The Melbourne skyline at dusk. Photo / 123rf
The first thing to say is that Melbourne is very open for business! If you are going I suggest you take a guided walk with Koorie Heritage Trust. The tour lifts a veil on Melbourne and you begin to see it through the eyes of the locals.
Although I work in the city and know how to talk about restaurants, sports, alleys and shopping, nowadays Melbourne is about the surrounding neighborhoods. I would start in Yarraville for a movie at The Sun, where you can catch a local or international indie blockbuster. Quentin Tarantino is known to make surprise appearances there. Then I would see what the Goji vegan frozen yogurt bar has to offer this week. Footscray was recently named the fifth coolest suburb in the world! I definitely give Vietnamese and African cuisine a rating and the quick gentrification means there are some lovely trendy cafes and bars in the area. Fitzroy has some of the best concert halls and beer bars in town, head to the Napier or the Union Hotel for world class pub food and look in the clothing shops for a bargain. .
Melbourne is blessed with many beautiful green spaces. The Botanic Gardens are directly across from the NGV and Buxton Contemporary, both of which are excellent. Sydney may have the beaches, but we have the rivers! The Maribyrnong and Merri Creek are fantastic on foot, by bike or with a dog. If you want to see great Australian wildlife, the Melbourne Zoo is excellent. I can’t get enough of wombats.
Melbourne is a great city for the arts. The galleries are breathtaking and of course the alleys of the city center showcase incredible street art. The Heide Museum of Modern Art is worth a visit, then you can head to the Dandenongs for a walk through a giant ancient eucalyptus forest or the Mornington Peninsula for spectacular coastal scenery. With Broadway and the West End closed, the eyes of the world are on Melbourne for great shows. Now is the time to catch Frozen, Moulin Rouge and of course Harry Potter! Harry Potter and the Cursed Child comes in two parts, you can catch them both in one day and dine in Chinatown between shows. Or visit my favorite Melbourne restaurant, Chin Chin on Flinders Lane, and if it’s crowded you have Tonka or Supernormal practically next door.
If you need a cocktail, try the Peruvian bar Pastuso for something wrapped in smoke or dry ice and enjoyed at a secret stall, or open the nondescript black door to Eau de Vie in Malthouse Lane. You’ll have time to see how the other half shop on Collins St, then catch a tram to Carlton for an ice cream.
If, like me, you like theater, you also have Red Stitch, Malthouse and Melbourne Theater Company. Rising, which has an amazing program, as well as the amazing Yirramboi, are two brilliant festivals that come to Melbourne to get excited.
Gareth Reeves was born in Christchurch and studied theater at Toi Whakaari in Wellington. He stars as an adult Harry in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Princess Theater in Melbourne. Go to harrypottertheplay.com for more information.