Tag Archive for "shopping"

Hidden Gems: Melbourne Laneways and Arcades

Posted on: July 27th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

Very rarely does a city’s list of must-see attractions include “the alley behind Chinatown”.

Or “the dead-end street covered in graffiti”.

But Melbourne isn’t your usual city and you aren’t looking for the usual destinations.

If your idea of travel involves “doing as the locals do”, then head to Melbourne’s laneways and arcades and learn to love the city from the inside out.

What Are Laneways and Arcades?

Melbourne’s laneways (small, tucked away alleys) and arcades (covered shopping plazas) boast a diverse array of hidden, locally owned cafés, boutiques, shops, restaurants and bars. This cosmopolitan heart of the city is the true definition of a “hidden gem”.

In fact, much of the magic of the city is found in Melbourne laneways and arcades. We’ve pointed out some highlights, but while you’re in Melbourne there’s nothing like a walking tour with a local guide to show you around and chat you up in person.

See Amazing Street Art

One of the first things you’ll notice in Melbourne’s laneways is the large amount of street art lining the walls. Not even the dumpsters and trash cans are immune to being beautified by local artists. Here are some of the best places to see colorful works in person.

Hosier Lane

You may not even notice the entrance to Hosier Lane tucked between a handful of non-descript offices and apartment buildings on the south-east end. But once you enter the innocuous alley, you’re confronted by walls of bright, colorful artwork.

Melbourne Laneways and Arcades

Photo: Roberto Seba

Hardly a single square inch of brick or stone is left unpainted. Much of the art on Hosier Lane has been commissioned and permitted, but the rest exists in a legal grey-area. You may even see an artist at work adorning the wall with a new piece. Regardless, we think you’ll find it a beautiful place to begin your laneways and arcades tour.

Melbourne Laneways and Arcades

Photo: Roberto Seba

AC/DC Lane / Duckboard Place

These two laneways circle around a cluster of restaurants and the infamous Cherry bar. The walls on Duckboard Place are covered in great art, but the standouts are the larger than life pieces that adorn the western and eastern corners.

Melbourne Laneways and Arcades

Photo: Robert Blackburn

Once you turn on to AC/DC lane, you can’t miss the mural of Angus Young from the Australian rock and roll band for which the lane was named.

Union Lane

This barely-there laneway is almost narrow enough to touch both sides with your arms outstretched. The wall to wall covering of paint makes this laneway one of the most covered in the city. At any time of day, you’re likely to encounter artists making their own mark.

Parts of the wall are covered in so much paint that you can press down with your fingertip without ever touching the brick behind it!

Shop Local Boutiques

Melbourne is a chic Aussie city. As such, they take their fashion and shopping very seriously. You’ll find some chain fashion brands, but Melbourne is best known for its boutiques and one-off shops.

Impressive arcades and tucked away lanes house some of Melbourne’s best boutiques to find unique clothing and other gifts. Check out local clothiers and artisan fashion shops to get decked out like a fashionable local.

Melbourne Laneways and Arcades

Photo: Rob Blackburn

Royal Arcade

This shopping plaza is aptly named for its architecture that looks like it was pulled straight from Victorian royalty. The building itself is a true Victorian antiquity. It was constructed in 1870 and stands to this day as the oldest shopping arcade in Melbourne. Shopping at the Royal Arcade feels like you’ve stepped back in time.

Natural daylight fills the inviting space from overhead skylights supported by intricate arch-work. At the Royal Arcade you’ll find everything from bespoke clothing and tailors, jewelers, game shops and more.

Flinders Lane

In the past, this thoroughfare laneway served as Melbourne’s textiles manufacturing center for more than 100 years. These days, Flinders Lane continues its fashion tradition as the home of some of Melbourne’s best fashion boutiques.

Nearly 20 one-off shops are clustered on Flinders between Russell St and Elizabeth St alone. You’re sure to pick up a fantastic find from a local clothier.

Somerset Place

Take a quick turn on to this laneway for high fashion finds. Somerset Place is home to high-end menswear staple Comme des Garcons. Just a few doors down, Belmore Australia is a local bootmaker that specializes in timeless design and craftsmanship. It’s rare to find a local shoemaker, but Belmore’s entire manufacturing process is done right in Melbourne.

Get Caffeinated

While you’re trawling the laneways for local art and goods, grab a pick me up from one of the local, independent coffee shops that line the streets. There are so many cafes in Melbourne that you’re never far from a great cup of coffee. After all, this is the city that lays claim to inventing the flat-white! The latte like beverage recently rose to international fame when Starbucks began offering it at it’s locations worldwide.

