Personally, we feel the best time to visit Melbourne is during autumn and winter. Yes, we love Melbourne during these seasons. The past 2 trips we made there had been right smack in the middle of winter, in July and the other one recently, in late autumn, in May.
Gorgeous autumn colours
Temperatures during winter vary from day to day, with some days touching 18-20C and these could dip down to below 10oC immediately the next day! Of course, it gets much colder at night. So, it’s best to check the local weather (they are very accurate on this, believe me) before venturing out. During our recent trip there last month, the average temperature we encountered hovered around 12-18C on sunny days … absolutely lovely!
We were quite lucky to not encounter much rain during the time we were there last July and recently in May, we had beautiful blue skies on most days. Even if it did rain, the showers are usually quite light and brief. We have learned to always keep an umbrella handy in the bag whenever we stepped out.
These are some of my favourite autumn scenes in Melbourne…
The scenery during winter, even in the city centre, is breath-taking, as you can see…
Bright and sunny!
Bare or almost-bare branches of trees silhouetted against the blue, almost-cloudless, sky – simply gorgeous! I love these stark captivating pics…
The famous Flinders Station
Love the bright colours of the trams
Cycling is a passion among Melbournians
Now, on to some of our favourite food haunts in Melbourne.
8 Rankins Lane, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
Tel: (03) 9600-4054
One of the very first cafes we went to was the Manchester Press on Rankins Lane, in the CBD. Apparently this is a very popular café among Melbournians. We fell in love with it when we saw the place. Housed in an old printing press (hence the name), it’s located in a warehouse-type of building, off a graffiti-clad laneway. Looking raw and very industrial, we were pleasantly surprised with its warm cosy interior.
The charming laid-back and casual ambience is welcoming, more so with the cheery smiles from their crew. The furniture is old-school and retro, some somewhat mismatched, intentionally, I believe. When we were there, the place was packed to the rafters and we actually had to wait in line. By way of “reservation”, their crew just scrawled my name with the no. of pax onto their brick wall at the entrance, as you can see here… how quaint!
Manchester Press specialises in bagels, mostly with meat or seafood fillings, served with a salad of greens by the side – really healthy stuff. The portions are big, typical Aussie size and prices range from AUD13-15 for those stuffed with meats and seafood and around AUD8 for the simpler versions – eg butter toasted, or with just cream cheese. They are big on coffees, too. So, if you are a bagel and coffee lover, you absolutely must check this place out.
27-31 Degraves St, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
Tel: (03) 9650-6156
My nephew, Nick brought us to this little Italian place, off Flinders Lane. The dark wooden theme of the restaurant extends from the doorway to the tables and chairs. We were there for dinner and they were really busy. Their menu is centred around popular Mediterranean dishes. Service is pretty prompt with the service crew whizzing briskly up and down those narrow walkways between tables. We tried their Chicken Parmigiana (AUD19.50), a Beef Ribeye (AUD27.50) and a Agean Pizza (AUD19). We love the thin crispy dough base of the pizza, the seafood was very fresh but we wished they were a bit more generous with the topping quantity. The ribeye served on a bed of mash and topped with big fat Portobello mushroom, was beautifully done, tender and pink in the centre!
We love the Queen Victoria Market, which is a few streets away from where we were staying. It’s a huge market with clearly demarcated areas for the various types of goods it offers. The meats, seafood and fowls are housed in the main building while the fruits, vegetables, clothes and snacks are located behind the main building. The best time to buy stuff in the market is about an hour before closing time – that’s when the vendors compete with each other by offering big discounts as all of them want to clear their stocks before closing for the day. Please check their operating hours before heading to the market.
When at the market, be sure to stop by Le Croissant Des Halles for their famous Almond Croissants. It’s a huge puffy croissant filled with vanilla custard inside – best to eat this with a cup of black coffee! The café is located at the corner of Elizabeth and Therry Streets, opposite McDonald’s. Freshly baked croissants, pastries, cakes are lined up temptingly in their glass counters. Check out also their breakfast sets and their coffees – a great way to start your morning before shopping in the market!
Le Croissant Des Halles
507 Elizabeth St (at Therry St)
Melbourne, Victoria 3000
Phone: +61 3 9328 4752
One of the fastest and easiest meals to have in Melbourne is fish & chips and undoubtedly one of the most popular places to have this is Sea Salt. There are a few outlets in Melbourne but we went to the one in Degraves Street. Not exactly the most spacious place but service is fast and friendly. Besides battered and deepfried, they also sell their fish sashimi style. Depending on the type of fish chosen, prices range from AUD6.90 upwards. You can take your pick from the freshest flake, flathead, blue-eye, rockling, King George whiting and salmon. Of course there’s also shrimps and calamari too. Sashimi is also available.
The fries are medium-cut, the outsides are crispy while the insides are soft with a sprinkling of herbed salt.
13 Degraves Street
Melbourne, Victoria 3000
Phone: +61 2 9654-2095
One of our favourite snacks in the CBD area of Melbourne is Snag Stand, a casual hotdog stand at the corner of Swanston and La Trobe, right in front of Melbourne Central, actually. On the way back to the apartment, we often stop by here for our favourite dogs.
Touted as “the home of heavenly haute dogs”, we love their artisanal handcrafted sausages made from meats sourced from respected and awarded artisan butchers. With just a few tall tables set up along the walkway, it’s a popular spot for a quick and delicious hotdog. We absolutely adore their toasted brioche rolls although their poppy seed and plain rustic rolls are pretty good too. From spicy Spanish Chorizo (AUD9.90) to German Bratwurst (AUD8.90) to Wagyu Beef (AUD10.90), the selection is quite extensive. My personal favourite is the good old American Classic (AUD6.90) with a wood-smoked frankfurter sandwiched inside a gorgeous toasted brioche, topped with yellow mustard, tomato sauce, onions and sweet relish. I’m not too fussy when it comes to hotdogs, haha! Oh they also have gluten-free rolls and vegetarian hotdogs. I’m generally not a fan of potato chips but then Snag Stand’s chips are quite irresistible. At AUD3.90 a pop, the thick-cuts Tasmanian Russet potatoes are crispy on the outside and meltingly powdery on the inside… flavoured simply by a shake of sea salt flakes.
Corner of Swanston & La Trobe St
Melbourne, Victoria 3000
Phone: +61 9639 6544
The chocolate drinking culture is very much alive in Melbourne. Popular amongst the younger crowd, chocolate cafes are always packed to the brim and getting a table there needs lots of patience. One of the more popular ones is Max Brenner Chocolate Bar. They sell everything decadently chocolatey in the outlet, from gift-packs to desserts to chocolate drinks. I heard their chocolate fondue is quite legendary. We went to their QV outlet on a cold winter day and ordered their hot chocolate in their famous hug mugs. I took some time to finish the thick rich chocolate … it was just too rich (and sweet) for me. If you are a chocolate bum, go knock yourself out there.
Max Brenner Chocolate Bar
Shop 25-27, Red Cape Lane,
QV Square, Level 2/210
Lonsdale St, Melbourne
Phone: +61 3 9663 6000
*Stay tuned for Part 2!