A perfect summer weekend in Melbourne
Author: Michael Harden
6pm: Get right into an artsy Melbourne mood by starting the night at the National Gallery of Victoria (180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne). Friday night tickets include entry to both the David Hockney and Victor & Rolf exhibitions plus live music in the Great Hall and DJs in the NGV Garden. There are bars and food too.
8.30pm: Cross St Kilda Road into the Victoria Gardens to MPavillion, a temporary structure designed by Indian architecture firm Studio Mumbai built from bamboo, wood, rope and stone. Every night there's a Twilight Ritual that includes a light show, tabla playing and an Indian-inspired soundscape.
9.30pm: After all that art, proper sustenance is necessary. At Embla, owner-chef Dave Verheul cooks simple delicious food over charcoal and in a wood-fired oven while co-owner Christian McCabe pours great quality minimal intervention wine. It's cool but not pretentious.
Embla's roast chicken.
10.30pm: Finish the balmy summer's eve by sitting on a rooftop in one of the several rooftop bars close at hand. There's the new Rooftop at QT Melbourne and for those after something more bohemian, Madame Brussels (59 Bourke St, Melbourne) with its debauched garden-party vibe and menu of strong, thirst-quenching summer cocktails. Also nearby is one of the city's newest rooftops, Good Heavens (Level 2, 79 Bourke St, Melbourne), above barbeque joint Fancy Hanks and Siglo (161 Spring St, Melbourne), one of the city's favourites with its unparralled view of spotlit temples of theatre, religion and politics.
Rooftop at Good Heavens.
9am: Fortify yourself for the day with a brilliant Thai breakfast at Magic Mountain Saloon (62 Little Collins St, Melbourne). Sharp flavours and great ingredients come in every form from congee to crumpets with pandan and coconut cream.
11am: About a 90-minute drive from Melbourne lies Peninsula Hot Springs (140 Springs Ln, Fingal), a thermal hot spring complex with a large variety of pools and spa treatments. Remember to book ahead.
Peninsula Hot Springs.
1pm: The Mornington Peninsula has an excellent variety of restaurants but for those after a combination of good food and great views, the spectacular Wood Marsh-designed restaurant at Port Phillip Estate (263 Red Hill Rd, Red Hill South) hits all the marks. Make time to taste the Estate's wine in the cellar door.
4pm: Lygon Street has reclaimed its mojo in recent years (well, parts of it anyway) and Saturday afternoons are like a Melbourne version of passeggiata. Spend some time in Readings (309 Lygon St, Carlton), a great independent bookstore and then go for seasonal, authentic gelato at Pidapipo or brave the masses for an espresso at the bar at the heaving Roman-style behemoth Brunetti (380 Lygon St, Carlton).
The Corner Hotel Rooftop.
6.30pm: Live music is an essential part of any Melbourne experience and The Corner Hotel (57 Swan St, Richmond) is one of the city's best bandrooms (The Rolling Stones once played a secret gig there). Its recently renovated rooftop is the ideal place to fuel up on quality burgers, fried chicken and fish and chips pre-show.
11pm: Heartbreaker is the perfect after-gig bar with its red neon, pool table, jukebox and quality booze. There may be dancing. There may be sing-alongs to Bohemian Rhapsody. There will be fun.
10am: Scott Pickett's (Saint Crispin, ESP) Deli & Rotisserie at the Queen Victoria Market has simple quality food, excellent coffee and a licence for those in need of a Bloody Mary. Perfect pre-market pit stop.
11am: The Queen Victoria Market (513 Elizabeth St, Melbourne) is one of the oldest in Melbourne and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere so it's worth braving the crowds for a browse. You'll be charmed by the art deco Deli Hall. Books for Cooks (129-131 Therry St, Melbourne) is also a must.
Noon: If Melbourne could be said to have any kind of beach culture, St Kilda is it. Stroll the boardwalk or browse the St Kilda Esplanade Market.
1pm: Good quality fish and chips are served up at Paper Fish from the Stokehouse crew, right on the boardwalk. Tempura batter, beer in cans, crinkle cut chips. A classic Sunday lunch.
Pickett's Deli & Rotisserie.
2pm: The interior of the new Stokehouse should not be missed so slip upstairs to the restaurant bar for a glass of wine and a freshly shucked oyster or sliced-to-order sashimi with views of Port Phillip Bay.
4pm: A weekend in Melbourne would be lacking without dropping in to Bar Di Stasio (31 Fitzroy St, St Kilda). An excellent snack menu, superbly presented drinks and a cossetting, calming atmosphere that's welcome antidote to the summer St Kilda crowds.
6pm: What says Aussie Sunday dinner better than a Chinese meal in a pub? Ricky & Pinky comes courtesy of Andrew McConnell and so the Hong Kong-style dishes remain authentic while hitting the right comfort spots.
Ricky and Pinky.
8pm: Finish the weekend in calm and collected fashion with a glass of meticulously selected wine at Gertrude Street Enoteca (229 Gertrude St, Fitzroy), a Gertrude Street pioneer. You can also take a bottle of wine with you as a souvenir of a weekend well spent.