Whether it’s the palm tree-lined boardwalk and the giant, smiling face of Luna Park, or the history-steeped race track at Caulfield, the South East is a fascinating and iconic part of Melbourne.

HIGHLIGHTS

St Kilda might be Melbourne’s closest thing to a beach town, but it’s also packed with plenty of things to see and do. The bustling Carlisle and Acland Streets create a suburb everyone wants to be in. The Palais is one of Melbourne’s top concert venues, consistently hosting local and international acts – we highly recommend you grab a ticket to a show there.

Luna Park, the famous theme park located near the water with the giant, smiling mouth, is also worth adding to the itinerary.

The St Kilda Festival is held every summer on the foreshore, and the St Kilda Film Festival usually runs during May. Both draw huge crowds and remind the city of the Bohemian vibe once so strongly felt there. Markets are also held on the foreshore every Sunday from 10am, perfect for perusing with a gelato from 7 Apples.

Acland Street and Carlisle Street are both major hubs, but it’s exploring the streets and their surroundings that’s the best bit. Carlisle is a treat in itself, and is home to local favorite Galleon Café and their delicious scrambled tofu. For something a bit different try a cheese plate from Milk the Cow. Plates are available either by themselves or matched to wine, beer, cider, whisky or sake, but if you prefer your cheese a bit more gooey then a range of fondue pots are also on offer. If it’s a nice day then grab one of their takeaway packs and enjoy a picnic down by the beach.

For the chance to expand your mind and learn about Australia’s indigenous owners, and discover Melbourne through Aboriginal eyes, Aboriginal Tours and Education Melbourne have a variety of cultural tours on offer.

If you’re feeling particularly lucky, get dressed up and head to the Caulfield Racecourse for one of their many horse racing events.

COMMUNITY FACILITIES

Whether you’re looking to learn new skills, improve your English or make new friends, you can be sure of a warm welcome at the St Kilda Library. Members get access to study rooms, free Wi-Fi, and even gaming consoles, and you can explore with one of their guided walking tours.

Head to the Veg Out Community Gardens in St Kilda, the inner-city, chemical-free community garden, and experience an oasis of calm in one of Melbourne’s busiest tourist areas. Working Bees (teams of volunteers working on a project) are held on the first Sunday of every month, and there’s always plenty of work to get involved in and lots of people to meet.

Caulfield Recreation Centre offers a variety of fitness programmes for all ages, and if you’re in the mood for a dip, head to the iconic St Kilda Sea Baths and experience their indoor seawater pool, with swimming classes available all year round.

The Acland Street Medical Centre is conveniently located near the St Kilda Botanical Gardens and is open for all your medical needs. Inner South Community Health can be found on both Mittford and Inkeman Streets, and offers health, counselling, and family services.

FREE & FRUGAL

St Kilda Botanical Gardens is a beautiful place to spend the day, with Alma Park not far behind. Head online and find one of the many self-guided walking tours, taking in all aspects of the suburb’s culture.

St Kilda is on the beach, and beaches don’t charge entry fees. You can hire sports and activities equipment at Kite Republic, or simply laze in the sun and paddle in the shallows. If you don’t want to get sandy, walk along the boardwalk and watch the sunset, and while you’re at the beach you have to pick up some fish and chips to eat on the pier. Carlisle Seafood has got you covered in St Kilda.

When the sun sets, go for a walk along St Kilda Pier, and if you go right to the end you might just see some of their local inhabitants, the Fairy Penguins, coming home for the night. But please remember to treat these little guys with respect – stay well away, and no flash photography.