Saunter along the water, dine with the fashionable set, and sip at some of Melbourne’s best pubs in Port Melbourne, just a hop, skip and jump from the heart of the city.
At first, it might seem strange that one of Melbourne’s most desirable suburbs is split in half by one of the city’s busiest roads, the West Gate Freeway. But on closer inspection, Port Melbourne is an amalgamation of two things; a thriving commercial business precinct, and a lifestyle destination for trendsetters and the well-heeled.
With more than 160 years’ worth of stories to share, Station Pier is one of Melbourne’s most historic spots. From the arrival of Gold Rush migrants in the 1850s and the first English cricket team to tour Australia in 1861, right through to its current role as Melbourne’s primary cruise ship terminal, it has welcomed countless visitors to these shores. The pier is open to pedestrians from 6am to 9pm on days when navy or cruise ships are not visiting.
On land, Port Melbourne centres around Bay Street, a gorgeous strip that blends the olde worlde charm of 19th-century architecture with modern and stylish apartment blocks. It’s where locals flock to shop, eat, drink and be seen. Start at the beach and be tempted by the smells and sights that line each side of the strip, as well as side streets like Rouse Street (Third Wave Café serves delicious coffee by day and melt-in-your-mouth American barbecue by night) and Bridge Street (start your day off with the Bottomless Brunch — 90 minutes of cocktails for $35 — at The Cricketers Neighbourhood Eatery).
One of the best restaurants in Port Melbourne is Ciao Cielo, a fine dining institution bringing the best of Italian cuisine to Melbourne’s inner suburbs. A glance across the menu proves Ciao Cielo takes itself very seriously, and for good reason. An entrée of beef tartare, truffle yolk and pane carasau gives way to Ravioli of Veniso, celeriac, chestnuts, sage and red wine. They also cater for those with a knowledge of fine cuts of steak. Try the Isola Chianina T-Bone, a cut of meat that has been enjoyed since the Bronze Age.
For something completely different, spend an afternoon or evening at arguably the best distillery in Melbourne, Starward. Having won awards both in Australia and on the international scene, Starward has a reputation for innovative and genre-bending whiskeys at a fair price. And the best part? If you don’t feel like lashing out on a whole bottle, on Thursdays, Fridays and weekends you can taste your way through the distillery’s range of unique spirits, as well as some of the finest whiskeys from around the world. Sip your way through a whiskey cocktail or two, and nibble on a plate of fine meats and cheeses perfectly-suited to the array of drinks on offer.
With parks, reserves, and beaches, Port Melbourne is a popular destination for city dwellers — and those visiting for a few days — chasing a dose of fresh air. Stroll through the greenery and have a picnic in Westgate Park or dip your toes at Port Melbourne Beach as you watch the ships come in and out. No matter how you choose to spend a day in Port Melbourne, you’ll leave feeling refreshed, revitalised and satisfied.