There are so many special places tucked away in Melbourne’s lanes and buildings that even the most savvy locals welcome a few tips. Put these hidden treasures on the list for your next urban adventure.
The Manchester Unity Building’s rooftop and Art Deco boardroom
One of Melbourne’s most striking structures, the Manchester Unity Building is a wonder of streamlined Art Deco design. Don’t just admire it from the street! Manchester Unity Building Tours get you inside this stunning interior, likened to stepping into a 1930s timewarp. Tours include the (usually off-limits) beautiful wood-panelled boardroom, a masterpiece of 20th century interior design. You’ll also get a rare peak at the rooftop terrace, once the location for a buzzing café and tearoom. Tours begin with treats at 1932 Cafe & Restaurant in the marble arcade.
The piano bar hiding in a laneway
Murmur is one of Melbourne’s original laneway bars, so chances are you’ve checked it out. But have you been since its recent reinterpretation, inspired by the owners’ experiences of good-time piano bars in the USA? Gather round the baby grand at the city’s only piano bar, and sing along with the chap tickling the ivories. His playlist includes punters’ requests, from pop songs to show tunes.
Upper West Side Street Art Precinct
The CBD’s western edge has got out of its drab funk and gone a bit punk thanks to the Juddy Roller collective. Six murals have been created by celebrated street artists Smug, Dvate, Adnate, Sofles, Fintan Magee and Rone. Seven storeys high and 30 metres wide, they mark the first phase of the CBD’s first official street-art precinct. On the corner of Little Bourke and Spencer streets, it’s got the blessing of the city council and Upper West Side redevelopment.
The huge vintage emporium hiding in the Nicholas Building
From 1940s frocks to 1990s band T-shirts, whatever your taste in retro is, this little shop in the Nicholas Building has it. Somehow, 10,000 items sourced from around the world are crammed into Retrostar Vintage Clothing, including boots, bags, hats and hoodies. Find your next bold fashion statement at this hidden gem.
The aerial yoga studio (also hiding in the Nicholas Building)
Have you discovered Little Mandarin Yoga among the Nicholas Building’s intriguing warren of studios and boutiques? As well as familiar mat-based yoga classes, this welcoming place also offers aerial yoga, which utilises special hammocks suspended from the ceiling. They reduce the effects of gravity and stress on the body, help build upper-body and core strength, and also enable deep relaxation.
The Drunken Poet’s Irish music sessions
The only Irish thing about many an Irish pub is that they serve Guinness. The Drunken Poet, on the other hand, is in The Irish Times’ top 10 Irish pubs outside Ireland. Renowned for its live, often acoustic music, this pub turns the craic up to 11 on Fridays with traditional Irish music sessions. Stamp your feet to the rhythm on the unpolished wooden floorboards, and admire the portraits of poets and lyricists on the walls.
The shrine to Elvis at Melbourne Cemetery
The Elvis Shrine is one of the Melbourne Cemetery’s most unlikely attractions. A carefully landscaped grotto decked out with succulents gives way to a kitschy black ‘tombstone’ in the centre – surrounded by flowers and stuffed toys. Commissioned by Victoria’s Elvis Presley fan club and unveiled by rock legend, Johnny O’Keefe, it’s believed to be the only authorised Elvis memorial outside of America. Find out more about this and other quirky sites at the Cemetery’s next Full Moon Night Tour on Sunday 29 April.
Farmers’ Market at the University of Melbourne
Unless you’re a student there, you probably haven’t stumbled upon the term-time-only Farmers’ Market at the University of Melbourne. As well as a bounty of fresh fruit and veg, there are other treats made with love, including bagels and cheese. BYO bags and keep-cup to this Wednesday market in the heart of the Parkville campus.
The place under the stairs at Federation Square
Escape the city’s bustle in this new pop-up space under the stairs at Federation Square. Local groups often meet at this retreat to share their passion for everything from knitting to paper-craft. The rest of the time it’s a little lending library. Unlike Fed Square’s very contemporary hard surfaces and sharp corners, The Nook’s look is mid-20th century comfort, including retro couch and armchairs.