For warm weather the best time to come to Melbourne is between November and April. The winters may not be as harsh as Europe or Canada but Australia is not built for cold weather, it is a beach culture. Houses are poorly insulated and the southerly winds will cut through a thin coat. Melbournians wear layers because random weather changes are expected.
When the sun is out the locals are basking. There is a mass exodus to the coast in January, Easter and Public Holidays, if your planning an Ocean Road tour during these times book early. Bayside beaches fill up and most Tourists head for St Kilda but South Melbourne and Brighton Beaches are more relaxing.
Inner city Melbournians, get up early on Saturdays and have breakfast together in Cafes, the best places fill up quickly. On a hot afternoon, the South Melbourne market has great outdoor seating under a large golden canopy, enjoy Mediterranean cuisine and a glass of wine. Expect to eat dishes from all over the world, each new flood of settlers has brought their food culture with them and each gets its day in the spotlight. Currently everything is ‘infused’ with something Asian.
If the weather turns foul, which means the ‘cool’ (freezing) change came early, head to the NGV Gallery at Federation Square and take in some Australian Art. The City is proud of its Artists but Sport is given most sponsorship. The Art is world-class but under promoted.
The Docklands is a relatively new development with ‘state of the art’ architecture, just behind the Southern Cross Station on Spencer St. It has a futuristic opulence , a skating rink and the Southern Star.
Trains and trams are the main form of transport and very well mapped, it’s easy to follow.The MYKI card works for locals but is not visitor friendly as you have to buy it to get around. Transport inspectors can be a bit intimidating so it’s important to get one. Currently the City has all night transport on Friday and Saturday nights.
Great places for dinner are Smith, Gertrude and Brunswick Streets in Fitzroy. It’s a fabulous block of ambitious ambiance. A historical area where hustlers and artists have had ‘their day’. but currently it is urban cool.
Melbourne has great theatre but if you want to catch a local act for under $30, after dinner there are some quaint venues; The Butterfly Club, La Mama, The Owl and Cat and The Meatworks, (just to name a few) are close to town and have their own character.
Bars are numerous and many are tucked into the lane network that are the life beat of the town, most often decorated with great Street Art. Roof top bars are great on hot nights but most places have outdoor heating when it’s not great.
The highlight of Summer is the Australian Open and the best place to watch it is at Federation Square in a sun-chair. Despite Australian pride of designer beer and class wine most public places are dry. On New Years Eve drinking is banned on public Bayside beaches so cancel the beach party.
Melbourne was once called the ‘Garden State’ as we like our trees. When its too hot for the beach there are great Botanical gardens and the Ripponlea Estate offers shade and a cafe. The changeable weather has created a fashion consious culture and there are plenty of shopping strips and malls to cater for discerning tastes or a bargin.
Summer essentials are thongs and light coat. We all talk about the weather; we complain when it’s hot and when it’s cold. It is so unpredictable it is treated with suspicion.
A typical conversation.
“Its going to be hot on Thursday”
“I’ll believe it when I see it”