Because there’s more to life than food and drink (so I’m told), the second installment of Home Base covers the very best of what makes Melbourne the culture capital of Australia. Happy exploring, mates. ☾
(if you missed it, here’s pt. 1 // food + drink)
Australia’s oldest, largest and most visited art museum, THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF VICTORIA (or NGV as it’s affectionately known) is mecca for art lovers. Expertly curated with a brilliant gift shop to boot, it’s also a solid option when Melbourne’s infamously-fickle weather isn’t up to snuff. Best of all, there are two locations to suit your fancy–NGV International and the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. Choose both if you’re a museum nerd with time to spare. Limited time? Opt for NGV International which boasts the world’s largest stained glass ceiling, designed by Australian artist Leonard French.
ngv international, 180 st kilda road // southbank
the ian potter centre: ngv australia, federation square // melbourne
both free general entry, open seven days 10 – 5
instagram image credit / @ngvmelbourne
When Melbourne turns it on, head for the ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS. We’d often grab brunch nearby (The Kettle Black, perhaps?) then walk it off around the Gardens. There’s a whopping 8,500 plant species spread across 36 hectares (roughly 89 acres), so the hardest part is deciding where to head first. The newly-restored fern gully is awe-inspiring year round, and also offers a welcome respite from the relentless sun in warmer months. If you’re a sucker for succulents, head to Guilfoyle’s Volcano. The eucalyptus grove is a peaceful spot to while away an afternoon, as is anywhere along the banks of the lake. Keep an eye out for baby black swans in springtime. Or in the summer, catch a movie after sundown with Moonlight Cinema.
birdwood avenue // melbourne
free entry, open seven days from 7:30 a.m to sunset
instagram image credits: 1 x @derekkeats, 3 x @dh_yoooo, 4 x @keepingupwiththekraakmans, 5 x @frankc613; all others x @royalbotanicgardensvic
It’s easy to make an entire day of it at the HEIDE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART—as well you should. The Heide consists of three buildings ranging from a distinctive weatherboard farmhouse (Heide I), a modernist “gallery to be lived in” (Heide II), and a purpose-build museum space (Heide III) within its sprawling, peaceful grounds that include heritage-listed gardens. Cafe Heide also has an outdoor option that’s terrific for lunch. Founders John & Sunday Reed are remembered as champions of modern art and literature, and remain two of the country’s most important art benefactors. Poetically, they died 10 days apart from each other.
7 templestowe road // bulleen
instagram image credit / @heidemoma
Even if you’re not much for sports, it’s a quintessential Melb moment to catch a FOOTY GAME at the MCG or attend the annual AUSTRALIAN OPEN at Melbourne Park. Each has its own vibe. Who ya going for? is a common question during footy season—and if you don’t have a team, you’ll be promptly encouraged to root for theirs. Whether you understand AFL rules or not, it’s still a night of good fun. With a capacity of around 100,000, the MCG is the largest stadium in Australia and the entire Southern Hemisphere.
afl games, mar-sep // melbourne cricket grounds (mcg)
australian open, jan/feb 2020 // melbourne park
instagram image credits: 1, 3, 5 & 6 x @australianopen; 2 & 4 x @afl; 7 x @besolomon; 8 x @royalbotanicgardensvic
Melbourne’s often referred to as the Garden City of Australia. Enter FITZROY GARDENS, one of the country’s major Victorian-era landscaped gardens that features everything from Captain Cook’s cottage to a charming fairy tree to a lush conservatory to dramatic tree-lined avenues. Time it just right and you’ll catch an explosion of daffodils in the spring.
wellington parade // east melbourne
instagram image credits: @helenmurraycole, @tessandtone, @whatsonmelb, @mellimac79, @frankdacat
Pretty much the Downton Abbey of Australia, RIPPLONLEA HOUSE & GARDENS is a total Victorian treat with its heritage-listed historic mansion and 14-acre gardens. Completed in 1868, it’s listed on the National Heritage Register as one of the finest examples of original suburban estate in the country. Access inside the mansion is through guided tour only, which lasts about 45 minutes and is included with the price of admission. One of the coolest things about the tour: you can touch and interact with pretty much anything you’d like, from the old radio to board games to city directories. Be sure to wander the verdant fernery and grotto.
192 hotham street // elsternwick
instagram image credits: 1 x @saltedperception, 2 x @theageaustralia, 3-5 x @captureallyousee, 6 x @thediggersclub, 7 x @mrsbotanical
It’s true: there is indeed a colony of LITTLE PENGUINS living at the end of St. Kilda pier. Clocking in at around 30cm (12 inches) they’re absolutely adorable. They come in from the bay just after sunset each night and unlike at Phillip Island, you can get much closer to them here under the watchful eye of volunteers. If you go during winter, bundle up because it gets mighty chilly on the water. Photos are permitted but the use of white light (flash) is prohibited.
facebook image credits / @stkildapenguins; last image credit instagram / @stkildabeach
What’s the difference between graffiti and street art, and what makes street art, well…street art? Melbourne’s famous for the latter, and there’s no better way to experience it than with a MELBOURNE STREET ART TOUR hosted by Blender Studios. It’s the first (and only) of its kind that’s run by practicing local street artists. From spray painting to paste-ups to stencil art, you’ll leave with a wealth of knowledge and an entirely new appreciation for the ever-evolving craft. And maybe a new favorite artist.
tuesdays, thursdays & saturdays // 1:30 – 4:30 p.m.
instagram image credits / @blenderstudios
There’s no better place for souvenir shopping (or shopping in general, even if you live here) than THE ROSE STREET ARTISTS’ MARKET. Some of Melbourne’s best art and design talent can be found here every Saturday and Sunday. And it’s all unique, all handmade. Personal favorites include Wonki and J Ceramics, greeting cards by Able and Game, beeswax wraps from Apiary Made, and Ivy Design Jewellery. A 20-minute walk down George Street will take you to THIRD DRAWER DOWN, an irreverent + witty studio that’s collaborated with 200+ of the greatest artists in the world from Louise Borgeois to Guerilla Girls to David Shrigley to Yayoi Kusama. Should you one more reason to go: women artists represent 65% of the current collection.
60 rose street, fitzroy // sat & sun 10a – 4p
93 george street, fitzroy
instagram image credit / @therosestmarket; images 6 & 7 from thirddrawerdown.com
Melbourne’s also a stone’s throw away from some pretty incredible weekenders. A roundup of some of our favorites drives:
- The Dandenongs // catch the sunset from Mount Dandenong and watch Melbourne come to life at night; Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden
- The Yarra Valley // wineries galore (Six Acres and TarraWarra Estate are great options); Four Pillars Gin distillery; Blue Lotus Water Garden
- Lorne // Great Ocean Road; The Twelve Apostles; Brae; IGNI; Captain Moonlite; Great Otway National Park
- Phillip Island // Penguin Parade; The Nobbies; The Cape Kitchen; Purple Hen Winery; Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park