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Urban walks in Melbourne

Urban walkers will find Melbourne a safe and convenient place to walk. Suggested off the beaten-track walks include:

Walk 1. City centre to South Melbourne beach. Tram back to the city. This walk covers some pleasant, quiet areas of Melbourne including the established residental areas immediately south west of the city centre.

Best days: when South Melbourne Market[?] is open (Wednesday, Friday and weekends)

Maps: see the excellent Melway street directory pages 2F and 2J/K.

Distance: ?

Gradient: flat.

Time: 4-5 hours (including lunch, coffee, relaxing on the beach)

Toilets: Casino and South Melbourne Market, cafes/pubs you stop at.

  • Start at Bourke St Mall and head south via Melbourne's narrow shopping lanes and arcades. Start with Royal Arcade.

  • Cross Little Collins St and take Block arcade.

  • Cross Collins St and take Centre Way arcade to Centre Place. (These arcades are a good place to have breakfast or morning tea).

  • Cross Flinders Lane, view the Majorca building facade and keeping heading south down Degraves St. Half way down this, take a detour down stairs to the Degraves St railway station entrance. There is typically some understated art work on display. Off peak there is a quietness to the place. Melbourne must have been all like this some 40-50 years ago. Head up stairs to street level near the shops.

  • Cross Flinders St at the Elizabeth St intersection. Just to the right of the street-level station entrance is an underpass to the river bank.

  • Cross the footbridge and turn right (west) along the Yarra River. Follow the river with the other tourists, bike riders and thrill seekers. Cross Queensbridge road. Pass along the casino facade.

  • At Clarendon St, when the casino ends and the Melbourne Convention centre begins, turn left (south). (Possible detour: visit the clearly visible tall ship "Polly Woodside[?]" at the maritime museum[?] a few metres further along the river). This few hundred metres along Clarendon St shows interesting evidence of the area's change from light industrial to commercial to apartment-style living. The roads here are definitely not as grid-like as the city centre.

  • At Coventry St turn right (west). The South Melbourne Market is a block away.

  • Pick up some comestibles at the South Melbourne Market for your own picnic, or eat at one of the nearby cafes (outside the market on Coventry St). Recommended at South Melbourne Market are the dimsims at the Dragon Wok (Stall 25 in the deli section). These are unique, tasty and extra-large. Deep fried dimsims are a traditional Australian food. Also available steamed.

  • Explore South Melbourne and its architecture. Walk along Ward St across from the market, See the architecture of houses in the block near the town hall, see the portable iron houses (see local maps).

  • From the Market head south-east along Cecil or Ferrars or Clarendon streets until you reach Park St.

  • Turn right (west) and wend your way to St Vincents Gardens. Following the tram line is a convenient and good route.

  • The gardens are a good place for a picnic. Or just around the corner in Bridport St is the Albert Park shopping area where you can get a cafe meal.

  • Follow the tram line along Bridport (which effectively becomes Victoria St) to the beach. There are some good places along here for dinner if you plan to stay a little longer.

  • Catch a tram back to the city.

Walk 2. Cross town inner urban swathe. This walk is not as salubrious or visually as pleasant as Walk 1. It covers several inner urban areas including the ever changing Smith St, the slowly changing Brunswick St cafe area, and the ever-steady Lygon St Italian restaurant area. It shows the disparity between low-cost, government-subsidized accommodation (mostly high rise buildings) and the recent oversupply of not-so-high rise city apartments catering for the upwardly mobile. It takes in areas with good cafes and restaurants. Check the local food guides and make your choice before starting the walk.

Best days: This walk is recommended during weekdays or Saturday mornings. The interesting (for social observation purposes) commercial part of Smith St is pretty much shut on Sundays.

Maps: Melways 43,44

Distance: a bit.

Gradient: flat.

Time: depends. This area is well serviced by trams heading to the city for walkers that run out of time.

Toilets: cafes you patronize.

  • Start at Flinders St Station. Cross Swanston St to the new Federation Square complex and head to the Yarra River bank. Walk upstream (east) through the new Birrarung Marr park.

