Street Art or Graffiti? Somewhere in Melbourne

Lively street art or illegal graffiti?

Rankins Lane
Graffiti, Melbourne

Graffiti, Rankins Lane, Melbourne
Rose Street

Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Car park, Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Carpark, Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne

Probably not-approved work-in-progress off Rose Street:
Street art or graffiti, Off Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne

Whereas Grace Cafe (facebook, 76 Rose Street) had someone come in to paint the divine *poke*:
Grace Cafe, Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Grace Cafe, Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne

And round the back, a re-purposed shipping container:
Grace Cafe, Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne

And just across Brunswick Street:
Graffiti, Melbourne

Meanwhile, on Hosier Lane, someone is covering virgin territory:
Graffiti, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne. "Real Australians Say Welcome"
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Graffiti, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.And even the laneways have not been spared:
Graffiti, Melbourne laneway
Graffiti, Melbourne

Along Lygon Street, Carlton, Melbourne

The different cultural sectors of Melbourne have been a source of delight.

Lygon Street is the Italian enclave, where, it has been said, all tensions were eased when Italy beat Australia in the World Cup and the gelato shops all handed out free scoops to celebrate.

The D.O.C. Gastronomia Italiana group includes an espresso bar, a delicatessen, and two mozarella & pizza bars.

We loved the authentic Italian provision shop look and feel of the delicatessen where a man was cutting up fresh spinach pasta under hanging legs of ham, and two older man came in, giving greetings and orders in rapid Italian, with many hand gestures:
D.O.C. Gastronomia Italiana delicatessen, Lygon Street, Carlton

D.O.C. Delicatessen, Lygon Street, Carlton

Next door at D.O.C. Espresso (326 Lygon Street), we settled down for warmth and a meal:

D.O.C. Gastronomia Italiana, Lygon Street, Carlton
D.O.C. Gastronomia Italiana, Lygon Street, Carlton
D.O.C. Gastronomia Italiana, Lygon Street, Carlton
D.O.C. Gastronomia Italiana, Lygon Street, Carlton
D.O.C. Gastronomia Italiana, Lygon Street, Carlton
D.O.C. Gastronomia Italiana, Lygon Street, CarltonBoth the spaghetti pomodoro and black rice salad(?) were excellent. The milk coffee was dark-tasting, as per Italian standards.

A few shops away, was a spice house with the German name, Gewürzhaus (342 Lygon Street, Carlton):
Gewürzhaus, 342 Lygon Street, Carlton
Gewürzhaus, 342 Lygon Street, Carlton
All the spices I’d ever seen in recipes and despaired of obtaining! Salts of various kinds including a black lava salt! And pink salt bowls!

And then, just across the intersection, Pidapipó (299 Lygon Street, Carlton), an amazing gelateria:

Pidapipó, 299 Lygon Street, Carlton, Melbourne

Pidapipó, 299 Lygon Street, Carlton, Melbourne Pidapipó, 299 Lygon Street, Carlton, Melbourne

Seriously, nutella from a tap? Bring it on!

Pidapipó, 299 Lygon Street, Carlton, Melbourne Pidapipó, 299 Lygon Street, Carlton, Melbourne

Affogato with vanilla ice-cream? Yes please.Pidapipó, 299 Lygon Street, Carlton, Melbourne

Chewy pistachio ice-cream in a fresh cone, topped with Honeyfingers honeycomb. Yum. The honey was fragrant and the comb, not too waxy:

Pidapipó, 299 Lygon Street, Carlton, Melbourne Pidapipó, 299 Lygon Street, Carlton, Melbourne

A little further one, a real-life bookshop! We enjoyed browsing at Readings (309 Lygon Street) before taking a tram down, past Donnini’s enticing fresh pasta shop,

Donnini's fresh pasta shop, Lygon Street
Donnini's fresh pasta shop, Lygon Street

to the long Lygon stretch to Rumi Restaurant (facebook, 116 Lygon Street):

Rumi Restaurant, 116 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
Rumi Restaurant, 116 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
Our waiter was originally from Canada, in Melbourne to train in rowing. He brought hot water on this tray, in these little pots.

