When I was 21 I moved to Melbourne, Australia. I had two bags, no job and nowhere to live. It was my big, bold thing. I needed to do something brave at the time, to prove to myself I wasn’t meek or incapable of being independent. I’d finished University, had a rough year, eventually dusted myself off and decided it was time to be gutsy. When I look back at my life and the aspects I am proudest of I can generally run my finger from whatever it is back to that time. The decision to move to Melbourne gave me something important, it’s inadequate to call it “courage” and it’s definitely not been unfailing, but it’s something like that. Sometimes, when I doubt myself, I remember leaving to live in Melbourne and think “Well, I did that.”
So it’s with little hesitation that I agree to go back to Melbourne (for pretty much any old reason). A little while ago my friend from Macau – who got me liking good champagne and never fails to make me laugh, what a combo – suggested her and I and our other darling mate now living in Tasmania – who is charmingly pessimistic and endlessly stylish, another great combo – meet up in The Great City. It took us about five minutes to work out a date and agree. It takes me four months to arrange a catch up with a friend across town but in a blink flights were being booked in three different countries. Meant to be; clearly.
Aside from Melbourne being the site of my growing-up-(ish)-ness, which I will always be grateful for, it just happens to be one of the coolest cities in the known universe. Not that I am biased. It’s quirky and fascinating, full of hidden alleyways and street art. The food is outstanding, the people kind and creative, the weather moody. Bars are hidden in the tiniest of places, cafes stuffed into every corner. I love its imperfections, its graffiti, gritty and grimy bits as well as the silvery, sleek places by the river, magnificent fire torches by the casino and elegant terrace houses. People say that it feels European and I guess it gets close to being a European kind of city. Certainly by Australasian standards. Grand old buildings, jangling trams, good town planning. But it’s truly Australian too. How? There’s a kind of confidence to it, a boldness, a deep love of sport (especially this one), loud, squawking birds, the grass dessicated and golden in the summer and backyards smelling of charred meat+spilt beer+sunscreen.
So, my highlights from this particular (whirlwind) trip. My good friends – top of the list. Best food: a soft shell crab souvlaki from Gazi. Holy. Best market: South Melbourne. Best clothes shop: Seed (I got a dark green scarf with cranes on it. Mentioned my scarf obsession lately?!) Best macaron: Green apple from Shocolate. Best place for a cup of tea: Sweet Source, Rathdowne Village (I had linzer torte with my orange pekoe in honour of my friend, Ria Voros) Best book buy: Kissed by the Moon by Alison Lester.
This post was not sponsored by the Victorian Tourism Board. It’s just a reflection of my personal love affair with a wonderful place, which happens to house some of my favourite things. And, more significantly, favourite people.
Which city or place was the making of you?
HUGS, Hannah x