In Southbank and South Melbourne, you can wine and dine along the Yarra, shop at one of the busiest markets in Melbourne, and be moments away from the beach.
Watch the sun reflect off the Yarra River during the day, or enjoy al fresco dining and check out the flames bursting out from the towers along Southbank at night. Whatever the time of day, Southbank offers lots to see and do.
Head over the bridge towards Flinders Street Station and arrive at the Arts Precinct. Here, you can watch musicals, concerts, exhibitions and more at Arts Centre Melbourne, as well as contemporary drama and dance at the Malthouse Theatre – a converted brewery that now functions as an extension of Arts Centre.
Right next door is the National Gallery of Victoria – or the ‘NGV’ as locals love to call it – which houses an impressive collection of local and international artworks. The NGV has showcased famous collections from some of history’s most celebrated artists, including Dali, Hokusai, van Gogh, Kahlo and Cai Guo-Qiang. Nearby is the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, where you can catch special exhibitions and events such as the Madman Anime Festival and gaming culture festival PAX.
Nearby is South Melbourne, famed for its huge market that brings locals and visitors together for grocery shopping and casual dining. The South Melbourne Market began in 1867 in open-aired sheds, and continues to serve patrons over 150 years on in the expansive covered market it has evolved into now. The Market serves up delicious paella and churros at Simply Spanish, as well as dumplings at Mama Tran. The 16 dumpling varieties are made on-site.
The streets surrounding South Melbourne Market, such as Coventry, Cecil and York Streets, have some of the best boutique and artisan shops selling independent designs, produce and unique wares. For kitchen and homewares made by Japanese artisans, head to Made in Japan on Wynyard Street. Mr Darcy on Coventry Street curates high-quality clothing and gifts, while Bibelot makes artisan chocolates and desserts, and is a popular hangout for afternoon tea.
More good eating and drinking can be found at St Ali Coffee Roasters, an institution for coffee fans. Kuu Cafe + Japanese Kitchen on Park Street is known for its katsu curry, Japanese breakfast platters, and desserts.
Finish your visit to South Melbourne by heading to the Albion Rooftop & Club for a little of everything: dance to the music, chill with some drinks, and enjoy a wonderful view of Melbourne’s CBD.
The Boyd Community Hub in Southbank is an excellent community centre with several facilities including the Southbank Library, and meeting spaces and creative spaces available for hire. The relaxed setting also has free wi-fi and English as a Second Language (ESL) conversation classes for anyone interested in practising their spoken English.
Keep fit by taking the extensive walking trail around Albert Park, or by hitting a few balls at the golf course. There are also several sporting grounds in the area, as well as boating facilities, if you want to try kayaking or join a sailing club.
For indoor fitness, head to Melbourne’s premier sports and recreation destination, the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre (MSAC). Visitors and members can enjoy gym and class facilities, as well as several sports courts, including basketball, badminton and volleyball courts. There are also competition pools, lap and hydrotherapy pools, and reformer pilates and hot yoga facilities.
You’ll find plenty of churches in the area, including Bethany International Church, South Melbourne Uniting Church and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia.
If you visit the Arts Precinct on a Sunday, you’ll have the opportunity to browse the Arts Centre Sunday Market, where over 80 stallholders line up along St Kilda Road and the Arts Centre lawn to sell their wares. These range from handmade gifts, homewares and souvenirs to artisan breads and desserts.
The Shrine of Remembrance has services, events and educational programs to help you learn about the sacrifice and hardships Australians went through during various wars. After listening to talks given by historians or enjoying some quiet contemplation in the internal Sanctuary, walk up to the balcony for a wonderful view of the gardens and city.
For another unique view of the city, head to the ‘island bar’ on Ponyfish Island. The island is located in the middle of the Yarra River, under Southbank’s Pedestrian Bridge, and is only accessible from the nearby stairs.
South Melbourne Market hosts cooking classes in its very own Neff Market Kitchen. There’s a diverse variety of classes and workshops with different price points, and they can be booked ahead of time.