Month: December 2013

Tram it in Melbourne

If you’re new to Melbourne, one of the best ways to get to know the city is by tram. Melbourne is home to Australia’s only tram network, which is also the largest urban network in the world. Trams service not only the city but also the inner suburbs, so ‘tramming it’ is a great way to explore Melbourne’s different neighbourhoods. Here are three of my favourite tram routes to get you started:   The Number 86: Bundoora RMIT — Waterfront City Docklands Jump on tram 86 on Elizabeth Street, near the GPO. You’ll travel past Parliament House, then up past the Carlton Gardens, which house the beautiful Royal Exhibition Building and the Melbourne Museum. Next you’ll travel along Gerturde Street, home to many boutique shops and restaurants, and Smith Street, a great spot for cheap shopping with its many factory outlets. Finally you’ll pass through Westgarth (look out for the lovely cinema) and up the hill to High Street in Northcote, famed for its great live music venues. Here I recommend finishing the trip — …

Royal Botanic Gardens: summer discovery walk

Melbourne’s beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens are not only regarded as the best botanical gardens in Australia, but also one of the finest in the world. Situated close to the CBD, the gardens cover 38 hectares and include over 10,000 native and exotic plant species. It’s free to visit the gardens, and from 14 December until 28 February you can also take free guided tours to learn about the gardens in a little more depth. The tours run every day except Mondays — a lovely way to spend a warm summer day.   Royal Botanic Gardens Summer Discovery Walk When: 11am–12.30pm and 2pm–3.30pm Tuesday to Sunday (except 24 and 25 December and 1 January) Where: Meet at the Visitor Centre, Observatory Gate Address: Alexandra Avenue, Melbourne Damage: free    

Acústico Café

Two years ago, Diego Iraheta opened a tiny one-room coffee stop called Acústico Cafe on Union Street, near Jewell Station in Brunswick. For a time, this place remained a somewhat hidden secret behind dark tinted windows — a caffeine pit-stop for a handful of locals. Gradually, however, Diego realised the cafe was outgrowing its premises, so he opened the back room to create a lounge area furnished with recycled bits and bobs, including a couple couches and a stripped-back piano. Here, the large industrial side-door is rolled up in warm weather for an ‘outside-in’ feel, and there’s a steady flow of well-chosen, laid-back tunes to soothe the ears. The coffee at Acústico is tasty and the food is delicious and reasonably priced. The Latin-American influenced menu rotates every few months to keep things interesting — check the Acústico facebook page for recent additions. This is where you’ll also find details of any gigs and other events happening at the cafe, which aims to be a hub for the local artistic community.   Acústico is the sort of …

How to make a garden (in Melbourne)

If you’ve never tried making a garden, now’s the time to give it a shot. As the weather warms, this is the perfect time of the year to plant some seeds and watch them grow. The internet is full of information and advice on how best to make a garden, but I’ll pass on a few small tips that I’ve found to be the most helpful. 1. Pots Those of us who live with small gardens (or no gardens) will need to grow our plants in pots or other containers. You can buy plastic pots very cheaply from Kmart; the bigger the better. I also use a couple of large wooden drawers that I found on the roadside. With a few holes cut in the bottom, they work perfectly as a garden bed. One advantage of using pots is that you can strategically place them in the spots that get the most direct sunlight — a crucial factor for growing most plants. 2. Compost Juicy, wormy compost is, basically, plant food. Without it, your plants …