Cultural, cosmopolitan and oh so chic, Melbourne is the kind of city where you could stumble across surprises every day. Even lifelong locals can’t claim to know each and every little hidden gem of the city, so frequently do they pop up; all the more reason to explore!
Even if, as a proud Melburnian, you’re already in the know about the city’s hotspots – thank you very much – and could even add a few onto this list, consider this a reminder to explore and indulge in the hidden little secrets and not-so-secrets that make Melbourne such a beautiful, liveable city.
Sure, we’ve all heard of Melbourne City Baths and the important role this prestigious historic icon played in the city’s public health and leisure time since its opening in 1860. But how many of us actually make the effort to visit and enjoy the world-class facilities available?
Melbourne City Baths retains its position as a leading health, fitness and wellness centre, offering equipment, programs and courses to suit all visitors – aquatics, squash, tennis, and much more. This Melburnian for one regards it as the best spot in the entire city for a workout indoors.
Alfred Nicholas Gardens
The Alfred Nicholas Gardens are a tranquil, scenic spot in the Dandenong Ranges that many Melburnians know about but don’t fully appreciate on a regular basis. It features awe-inspiring Mountain Ash Trees, a pristine lake, small waterfall, quaint timber boathouse and colourful gardens showcasing a wide range of Australian flora and birdlife, its quiet atmosphere is perhaps its greatest drawcard. It’s the kind of place that springtime memories are made of and practically purpose designed for an impromptu picnic and leisurely afternoon walk.
Melbourne boasts arguably Australia’s best Chinatown, and an important linchpin of this buzzing cultural precinct is the Chinese Museum which seeks to preserve and display the history of Chinese Australians. The museum’s frequently changing and ever fascinating exhibits showcase a sorely little-known and underrated part of Australia’s history.
In addition to displays of historic streetscapes of Chinatown, right back from its early days in the 1850s, the Museum also houses the Dai Loong and the millennium Dragon, the largest Chinese dragon in the world.
Melbourne has long had a thing for beautiful art deco cinemas and picture palaces, has it not? The Sun Theatre, on Ballarat Street in Yarraville, is a real historic and architectural gem for those in the know. In its heyday in the 1930s – it opened in 1938 as a single screen 1050 cinema, impressive to say the least! – The Sun was a luxurious, art deco landmark in the area, attracting hundreds to each Saturday night screening, often selling out completely.
After extensive repairs and renovations, The Sun is again a functioning cinema, and many of its original art deco details have been restored, including the luxurious La Scala Lounge. Where better to catch the latest blockbuster?
Point Cook is 25km south west of the Melbourne CBD, and unfortunately this distance means not as many Melburnians make the trip out to Point Cook as you would expect. In addition to its rich history as an air force base (seen today in its RAAF Museum), Point Cook’s shopping and dining facilities are worth noting, all within a friendly, small town community.
Wyndham Harbour Marina is under development, set to boast a range of water front eateries, a new beach, wetlands and up to 1000 wet berths. Neighbouring attractions from Werribee Open Range Zoo and Werribee Park Mansion make the journey great for kids and big kids alike. Not too far away, the recently developed yet already vibrant community of Allura is also on the rise.
Author bio: Marie Donaghue is a student and freelance writer from Melbourne. She loves exploring the hidden nooks and crannies of her home city, from house and land in Epping to the best walks in Emerald, and everything in between!