Rumi Restaurant, 116 Lygon Street, Brunswick East

Rumi Restaurant, 116 Lygon Street, Brunswick East - Jerusalem artichokes with feta, fish cooked in vine leaf, slow-cooked lamb
Rumi Restaurant, 116 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
Despite the waiter’s best efforts, we can’t say we enjoyed this meal very much after waiting more than 40 minutes for the food. There was no variation in taste in each dish and the fish tasted distinctly fishy. The unspoken grump was that we might have spent far less for greater satisfaction at a pizza joint instead.

Some Nibbles and Meals in Melbourne

After hanging out at Rose Street Market for a bit, we headed over to Hammer & Tong 412 (facebook, rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy) Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, MelbourneThere was a slight industrial-scavanged look going on, with old irons holding up the menus in the shopwindow, pepper and salt in lab beakers, and the occasional mis-matched furniture.

We were there for the soft-shell crab dog, with black sesame dog slaw, coriander and sriracha sauce mayo, but could not resist trying the miso corny ice-cream dessert (miso and sweetcorn ice-cream with toasted sesame). The ingredients in both worked very well together. A good little pick-me-up before dinner.

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne - soft-shell crab dog, with black sesame dog slaw, coriander and sriracha sauce mayo

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Feast of Merit (facebook, 117 Swan Street, Richmond) was in the next suburb. What it had going for it was an even more industrial-distressed look – bare brick walls and rafters and naked hanging bulbs, and a very good conscience – a social enterprise YGAP restaurant.

Feast of Merit, 117 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne

Feast of Merit, 117 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne Feast of Merit, 117 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne

 Feast of Merit, 117 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne“What would you recommend?” I’d asked two people who’d been there for a birthday celebration. “Anything’s good! Everything’s good!” they’d replied,”But remember to book, and remember there’s a second seating…”

Feast of Merit, 117 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne - ox tongue (grilled ox tongue, res el hanout, sour milk, baby radish)

We decided it was a good time as any to have ox tongue (grilled ox tongue, res el hanout, sour milk, baby radish) to start – delicious tender, flavourful pieces of meat. A good sign.

We continued with the eggplant (roasted eggplant, smoked yogurt, harissa oil, pinenuts, parsley), carrots (heirloom/ common carrots, honeyed tahini, soft egg, dukkah spices), and a beef shank on celeriac mash: Feast of Merit, 117 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne - eggplant (roasted eggplant, smoked yogurt, harissa oil, pinenuts, parsley), carrots (heirloom/ common carrots, honeyed tahini, soft egg, dukkah spices), and a beef stewAll absolutely delicious – good flavours and textures. Thus fortified, we headed back out into the windy winter night.

Hot chocolate was on the agenda another cold winter afternoon. One of our party refused to cross Collins Street to the Koko Black salon because of an apparent suicide she’d experienced the day before along that very street (it turned out the man survived). So we ended up at Lindt Chocolate Cafe (271 Collins Street, Melbourne CBD):

Lindt Chocolate Cafe, Collins Street, Melbourne

Lindt Chocolate Cafe, Collins Street, Melbourne - signature drink - chocolate and espresso

Lindt Chocolate Cafe, Collins Street, Melbourne - hot chocolate The hot chocolate was a little too sweet – I’d have preferred more cocoa content, but the signature drink of espresso and chocolate was terrific – a good complex taste.

The Cup of Truth

We passed the board indicating the shops that dwelt underground, in the subway to Flinders Street Station. One name jumped out – “Cup of Truth” it said, matter-of-factly. It was so incongruous it made me laugh – like finding the Holy Grail at the back of a dusty charity shop, labelled “Holy Grail – used. 99p”.

Cup of Truth, 12 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Street Subway (below Flinders St)

Cup of Truth, 12 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Street Subway (below Flinders St) Cup of Truth (facebook, 12 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Street Subway, below Flinders Street) was infact a purveyor of coffee, and a rather famous one at that. The shop was named for the large red cup on the counter where customers were to pay and pick up change; the honesty cup.

Cup of Truth, 12 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Street Subway (below Flinders St) Cup of Truth, 12 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Street Subway (below Flinders St)In the hopper for espresso was a Cup of Truth blend from Axil Coffee Roasters. While waiting, had a little chat with the barista about how the Technivorm compared with a Wilfa, and how the consistency you get from an EK grinder made so much difference to the final drink.

We sat in the subway tunnel sipping our drinks. I very much enjoyed my flat white – almost as fragrant as an Ethiopian, even though the advertised blend on their FB page is 75% Brazil Ipanema, 25% Costa Rica El Pilon.

