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Melbourne’s calling

Urban therapy: Melbourne’s calling

It’s the holiday time of year. Liesl Johnstone looks at why Melbourne is hot property for your travel itinerary.


Melbourne’s calling


Almost-summer is as good a time as any for some Aussie urbanity; some Melbourne time. Wake up here, and things could definitely be worse. Straight from New Zealand, there are a couple of extra hours before the alarm, for starters.

It’s becoming a repeatable luxury that I would highly recommend…. to station myself in the midst of a bustling city a few levels up off the street (for views and interest, allowing reasonable airspace from traffic sirens) to observe life, think, walk, read, eat and drink, then sleep and repeat. Did I mention the shopping?

As someone whose cultural norm was unfailingly to ‘get away from it all’ beside the sea or into the mountains whenever possible, city breaks are a new burst of neon. Occasionally there’s something strangely comforting about being in the midst of a large bustling population. Ditto, to walk down the street at night surrounded by teeming humanity; many pedestrians; copious night-cyclists.

Parts of Melbourne’s CBD (and Sydney’s) are not dissimilar to Paris, or any city of millions. The trees and old architecture lend beauty and respectability; the street art and talented (auditioned) buskers


Melbourne’s calling


proffer whimsy and edginess. Trams are yet another reason to love it here, giving so many such ease of access; a domino to the city’s vibrancy.The State Library of Victoria seems enough proof that Melbourne has a silken lining of learning, heritage and high culture. It’s beautiful architecturally; the fourth most popular library in the world, according to the city’s official visitor guide. The La Trobe Reading Room has that hushed, grandiose feel you get from a mix of history, the patina of quality timber, big airspace and gracious balconies.

Melbourne is a true melting-pot culture and notably one with incredible menus, globally sourced. I conducted a proper scientific straw poll, questioning two local dedicated gastronomic consumers on their favoured city establishments. Checking these out online showed a plethora of Trip-Advisor back-up and hearty recommendations. In a city this size, that equals booking weeks ahead.

If a weekend ‘Spice Journey’ appeals, try booking at Maha, which bills itself as an ‘unrestricted Middle Eastern’ eatery. Duck-fat hummus, preserved lemon, charred chicken kefta, Persian cherries, smoked almonds… plus a truly global range of craft beers and inventive, other-worldly cocktails.


Melbourne’s calling


Other well-patronised, gloriously centrally-located eateries included Sezar, an Armenian establishment with a geographically extensive wine-list; Tonka, with its ‘clean, punchy flavours’ of modern India, and Taxi Kitchen with its fabulously brash marketing (announcing unequivocally that you’ve arrived) and its inventive Aussie-Asian-fusion menu. The latter is perfect for savouring local fish, meat and a flavour-kaleidoscope of dumplings.

Other favourite haunts include the Peruvian Pastuso, (particularly noteworthy for its fab spirits menu, drawn from all over the globe), and the South-East-Asian Red Spice Road with artfully presented fresh fare and mind-blowing taste hits.

The conclusion? Any cuisine in the world can be found here, lovingly crafted; likewise any fashion. Alternatively, sit riverside on the South-Wharf boardwalk and do nothing. There’s no compunction to consume. Being somewhere different and just thinking is a re-boot too.



Wet Feet Dry Feet Travel

One of a kind travel: Wet Feet Dry Feet Travel

Wet Feet Dry Feet Travel is a bespoke travel planning and design service focused on providing personalised travel experiences.


Wet Feet Dry Feet Travel
Ricci Harbuck


The company engages with clients from the inspiration stage through to travel completion to design truly one of a kind travel. Recognising the trend of travellers becoming more involved in booking their own travel, Wet Feet Dry Feet Travel partners with clients to plan and design travel experiences that reflect their travel dreams instead of offering one-sized fits all packages.

Drop-off and pick-up service between home and the airport is included for all itineraries. Complimentary travel concierge service is available 24/7 and allows for real time assistance for itinerary changes and booking of tours and activites..
The company also translates this concept into its corporate offerings by assisting both employers/employees with incorporating personal travel into their business itineraries through its Briefcase2Backpack programme.


Call and speak with Ricci, your Dry Feet Travel expert today! Visit



Style Notes: HOLIDAY S.O.S

Headed off on a much-needed winter break? Try these tips to help steer you towards a stress-free packing experience.

