Melbourne First Impressions

  • Posted by TripTide HQ
  • September 1, 2012 2:33 AM AEST
  • 1 comment

Australia is recognised for laconic beach life and open armed koala’s (a popular misconception; the grey bears are tremendously grumpy and will take smug pleasure from weeing on you).  And these national associations are well earned.


The country boasts connotations of outdoor adventure; welcomed by vibrant natural beauty and beaming sun.  The population is made up of tanned slender swim wear models; who have an innate panache for sport and fun and spectacular white teeth.  But what for the edgy; the quirky adventurer that loves nothing more than subtitled films and to sport clothes from previous eras.


Cue Melbourne. You must forgive the horrendous cliché of the ‘arty’ type mentioned above.  I can only owe such disgusting pigeon hole labelling to a personal giddy excitement of the city.  At a party I attended on the Gold Coast, it was the beginning of the evening and conversation was more sober, a native was comparing Melbourne and Sydney.  This was in the first few minutes of our meeting and so conversation stepped lightly between subjects of personal geography, career ambitions and travel, (don’t worry, Bacardi is a friend to all and soon a guitar materialized and the same guest performed the Goo Goo dolls ‘Iris’; a bit whiney, but at the time I said ‘that was so beautiful’).  He told me that ‘Sydney is like a buxom blonde with obvious beauty, but Melbourne is a plainer girl. Seemingly with little to offer in comparison, but actually, much more interesting’.  Months later, having risen to the challenge of duplicating that party’s hang over several times, I drifted to the city myself to shake hands with the country’s Plain Jane. A crucial part of Melbourne’s ‘oh so hip’ identity is its food. Alluring bistros and cafes bubble along the city’s streets offering a range of delicacies that promise you are in a city of sprawling diversity. Accompanying this selection of quality cuisine are the cities bars and the buzz of nightlife. Despite the queue, although my own theory is that people do not resent being in a long line for the status of being someone that obviously knows what’s hot, I spent my second evening in the city on a roof top bar. Live music throbbed through customer’s conversations and the final rays of the day melted on the leaves of the secret beer garden. But not all of Melbourne’s quiet splendour is as surreptitious as this sky high hang out.


The river Yarra runs through the city centre, and I am certain that it was not just the good weather that blazed when I watched the river that made it so attractive. Art projects and markets hum around the wide stretch of water. Like footprints from the crossing paths of animals, the style of architecture changes across the city but next to the Yarra the design evolves into the slick, chic signature of a place of art with the view of the National Gallery of Victoria. But Melbourne’s greatest attraction lies in the ownership of a quality that the rest of Australia, despite its energy, does not understand; the celebration of the alternative. Although home to the grand Australian Open and Melbourne Park, the spirit of the city runs through the capillaries of fashionable avenues and arcades that weave the map of Melbourne. From eccentric chocolataries, to the history of sex book shop on Fitzroy Street, boutiques, jazz music venues and gift shops catering for all the shopper’s pretty and peculiar friend’s birthdays; the city has a quirky style that I have not seen replicated anywhere else in beautiful Oz. Sewn together by the rickety tram lines, this traditional mode of transport means nostalgia seeps throughout the city, feeding it’s effortless style and sense of culture. So yes, perhaps the ‘plain girl’ that is Melbourne may not be as physically appealing on initial meeting as the rest of shiny Australia. But this girl’s got a couple of tattoos under the electric blue lace of her underwear, and live music is a definite on the first date. 

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