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St Kilda’s past is as colourful as its present. Long considered Melbourne’s seaside playground, it was first known for its elite holiday culture in the mid-19th century, before moving into its chapter as a red light entertainment district in the 1950s and '60s.
The suburb soon became a haven for artists, musicians and a diverse LGBTQIA community thanks to its carefree bohemianism that lingers to this day, attracting hordes of backpackers each summer and all walks of life year-round.
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What's St Kilda known for?
Today, St Kilda maintains its vibrant sense of culture and pride (the Victorian Pride Centre will soon be unveiled on Fitzroy Street) and is increasingly known for its cosmopolitan inner-city lifestyle. Thanks in part to two seasons of The Block, which transformed the infamous Gatwick Hotel and Oslo Hostel, the grit and grunge continue to gentrify at a rapid pace – but if you ask many of the locals, it’s exactly this contrast of character that defines St Kilda, making it different from anywhere else in Melbourne – and perhaps the world.
A stone’s throw from the CBD, the 3182 postcode is inexhaustible in its list of all that it has to offer. Home to many famous tourist attractions, a trip to Melbourne is not complete without a visit to St Kilda and its strip of palm tree-lined beaches, heritage buildings and eclectic dining scene, reminiscent of a curious cross between Venice Beach and San Francisco.
Why do the locals love it?
St Kilda Twilight Market event director, known to locals only as Oakies, says that “one of the things about St Kilda is its really strong creative community, not just artistically creative but also in terms of being entrepreneurial”.
“St Kilda is always changing – it’s gone through several different stages of gentrification and it has still got this edge, this vibrancy to it that the locals just love. I think that’s due to its transient nature.
“St Kilda is a meeting place for people. It’s kind of known as Melbourne’s beachside playground. Then with Luna Park there – there’s a carnivalesque vibe that I don’t think will ever change.
“Everyone leaves something of themselves in St Kilda and they pick up something to carry with them forever.”
How do I get to St Kilda?
Though it doesn’t have a train station, St Kilda is easy to access via public transport, with three trams (12, 16 and 96) running from Melbourne’s CBD to or via Fitzroy Street. Several other St Kilda Road trams will drop you at St Kilda Junction if you feel like a leisurely stroll past Albert Park and the excellent selection of restaurants and cafes opposite. There are a number of bus lines, too. If you’re heading to or from the airport, the SkyBus has four convenient stops around St Kilda.
St Kilda occupies prime real estate on Port Phillip Bay, between Middle Park to the west and Elwood to the east. Windsor and Prahran are a short walk to the north.
Map of St Kilda
If you only do one thing...
Pick up a selection of sweet treats from one of Acland Street’s many famous cake shops, harking back to the summers of the 1950s when European holidaymakers would descend upon the suburb. Share them with friends on the St Kilda foreshore or at the nearby Catani Gardens or St Kilda Botanical Gardens.