40 things you have to do when moving to Melbourne

Melbourne girls weekend 2016_view from The Lui Bar

I know from experience that moving to a new city can be daunting. You don’t know how to order a beer, driving is like flirting with a dragon and it feels like everyone is talking like a pirate.

My tactic is always the same: in that first month, embrace everything there is to do in your new city like it were a champagne doughnut.

Here’s my list of everything you need to do in order to feel like a true Melburnian:

  1. Eat cheese until you turn into a big ball of brie at Milk the Cow (St Kilda or Carlton) and it would be rude to ignore the matching wines.
  2. Go to an AFL game at the MCG and cheer for the non-Victorian team. Wait. That could be just what I do.
  3. Next best thing. Dress head to toe in your team colours and watch an AFL game big screen-style at the local corner pub, where it’s compulsory that you have a parma and a pint.
  4. Shop until you’re carrying your body weight in bags at any of Melbourne’s best shopping spots. I’m looking at you Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne Central, Melbourne Emporium, Chapel Street, Chadstone and South Wharf DFO.
  5. Mortgage your house and drink a cocktail atop the cloud-grazing The Lui Bar (Melbourne city). Try and squeeze the money out of that martini by making it a sunset visit to level 55.
  6. Pretend you’re a troll living under the bridge by visiting Ponyfish Island, found in the middle of the Yarra River, underneath the Southgate Pedestrian Bridge. Just instead of eating billy goats gruff, try the cider.
  7. Skip the artery-clogging sub and walk through the freezer door at Boston Sub on Chapel Street, Windsor, and be wowed by a secret tiki cocktail bar.
  8. Go all lions, tigers and bears and spend a day at Melbourne Zoo.
  9. Drink a cocktail in the rooftop garden of tapas-institution Naked for Satan (Fitzroy), but only after trying a dozen $1 pintxos downstairs.
  10. A drive to Elsternwick – the epicentre of Melbourne’s bagel belt – is the closest you’ll come to a New York bagel on this side of the equator. Bagelicious, Olia, Aviv or Glick’s will send you to bagel heaven.
  11. Take your photo in front of the toothy clown at Luna Park in St Kilda.
  12. While you’re here, chuck a right down St Kilda Pier and grab an ice cream from the kiosk at the end of the jetty, which has been immortalised on every St Kilda-themed postcard going around.
  13. Eat a bowl full of bolognaise in the Italian heartland of Lygon Street, Carlton. My favourite spaghetti-slurping spots are DOC Espresso and 400 Gradi.
  14. Eat your way down Melbourne’s other eat streets: Chapel Street (Prahran), Flinders Lane (CBD), Little Bourke Street (also known as Chinatown, CBD), Victoria Street for Vietnamese (Richmond) and Smith Street (Collingwood).
  15. Watch the penguin men and women commandeer the ocean at any number of world-class surf spots along Victoria’s coastline, from Phillip Island to the Great Ocean Road. Warning: if it’s winter, do not leave the car unless your head is clad by beanie.
  16. Eat a plate of dim sims from South Melbourne Market.
  17. Perform a hook turn, do a fist pump and then wipe the sweat from your palms.
  18. Transcend the Eureka Tower to level 88, wander out onto the skydeck and shake hands with the clouds. Plus with 360-degree views across Melbourne and its outer suburbs, you’ll instantly be on a first-name basis with your new city.
  19. Find your favourite latte-serving coffee spot and be willing to get into an argument with a stranger about who’s coffee dealer is better. I’ll punch on for St Ali, Piccolo and Journeyman.
  20. Equally, find your favourite restaurants that you’re willing to get a black eye for. Mine are Hawker Hall (Windsor), Toko (Prahran) and Supernormal (Melbourne city).
  21. Discover Melbourne’s arty heart and see a show in the East End at either Her Majesty’s Theatre, Comedy Theatre or Princess Theatre. I lost my Melbourne musical virginity with Singin’ in the Rain (you can read about that here).
  22. Day trip out to the Yarra Valley (north) or Mornington Peninsula (south) with the sole purpose of drinking a wheelbarrow of wine.
  23. Find Nemo at the Melbourne Aquarium.
  24. Realise that Southbank is not for locals, it’s for tourists, or anyone who doesn’t mind buying a steak that costs as much as a small car.
  25. Go to a Fitzroy house party, which has more people packed into the backyard than Revolver has on its dance floor, and Where’s Wally playing projected onto the roof. If you can’t find Wally, any other equally-as-random Melbourne experience will do.
  26. Bike ride along the Main Yarra Trail, marvelling at how dirty the river is.
  27. Visit Docklands and discover where wind was born. A weird city wasteland, it’s about as opposite of ambient as public spaces come.
  28. Stroll through the Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne and pretend like you know your embryophytes from your streptophyta, while ignoring the dozens of couples rolling around playing tonsil hockey on the grass – clearly they live in a share house!
  29. Pretend you’re a tourist and take a selfie down the graffiti-adorned Hosier Lane.
  30. Then wander down the lesser-known back alleys of Melbourne – or let’s call them laneways – discovering more street art, dumpsters and hopefully no Squizzy Taylors.
  31. Uncover whether you’re a northside Salvos-shopping hipster or a southside Toorak Tractor-driving twat. I’m a southside Toorak Tractor-driving twat.
  32. Wander the labyrinth of stalls at the Queen Victoria Market, filling your basket with all kinds of meats, fruits, flowers and clothing.
  33. On the first Tuesday of November, grab your public holiday with both hands, plonk a fascinator on your head and head to Flemington for the actual Melbourne Cup, and try in vain not to lose your shoes before midday.
  34. Make the hour’s drive to Daylesford spa country and feel like you’ve fallen into a picturebook.
  35. Wander down another dumpster-filled city laneway, find the secret door to the speakeasy bar Eau de Vie and order yourself an old-fashioned while puffing away on a cigar. Wait. Make that a faux, smoking ban-compliant cigar.
  36. Do a free, three-hour CBD walking tour, which is the equivalent of a Melbourne history lesson, learning your Batmans from your Bourkes.
  37. Head down a laneway off a laneway and drink a shot out of a syringe and a vodka out of a beaker at the disused science laboratory-themed bar Croft Institute.
  38. After consuming all the cocktails on this list, climb the 1000 steps walk in Ferntree Gully. The three-kilometre trek is part of the Kokoda Memorial Track and an institution for Melbourne fitness freaks.
  39. Spend the day at Dendy Street Beach, with Brighton’s iconic wooden bathing boxes (that fetch an eye-watering $300k+, despite their lack of running water and electricity) sitting shoulder to shoulder keeping you company.
  40. Ride a tram. Get all excited that you’re riding a Melbourne tram. Then realise they’re as slow as a donkey, sometimes smell like a donkey and make you feel like a little tuna in a can of John West.

What have I missed? Comment below.

Brighton Bathing Boxes, Dendy Street Beach, Brighton


1 Comment

  1. 22 November 2016 / 2:17 pm

    Loved this! I’ve recently moved from Adelaide and started blogging ! Great post!