Formerly an industrial area with working class roots, Port Melbourne has undergone a facelift of epic proportions in recent years – but beneath the surface it retains its character. Now the exclusive beachside enclave just a hop, skip and a jump from the Melbourne CBD is one of the city’s most sought after suburbs. Bordering both the fresh and salt water of the Yarra River and Hobsons Bay, this trendy pocket of Melbourne is hard to ignore.
Despite going through intense urban renewal, the area still serves as Melbourne’s second port. While it’s a transport hub for both passenger and cargo vessels, it’s perhaps best known for the regular visits of the Spirit of Tasmania ferry. Locals and passersby watch as it pulls into Station Pier, disgorging its human cargo – Port Melbourne has long been a welcoming harbour.
A mere tram ride from central Melbourne and walking distance to the St Kilda Road business district, commuting for Port Melbourne locals is never a lengthy exercise, and escaping Melbourne’s intense weekday pace is simple.
Weekends here are a leisurely affair, consisting of plenty of beach walks and excursions to enjoy the culinary delights of Bay Street. For old school French baking, wander up to Noisette bakery. Whether your tastebuds are screaming out for sugar, or you have a savoury craving, the cakes and pastries here are sure to satisfy. Don’t forget to take home a loaf of their beautiful, fresh bread.
At Station Street Trading Co the light floods in through the windows of the corner cafe with a cosy interior. If the sun is shining, locals (both canine and human) take advantage of the leafy surrounds by lounging at streetside tables. There’s also the option of grabbing a takeway picnic hamper of coffee, orange juice, a main and sweet treat of your choice and to pull up a patch of grass at the nearby park. The menu is seasonal with dishes made from locally-sourced and high quality produce.
On warm summer evenings, Ciao Cucina beckons. The relaxed Mediterranean beer garden is inspired by beachside casual dining in Portofino. It’s the perfect spot for a leisurely Aperol Spritz and some antipasti – or perhaps a woodfired pizza – with friends, after a long day in the office. Next-door, sister restaurant Ciao Cielo offers contemporary and upmarket Italian cuisine, with housemade pasta among the dishes served in a classic European setting. In winter, that means cosy fireside dining.
If local craft beers and modern pub food are more your style, The Hack’s light-filled bar is the place to be.
The nearby Gasworks Arts Park is a community hub for the culturally minded. The vibrant precinct offers a range of visual and performing arts programs, workshops and activities for locals of all ages. There’s also an on-site café, and a dog-friendly farmers market once a month. If you’re looking for some art to take home, head to Port Art Gallery for affordable yet unique works by early and mid career local artists.
If all that has got you exhausted, wind down with a yoga class at the lovely Radiant Sol Yoga or perhaps a spot of lawn bowls in the sunshine at the Port Melbourne Bowling Club.
With its picture-perfect palm tree lined foreshore and laidback vibe, Port Melbourne personifies ‘the good life’. Charming Victorian workers’ cottages sit side-by-side luxurious new beachside developments such as Beacon Cove, which offer the ultimate urban seaside lifestyle. Meanwhile, many of the old warehouses and factories that dotted the neighbourhood have now been converted into smart apartments. Life in pretty Port Melbourne is a dream.