Walking around Melbourne for any amount of time will usually take you down a bustling arcade, a secretively quiet arcade and along the river. Winding through the centre of the CBD the Yarra splits the city in two and boasts a lively and fun stretch thats is the Melbourne Southbank.
The Melbourne Southbank much like London’s is a destination all in itself. Whether you are there to visit the Crown Casino, the theatres, the galleries, the many restaurants or to take in some of the entertainment from the street performers, the Southbank can deliver a veritable array of artsy throwbacks for any mood.
I used to live and work along the Southbank and can say it is one of the nicer walks to and from work. I remember one thing that stood out was the safety. I always felt super safe around here as there are almost always people around. The city skyline forms a distinctly commercial backdrop while the river presents itself as a piece of liquid artwork traversed via elaborate yet functional bridges at regular spots, like the Southgate bridge.
I have some distinct memories of the stretch that I will happily share –
- Getting a Gelato from the Southgate centre and sitting in the warm weather and soft wind listening to a chap play swing, blues and mellow jazz on an alto sax, the same style I play myself.
- Walking along the SouthBank near the Crown casino at exactly 6pm and being thrown out of my skin by the fire display that is on every hour courtesy of the casino. When I’m cold, I can take myself back there and feel the immense heat that erupted above me and along the river in a fire dance like no other.
- My morning run – I would start the day early with my flatmates and join the city boys and girls pounding the pavement. The route was short and sweet, along the southbank to the bridge next to the Arts Centre, up and over, along Flinders St and the railway arches, past my martial arts gym which was in an arch, past the aquarium and back over the bridge next to the Melbourne Exhibition Centre and the Crown Casino. The late birds ejecting themselves into daylight from a night of penny slots and poker tables and the night shift finishing at the MEC catching the tram home to continue their nocturnal existence. I remember being one of them.
Runners can be found at all major times of the day, early morning, lunch, late afternoon and all throughout the evening. The clear run along the Yarra is as pleasant to run as it is to walk. Walking however has it’s benefits. You get to stop and look at the offerings for the less time conscious. Restaurants like Meat & Wine and bars like World can have you gastronomically captured with a curiosity for more. If not for the food and drink then for the views and ambience.
I was told once in New York “Don’t go up the Empire State Building, go up the Rock (Rockafella Tower) because then you get to see the State” – this was mind-blowing at the time and holds fast for somewhere like the Southbank. Although you loose out on the view of the Crown Casino and the Eureka Tower, you get Melbourne CBD’s skyline (top picture).
Walk along the Southbank at almost any time of day, especially the weekend an there are always street performers. Ranging from Saxophone toting jazz rats to break dancers, magicians, freestyle rappers, 3D street artists and comedians. What is incredible is the quality. These performers are true to their art form. Very good and captivating. I remember a single magician holding a crowd of perhaps 200 people in the middle of the day during the Melbourne Cup. Everyone was dressed to the gills in their finery and bent over clutching their sides in laughter, surrounding this single artist. It’s a perfect place to be a people watcher.
This is one of the best looking menus I have ever looked at in my life. I had the Lamb ribs, the pork ribs, the tasting plate – not all at once, though I think I could give it a go. $$$
Award winning High Dining inspired by Tasmania – Go for the Seared Tuna followed by Cheese board and Wine. $$$$
Surprisingly the Crown Casino has a food hall not unlike the Hawkers centres of Asia and if your on a budget, some of the cheapest food around. $$
Great yum cha right on the river. Great for people watching on a weekend morning. $$
Script Bar x Melbourne Theatre Company
I went here especially for the Neighbourhood Watch Cocktail as my dessert after a visit to Meat & Wine Co. $$$
Number 8 x John Lawson x Crown Casino
Recommend the Lemon Meringue Martini and ANY wine. $$$$
Recommend the Tequila Martinez and the Pimms Jug. $$
Stuff to Do
There is always something going on here. Whether is a theatre performance that affects the whole city (Beauty and the Beast) or a small recital or spoken word session. You can also catch so contemporary dance and micro-arts festivals
Although it cost to get up there, the Skydeck on 88’s extending platform will be sure to give you the willies over the Melbourne skyline. At time of writing it is $19.50 to get up there and $12 extra for the “Edge Experience”. The Eureka Tower is one of the worlds tallest residential buildings and has apartments belonging to some of the world biggest celebrities.
If you thought casino’s were all about gambling, think again. With some of the cities busiest bars and clubs, to the some of the best restaurants and shopping. You can literally spend all day here and not see it all.
With plenty of options for more food and drinks along with some great arts and entertainment, dropping by the Southgate Centre will cost you a couple of hours at the least and maybe some pennies. Check out the SummerSalt Festival if you are there early in the year or the Cirque Du Soleil “Totem” Exhibit. If these aren’t running, pop into HopHaus for a beverage.
When you need a stroll somewhere in Melbourne, if you need a theatre fix, if you need some of the best food and drink in the city or you just need to catch some rays and listen to some swinging jazz, then drop by Melbourne Southbank and be sure to watch out for the fire show that is usually on every hour when the sun starts going down.
For some free things to do in Melbourne along with some of the above, check out my other post on Free Places to Visit in Melbourne