Cafe culture in Melbourne is world-renowned and each space offers a unique and distinct local experience.

These hidden laneway cafés are easily missed and they like it that way. When you happen upon a good one, you’ll feel like a true “in-the-know” local. Skip the Starbucks this time and try a local brew from one of these cafes:

melbourne laneways and arcades

Good 2 Go: Blink and you might miss this endearing hole-in-the-wall, surrounded by and covered in Hosier Lane’s swath of spray paint.

Krimper: Look up “rustic charm” in the dictionary and you’ll find Krimper. A café where the clientele is as hip as the decor

Manchester Press: A small door opens in to an airy space in this tucked-away café. Manchester Press focuses on coffee at its purest, with featured single origin blends and no frills.

Have a Drink and a Bite

Melbourne holds the distinction of having the highest concentration of restuarants and cafés per capita than anywhere in the world. The large, multi-cultural population is represented by more than 140 nations. This means that Melbourne’s food scene is eclectic, diverse and never dull. Whatever you’re in the mood for, you’ll find it in Melbourne.

MoVida: A hip, Spanish-tapas bar just off Hosier Lane with a street-art covered façade – pure Melbourne.

Rice Paper Scissors: Other than the fact that we love the name of this Southeast Asian-fusion spot, the street-food inspired tasting menu is perfect for both a quick lunch or a date night.

ShanDong MaMa Mini: Located on the infamous Centre Place (one of the most photographed spots in Melbourne!), this dumpling bar is a Melbourne staple.

Lustre Bar: Right across from ShanDong MaMa mini on Centre Place, this chic cocktail bar is perfect for after-dinner drinks. The crimson, plush interior is like if David Lynch opened a cocktail bar. Upstairs location provides prime people watching to the street below.

Laneway Greens: A health-foodie’s paradise featuring salads, juices, smoothies, acai and grain bowls and more.

See Melbourne Laneways and Arcades

Want to learn more about Melbourne’s hidden gems? Let one of our Destination Specialists give you the low-down on more unique Melbourne finds. We’ll make you feel like a local and ensure you don’t miss out on any off-the-beaten-path sights.

Add Laneways and Arcades to My Trip

Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


 

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Shopping in Sydney – Queen Victoria Building

Posted on: June 8th, 2017 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments


Shopping in Sydney

Image Credit: Daniel Boud; Destination NSW

For the best shopping in Sydney visit the Queen Victoria Building or QVB, a beautiful landmark in the heart of Sydney. It’s rare to find a destination that fulfills the desires of shopaholics, architectural enthusiasts and history-buffs, but QVB gets it done!

The architecturally splendid building, constructed in the 1890’s, takes up an entire city block.  It can be accessed by George, Market, York and Druitt Streets.  It’s also easily accessed by train via underground walkway from the Town Hall Station.

A Rich History

The Queen Victoria Building was first constructed as a Municipal Market with a concert hall and warehouses for local artisans and service providers of the time. The building’s function changed throughout the years to accommodate the needs of the city,  including a stint as a city library and offices for the city counsel.  Sadly, this amazing building was left to fall into disrepair and it was nearly demolished in the 1950s.

Luckily for us, the 1980s brought restoration to the Queen Victoria Building and it became a mainstay in Sydney’s shopping culture. Recently, the building underwent another $48 million Australian dollar 6-year restoration that reflects its original design by faithfully restoring its arches, pillars, intricately titled floors, grand central dome and sculptures, while modernizing services for savvy shoppers.

Queen Victoria Building History

Image Credit: Daniel Boud; Destination NSW

Don’t miss these historical sights:

  • The “Royal Clock” is located on the upper level of the southern half of the building.  It’s very fun to watch as it activates on the hour with a trumpeting procession, revealing animated dioramas of English royal history through windows on both sides of the clock. Get a spot on the upper level to view the dioramas.
  • The “Great Australian Clock” which includes 33 scenes from Australian history as an Aboriginal hunter circles the exterior of the clock continuously, representing the never-ending passage of time.
  • The fully operational vintage lift (aka elevator) – beautiful and functional!
  • The Queen’s letter is located on the top level near the main dome.  In 1986, Queen Elizabeth II wrote a letter to the future Lord Mayor of Sydney.  The sealed letter is to be opened and read aloud to the people of Sydney in 2085.
  • A display replica of Queen Victoria and her jewels.
  • The Tea Room on the top level offers traditional high tea in the original Grand Ballroom.
  • Look up to catch all the glorious stained glass windows and splendid architecture of the building’s 21 domes.
  • Look down to see the intricate tile work restored in 2009 on the lower levels.

