Melbourne’s eastern bayside suburbs sprawl down towards the Mornington Peninsula. At the top of the bay is Port Melbourne, once the entry point for many thousands of migrants and now the docking point for Spirit of Tasmania ferries. Port Melbourne’s Bay Street has a range of pubs, shops and cafes, as does Clarendon Street, South Melbourne. On Coventry Street is the South Melbourne Market and south of here is Albert Park, the venue for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix each March as well as a spot for jogging and boating. Various other sports are also on offer in Albert Park’s Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre. Further south again is St Kilda.
St Kilda began life as a seaside holiday destination, so separate from the city that on the sandy track that was then St Kilda Road, travellers ran the risk of a run-in with a bushranger.
Fitzroy Street is a long line of shoulder-to-shoulder cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs. Straight ahead is the palm-lined foreshore and the beach, and around the corner is the much-loved St Kilda Pier with its historic kiosk that offers great views and quality food.
The path along the foreshore goes from Port Melbourne in the north to beyond Brighton in the south and is often busy with cyclists, rollerbladers and walkers. The Esplanade Hotel is an integral part of Melbourne’s live-music scene, and The Palais, a grand, French-style theatre, is the venue for concerts. Luna Park (see next entry) is next door to The Palais, and there is an arts and crafts market on The Esplanade every Sunday (see Markets, p. 137).
Just around the corner from The Esplanade are the continental cake shops that have made Acland Street famous.
South from St Kilda is a string of swimming beaches, including Brighton Beach with its trademark colourful bathing boxes and views of the city. Rippon Lea Estate, on Hotham Street in Elsternwick, is a grand Romanesque mansion set in beautiful gardens and open daily.
While it is now appropriately modernised, Luna Park still feels like a chunk of the early 20th century, when a ride on the Scenic Railway rollercoaster was a big night out. Since it opened in 1912, many things about the park have lived on, including the huge and famous (and much-renovated) face that forms its entrance. Among the traditional rides such as the carousel, Ferris wheel and rollercoaster are the more modern Enterprise and G-Force. Lower Esplanade, St Kilda; (03) 9525 5033; see www.lunapark.com.au for monthly operating hours.
The gardens of this grand Romanesque mansion yield hidden water features, paths and beautiful picnic spots. 192 Hotham St, Elsternwick; (03) 9523 6095; gardens open 10am–5pm daily; entry to house by tour, last departure 3.30pm.