Melbourne is so crammed with vibrant shops, dining and sightseeing, you’d be forgiven for missing a hotspot (or seven). Just in case you’ve been too busy to stop and smell spring in the air, here are seven spots in the CBD you’ve probably never visited.
If you can’t afford the ten-hour flight to Japan, skip the canned air and head into Onsen Ma instead. A traditional Japanese spa house, guests are expected to strip off before entering the bath area. And yes – you aren’t allowed to wear bathers (or towels) in the water. If you’re game enough for this traditional experience, Onsen Ma is the ridiculously convenient CBD location to do it. Along with an onsen, Onsen Ma also offers a sauna and Japanese massages. The experience may take some getting used to, but it’s one of the best places to relax, naked, in the CBD.
Mailbox Art Space
Mail might be going out of fashion, but Mailbox Art Space is anything but old school. A contemporary art space supporting local emerging artists, the site at 141 Flinders Lane encourages creative experimentation through its rotating exhibitions. Using small restored mailboxes, artists are invited to create size-challenged site-specific work for this public space.
National Herbarium of Victoria
Follow in the steps of Neville Longbottom and check out the National Herbarium of Victoria. The collection boasts over 1.5 million dried plants, algae and fungi specimens from across the globe. Located in the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Herbarium is over 150 years old, with about half of the specimens on display collected before 1900. Who knows, maybe you can become the next great herbology professor after a visit to one of Melbourne’s most breathtaking historical spaces.
One to bookmark next time Melbourne’s weather throws a fit, the indoor Tropical Hothouse at the Royal Botanic Gardens showcases plants from tropical regions. Explore rainforest plants that you won’t see in your backyard – from the enormous, Alice In Wonderland-style Titan Arum to the aggressive leering Tiger-spotted Stanhopea.
Meaning ‘cabinet of curiosities’ in German, Wunderkammer is not your ordinary gift shop. Forget soaps, diaries and candles – Wunderkammer is home to everything rare, unusual and unique in Melbourne. A collector’s emporium, products include minerals, fossils, insects, taxidermied animals and ancient science equipment. You’ll never purchase a boring Christmas gift again.
The Little Library
Quietly opened and usually unattended, Melbourne Central’s Little Library encourages reading and the love of books through its free book exchange. Visitors are encouraged to borrow a book of their choice and return it once they’ve finished, or grab a book they fancy and replace it with one of their own favourites. Welcoming every age, The Little Library is the cooler, laid back cousin of your public library.
Fed Square Pop Up Patch
Taking temporary residence in a Federation Square rooftop car park, the Little Veggie Patch Co. have transformed a concrete jungle into a blooming vegetable garden at Pop Up Patch. Teaming up with the Fed Square team, this community garden is one of the best green spaces in the CBD. Beginner gardening classes, a gardening club and a range of children’s activities run throughout the year, in case you’re looking to transform your own dirt patch.