You can explore the fascinating history of the QBV on a guided tour, running at 11:30 am on Tuesdays, Thursday and Sundays from the QVB Concierge desk on the first floor.

Shopping in SydneyAmazing Shopping in Sydney

With 6 levels of shops, cafes and restaurants spanning over a city block, you’re bound to find something you want at the QVB.  In the bottom level, you’ll find Victoria’s Basement, a bargain discount store along with many food and convenience stores.  As you make your way up to the top of the building, the stores get classier and more expensive.  Find art, antiques, jewelry, fashion and fine gifts in the boutique shops on the upper levels.

Map

Add Queen Victoria Building to My Trip

Want to start planning your trip now?

Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm) and speak to one of our expert Destination Specialists today.

Melbourne Must-See: Queen Victoria Market

Posted on: May 18th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments


There’s simply no better way to spend a relaxing morning than a farmer’s market. Interacting with local farmers and artisans. Letting your culinary creativity run wild as you browse fresh, local, inspiring produce. Or just spending some time searching for the perfect, unique gift to take back home.

Queen Victoria Market Melbourne

Photo: Queen Victoria Market

For that perfect farmer’s market experience in Melbourne, look no further than Queen Victoria Market. Since the 19th century, this market has been Melbourne’s go to street market for produce, meat, home goods, gifts and more.

So grab a cup of coffee from a local cart, dive in to some amazing street food and walk with us as we peruse Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne.

Queen Victoria Market spans nearly 20 acres. This makes it the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere, a record you probably didn’t even know existed. Victoria Market is huge, on par with other great markets in the world like the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, the Fish Market in Tokyo and Pike Place Market in Seattle.

Organic Produce Queen Victoria Market Melbourne

Photo: Queen Victoria Market

Organic Produce Queen Victoria Market Melbourne

Photo: Roberto Seba / Tourism Australia

 

With over 600 vendors selling their wares five days a week, this is not your average farmer’s market.

Queen Victoria Market is divided in to sections called “precincts”. Looking for great produce and natural products? Start things off in the “Organics Precinct”. There you’ll find local farmers and co-ops selling organic produce and meat. You’ll also find healthy, sustainable products created by health-conscious artisans. The largest and most diverse array of organic produce in the entire city is found right at this market.

Craving a bite to eat? Head to the Market Place Food Court. World-class chefs and family run establishments alike compete for your taste buds at the food court. For a real round-the-world lunch, grab a few small plates from different vendors for a sample of Melbourne’s eclectic cuisine.

Where else can you sip Chinese tea, snack on Japanese sushi, dine on curry from Sri Lanka and finish it off with Tiramisu from Italy?

Queen Victoria Market Melbourne

Photo: Queen Victoria Market

Tip: Even though you’re all the way over in Australia, stop by the American Doughnut Kitchen. These confection-experts set up shop in a 1950’s travel van where they prepare world-famous “hot jam doughnuts”.

After you’re fueled up on amazing eats, you’ll have the energy to comb the “General Merchandise Sheds”. This precinct is a sort-of flea market meets farmer’s market, with vendors selling an immense variety of goods, gifts and kitsch. From clothing jewelry and handcrafts, to cell phones, electronics and movies. Spend enough time in this precinct of the market and you’ll find anything you could ever need and somethings you probably don’t. You can even buy a stuffed Alpaca made of Alpaca wool. We’ll let you decide whether you need that or not.

The Vic Market’s newest section is String Bean Alley, where vendors set up shop in rows of re-purposed shipping containers. Upscale, handcrafted arts and crafts by local artists are for sale in this boutique section of the market. Photographers, painters and other visual artists also have galleries set up in String Bean Alley offering paintings and prints.

String Bean Alley Queen Victoria Market

Photo: Queen Victoria Market

Queen Victoria Market is open Tuesday and Thursday – Sunday. During certain seasons, the market opens its doors on Wednesdays for the Night Market. Street performers, musicians and other live entertainment join vendors for a great night time destination event. The Night Market is a festive event that attracts thousands for a night out in Melbourne.

Make sure you carve some time out in Melbourne for the Queen Victoria Market. It’s the perfect spot to pick up some local veggies, shop for a unique gift, or simply for a lunch out in downtown Melbourne.

 

Add Queen Victoria Market to My Trip

Want to start planning your trip now?

Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm) and speak to one of our expert Destination Specialists today.