Tag Archives: Melbourne

10 things to do in Melbourne

As a Sydneysider, I am conditioned to think that Sydney is better than Melbourne. As much as I love Sydney, I still enjoy visiting Melbourne and can appreciate the city for its differences. Be it for a girls weekend, a wedding, a couples retreat, or to visit cousins- I’ve always had a good time in Melbourne-town.

First of all, the shopping in Melbourne is better than Sydney. It has the flagship H & M store, which is bigger than any that I have seen anywhere else and they have the few remaining Mango shops in Australia. Chapel St also has few more different fashion options.

I love shopping in the little laneways like the Block Arcade and the Royal Arcade with Suga- a shop where you can see them roll out and make yummy lollies. My favourite jewellery shop, The Rose Garden on the Walk Arcade, is where I bought all my wedding jewellery and accessories.

The next best thing about Melbourne is the shows. The theatre district near Chinatown always has a great blockbuster like Chicago or Avenue Q, sometimes before they make it to Sydney.

The beautiful National Gallery of Victoria is my top sight seeing pick. I was lucky enough to catch the Degas exhibit last time I was there- one of my favourite artists. The water-featured entry way always gets me straight away and the modern layout is spacious and light.

The Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium is also fantastic. The wonderful Emperor Penguins make it better than Sydney Aquarium, especially as they still have a shark tunnel.

Another good spot is the huge Fitzroy Gardens complete with Captain Cook’s Cottage. Melbourne loves its English style parks, and this one is my top pick.

Melbourne is known for its great restaurants from world class fine dining, to the Italian precinct on Lygon Street and casual laneway dining experiences like the Meatball and Wine Bar and Touche Hombre. All delicious!

It is also renowned for its serious café culture. And I must admit that these Melbourne-ites know how to elevate a café to the next level. My recent top pick is #hash with its signature hot chocolate science experiment served with fairy floss.

My favourite suburb in Melboure is St Kilda. It has the original Luna Park, the famous Esplande Hotel where they filmed The Secret Life of Us, the Beachcomber Café at St Kilda Baths and the weekend markets. I was lucky enough to live and work here for a couple of months and play the local, catching a tram into the office everyday.

With the newly renovated Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and me working on the conference circuit, there was another year that I went to Melbourne a lot. It was good as to discover the adjoining Southbank area with the Crown Casino and Rockpool Bar and Grill, both of which I rate better than their Sydney counterparts.

And of course the DFO is right near the convention centre for any last minute shopping emergencies, like suddenly finding out that you need to attend networking drinks at the Old Melbourne Goal.

And then there’s the tennis. Even this non-sports-lover has to admit that watching the tennis in Melbourne for the weekend was atmospheric; and I didn’t even get bored.

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Sydney vs Melbourne

It’s not as simple as the Harbour vs the River, because you can’t beat Sydney Harbour with its Opera House and Harbour Bridge. It’s not as easy as AFL vs Rugby League, because there’s a reason it’s called the Australian Football League.

Melbourne has the original Luna Park and a prettier central train station. Sydney has the better airport and a more predictable climate.

Both have world class fine dining and scrumptious popular Italian restaurants.

Sydney has the giraffes at Tarongo Zoo and Melbourne has the penguins at the Aquarium. Melbourne has the beachfront of St Kilda and Sydney has Balmoral.

Melbourne had the better casino until Star City renovated in Sydney, perhaps the same will also be said of the convention centres once Sydney finally completes theirs.

Sydney has the iconic Botanic Gardens and Melbourne has the historic Fitzroy Gardens. Melbourne has better shops, but Sydney has better markets.

In Melbourne, the people are nicer, the coffee shops are varied and the laneway bars are intriguing.

In Sydney, the water is more sparkly, yum cha is offered at all times of the day or night and the underground speak easies are atmospheric.

I had the pleasure of living in St Kilda for a week and near the convention centre many times for work and found Melbourne to be a very livable city. It has been known to have the lower property prices and I have often thought about moving there for a better deal in a city that has just as much to offer as Sydney.

However, with the way costs are rising at the moment, we may all be better off moving to Brisbane.

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The Fashion Files

As I have previously stated, I am not much of a consumer. I don’t keep up with fashion and prefer to wear the styles and colours that suit me. I detest the societal pressure to look model thin and the requisite downsizing of sizes that goes with it.

That being said, I am so excited about the new H&M store that is opening in Sydney’s Macquarie Centre this Thursday. I haven’t been this excited since…well, since the first Australian store opened in Melbourne and I went to that one- currently the biggest H&M in the world as the young helpful sales assistant informed me. My favourite section is the comfy casual Logg clothing that I recently found in the Orchard Rd store in Singapore.

I first discovered H&M when I travelled to England to visit my grandparents. I just found that the pants fitted me better in European clothing brand shops. I was also taken to Zara on Oxford St, purchased a black ruffled skirt and a love affair with Spanish clothing brands commenced. Every overseas trip since then has included a trip to Zara and H&M in Europe, Asia and the Americas wherever possible.

