Discover Melbourne’s literary cafes

Melbourne Writers Festival intern, freelance writer and blogger Sam Van Zweden shares some of the best cafes in Melbourne to eat, drink and read.

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In Italo Calvino’s If on a Winters Night a Traveller, the narrator issues instructions for the enjoyment of the novel:

‘Find the most comfortable position. Seated, stretched out, curled up, or lying flat. Flat on your back, on your side, on your stomach. In an easy chair, on the sofa, in the rocker, the deck chair, on the hassock. In the hammock, if you have a hammock. On top of your bed, of course, or in the bed…’

This continues for five pages. My instructions for the best cafes to enjoy your down-time from the Melbourne Writers Festival (MWF) aren’t as specific, but still very important. Good tea and coffee and comfy seating are essential.

For literary-themed cafes, you can’t go past Journal, where the communal tables are perfect for spreading out papers. Located between the CAE and City Library, it doesn’t get much more bookish than this!

The Moat hides under Melbourne’s literary heart, The Wheeler Centre. The wallpaper is bookshelves, there are actual bookshelves, and the food (and drinks list) is stunning. Great for sitting alone with a book, or enjoying with friends.

If you prefer to sight-see, you could grab takeaway and people-watch on a tram. Spanish hot chocolate and delicious pork buns are available from the food stalls on the Swanston side of Flinders Street Station.

The MWF hub at Beer De Luxe is open during festival hours, with a special ‘express menu’ for festival folk. The beauty of festival hubs is the wild-card feeling that you could run into anyone, be they famous or fangirl. There’s pop-up events in the hub too, so even the gaps in events can be an event.

Melbourne Writers Festival runs until 1 September.