Avoid the main streets and take advantage of the labyrinth of laneways in Melbourne to explore both familiar and unfamiliar shops, restaurants/cafes, and bars. From street art to name brand designers, breakfast to nightlife, Melbourne offers a variety of experiences within a few short blocks. Start at the oldest train station in Melbourne, the iconic Flinders Street Train Station and duck into the cozy lane that is Degraves Street. As the day comes to a close and the sun begins to set, end at Hardware Lane by Little Bourke for drinks and live music.
DEGRAVES STREET: Dawn
Melbourne is called the “coffee capital” and one step inside of Degraves Street makes it clear. The narrow laneway is filled with boutique coffee shops and small restaurants, and a lively and friendly crowd of Melbournians and saavy tourists. Here you can enjoy a delicious breakfast and a coffee freshly brewed to your liking by an expert barista.
THE CENTERPLACE: The laneway narrows
Sights and smells become more prominent as the laneway narrows. It is hard to stop salivating on the windows of small bakeries and all-day breakfast cafes. With tight corridors and intimate seating arrangements at every restaurant, the Centerplace is a perfect place for a cozy lunch time date. Just before exiting the Centerplace, don’t forget to take a peek at the alley of street art.
AUSTRALIA ON COLLINS and THE CAUSEWAY: Name Brands and Comfort
If the outdoors and tight corridors aren’t your thing and you prefer the comfort of name brands and air conditioning (especially in the blistering January summer heat), just continue down the walkway mall between Collins and Little Bourke for an art deco retail centre that offers an interesting blend of boutiques and well known fashion outlets. From Melbourne’s largest atrium to sequin studded wedges and loud motorcycle boots, there is something for everyone. Overall though, the experience is much more sterile and traditional.
The Causeway is notable for the heritage listed former Union Bank a tall curved palazzo styled building constructed in the 1920s which has a mezzanine entrance at the corner of the lane. Like Australia on Collins, the experience is more sterile but still has a number of boutiques and sushi bars.
As you exit the Causeway, you’ll end up on Bourke Street, one of Melbourne’s liveliest streets; it is closed to cars but full of activity from the talented street performers, shoppers visiting the major retailers and happy tourists. Bourke Street also contains many arcades, such as the Royal Arcade and major retailers and department stores such as Myer and David Jones.
HARDWARE LANE: Dusk
End your day trip at Hardware Lane with another great selection of restaurants and cafes. Hardware Lane, like Degraves Street, is an eclectic mix of traditional shops and independent boutiques. Grab a couple pints or cocktails at any of the numerous bars, listen to some live jazz, and mingle with the beautiful people of Melbourne until the next dawn.