After purchasing a t-shirt with an underwater fish scene in Las Vegas, I found the sub-brand Trafaluc and it is now my favourite section in a Zara store. When Zara opened in Sydney I was ecstatic, but this enthusiasm quickly turned to disappointment as I realised that in the tradition of many fashion outlets in Australia, we were at least one year behind all the European fashion.

The same could be said of the Sydney Mango shop, which went one step further and held leftover stock from Europe as far as I could tell as I found the exact same pair of black high heels that I had bought the previous year in Belgium. They used to have a great shop on the Gold Coast, but have now closed this along with all their other shops except for the flagship store in Melbourne and now distribute through David Jones.

On a recent trip to Barcelona, I saw the Desigual label. Very pretty and colourful, but a little too young and hip for me!

Now if I could just take a mental picture of my wardrobe so that I don’t end up buying the EXACT same top twice that would be great.

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What’s your handicap?

As the whole world goes soccer mad, I thought it would be timely to address my handicap- sports.

I am about the least sporty person I know and in a country that is obsessed with sport, this can sometimes be a problem.

At school, I was horrified that sports afternoons and carnival days were mandatory. I am very uncoordinated, look funny when I run and never did learn how to catch a ball.

We never watched sport either live or on the television at home- unless you count the cricket matches my mum sneakily watched while dad and I were asleep.

Even now, I couldn’t tell you what the difference between rugby league and rugby union is, even though it has been explained to me many times.

When the Olympics were on in Sydney in the year 2000, I did get caught up in the PR spin and may have an Olly the kookaburra and a Sid the platypus lying around somewhere.

My bestie roped me into playing social soccer and even touch football as only a bestie can. Social being the operative word as I don’t think I ever scored a point in either game.

I have been to some sort of football match in Canberra where there was a mascot of a horse, but I’m not really sure who was playing as my friend and I talked through the entire game.

I have also been on a weekend trip to Melbourne with friends to watch the tennis. Melbourne and friends being the draw card in that scenario, not the tennis.

My husband loves watching games of anything and has tried over the years to gain my enthusiasm for all things sports. While I admit that some facts have gotten in by osmosis and I can on occasion appear to know what I am talking about, I still don’t really know what is going on most of the time.

The only time I have really gotten into the swing of things, was when I was at university and the World Cup soccer was on. I have to say, that Sydney did the World Cup well that year. There were big screens everywhere in all the large public places with parties going every night and the atmosphere was amazing.

So enjoy, sports mad people! I realise I am in the minority, but you can find me tucked up in bed with a good book instead.

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By special request…

When I was a teenager, all my friends wanted to go to the Big Day Out and I just wanted to see a Janet Jackson concert.

When I started to go out, I got right into dance music and I had all the Ministry of Sound albums. I danced for hours at the Krafty Kuts show and went to music festivals like Good Vibrations and Harbourlife.

My entire CD collection was stolen while I was at university, which probably doesn’t sound so bad in these days of iTunes technology, but at the time it was devastating. Even after replacing many albums, my collection has never been the same.

Working in grass roots events early on in my career, I found myself driving all day with a packed car to places like Parkes and Gunnedah. My CD’s were my friends on these drives- they would pass the time, keep me awake and exercise my vocal chords.

In melancholy moods I listen to The Cranberries, Portishead or Dido. In more upbeat times I favour Texas, Fat Boy Slim or Black Eyed Peas. I have always liked Sheryl Crow and her wonderful lyrics.

But my all-time favourite band is Garbage. My friend Sarah introduced me to their debut album in 1997 and I have been a fan ever since. After not releasing an album for seven years, “Not Your Kind of People” hit the shelves in 2012 and I was lucky enough to catch their accompanying live show in Sydney.

My mum first took me to a musical when I was younger and I have been addicted to show tickets ever since.

I will go to pretty much anything by Shakespeare and have dragged my husband to The Complete Works of William Shakespeare and Romeo and Juliet.

I love watching the ballet at the Sydney Opera House and have been lucky enough to see The Nutcracker at Christmas time and most recently, Cinderella.

Of course, my obsession with vampires has led me to see more than one show at Dracula’s.

I like to catch a show while travelling and have seen Lady Salsa on the Gold Coast, Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas, the Lion King in London and Avenue Q in New York.

Recent musicals that I have enjoyed are Strictly Ballroom for the Spanish dancing, Legally Blonde for American cheese and Priscilla Queen of the Desert for the fabulous costumes.

But my favourite musical so far is Chicago which I saw after a bottle of wine with my bestie on a Melbourne girl’s trip. The question is- was it the wine, the company or the show? Perhaps a combination of all three.

Thanks to all my theatre buddies past and present- you know who you are! I hope you have enjoyed the show as much as I have.

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