Get us in your inbox

Search
Emojis over image of Melbourne skyline
Photograph: Roberto Seba

14 things Melburnians take for granted (but shouldn't)

Ever complain about a crowded train? Betcha wish you could board one now, hey?

Rebecca Russo
Cassidy Knowlton
Written by
Rebecca Russo
&
Cassidy Knowlton
Advertising

We've spent a lot of time locked inside in the last year and it's likely got you thinking about all of the things that you love about our city but took for granted in the before times. In early 2020, we never could have imagined that in the coming months we would be stuck inside, unable to visit our world-class restaurants, theatres, art galleries, museums, music venues, bars, beaches and parks. 

But be honest with yourself. How often did you visit those things when you could? When was the last time you took a trip to the Yarra Valley or the Mornington Peninsula? Did you visit that 40-year-old Melbourne institution restaurant, or did you just pass it and think, "Someday I will definitely go there." Were you grateful for our efficient and wide-ranging (and in some spots, free) public transport network? Or did you grouse about broken air-conditioning and crowded trains?

Here are some pretty incredible things about Melbourne that we promise we will never, ever take for granted again. 

1. Really old restaurants that have been around forever

Sometimes it can feel like a new restaurant opens every week in Melbourne. But there’s something to be said about the old favourites that we keep coming back to. Abla’s, A1 Bakery, Pho TamBacash. These restaurants have been around for so long they’re part of the fabric of Melbourne as a whole, knitted in there next to Queen Vic Market and Flinders Street Station. A classic is a classic for a reason – and these restaurants continue to churn out high-quality food and excellent service that keep us coming back. 

2. Being able to book a table at a restaurant

Yes, many restaurants still prefer you to rock up and wait. But the vast majority of Melbourne restaurants give you the option to call up or book a table online. Do you know how great that is? You can 100 per cent guarantee that you’ll have a spot to sit and food will be served to you at the time you want it to be. You can even go out in your uncomfortable shoes! No walking across the city in search of a restaurant for you, baby. 

3. Our public transport network

You never truly understand how great it is to have access to free public transport in the city centre until you go to a place that doesn’t have it. The free tram zone is bonkers good – you can travel to major Melbourne attractions, restaurants, artistic institutions and shopping precincts without having to pay a cent. Yeah, sometimes we wish it would extend further… but let’s not forget how great it is for locals and tourists alike. And yes, our trains can be crowded. But they reach vast swathes of our city, are very clean when compared to trains in other cities, and are an efficient way to get around. We promise to stop taking public transport for granted.

4. We can drive for one hour and be at a country getaway

The Yarra Valley is so close, you guys. One second, you’re driving on a freeway, the next you’re passing suburbia, then boom – cows, vineyards and chocolate shops. The same can be said for a (proper) beach getaway – hello, Mornington Peninsula

5. We can show off our entire wardrobe in one day

It’s all about perspective, friends. We get to show off our entire wardrobe when the weather spikes at 27 by noon and drops to 16 by 6pm. It’s part of a Melburnian’s DNA that they know you need to wear layers every single day. Be thankful we have variety – because who would want to live in a place that stays a temperate 24 degrees all year round? Boooooring. 

6. You can walk everywhere in the CBD

In the grand scheme of things, Melbourne is tiny. To get around cities like New York or London you have to hop on a train or get in a car. But in Melbourne, it’s actually possible to walk, roll or run from one corner to the other in a decent amount of time. If you’re able to, we recommend ditching the Uber or tram for a pleasant stroll through the grid. Some of the buildings you find on your way might surprise you. 

7. Our beautiful parks and gardens

Fitzroy Gardens is stunning. Not to mention Treasury Gardens, Flagstaff Gardens and the holy grail: the Royal Botanic Gardens. Seek out these pockets of green around our city, and you can get up close to native plants and wildlife, plant your feet on actual grass (not that fake stuff they put on so many apartment terraces) and relax (read: people watch) with your fellow Melburnians. We're going to spend a lot more time in these green oases from now on.

8. Inner-city cultural hubs 

You can take a quick trip to places like Footscray, Northcote or Springvale and find authentic pho or injera bread, or the best cannoli this side of the Mediterranean Ocean. Turn a corner and discover a bar with a gamelan player, or a gallery with art from all over the globe. We can't stress how much we love these pockets of Melbourne – long may they survive and thrive. 