  • At the Tennis Centre just before the Swan St bridge, skirt around the far side of the tennis centre and find the footbridge up over the railway lines to the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) with the tall, white light towers.

  • Head north past the MCG and walk up Jolimont Terrace, cross the railway line and cross Wellington Parade. The large Fitzroy Gardens is visible at the north west corner of the intersection.

  • Stroll through Fitzroy Gardens to its north boundary, Albert Rd. Find a road north to Victoria Parade (Lansdowne, Eades and Clarendon streets are the north/south roads at the western, middle and eastern boundaries of the park respectively.) Cross Victoria Parade and find the southern end of Smith St, which is between Eades and Clarendon streets. (It has the McDonalds on the corner.)

  • Walk north up Smith St. The southern end up to Gertrude St is relatively empty.

  • Possibly detour west along Gertrude St, checking out the galleries and more intimate bar/cafes. Backtrack to Smith St.

  • On Smith St north of Gertrude there is a section with useful commercial stores, second hand clothing stores (aka "Opp shops", short for "opportunity"), a pawn shop or two, bars (with signs "toilets for patrons use only"). Further north a few trendy household gizmo stores appear, with some small galleries. This section between Gertrude and Johnston streets is generally quiet on Sunday, but otherwise shows the daily life of the locals. The modern automated toilet a block or so south of Johnston St is not recommended. Note the general lack of prosperity of the area and the litter. Note the "Tidy Street" award sign (just north of Johnston St).

  • One short detour is to turn right at Johnston St for a couple of blocks, returning to Smith St the same way. Abandoned shoe stores with one shoe left in the window, old weathered doorways, artist displays in shopfronts converted into cheap accommodation.

  • North of Johnston St the modern inner urban area begins with a surge of supposed "Factory" outlets, including the sporting goods stores and some outdoor gear i.e. bushwalking[?] stores. These are all open and crowded throughout the weekend.

  • Turn left at Westgarth St, before hitting Alexandria Parade (aka Eastern Highway on the map) and walk through to Brunswick St. This is a pleasant residential area.

  • Turn left at Brunswick St, and head south, sauntering past the excellent cafes. Choose one for "morning tea" (aka coffee) or lunch. The densest concentration of cafes is north of Johnston St, but there are good ones south of the intersection too, including a specialist coffee store.

  • [A side note about Australian city cafe food: There are many excellent cafes to eat and and drink at. However as a gross generalization there is one common style of cafe with a large number of alcohol bottles behind the bar and a cosmopolitan menu which will include one pasta dish, one Asian dish and one hamburger. This is a sign that place is probably an OK place for coffee or alcohol, not for food. If you must eat, avoid the Asian dish. There are PLENTY of other good places to eat and excellent Asian cuisine is available in very common specialist restaurants. Read the food guides; while a busy cafe is a good sign, each place has an ebb and flow. A good place might be quiet when you pass. Some not so good places seem busy all the time, possibly due to good location.]

  • After eating keep walking south down Brunswick St, crossing Johnston St if you haven't already done so.

  • At Moor St turn left, and one very short block in you will see the Fitzroy Town Hall, dominating the tiny houses surrounding it. If the reference reading room is open, visit the high ceilinged, Victorian reading room. Loop around the town hall and head back west to Brunswick St.

  • Cross Brunswick St and keep heading west (along Moor or King William streets) through the residential area until you hit Nicholson St and the Carlton Gardens on the other side.

  • Explore the gardens around the Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition buildings adjacent to its the south. If you brought a picnic, enjoy it here.

  • From the west side of the gardens cross Rathdowne St and keep heading west two small blocks until you hit Lygon St. There are numerous restaurants and cafes here, south of Elgin St. Enjoy lunch or "afternoon tea" (aka coffee), or gelato.

  • There is a second hand book store on the north side of Elgin St very near Lygon St. Near the south end of Lygon St west of the small park, is Vanbar, one of the largest photographic consumables stores in Melbourne.

  • Head south down Lygon St which runs into Russell St in the CBD (central business district). Follow this south until reaching the gallery on the Yarra river bank.

  • Turn right (west) and return to Flinders St station.

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