With Bridget Hope, Wardrobe Director for Magpie Style


      • Take one light suitcase

        Samsonite make the best ones. Weighing in around 2kg, you can get more in it without over-stepping the 23kg luggage limit of local airlines.

      • Ditch the white

        HOLIDAY S.O.S
        LUXURY CASHMERE CO Merino/cashmere scarf, $165

        White clothing is painfully limiting for travel. It can only be worn once and when you send it off for cleaning, the hotel or resort – yes, even 5 stars – will almost always return it looking grey.

      • Only pack enough outfits to force you to wear everything once

        Less is more when travelling. Less thinking, less decisions and less stuff. Work out how many outfits you have versus days. If you have fourteen looks for a seven-day holiday, halve this, then add three back in as evening options. This leaves ample options and ensures you wear everything.

      • Remove clothes that need an iron

        The sound of the ironing board opening is uncomfortable enough at home. On holiday, it feels like nails on a blackboard.

      • Pack 2-3 pairs of shoes max

        Shoes are weighty and cumbersome in the suitcase. Heels look silly in the islands. In the city, they become impractical when you are exploring your location. Reduce footwear options to a pair of dressy trainers, ballet flats or sandal and – if you must – a kitten heel for dinner.

      • Bring two carry bags – total

        This means one large (but light) tote you can that pack down flat into a suitcase for extra shopping. Ensure it has a zip across the top to keep everything inside. The second bag should be a small, flat canvas over the shoulder bag with multiple pockets to keep you hands-free on the move.

        Magpie Style
        PAULA RYAN Tote Bag, $140


      • Wear a neutral coloured scarf on the plane – wool or cashmere (not acrylic!)

        Grey or sand tones will style with everything and not look too wintry on arrival. A warm, but light, scarf is also a blessing if the temperature drops.

      • Have a dedicated wallet on hand to house valuables

        HOLIDAY S.O.S
        PAULA RYAN Large Travel Wallet, $95

        Losing valuables on holiday is no joke. Keep them safe in a dedicated travel wallet and lock it in the safe before heading out. This will save you from leaving things lying around your hotel to be forgotten or stolen. Taking jewellery? Opt for light pieces only.

      • Heading for the tropics?

        Take a small selection of easy-care kaftans you can wear day or night, but not so fussy they can’t stand exposure to sunscreen. Preferably in crease-free fabrics for easy washing and wear. “I’ll meet you by the pool, just as soon as I iron this kaftan” said no-one ever!

    • Leave wiggle room

      Leave wiggle room in your case for shoppingEven if you are travelling to a desert island, chances are you will find yourself raiding the spa of Pure Fiji products. So leave a little room to prevent that inevitable suitcase struggle on your final day.

      Magpie Style
      PAULA RYAN Pocket Shoulder Bag, $110

First published for Magpie Style

Southern Lakes Cycling

Trailing behind: set about seeing the Southern Lakes by bike or foot

Autumn is often rated as the most picturesque time of year in the Southern Lakes region, and Queenstown Trails Trust Chief Executive Mark Williams says it’s the perfect season to explore the area by bike or on foot.

Southern Lakes Cycling

With the trees now displaying the full spectrum of golden-bronze to rusty-red hues, mild temperatures and plenty of daylight hours, Mark believes the pre-winter conditions and stunning scenery are ideal for both cyclists and walkers. He’s on his bike most weekends in the 120-kilometre network of trails and tracks that make up the Queenstown Trail. And, after a year in the job, he is more passionate than ever.
“The Queenstown Trail is very multi-purpose,” Mark says. “It’s a fantastic ride experience for visitors from out of town, but also a great commuter trail for residents. With Queenstown under a bit of infrastructure pressure, it means people can use a different mode of transport to get to work. So it serves a wide range of users.”
From April to June, the views along Queenstown Trail are breathtaking. It traverses two impressive suspension bridges, crosses three rivers (the Kawarau, Shotover and Arrow) and circumnavigates Lake Wakatipu and Lake Hayes.
“At this time of year, you get a beautiful mist. It’s pretty spectacular seeing the mountains poking out from the mist. And you get the first snowfalls, so it looks like a dusting of icing sugar on top of the mountains. With the golden trees and snow, it’s a really nice mixture of colours.”
Mark recommends trying Arrow River Bridges Ride during autumn. For more information, visit