9. You can get a world-class meal in a bar

There’s a reason we award the Best Bar Food at our annual Time Out Bar Awards. Gone are the days of communal peanuts and rubbery pizza slices – Melbourne bars have stepped up their game, offering enough good food to make a meal out of it. Take Old Palm Liquor, the East Brunswick wine bar that serves more than 300 low-intervention and biodynamic wines alongside 12 tap beers and a super-slick menu cooked over coals with a South African inflection. There’s a reason we keep coming back to that fried shallot.

10. Our festivals 

There's always something going on in Melbourne, with world-class music, art, comedy, food and drink festivals on just about every month of the year. We have the third-largest comedy festival in the world, and people come from all over the country to see our art exhibitions. Don't find yourself saying, "Oh no, is the festival already over? I guess I'll have to check it out next year." Make the most of it while you can.

11. Our coffee culture

Call us snobs – we won’t care. Where would we be without Pellegrini’s or Market Lane? Probably ordering expressos and drinking percolated mud. No, Melbourne is well versed in coffee and can spot a good cup from a kilometre away. The luckiest part? Seems like every corner of the CBD sells excellent coffee. The saddest part? We only really appreciate how good that is when we can't get access to it.

12. The south side 

People bang on about Melbourne’s north side a lot. Like, a lot a lot. And it’s a shame, because the south side is a riot of a good time. We don't need to tell you about how beautiful St Kilda Beach is as the sun sets on a breezy summer day. We also don't need to remind you about how good the kugelhopf at Monarch is or the dimmies at South Melbourne Market are. Ripponlea Estate! Attica! Half Moon Bay! The Palais Theatre! It's beautiful down south, no doubt about it.

13. Our laneways and arcades

Melbourne built dozens of mini streets behind main streets to dispose of waste. Luckily they've moved past their feculent past, and are now home to cute cafés, world-renowned bars and restaurants, quiet little boutiques and so many street art exhibits. And don't get us started on the arcades – I mean, have you seen Royal Arcade? That high-ceilinged, checkerboard-floored shopping precinct deserves to be in a museum somewhere, not smack bang in the middle of a city. But we're glad it's where it is, and we solemnly swear not to take our mini streets and shopping precincts for granted. 

14. Our camaraderie

Now, more than ever, we need to keep our spirits up. It’s easy to get bogged down with anxiety about what the future holds. But for now, let’s take a breath. Melbourne is going quiet physically, but our voices have never been louder. This is the time to think about how you can be a better citizen of this great city. Check in with your neighbours, make sure your local restaurant is still getting your business, and be kind to one another. We need to be strong and we need to be together to get through it.

If you're wondering how to help struggling Melbourne artists, restaurants, bars and businesses right now, we've put together a list of ways you can help.

Support Melbourne's best

  • Restaurants
  • Fitzroy
  • price 3 of 4

Melbourne, meet your new favourite snacking spot, where a seafood-centric bar menu offers breaded abalone with tonkatsu sauce sandwiched in the kind of high-GI white bread your doctor warned you about. Cutler and Co is open on Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday. 

Harlow
  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Richmond

What was once Richmond's old and crumbling Great Britain Hotel is now Harlow: an old-school pub with new-school sensibilities. It'll be open as normal all long weekend, and you can swing by for Easter Sunday brunch from 11.30am to 1.30pm to enjoy a package including an Easter egg shot, two hours of bottomless drinks, a lunch item of choice and a special dessert. To book, head to the website

Advertising
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Cremorne

Fargo and Co is offering two-hour bottomless brunch packages all Easter long weekend. On Good Friday and Easter Monday, the package is $79 per person, and on Saturday and Sunday, the package is $69 per person. To book, head to the website

Hawthorn Hotel
  • Bars
  • Hawthorn

Across the long weekend, visitors can enjoy Easter-themed cocktails and desserts and kids can enjoy a free kids ice cream with the purchase of any kids' meal. On Good Friday and Easter Saturday, you can enjoy live entertainment from local bands. To book, head to the website

Advertising
  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Fitzroy
  • price 2 of 4

One of the things the A-Mc does very well is create venues (Cumulus Inc and Cumulus Up spring immediately to mind) that are what you make them, and while Marion could be used as a pre-dinner pit-stop, it deserves more loving. Revert to the hip term bistronomy, if you must, which is another way of saying it has excellent food and wine values while trying really hard not to show how hard it’s trying. It's open on Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday.

