Must-do Melbourne

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Jan 19, 2016

by KENDALL HILL, Writer

Melbourne combines the best of everything – arts and culture, outstanding food and wine, world-class shopping and a sporting and events calendar to keep even those with short attention spans entertained. Here are the things you must do and see.

If you see only one exhibition… the National Gallery of Victoria’s inspired artistic pairing of Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei – two giants of 20th- and 21st-century counterculture – is a must-see for art lovers. 

If you take only one long walk… step out beside the Yarra, the city’s iconic river, which meanders east of the CBD through glorious parklands and urban bushland.

If you patronise only one rooftop bar… make it Siglo, where Melbourne’s smart set comes to play on a terrace above city institutions The European and the Melbourne Supper Club. There’s a constant party vibe, fuelled by seriously good cocktails. 

If you peruse only one market… the Rose St Artists’ Market is the place Melbourne’s creatives gather to show off their wares every weekend. It’s a microcosm of capital cool, with some great buys for good measure. 

If you visit only one garden in the Garden State… make the pilgrimage to Cranbourne to explore the stunning 15-hectare oasis of indigenous landscaping at the Royal Botanic Gardens’ Australian Garden. Watch out for wallabies. 

If you dine at only one hotspot… Flinders Lane is not only handy to the tennis centre, it’s also home to some of Melbourne’s most singular eateries, including Chin Chin, Supernormal, Coda and Tonka. Bring your best appetite.

If you do only one tour… book it with Localing. Tell these switched-on folk what your interests are (food, sport, fine art – you name it) and they’ll tailor an itinerary – “no script and no formula” – to unlock the secrets of Melbourne’s laneways and more.

If you have only one religious experience… have it in the grounds of the fabulously Gothic Abbotsford Convent, former home of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. Today it’s a riverside parkland with historic buildings, formal gardens, festivals and plenty to eat and drink. 

If you take home only one souvenir… buy it from The Melbourne Shop, which manufactures all manner of “Melbournalia” at its inner-city Fitzroy factory – from cushions to iPhone covers and canvas art. 

If you have only one dance… shimmy over to The Paddock at Federation Square, where Montreal-based Piknic Electronik stages an impromptu dance party every Sunday – complete with food trucks and sprinklers to keep you cool on a steamy summer’s day.