While visiting Melbourne this week, I decided to check out some of those lane-ways and bars that Clover Moore thinks we should have in Sydney. On the issue of bars, I remain open-minded, though a little skeptical. I mean, do we really need even more outlets selling alcohol? Don’t we have enough. And I have to say the one “small bar”, I peered through the window into looked pretty grotty, if you ask me.I’ve was in Melbourne for work, and stayed an extra day or so to catch up with my friend Sue.

Melbourne Small Bars

As her mum was also visiting, we went last night to see “Priscilla” and we spent most of today hanging out around the city, which is where I saw the laneways. The city was also where I bought a pair of new shoes (half price Julius Marlow), before heading out to have lunch and afternoon tea at Williamstown.

Aside from that brief visit to the city today, I spent most of my time at St Kilda, hardly ever leaving the motel in which I was staying and conferencing. I mean, there was a brief visit to the hairdresser, there was a dinner at “The Melbourne Winery” (I think that’s what it was called) and there was a brief beer at the Prince of Wales Hotel. The reason for my lack of non-curricular activity was the ill-effects of hayfever, due to the beautiful but hay-fever inducing plane trees (Platanus x hybrida) you find throughout Sydney. Thus, after the official work-related activity, I mostly went back to my motel room to rest.

Maybe it’s a factor of having not moved around all that much this time, but I became consciously aware this time of how largely European the population of Melbourne is. When you go to the city in Sydney you’ll generally see a large number of Asian faces, many people from the Pacific Islands, and many people from the Middle East. That was not the case in Melbourne, where the faces where overwhelmingly European (not just Anglo Saxon, but also Italian, Greek etc). It’s something I hadn’t really noticed before, but once I’d made the observation it became more and more evident. Or maybe I just didn’t see enough of Melbourne?

Melbourne Laneways

But although seemingly lacking in cultural diversity, Melbourne does have its lane-ways and on the issue of lane-ways, I say yes please. Although I’m not sure how many interesting lane-ways there really are, the two I saw today looked kinda interesting, with lots of interesting places to eat and “to be seen”. Yes, I know that’s often a trait associated with Sydney, and Melbourne readers of this blog would probably hate such a trait being associated with “the cultural capital of Australia“, but I did get the impression Melbourne residents like “to be seen” just as much as those of us in Sin City.

I also noticed today there’s a lot of development going on at the moment, if you can judge that by the number of construction cranes across the skyline. A couple of years ago, NSW Premier Bob Carr declared, “that’s enough” to development, urging immigrants to settle in other Australian capital cities to stop Sydney from becoming over-crowded and over-developed. Hopefully, someone in Melbourne will say something similar sometime soon, lest a very attractive city could lose some of its attractiveness and charm.

3 Replies to “Melbourne”

  1. Dear James, the Yellow Peril is out there (I’m living proof!) – you probably didn’t explore quite enough. Although Chinatown is smaller in BC, there’s a surfeit of good SEAsian-fusion restaurants right up Swanston St. As for the alleys and bars, well, there’s layers and layers and they do vary in quality and style (plenty are only visible at night), and it does take time to explore – I have to say I’ve never found anything like it in SC. Which proves that BC folk DO like to ‘be seen’, as you suggest – just in their own little exclusive corners, which is dreadfully wanky, isn’t it. Can’t help it, still lerve my old home town.

  2. Hi James….
    While i don;t have any ABS data on ethnic diversity in melbourne ( hehehe ), certain areas have visually larger groups (richmond/footscray for asians, dandenong for indians etc) . i work in the CBD and in my department ( in banking) about 60% of the staff are of indian/pakistani/sri lankan background. I think there is a large diversity of groups here, but its finding ther areas they seem to hang out in. I must say that i find St kilda one of my least favourite places ( though the beach is nice and the area has some great old houses)… It is is a bit wanky… and all the beuatiful people love to zoom in and sit out side for a coffee/wine when the sun is out( spookily just like cold blooded reptiles do!!.. err but then again i like to do that as well..just not in St kilda LOL).. though i have a cousin who has a cafe there so i shouldn’t bag it tooo much hehehe. I would have happily taken you about for a daggy walk in the inner city and coffee at some less trendy place. I love a good cheap and cheerful brunch. I live in thornbury and there are great old lanes to walk down, a bueatiful creek walk and CERES is close by.. an evironmentally sustainable centre, that has an organic market, cafe and is a great space… you get lost in it and don;t realise you are so close to the city.. ( but then i did love Neilson park for this same reason.. you felt as if you were in the bush, but were so close to civilisation) … places like Cape Shank are a small drive away and beautiful, as are places like Malmsbury..little country towns that are a nice drive ( about an hour away)…. Though you guys do have the lovely Blue mountains :-) Next time you are in town… put some more time aside, grab a local guide and prepare to fall in love with melbourne……..

  3. I really must go to Melbourne properly and explore this bar and coffee culture we hear so much about. I’ve been loads with work but never spent much free time there.

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