  • Bars
  • Hawthorn

If you're keen to kick fesitivites off a bit early, you can head to the Auburn Hotel for a pre-Easter Thursday to partake in discounts across house specials and classic cocktails. Bring your kids along on Easter Sunday to enjoy a petting zoo, face painting, kids entertainers and an Easter egg hunt. For more information, head to the website

Advertising
  • Things to do
  • Kew

Over the entire long weekend, you can book in at the garden pods for a two-hour session with a tasty grazing platter. The platter includes delicious savoury and sweet bites like deviled eggs, crumbed halloumi bites, mini pork and fennel sausage rolls, lamingtons and glazed hot cross buns with whipped cream and house jam. Bookings are essential and can be made through the website

Builders Arms Hotel
  • Bars
  • Fitzroy

As a rule your local pub probably shouldn’t be your first port of call when you crave dumplings, but if you’re in Fitzroy it’s a whole different story. Head to Builders Arms Hotel all Easter long weekend to satisfy your cravings.

Advertising
  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Tullamarine

This all-day venue located at Urbnsurf will be serving up a range of special dishes over the Easter long weekend. Think whole prawns served with XO butter and lime and mains like slow-roasted lamb shoulder with smoked honey, salsa verde and almonds. To book in, head to the website

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Fitzroy
  • price 2 of 4

Enjoy the start of your Easter weekend at this intimate cocktail bar that is inspired by the golden era of fine drinking. The bar wlil be open from 5pm until 1am on April 15 and 16, and the expert team will be at the ready to deliver world-class drinks.   

Advertising
  • Bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 1 of 4

This massive outdoor eatery and beer garden sandwiched between two Melbourne icons (the Yarra River and Flinders Street Station) stretches for 120 metres along the river bank and is officially Melbourne’s longest bar. This Easter long weekend, it will be open as per usual with no surcharge. 

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars

The 69-metre floating bar and restaurant, which features two bars and an extensive upper deck pool club, will be decked out in the style of the picturesque Turquoise Coast in Turkey. For the Easter long weekend, it will be open as per usual with no surcharge.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

'Eating house' doesn't quite cut it. ‘All-day diner’ falls worryingly short. In fact, when trying to sum up the place Cumulus Inc plays in Melbourne’s hungry heart, ‘favourite clubhouse’ comes as close as any description. Over the Easter long weekend, Cumuls Inc will be open on Good Friday and Saturday. 

  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

There’s a lot going on at Her, Lonsdale Street’s new four-concept mega-venue. At street level is Her Bar, a French-inspired all-day cocktail spot, and on level one you’ll find the Music Room, an ode to whisky and vinyl. BKK is on level three, it’s a “turbocharged Thai BBQ canteen” that also caters for Her Rooftop, a relaxed garden terrace for drinks, lunches, dinners and nightcaps. The quadruple threat is open as per usual with no surcharge this Easter long weekend. 

Advertising
  • Bars
  • Carlton

If you love Naked for Satan, the rooftop at the Imperial, or hanging out at the Australian Open, this bar is right up your cobblestoned Carlton alley. It’s another venue proving that this neighbourhood can do a lot more than cheap pasta for tourists. It will be open from noon on Good Friday and will open at its normal hours on Saturday through Monday.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Carlton

Have you ever tried to style your hair into a ‘messy bob’, or attempted to cook paella at home? As it turns out, looking effortless requires a lot of work. With Agostino, about four years’ worth has resulted in a restaurant that’s breezily confident from the outset, ready to elbow its way into Melbourne’s Italian canon. This Easter, you can pop by from Saturday to Monday during normal hours. 

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Asian
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

Dining on Flinders Lane requires a game plan because more often than not, you’ll be lining up for a table. This is especially true for Supernormal, which is one of those restaurants people are willing to wait hours to eat at. The same goes for Easter long weekend when the venue is open on Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday.

  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • St Kilda
  • price 3 of 4

The fit-out here runs with the beach shack theme, with wide, rough-sawn boards and tubular glass chandeliers that undulate just slightly in the breeze. The tables are well-spaced and linen-clad, which is like the Stokehouse of yore, as are the waiters, a full battalion of them, who are uniformly good. All is as it should be, and punters can dine in during normal hours over the entire long weekend. On Friday and Monday, guests can also enjoy a three-course lunch and two hours of bottomless Bollinger for $185 per person. 

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 3 of 4

The 1920s architecture of the Cavendish House building carries through to the interiors, delivered by Sydney design house ACME. Art deco flourishes, marble countertops, chandeliers and leather booths combine to create a nostalgic bistro look – a conscious nod towards the clubby dining rooms of Chicago. Gimlet is open through the entirety of Easter long weekend.

  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • St Kilda
  • price 2 of 4

Pontoon is a glamour model masquerading as a breezy beach shack. And this Easter long weekend, it will be open for its normal hours and there will be a special Easter set menu available. 

