Friday, May 18, 2012

from the city (melbourne): urban inspiration

When Daniel's best friend offered us his car and apartment while he was overseas we jumped at the chance to spend 10 days in inner-city Melbourne. Actually, perhaps we didn't jump. I ummed and ahhed and declared it too indulgent considering we had just returned from Tasmania. But then I checked the flights and when I realised we could fly return for $300 I booked then and there.

Melbourne is a glorious city; European-inspired and wonderfully rustic and carefree. Regarded as Australia's coffee capital it serves the very best blends in the coolest of chic, urban warehouses. But, where there is coffee there is cake. Decadent cakes became a daily ritual for us - the meringue cupcake at Brother Baba Budan was a definite winner. 

We loved walking the golden leafy streets of an afternoon, running through piles of leaves before dropping into the gourmet grocer for dinner supplies. Daniel drove us around his old neighbourhoods, reminiscing about bike rides, the school tram ride and that black eye.

Busy city days were interspersed with lazy, mosey-about days where we wandered through the grounds of Ceres and Collingwood Children's Farm (more on that later). There were moments, as there always are with children, when the tiredness that comes with travelling became a little overwhelming. In those times we dropped everything and headed back to the apartment, thankful for our own kitchen and a comfortable bed. 

Melbourne is a city abound with small, quirky cafes and narrow laneways that aren't overly suited to prams and babies. And so here is my top-ten list of things to do in inner-city Melbourne (and it's child friendly!)

  • A family portrait in the photo booth outside Flinder's Street Station (there's one on Chapel Street too)
  • A wander through the famous Hosier Lane with its abundance of street art and graffiti (it's opposite Federation Square where there's clean toilets and great baby change facilities)
  • A coffee at Degraves Espresso in Degraves Street - the bustling atmosphere makes it perfect for people watching and the staff are young, attentive and a rather stylish set. The coffee is amazing and the risotto is so so good.
  • Take your children to The Little Bookroom (just down the lane from Degraves). It has the best and most colourful selection of children's books. Che's love affair with Tin Tin began there and he read his comic in every single cafe we visited. 
  • For much-needed Muma indulgence pop into the Aesop store on Flinders Lane. It's made from cardboard - quite literally the walls and shelves are made from cardboard - Che was in awe. While he marvelled I rubbed Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm into my palms - a bit of peace amidst city busyness. 
  • Head to Pelligrini's on Bourke St (recently featured on The Selby - thanks for the link Mandy). Regarded as a Melbourne institution, the 50-plus-year-old restaurant serves the very best Watermelon Granita (the perfect afternoon pick-me-up). Apparently their food is good too but they only have seating at the bar and it just wasn't suitable for us. There's also a gorgeous heart in the lane next door. 
  • If you're a coffee lover you must take a sip of the Seven Seeds brew. Brother Baba Budan is their inner-city cafe but it's teeny-tiny (seats about 10) and although its aesthetic is to-die-for it just isn't very practical with children and a pram (but because I'm persistent I parked a sleeping Poet in the corner and Daniel, Che and I had a rather luscious morning tea there - coffee pictured above!). For a more spacious and equally wonderful coffee experience head to Seven Seeds in the north of the city (where they roast the beans). Daniel had an amazing wagyu burger there and Che was delighted with googey eggs and toast soldiers. As for the crowd - wow, if ever there was a popular coffee spot for Melbourne's stylish ones this is it.
  • It's completely cliche but I'm going to list it anyway - a city-circle tram ride.
  • The Kids Corner at the National Gallery of Victoria is wonderful.  It's a big, clean, intriguing space that kept Che entertained for ages. Daniel and I got to sit back and relax and Poet was happy to crawl around and peek into baby-height mirrors. It was an absolute relief to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and Poet was so grateful to get out of the pram/sling.
  •  A trip to Melbourne is not complete until you wander through the famous Block and Royal arcades. Treat yourself to the best chocolate at Haigh's or Koko Black
Melbourne is well-known for its fabulous shopping but we decided before we left home that wandering around boutiques was definitely not a priority. However, I did sneak in a few visits to my favourite Melbourne store - Husk. Organic teas, hand-crafted homewares and bohemian decorations sit happily next to the roaring fireplace and racks of ethnic-inspired scarves. It's my dream-come-true store (if I had all the money in the world) and I came home with a new teacup, a revive brew and a basket (Daniel often refers to me as the bag/basket lady). 

Thank you so much sweet Melbournites for all your fabulous recommendations. It wouldn't have been the same without you!


  1. Jodi, Sounds as though it was a wonderful trip away. Thanks for this great post...all the links etc...
    Will have to bookmark this one!
    Hey, I'm with you on the bag/basket obsession.

  2. What beautiful pictures. My favorite is the painting on the wall. I'm glad that you guys enjoyed your time in Melbourne :)

  3. I haven't been to Melbourne for years but i remember it was such a european feeling place even then. I do hope your going to show us your new basket, i love and collect baskets too x

  4. "infamous" arcades??

  5. Oh my, you know just the way to make my heart ache with homesickness for 'my' beautiful Melbourne. Great recommendations Jodi, I agree with all of them! I'm so glad you enjoyed your time there, and at a lovely time of year also, Autumn in Melbourne is glorious.

  6. Oh wow, what a great 'tour' of Melbourne you've described. We visit Melbourne often and haven't experienced half of it. Not even the city circle tram! Must make time for a wander around the city next time.

  7. Oh Jodi...all those beautiful links and recommendations make me want to jump on a plane right now. Lovely photos too!

  8. Sounds like a great time away.
    I love Melbourne. I find the city interesting and, I agree, it does have a European feel about it.
    Great shots.

  9. gorgeous captures! i've been enjoying your IG feed too. so beautiful.
    and it looks like you have a Tintin fan on your hands there?? there are a whole bunch of those living here too :))


  10. Oh your photos have made me swoon. Wonderful.

  11. beautiful photos as always jodi!

    melynda x

  12. Hi, Jodi!
    I really love your blog.It's so full of life.
    A big hug.
    Sandra (Ernest mum. *;-) )from Barcelona.

  13. Wonderful pictures. I hope Melbourne lived up to your expectations. Husk is one of my faves too (as is Aesop & Koko Black's).

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  15. So happy that you enjoyed your time in Melbourne.
    We left Melbourne 18 mths ago to move to the beach (about 1 hour and half away)
    Whenever I go back I get so caught up in all its wonderfullness ... something that I had lost when I lived there.
    Haighs peppermint frogs - to die for, seriously!

  16. Oh Jodi what a great visit to Melbourne, you are making me want to visit soooo much, I'm going to save this post for my next visit (which is going to be very soon I hope) ..... glad you loved Pelegrinos !!!

  17. Your Melbourne photos are stunning Jodi! I really loved them all, such a great, calm mood in this city...Did you guys have time to go to CIBI cafe