Then some of us wandered around – across from the coffee-in-the-wall, a singing Italian barber and a publisher of self-zines. Others of us went to get our Mykis topped up, not wanting to cheat the public transportation system.

Cup of Truth, 12 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Street Subway (below Flinders St)

Cup of Truth, 12 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Street Subway (below Flinders St)  Cup of Truth, 12 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Street Subway (below Flinders St)

Ah, the cup of Truth.

I thought of the Bible study group I’d been visiting back in Singapore – full of philosophy postgrad students and Oxon graduates, yet even with their obvious ability to read and comprehend vast stacks of material, they did not seem able to understand the most important book of all – the Bible.

It bothers me greatly that though they have such a treasure in their hand, they have shown themselves unable to enjoy the richness it contains. On their bookshelves, on their mobiles and laptops, the fountain of truth, containing living water that endlessly refreshes awaits, yet they have barely had a little sip to sustain themselves on the journey.

And any attempt I make to get them to look more closely at God’s word is seen as disruptive. Sure, it does rather break up the pointless meandering, but perhaps that’s exactly what’s necessary.

Mostly Tried-and-Tested Traveller Tips for Melbourne, Australia

Getting from Singapore to Melbourne

We flew Singapore Airlines (SQ207). Seatguru gives a good indication of seat layout of the Boeing 777-200 with lavatories in the middle.
Singapore Airlines SQ217 - Singapore to Melbourne
Singapore Airlines SQ217 - Singapore to MelbourneThis was an absolute delight to fly – a new plane that didn’t smell of a decade of pent-up butt burps and vomit and toe jam. There was ample room to stretch (at least for shortish people who don’t come up to the 1.8m mark).

Immigration at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport

Thanks to Singapore’s good relations with Australia and the e-passport feature, Singapore passport holders could clear immigration in about 5 minutes by (i) getting a SmartGate ticket; and then just (ii) getting their photo taken (has facial recognition technology really gotten so good?).

After collecting baggage, it was a snip to hand the Customs and Border Protection officers the SmartGate ticket and the Incoming Passenger Card, before making a smooth exit through the green channel.

Getting from Melbourne Tullamarine Airport to accommodation in the Melbourne City

Skybus

Taxi – we didn’t want to wait around for the Skybus so just joined the taxi rank and got a maxicab. It cost us A$66 to Collins Street (including A$8 for tolls and airport fee), but had a really good chat with the cab-driver who was originally from Cambodia and had worked first in a biscuit factory in Italy before migrating to Australia.

Getting around Melbourne City

Navigation is easy in a city laid-out in a grid.

Public Transport Victoria’s journey planner helps you find the best way of getting to your destination, because for some reason, Google Maps can’t/won’t.

Melbourne Tram 35 - City Circle
Melbourne Tram 35 - City CircleTram 35 – City Circle (aka the tourist tram) is free. It does a nice little circle around town (map) so you can orientate yourself.

Melbourne TramOther trams are free within the, err, free zone, otherwise, a Myki (A$6 for the card alone) is necessary.

Melbourne - bicycle for hireBike Share – except that very few people seem to navigate the streets on two-wheelers.

Accommodation in Melbourne City

Treasury on Collins, Melbourne Treasury on Collins, Melbourne
Treasury on Collins, Melbourne Treasury on Collins, Melbourne

We stayed at Treasury on Collins. The space for 3 was luxurious, even the beds were spacious (2 king?-sized beds in the bedroom and one made-up from the sofa in the living room. The kitchen was equipped with a stove, microwave, fridge, and dishwasher. In the bathroom – a choice of bath or shower. The hairdryer and washing machine came in way handy.

Temperature in June

It was to me a balmy 8-15°C, an ideal temperature for the good life. The others weren’t quite as enthusiastic.

Traveller Tips for Melbourne

I’m compiling this for our trip this weekend, so it’ll be updated as I find new stuff. Any suggestions very welcome!

Getting from Melbourne Airport to accommodation in the city

Skybus

Getting around Melbourne city

35 City Circle aka tourist tram (map) (free)

bike share

Mobile phone and data plan

amaysim (with handy data calculator)

Food!

The Age’s Cheap Eats 2015

top 10 meat pies

best fish and chips

top 10 burgers

cheese lover’s guide

truffle fix

best yum cha

top 10 turkish eats

best new cafes 2014

Coffee!

Melbourne Coffee Review