Advertising
Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Fitzroy

On the ground level of dining and drinking wonderland 127 Brunswick, you’ll find Ichi Ni Nana, one of the few places in Melbourne where you can enjoy an authentic Izakaya dining experience. Ichi Ni Nana will be open throughout the entire Easter long weekend.

Advertising
Hawker Hall
  • Restaurants
  • Windsor
  • price 1 of 4

Hawker Hall is, in a word, dizzying, in that patented Lucas fashion: visually arresting, olfactorily pleasing thanks to the hard-working woks in the open kitchen, and packed to the rafters with a well-dressed sliver of humanity. It will be open all Easter weekend with normal hours. 

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Melbourne

Tucked inside the swank-fest of the 80 Collins development, Yakimono is a love letter to the futuristic excess of Tokyo: dimly lit, suffused with the exotic glow of pink and purple neon and thrumming to a soundtrack that has every second person activating their Shazam app. It's open all Easter weekend with normal hours. 

Advertising
  • Hotels
  • Luxury hotels
  • Melbourne
  • price 3 of 4

The hotel's Lobby Lounge & Bar will be transformed into an Easter oasis, with a decadent high tea buffet on offer. Think sweet and savoury delights like Champagne-cured salmon finger sandwiches and bubble gum panna cotta. Bookings can be made here

  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

Located inside the 80 Collins Street precinct, Society consists of four sections: the lounge, a private dining area, the main dining room and the Terrace. Society and the Terrace will both be closed on Easter Monday but will reopen for the rest of Easter long weekend. 

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

This, in short, is a place determined to bring the bling. Architects Wood Marsh have created three levels of Flinders Lane dining power, including a bar dedicated to Chablis (albeit not exclusively) on the upper level, and the lower two floors enjoying the clang and clash of sushi bars mixing it with à la carte tables where hot dishes wrestle attention from the raw and cold in a two-menu act of bamboozling choice. Kisumé will be closed on Easter Monday but open as per usual throughout the rest of the Easter long weekend.

  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • Northcote
  • price 2 of 4

This former bistro is now a slick bar where you can go slumming in serious style with things like the wagyu bolognese jaffle hiding under a snowdrift of salty-melty cheese, or puffed veal tendons, the bovine world’s answer to the prawn cracker, dusted with tang-tastic dashi and coffee dust. Over the long weekend, it will be open on Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday. 

Advertising
Longrain
  • Bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

The on-again off-again rooftop drinking spot Melbourne has been waiting for is currently in an 'off’' phase, alas, but fear not, punters: Longrain nonetheless harbours one of the town’s best bars. There it is, hidden in plain sight, butting into the broad room like an island of civility in a chilli-fuelled brouhaha. Over the long weekend, you can pop in on Good Friday and Saturday.

  • Restaurants
  • South Yarra
  • price 2 of 4

The fit-out is so luxe you can almost smell the expense. There’s a fire and charcoal-driven kitchen, a botanical-filled glass cabinets and a dining room of rough-edged wooden-topped tables and the fattest, softest leather banquettes that elicit a gasp of surprise from more than one diner (it’s the endlessly entertaining Matilda spectator sport). It'll be open on Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Richmond

This diner may be as jam-packed and bustling as a cheap-eats restaurant in Vietnam, but that's where the similarities in appearance end. Hannah's kitsch design steers clear of the mini plastic tables and chairs that line the streets of Hanoi. Instead, it opts for exposed bricks, retro Vietnamese watercolours, empty beer cans, party lights,  – bringing to mind an artfully designed warehouse, set to the beat of low-volume hip-hop. It will be open on Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday. 

Hanoi Hannah Express Lane
  • Restaurants
  • Windsor
  • price 1 of 4

If you've got a hankering for Hanoi Hannah's hawker-style fare but don't have the time to spare for a sit down meal, head two doors down to Hanoi Hannah Express Lane. It'll be open all Easter long weekend to satisfy your cravings. 

Advertising
  • Hotels
  • Sorrento

The Conti is back, baby. At the end of March, Sorrento’s favourite watering hole will begin reopening after a massive refurb to turn the 145-year-old hotel into a six-level, five-building precinct. It comes with a new restaurant from Scott Pickett, a flashy public bar, a beer garden and a pool. It's open through Easter long weekend, so hop in the car and head down to the peninsula. 

Staying in?

  • Things to do

We've collected the best ways for you to experience Melbourne while staying at home here into this hub, so you can stay sane, comfortable, fed, watered and entertained at home – while helping small business owners, hospitality workers and creative people who desperately need your business.

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising