Sunday, September 22, 2013

MELBOURNE: Favourite Haunts and Laneways

I have some favourite ‘haunts’ or spots in the city and in St Kilda, and got to visit a lot, though not all, of them during this visit. Here are two of my favourite hang out spots.

Without a doubt my favourite spot in the city is Degreaves Lane. It has this wonderful atmosphere a great range of cafes and shops and always the most interesting people.  It zig zags into what is called Centreway Centre (but I think of it as an extension of Degreaves) across Flinders Lane.

I was lucky during this visit as it was around the corner and around the corner in a short S like walk from my apartment, and of course my first destination once I settled after arriving. It was thriving as always, cafes and shops I love and atmospheric. Hello Lover I whispered to myself as I turned into its magnificence. I choose a cafe I hadn’t eaten at before, Xpressomondo, that served all day breakfast and ordered a stack of corn fritters with cottage cheese, avocado, bacon and basil pesto. Perfection!

There is a range of cafes, boutiques, a book shop, papier, and other interesting places in Degreaves. To walk through there at least once a day made my heart swell. Around the corner in Flinders Lane is the amazing City Library, complete with a piano on the mezzanine, a piano a passer-by was playing Rhapsody in Blue (my favourite song ever!) on as I entered. Also Quick Brown Fox, one of my favourite accessories shop, snap cute green flatties on the first day!

Another favourite place I like to hang is in and around the much maligned Federation Square. I love the place, perfect for people watching, great views along the Yarra to the MCG and back to the Arts Centre. Flinders Station, St Paul’s Cathedral, Chapter House Lane, Hosier Lane and The Forum.

Favourite places to hang are on the little stone wall outside the ACMI, opposite Hosier Lane, lots to watch going on there plus beautiful views of The Forum, a stunning old theatre still in use.

Also the beer house tucked behind ACMI, in Federation Square itself, so much to see, I could sit there for hours. And on the edge of the bridge across the Yarra, just down a little on the Federation Square side, views down the river, across to the Arts Centre and Station and back to Federation Square, beautiful photos in every direction and lots of fun people watching.



Again, I was there almost every day, getting overrun by people leaving the MCG after a match, enjoying the sunshine or escaping into cafes when raining. One day I went to the bathroom in sunshine and left to rain with the square soundtrack playing Singin’ in the rain...true! Always a sight to see and a story to tell.

I love exploring the laneways and re-explore some over and over, but I find new ones each time I visit.  I have already mentioned Degreaves. I also adore the Royal Arcade and The Block Arcade, they are very beautiful and old.


Another favourite is Cathedral arcade, due to its cathedral ceiling. Above that arcade is a great bookstore and a wonderful vintage clothing store.

This year however, I was more organised, having purchased a fabulous little book called, Laneways of Melbourne! It details every lane and what each has to offer and comes with a map of them all!!! So I decided to make a planned attack, and explore, marking off sections of grids. I worked on a large section from the corner of Swanston and Flinders up to Exhibition Street and Collins, which is essentially 9 blocks and many, many lanes!!!!

This area included famous lanes like Hosier and ACDC and little hidden gems. I explored Collins Place, City Square and Regent Place and many more.
ACDC Lane, named for the band, has a bit of graffiti but is mostly unexciting, the next two along, Duckboard and Malthouse have a lot more to offer.

Hosier is the most famous of all Melbourne Lanes, completely filled with great graffiti, and near Movida and The Forum Theatre. The day I was there the art was being touched up and redone in places, quite exciting!


Collins Place has a wide range of shops, cafes, and cinema and backs on The Sofitel and its gardens etc, quite a little haven. It also has a huge skylight which was mesmerising.

I’ve never walked through Regent Place before which I took from Flinders lane through to Collins Street. You pass through the amazing lobby of The Westin Hotel and come out near the Regent Theatre, it’s a must see 5 minute walk!

The other highlight was Chapter House Lane, which takes you from Flinders Lane back to Flinders Street opposite Federation Square. In fact, Chapter House Lane and Regent Place almost line up. Chapter House lane is old and lovely and takes you down the side of St Paul’s Cathedral. The covered lane is very gothic and has a sweet stairwell you walk down and see the modern buildings on Federation Square in front of you. Quite remarkable, also gives you some interesting angles of the cathedral itself.



Next time I visit I will attempt another section. I did see more laneways in my travels this trip of course, but not as concentrated an effort as this section!
And I 'discovered' a little hidden (well, to me) garden. At the back of the Arts Centre and before the Ballet Centre is a cute little garden area with lovely lavender, other flowers, and sculptures. It started to rain when I was there, so next time I will sit a while longer. I did fall in love with the lovely ballerina there! 



Anonymous said...

I haven't been to Melbourne for about 15 years! I was there the day Jeff Kennett lost power! Pre Fed Square. Long overdue for a visit, and your blog is certainly whetting the appetite!

Simon said...

Not sure what happened there - I didn't intend to be anonymous!

Cathy said...

I wondered who that was! 15 years is insane, I was freaked out with my 2.5 years. For me I usually make the trip 1-2 times a year. It's great for a faux European feel :)

Crinau said...

Oh thanks for the heads up about Cathedral Arcade (it's on my list to visit next time). And now I am hungry. Corn fritters with cottage cheese, avocado, bacon and basil pesto sounded yum!!!

Cathy said...

It's in the Nicholas building on Swanston between Flinders Street and lane. I love it! And the corn fritters were amazing!!