the budget on charming stationery and decorations.
It’s about 1pm. Your metabolism is on hyper-drive thanks to all that cycling (and shopping), so you’re probably hungry again. Hit up Trippy Taco (234 Gertrude St) for a cheap, healthy burrito that’ll leave you feeling soothed the way only a well-built lunch can. If you’re up for something less Mexicana and more Americana, try Huxtaburger (106 Smith St) for authentic mustardy goodness complete with chipotle fries.
Pedal left from Huxtaburger, back onto Gertrude, another right at Nicholson, and head straight on to the Melbourne Museum (11 Nicholson St). The exhibitions on offer are a great way to broaden your knowledge beyond the confines of the classroom. Check out Koori Voices, a photographic exhibition portraying the history of indigenous
It’s now 4 or 5 pm. Possibly time for a nap – I’ve tired you out. Cycle north on Nicholson, swing left at Carlton, right at Rathdowne and left on to Elgin.You know the way back from here, I hope.
Post-kip, I’d grab dinner at college to save money for afterwards, because you’re heading to 1806 (169 Exhibition St) with a group of friends. This bar is the key ingredient of an elegant evening. 20 dollars for your average cocktail means you won’t be knocking them back like Alliance cordial, but don’t fret; the silky tones of a good jazz album will lubricate conversation better than any beverage.
It’s getting late. The night sky erodes evidence of the day gone by: the last of the office workers trickle home after drinks and debriefs, restaurants gradually empty, miscellaneous city noises have softened to a muted hum. Make the pilgrimage back to the ever-faithful Swanston St tram, across the oval, and through the back gate. Let word of your adventures spread throughout the JCR. Sew the seeds of exploration in the minds of your fellow Ormondians. Remind them of the whole new world out there, just Outside The Bubble.