Melbourne is full of surprises. Branch off some of the wider and busier CBD streets of Melbourne are several laneways tucked between buildings. There are many things to be discovered and crowded with people, offering alfresco dining and coffee, cool retailers, organic stores, trendy and hip restaurants to “street arts”.
There is even a small booklet with a miniature map published by City of Melbourne, which is a must for anyone interested to explore the famous Melbourne’s laneways. I have only sampled some of them, and never get bored visiting the same laneway over and over again.
Last Saturday after a yum-cha with my nephew, I decided to take a walk in the CBD. I was so stuffed from the big, long lunch. I took the free city tram from Dockland that runs along La Trobe Street and got off at Swanston Street intersection. I was not sure where I was going. I had no plan and had no idea what I really want to do, see or buy. I walked a few blocks heading south towards Flinders Street. Then, took a right turn into Flinders Lane, which is an interesting street to look around and “people watching”.
I don’t know if it is just me or what. But, in Melbourne, no one look at each other when they walked. Not like in Hobart. People look and even stare at you as you walked past! Their eyes are so sharp that even if they drive past you, they will look or stare, and if recognised your face, will hoot, wave or call out your name. It took me awhile to get used to this unique local friendliness when I first move to Hobart from Sydney, eight years ago. I got used to the friendliness that now in Melbourne, it reminded me of how it was like when I was living in Sydney. Nobody cares who walk past or drive past in Sydney or Melbourne. I guess there are so many people in Melbourne that the chances of seeing someone that you know is one in a few millions.
Along Flinders Lane, I came across two laneways directly across from each other. “Centre Place” which is a bit dark and rustic with interesting food and flair compare to its opposite cousin laneway, “Degraves Street” with stylish alfresco dining and cool retailers. They are quite a colourful contrast from each other.
Not far from Degraves Street walking back towards Swanston Street is “Port Phillip Arcade” that joins Flinders Lane to Flinders Street. I was a bit intrigue by this small arcade. There are two Asian street stalls. One of them reminded me of an Asian street fitted kitchen either in Penang or Bangkok. I was tempted to sit down and order a dish to see what it was like. I gave it a missed since I was still full from an earlier yum-cha. I look at the menu. The noodle or rice dish costs only $6. So bloody cheap! Judging by the kitchen, it could be a good cheap eat. But, I may be wrong. Let me know if you have been there. Otherwise, it is definitely a next stop for me one weekend for a cheap eat lunch.
Laneway leading to “Port Phillp Arcade”.
Walking back towards Flinders Lane, I headed east towards Russell Street. Along the way, I saw a few professional photographers and wedding couples. I was curious and followed them. Like a city stalker. I soon realised they were walking towards one of the most popular “street art” laneway of Melbourne – the “Hosier Lane”. Also, home to “Movida” a popular Spanish bar, tapas and restaurant.
Melbourne is truly full of surprises and its laneways with little potholes add to the charm of this beautiful, most livable city in the world.