5 reasons to go to Melbourne

Fab food, funky shops and the best of Bowie? I'm there!

Melbourne isn’t a weather-dependent city, so I love it for a winter break. This year, I stopped off on my way to the sunny other side of the world.

1. Rest your head

My first port of call was the Ovolo Hotel, a boutique laneway hotel on the edge of the CBD in Little Bourke Street. You can walk to the shops, the river and even to Fitzroy from here. I loved my room, which was really more like an apartment. Free Wi-Fi, a hotel laundry room (unheard of!), happy hour in the lobby, muffins and pastries for breakfast, free chippies and beer in your room, Apple TV and, joy of joys, a huge shelf for suitcases. This is a real find.

2. Save your feet

Melbourne’s walkability is a drawcard, but in winter when temperatures plummet and a girl’s tootsies have had enough, it’s time to take public transport. This can be tricky if you’re new in town – where do you get the ticket? How much is it? Where do you put the ticket once you’ve got it? But the most amazing thing has happened since my last visit – the CBD trams are now free. This means you can jump on and off at will. For nix!

3. See something

Melbourne’s reputation as a year-round destination is thanks in part to its art and theatre scene. I was thrilled to be there the day the “David Bowie Is” exhibition from London’s V&A opened at ACMI. See his handwritten lyrics, amazing outfits, films and, of course, listen to his music. The video display of him singing “Starman” behind a model of the real onesie he wore is worth going for alone, but the two- storeyed room with concert footage projected on the walls is jaw-dropping.

New-fangled technological wizardry means wherever you stand, you get the right thing in your headphones. I love, love, loved this show.

4. Eat something

I started with a lovely fresh Vietnamese lunch at The Brass Coq in the city’s law courts area, then hit the shops, starting at my old fave Uniqlo, where I bought an extra layer and a hat. But that was before I realised the whole of the gorgeous GPO building on Bourke Street has been taken over by Swedish fashion house H&M. Definitely worth a look.

For dinner, I tried a new hot spot on Flinders Street at Woody P – yum – and the next day, I ate lunch at Broadsheet, a brilliant pop-up in Fitzroy, bringing some of Melbourne’s top kitchens under one roof. Melbourne loves a pop-up – there’s even a pop-up tent hotel, St Jerome’s, above the Central train station. Of course, they’re not always there next time, so for a heads-up before you go, see

5. Coming and going

Lucky me, I scored a Qantas Premium Economy seat on the Melbourne-to-Dubai leg of my trip, so I got to check out the airport Business Class lounge before I left. Comfy seating, a glass of South Australian bubbly and a perfect meal of baked chicken thighs, crispy potatoes and salad paved the way for the long flight ahead.

I managed, only just, to stay away from the self-serve gelato bar and also, sadly, shook my head when a man appeared bearing paper cones of hot chips. After a whirlwind 24 hours in one of my favourite cities, I then slept like a baby on the plane.

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