Simone Egger lets you in on the city's secrets
Behind the grid, beneath the branding and beyond the obvious: Melbourne is a city with soul. Step off the city's symmetrical street-grid in to a hive of back alleys. The city's little streets and laneways are seething with plucky bars and boutiques.
Melbourne's unique bar scene includes drinking holes variously known for their music, décor, drama, screenings, theme or lack thereof. Either indicate for a fresh pot to rest on that sodden coaster at a local pub, or move the cocktail monkey to one side to see the faux-bordello schtick of a three-storeys-up bar. Or deconstruct the Fringe show you just saw from the outdoor pop-up shipping-container bar.
Plenty of public galleries also populate the city's laneways; buy an Art Almanac for locations and listings. A few lanes are themselves unofficial galleries: sprayed, stencilled and painted by Melbourne's guerrilla street artists. Look in Caledonian Lane, Hosier Lane and Centre Way.
The quintessential Melbourne experience is to catch a tram without paying. Do it on the City Circle - a free wine-coloured W-class service that stops at lots of worthy spots. Stops include the wind-blown waterfront Docklands precinct, the Museum (exhibiting Fringe Furniture along with permanent displays and eel feeding in Bunjilaka), Fed Square (home to three free design and gallery spaces (ACMI, NDC, NGVA), plus the inspiring Immigration Museum.
Scratch any surface of this many-layered metropolis to discover there's still more to discover. Serendipity is Melbourne's middle name.
Melbourne (Lonely Planet)
Published October 2006
ISBN 1 740 598 377
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