Ten more hidden spaces in Melbourne

In a city famous for its nooks and crannies, our blog about Melbourne’s coolest hidey-holes was never going to be enough. Here’s part two, from a secret pinball parlour behind a bookshelf to an underground cheese cellar.

The bar behind a bookshelf

Imagine yourself in a kooky mystery novel at Island Somewhere bar. In-the-know patrons give one of the bookshelves a push to reveal a secret passage, leading up a winding staircase to Pinball Paradise. Australia’s first dedicated pinball bar, it offers fancy drinks and 17 machines, old and new.

A bar with lots of pinball machines in it

Pinball Paradise

The tiny library in Melbourne Central

A busy hub of shops, eateries, bars, a cinema and major train station, Melbourne Central surprises with The Little Library. Quietly tucked away on the second level, this haven encourages visitors to take a book and leave a book.

A man reads a book, with a stack of books on shelves behind him

The Little Library at Melbourne Central

The artist-run space on King Street

King Street is better known for its notorious nightlife than art, but Kings Artist Run Initiative is part of its recent evolution. Established in 2003, this artist-run space invites creatives of all kinds to form and present projects that push the envelope. From art exhibitions to film screenings and talks, it’s a hive of activity.

Loch and Key

Known these days as Captain Melville, Melbourne’s oldest bar harbours a few secrets, none more enticing than Loch & Key. Also lurking past a bookshelf and up some rickety stairs, this upstairs bar is a cosy warren of indoor and outdoor spaces.

Two bartenders making cocktails in a bar with wooden furnishings

Loch & Key

The swamp room behind Bar Ampere

Another surprise bar is the Swamp Room, where bayou decor and American tipples transport downtown Melbourne punters to the Deep South. Formerly reserved for private events, Bar Ampere’s mysterious back room – complete with fairy lights, and a bar made from a vintage piano – is revealed to all for late-week chillin’.

A brightly coloured bar in a laneway

Bar Ampere

The Nicholas Building’s treasure trove of ephemera

The Nicholas Building is integral to Melbourne’s reputation for hidden spaces filled with unexpected delights. It’s home to lots of eclectic little studios and small businesses, including Harold & Maude. Victoriana meets Victorian Gothic in this unique boutique of found objects and recycled materials remade and renewed. You won’t find them on social media – so visiting in person is the only option.

A shop full of vintage furnishings, jewellery and oddments

Harold and Maude, one of the hidden gems in the Nicholas Building

The underground cheese cellar

If you’re seeking gourmet goodness, follow Spring Street Grocer’s old neon cheese sign down a spiral staircase. Behold! A white-tiled basement temple of cheese, sourced seasonally from around the world and sold at optimal ripeness. From brie to blue, your heart’s desire awaits at Spring Street Cheese Cellar.

A big display of different cheeses

The underground cheese cellar at Spring Street Grocer

Carlton’s hidden coffee roaster

In a hidden alley behind a petrol station, Vertue Coffee Roasters used to have a name even more obscure than its location. Inspired by a handbill promoting London’s first coffee house, which opened in 1652, it began as The Vertue Of The Coffee Drink. A micro roaster, cafe, kitchen and retailer, they take their coffee very seriously.

A narrow laneway with tables on either side leading to a cafe

The hidden laneway entrance to Vertue Coffee Roasters

The car park from Mad Max

A couple of blocks away at the University of Melbourne, explore the carpark hidden under the vast South Lawn. Built in the early 1970s, its network of pillars is like an orderly forest of giant concrete mushrooms. An amazing architectural feat, this totally instagrammable space was a location for the original Mad Max movie.

An empty dark car park

Look familiar? This car park is featured in a scene from Mad Max. Image: @onedeuxpunch via Flickr.

The laneway that’s getting a green makover

Guildford Lane is one of Melbourne’s lesser known laneways – but one of its most intriguing. This rare example of the CBD’s industrial heritage, hidden away at the northern end of the city, is not what it used to be. In a good way, because a recent Green your Laneway makeover introduced potted plants and a man-versus-nature Mike Makatron mural.

Cafes have been popping up too. Like Krimper, whose vintage-industrial design is thanks to the space’s history as a sawmill, then a cabinet-making factory. And Cat Cafe Melbourne, which would really make the lane’s former blue-collar workers scratch their heads! Discover more in our laneway lover’s guide to Guildford Lane.

A cat sitting on a table looking to the left

Cat Cafe in Guildford Lane