15 Things I’ll Miss in Melbourne

Duck in and discover: Hidden gems might be tucked away in Melbourne's many alleys. Photo by Srdjan Nikolic, morgueFile

The process of leaving a place is an experience very different to when you arrive. Especially when you’ve spent a few years there and flirted with the prospect of staying long-term. We’re busy with finalities at the moment, eager to toss away the cloak of security we’ve been huddling under here and embark on something new. It is easy to get lost in that, busied with an endless checklist of errands and obligations, wishing your time away. This is not the first time I’ve moved away from somewhere I’ve lived for more than a few years. But it is the first time I’m thinking about what I’ll miss well before I go.

As I write this, I’m shivering away in a winter that's completely un-Australian. It's rainy, windy and dark outside in the middle of the afternoon and I’m wondering why we didn’t find our way up to Queensland. If I wanted to be cold, I could have stayed in New York. But Melbourne is a city whose charms lie not in its evident erratic weather. What you can depend on here is the plethora of hidden delights.

So these are the things that I’ll miss most about Melbourne. Many of them are food related, which can’t be helped given the gastro-paradise we live in (and my foodie tendencies). If you get the chance to visit, be sure to try a few of my favourites:

1. Breakfast at Café Sweethearts: This cute café in South Melbourne has such delicious pancakes and other morning fare that it’s packed every weekend day. Lunch is excellent as well. Be sure to book in advance for Saturday and Sunday mornings. 263 Coventry St, South Melbourne

2. Cocktails at Berlin: A themed bar that manages not to be gimmicky nor the least bit uncool, Berlin offers a cheeky take on the once divided city. Ring the bell and wait for one of the friendly staff to let you in, where you’ll be seated in either East or West Berlin. The clever menu and excellent table service, even on busy nights, add an element of care and hospitality not found in other establishments. Last time we were there the manager was introducing memberships and special event nights, so we’re hoping to check that out before we leave. 16 Corrs Lane, Melbourne

Not your average joe: Melbourne coffee is a recognized urban delicacy. Photo by Scott Liddell, morgueFile

3. Coffee: I read recently that Melburnian baristas were setting up shop in New York City and successfully introducing the quality and style of Melbourne coffees to the boroughs. I’m not surprised. Sit your bottom on any café chair around Melbourne, order something hot and caffeinated with a fancy Italian name, and you’ll be sipping some of the best coffee in the world. You’ll also be bouncing off the walls for the rest of the day.

4. Drinks at Misty: This low-key bar in an alley across from Fed Square gets props for never being too full that we can’t get a seat, having the perfect levels of light and noise, and that amazing paper chandelier at the entrance. We always stop in for a drink when we have time to kill at night.

5. Gelato: One of my favourite things to do in Italy is spend time in the piazzas enjoying giant cones of gelato. Here I can get an authentic stack of the full-flavoured scoops any time I want. My favourites are from Fritz, Trampoline and Il Dolce Freddo in Carlton.

6. Koko Black: If you’re looking to blow a couple of bucks on a single chocolate, this is the place to go. The good-looking chocolates here come in a variety of interesting flavours, which means that we spend more money here than we should.

7. Markets: The enormous Queen Victoria Market is the main one people know about, but I actually prefer poking around the suburban markets. We go to the South Melbourne Market every weekend for our fruit, veg, meats and breads. And kudos to Theo’s Deli for being the only place that stores d’Affinois cheese so it tastes the way I like it. Also check out the markets in Prahran, Footscray and Preston.

8. Melbourne International Comedy Festival: Melbourne does a lot of festivals but I’ll admit, we spent all our money on gelato, chocolate and cheese so we couldn’t afford to experience them all. But we always see a few shows at the MICF, including the new acts that only get a few people in a night. I love to laugh and the line-up here never disappoints.

The massive Melbourne Cricket Ground is an icon of the sporting capital of Australia. Photo by Andrea

9. Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG): Never mind the footy, I just love the look and size of it. Sure we go and yell our heads off from March to September, but I’m always sad that my AFL team has their home ground at Etihad Stadium. If Melbourne ever had an icon, I think the MCG is it. The cricket is fun to watch there too if you can stay awake.

