South Melbourne is one of Melbourne’s oldest suburbs and remains a true gem in our city. With its thriving food scene and shoppers paradise on Clarendon St, South Melbourne is without a doubt an exciting place to explore. We’ve mapped out the perfect day to spend walking about this stunning suburb.
A Little History:
Before we get started, it’s great to know a little about the place you’re traipsing about, right? First settled by Europeans in the 1840’s, South Melbourne has historically been known as Emerald Hill, a borough situated on an old volcanic outcrop. It wasn’t until 1855 that Emerald Hill was proclaimed a separate borough and land sales began. By 1872, Emerald Hill was pronounced a town and the population grew. South Melbourne industrial and residential areas continued to grow from this time. Migrants increased in South Melbourne post-war, with the largest influx being Greek migrants, arriving following WWII. The 1980’s saw the largest wave of gentrification, where many of the terrace homes were restored and renovated. The new middle class moved in from here, and house prices continued to rise. According to the 2016 Census, today’s median weekly rent is $438.
8am: You can’t visit South Melbourne without a trip to St. Ali. Salvatore Malatesta, the mastermind behind St. Ali’s speciality coffee will serve you the perfect brew to start your morning. But don’t just settle for a caffeine hit, be sure to sit down in this trendy warehouse on Yarra Place for an amazing breakfast too! Our recommendations? The crab bao bun made of soft shell crab bao, bean sprout, nam jim and spiced cashew salad, mango & chilli jam. Or for something a little sweeter, the buttermilk pancakes with chocolate brownie, honeycomb, berry compote and vanilla anglaise.
10am: After a deliciously filling breakfast, work it off with a walk along South Melbourne Beach. Get some fresh salty air either by walking along the boardwalk or on the sand, where you are sure to find fellow walkers, families, swimmers and volleyballers (depending on the day). A perfect spot to people watch (if that’s your kind of thing) or perhaps just take in the serenity!
11am: If you then find yourself in need of a mid-morning coffee, head over to Coventry St and check out Cottle Coffee. Perhaps not as famous as St. Ali, but something just as worthy. Richard Cottle continues to run this family business, which is over 40- years- old. Sourcing beans from all over the world, Cottle Coffee’s vast experience and multi-tiered history continues to help this small family run business evolve their perfect cup of coffee. And while you find yourself on this street, pop into Coventry Bookstore for a browse at their collection of reads. While paperback may be dwindling away in our century, this independently run business manages to create a timeless atmosphere the leaves you feeling just a little nostalgic.
12pm: Ahh yes, the famed South Melbourne Market. Something that cannot be missed on your day in this suburb. Upon approaching the market you’ll be met with the smell of roasted coffee beans and fresh bread. This market is a one stop shop for the country’s best and freshest produce, the ultimate foodies paradise. With over 145 traders, we simply can’t list all the amazing stalls here. So you’ll just have to take the time to get those steps up. One stall that can’t be missed however is the South Melbourne Market Dim Sims. Trading since 1949, this stall is an icon. Be sure to know what you’re ordering in advance so you’re not caught holding up the queue of drooling dimmy fans! They’re so good we recommend ordering a bag of half a dozen! But this stall is just one of the amazing food vendors this market houses. There are so many more including a french inspired bakery, delis, fresh fruit and vegetables. The market also features quirky homeware stalls, fashion and accessories.
2pm: After well and truly eating your way around the market, it’s time to hit up famed Clarendon St. With some beautiful boutiques, homeware stores and everything in between, it’s almost impossible to walk away from here without swiping your card a few times.
4pm: The Emerald Hill Library and Heritage Centre, located opposite the South Melbourne Town Hall on Bank St is your number one stop on your day’s tour for historic and digital records, art and heritage collections, local maps of Melbourne and more. Open till 6pm on most days (sidenote: its closed Saturday / Sunday), we recommend checking out the Heritage Collection. This Collection consists of furniture, photographs, postcards, governmental and societal artefacts and much more, all dating back from 1855 onwards! Unleash your curiosity and inner geek with a trip into South Melbourne’s past.
5pm: It’s surely wine o’clock by this point?! The Albion’s newly renovated rooftop is a point of interest. After a builder deliberately started a fire here two years ago, this place has had a huge renovation, which includes a rooftop bar! The rooftop offers delicious cocktails and city views, the perfect spot to watch sunset. Here you’ll find Espresso Martinis and other cocktails, along with an extensive wine and beer list. So sit down, relax and unwind with a few drinks.
7pm: If fancy’s your thing then you must try Lume. Located back at Coventry St, this is a special treat to finish your day. Interesting fact, Lume was formerly home to a burlesque club. Pronounced Loo-May, this isn’t just a restaurant that serves food, but rather a restaurant that create an experience to blow your mind. To understand what we mean, you’ll have to book and experience it for yourself! If, on the other hand you are after something a little more simple, check out South Melbourne Railway Pub. Located on Ferrars Street, this is a perfect place for the whole family. Offering a classic Australian pub menu including a list of burgers, chicken parma, and the classic fish & chips – they also have a kids menu! You’ll be left feeling satisfied and ready for bed after your big day of exploring!