Melbourne is designed to be a grid, at least towards the center of the city. For the whole Central Business District (CBD),the blocks are similarly-sized and placed methodically, so as to line up with one another, which makes navigating them on foot very easy and straightforward. It also means that a lot of little laneways have popped up over the years, leading to many small and interesting nooks and crannies to form within these city blocks.
This is part of what makes Melbourne – “Melbourne” – the intricacies and artistic twists on what is otherwise a fairly-standard model of city building. During a short or a long trip, finding a serviced apartment in Melbourne is easy, and once you’ve gotten one sorted out you can have a home base of operations to work from whilst exploring the back alleys and tiny walkways of this city.
Street Art culture
Street art plays a major role in the identity of Melbourne as a city, and it can be found in virtually every suburb, no matter how close or how far from the CBD it lies. Businesses will seek out and find renowned street artists to do mural pieces on the outside, and even sometimes the insides, of their business spaces, and it is this wide-spread understanding that populates Melbourne’s laneways and back alleys.
A prime example of exactly this phenomenon is Hosier Lane, in Melbourne’s CBD. An otherwise unremarkable laneway that was a 5 minute walk from Flinders Street Station has over the years, become a gathering point for street artists, and now amazingly colorful works of art that cover every surface, including the floors, and stretch meters up the walls. Ever changing and ever present, Hosier Lane is a perfect example of the impact street art has had on Melbourne culture.
Possibly one of the biggest points about Melbourne is it’s coffee. This could seem strange to anyone not familiar with the coffee culture in Melbourne, but as one of the highest ranked coffee cities in the world we take our coffee very seriously.
Every coffee snob in Melbourne knows which suburbs have good coffee shops, how to tell what is a good coffee, and how to identify a poorly trained barista by sight, or in some cases, sound. It is this commitment to a higher class of coffee that has lead Melbourne to live comfortably far ahead of every other major city in Melbourne, both in terms of coffee quality and coffee industry.
Fashion – tricky and underground
Melbourne’s fashion scene can be tricky to navigate, as any given night of the week could spit out different fashion choices from the exact same people. The same guy you see wearing tracksuit pants and a singlet with thongs at a football game on a Friday night might be wearing a three piece suit to a high-end bar the following night, so it’s hard to pin down where the fashion industry boom comes from, but make no mistake – Melbourne is seriously fashionable.
A trend of shopping in secondhand stores and op-shops has swept through the younger generations in the last 10-15 years, and combining this with individual new items leads to cool combinations of retro styling and modern chic which is very “Melbourne”.
Records and music
Finally, the record stores of Melbourne are a thing of beauty. Some are sprawling places upstairs with huge windows and natural light, others are dingy basements absolutely packed wall to wall with boxes of records. Either way, Melbourne’s record stores are scattered around the inner suburbs, and they more often than not have huge collections of everything from the brand new, to the very old.
The Basement Discs is located at the bottom of a steep staircase at the end of a laneway in Melbourne’s CBD, and it exemplifies what it is to be a Melbourne laneway record store.
With so much going on in Melbourne, it’s hard to not want to make your way to the CBD and wind your way around the back alleys and side streets, discovering strange and interesting fashion, music, coffee and street art as you go, so why not give in to the temptation and go discover something new.