10. Mornington Peninsula proximity: A lot of Melburnians head down the Great Ocean Road for their holidays, but I need look no further than the Peninsula for rest and relaxation. Pinots, produce and parkland make this a stimulating place to spend a few days or a few weeks. You can head to the beach or fritter away an entire day eating and drinking your way through the various towns along and inland from the coast.

11. Risotto at Tutto Bene: Don’t ask for pasta here. The specialty is risotto and it’s creamy, divine and comes in an array of flavours. Mid Level Southgate, Melbourne

12. Shrine of Remembrance: This is a spectacular monument and the way it is positioned so you can see it from Swanston Street  and as you come up St. Kilda Road adds an element of beauty to central Melbourne. I enjoy just walking in the surrounding park, but the Shrine itself serves a nice memorial and vantage point.

Wishing for a winner at Derby Day, part of the 2009 Melbourne Cup Carnival. Photo by Andrea

13. Spring Racing Carnival: Okay, so John and I like betting on the horses. I’m not too keen on the dressing-up part and the crowds are maddening, but there’s nothing quite like the Spring Racing Carnival, which includes the famous Melbourne Cup day and race. If you can’t get into the spirit or don’t care for racing, at least you get the day off work.

14. Steak at Giuseppe Arnaldo and Sons: We love to go here and order a little smorgasbord of cheese, antipasto and cured meats for dinner. But one day I tried their steaks and fell in love. I know Rockpool is just down the way, but you really should give the steaks at GAS a try sometime. Crown Entertainment Complex, Ground Floor

15. Sushi at Shoya: I dream about the eel at this Japanese restaurant. My first experience here was for sushi by myself at lunchtime, but then I made John take me there for my birthday and I’m now hooked on the regular menu as well. There are several levels of dining, including a karaoke bar upstairs, though I’ve never gone that high. If you like any kind of Japanese food and are interested in a nice dinner out, this is my favourite of its kind in Melbourne. 25 Market Lane, Melbourne

To our friends reading this, of course we will miss you the most. But I will also have room in my memory for of all these facets of Melbourne and the time we spent here.

Do you live in or have you visited Melbourne? What are a few of your favourite things?

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12 years ago

Being from Melbourne as well, I agree with your list above, but most if not all will still be there when you return. Enjoy your travels, as home is always sweeter when you return.

Reply to  Jason

Thanks for stopping by, Jason =) With all the changes happening in Melbourne lately, I’m sure there will also be many new things to look forward to next time we’re here as well!

12 years ago

OMG, Tutto Bene is one of our favourite restaurants! The risotto here is the best in the world, in our slightly biased opinion. 🙂

And of course we’ll vouch for the Mornington Peninsula since we live there! One thing that’s missing off this list are the trendy shopping boutiques throughout the metropolitan area (particularly South Yarra/Prahran).

Reply to  Amy & Kieron

Indeed – there are lots of awesome little shops all around Melbourne. I guess I forgot that because I haven’t been shopping in over a year! (except for the necessities) Have to save for the big journey =)

13 years ago

right on about the coffee! when im not home in melbourne i miss it sooooo much, as well as the cafe culture in general. but, the amount of times i tell people from around the world that melbourne has some of the best coffee and get abused is ridiculous. especially when they say how much they love starbucks! im really missing the footy too. especially since the demons are actually playing well! thanks for reminding me of home. jamie from http://www.cloudpeopleadventures.com

Reply to  Jamiepdavy

Now you’ve got me worried about just how much I’m going to miss the coffee, haha =) Pretty much all of the Starbucks shut down here a couple of years ago. It was crazy – they just all vanished…not too many left. So tell people that! Demons are doing well…I’m a Saints supporter but have been glad to see Melbourne moving up. ~Andrea

13 years ago

Haven’t been in Melvbourne in almost 10 years – want to go back now! Great city!

10 years ago

I miss the dogs we looked after for a month, Mac and Poppy. I miss the sound of the trams rumbling past at the top of the road. I miss the trams. I miss Lentil as Anything in St Kilda. I miss taking the dogs for walks on the beach. I miss Barb and Pete who invited us to drink champagne in their Bali hut on Christmas day. The State Library of Victoria. The Lanes. The cake shops in St Kilda. the indie coffee shops. I miss the friends we house sat for. Can I go back please?

10 years ago
Reply to  Coral

So happy to hear you had such a wonderful experience! I definitely missed things in Melbourne more than I thought I would – we lived there for a few years. Thanks for sharing, Coral =)

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