Australia - enjoy the sunshine and soak up the atmosphere with the locals in one of Melbourne's funky beer gardens and bars
Melbourne has some great spots for soaking up the sun. Forget the dark and dingy atmosphere of the front bar and venture outside for some summer fun. A long and luxurious Sunday session in a great beer garden can leave the crustiest traveller feeling optimistic and relaxed (albeit a bit hungover the next day - so don't forget to hydrate!)
These are my top 10 Melbourne outside drinking places in which to hang out.
1. The Wesley Anne is in an old church with an enormous beer garden out back. There's an interesting mix of sculptures around the place and the high ceilings give it a great atmosphere. There's often live music on a Sunday; probably something folksy or acoustic. If you're a bit of a beer connoisseur the micro beers on tap will certainly please.
250 High St, Northcote Hill
Tel. 9482 1333
2. Closer to town The Standard is hidden away off Brunswick Street and has long been a staple for the coolest locals. The kitsch meet country and western interior is fun and if you feeling a bit hung over from the night before one of their special burgers should see you through. Make sure you check you map before you leave as this place can be a bit hard to find, but well worth the effort.
293 Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy
Tel. 9419 4793
3. Down Sydney Road in the heart of Brunswick is the friendly and cool Brunswick Green. The last time I went there we ended up in a spontaneous table tennis tournament with some locals that went on all afternoon. I love the atmosphere of this place. Really friendly, it's a great place to mix with the locals and explore the vibrant culture of the Sydney Road surrounds.
313 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Tel. 9381 2413
4. If you’re feeling restless trot across the road to The Retreat where later on in the evening there's the opportunity for dancing, pool and more great beer garden action.
280 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Tel. 9380 4090
5. Something a little different and a tad more expensive is the spectacular Rooftop Bar and Cinema on the top floor of Curtin House in Swanston Street. You can enjoy close up views of the Melbourne skyline and even catch a film when the sun goes down. Trendy hipsters mix with artists and young entrepreneurs, a great introduction to Melbourne City culture with a party vibe.
6/252 Swanston St, Melbourne
Tel. 9663 3596
If you are staying in central Melbourne there are a number of hidden gems for outdoor drinking that offer more salubrious surrounds that your average suburban beer garden. This is be reflected in the price but if you can stay away from the cocktail menu your budget won’t be too much worse off and they are certainly worth a visit to experience some Melbourne bar culture.
6. Cookie, around the corner from the Rooftop Bar and Cinema, is a huge beer hall of a place. I love sitting at the tables on the balcony, up amidst the canopy of plain trees overlooking the hustle and bustle of Swanston Street. This bar can get really crowded on Friday night when it fills up with city workers so I would recommend going for a Sunday afternoon session or midweek sneaky when you can bag a coveted table outside and get some better service. There’s a long menu that’s not cheap but is rather yummy if you’re feeling peckish.
1/252 Swanston St, Melbourne
Tel. 9663 7660
7. Altogether more stylish in a grownup Pimms No.1 cup kind of way is Madame Brussels. The rooftop terrace here is lovely and a parasol in the heat and a blanket when the sun goes down from staff made me feel welcome and even a little bit special. Notoriously hard to find, it’s located on top of the Spaghetti Tree at the top end of Bourke Street, up an elevator to the 3rd floor and you are far away from the concrete jungle down below. Cheeky, kitsch and with a bit of burlesque glamour. It’s a bit on the pricey side but has a fantastic snack menu and fun drinks list.
3/59 Bourke St, Melbourne
Tel. 9662 2775
8. For something a bit grungier Section 8 down Tattersalls Lane is a relaxed and arty hang out where DJs spin their wares Thursday to Sunday with some of the coolest sounds around. Between a budget Chinese dumpling house and a porn cinema, drinks are served from old shipping container crates with comfy cushions strewn around for seating. Could be too cool for school for some but as far as distinctive and different outdoor drinking, this bar rates a mention.
27-29 Tattersalls Ln, Melbourne
Tel. 0422 972 656
For many a traveller in Melbourne the obvious place to head for some fun outside drinking is St Kilda. The beachside location, selection of cheap hostels and more eating and drinking holes than you can poke a didgeridoo at make it top of the tourist trail. I have had many a happy Sunday afternoon session down here where the holiday atmosphere along the beachfront esplanade peaks with the Sunday market, buskers, and beachgoers. So where to head?
9. For the best Sunday session hangover cures save your Sunday for Greasy Joes. There’s a wide selection of burgers, big all day breakfast and a bloody good Bloody Mary to ease your head. You can sit outside and watch the passing parade or disappear to the Courtyard Bar for pool and something more social.
68 Acland St, St Kilda
Tel. 9525 3755
10. If you really want to go straight for the best posse on the beach, head down to Republica at the St Kilda Sea Baths. Located right on the waterfront it’s the perfect place to enjoy the beach atmosphere whilst sipping a Mojito in some comfortable swing seating. The food is great and despite being a bit pricey it felt like good value. If you’re into people watching it doesn’t get much better than this. Alternatively come down during the week when you will have more room to move with a lot shorter bar queue.
St Kilda Sea Baths
10-18 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda
Tel. 8598 9055
All of these bars are surrounded by a large number of alternative drinking holes so if one isn’t to your liking or it's too crowded don’t be afraid to venture out in the vicinity to find another pleasant surprise (Melbourne’s full of them). You might just have one of your most memorable drinking sessions ever. Cheers!