The bayside suburb of St Kilda hugs Melbourne's CBD and enticing beach of Port Phillip Bay. St Kilda attracts many visitors, and rightly so. Day-trippers from the urban sprawl of Melbourne, interstate travellers on a short sojourn and international backpackers all come here.
Yet, it’s not just the beachside lifestyle that lures them. Cosmopolitan cafés and Acland Street’s cake shops draw in the visitors. By night, Fitzroy Street’s bars and clubs, and the iconic Esplanade Hotel (or The Espy), attract those in search of a good live band and a decent drink. Local designers selling the latest trends, market stalls and the Luna Park’s carnival playground all punctuate St Kilda’s eclectic feel.
Today, St Kilda is buzzing. People are already lining up, waiting for Luna Park’s wrought iron gates to open. Couples, families, and some who are a little tired from the night before, are all wandering The Esplanade. I decide to find out how some are spending their time here.
Catherine and Alex, in their early 30s, are UK expats who arrived in Australia only five months ago. They live in Geelong and this is their first time to St Kilda. “We’re meeting friends,” Catherine confirms. With her windswept hair and brash sunglasses she’s prepared for the unknown. “We might do the Sunday market, maybe Luna Park, we’re not too sure yet.” Alex, with his camera at the ready, looks out for his friends. “They’ve also moved here from the UK.”
Justine, Rod and Raelene, from a mix of Brisbane and Canberra, have arrived. Though, they have an ulterior motive – filling in time. “We’re here for a wedding in Elwood,” Justine offers. “We’ve been here lots of times and I like the people…lots of people watching.” Their time is limited but they’re keen to make the most of their stay. “We might check out the market, arts and crafts, the waterfront.” Rod, alongside Justine, is holding his goose-bumped arms. “I didn’t bring a jumper but that’s Melbourne – you just have to wait 15 minutes!”
And that’s all it takes before Kai and Jipjan from Holland swagger by. Their 20-something faces are peppered with beach sand, their arms soaked by a dark tan. “We’ve been here maybe two weeks, and we’re staying for about two to four. We’ve seen the beach, bay, shops, bars playing live music. It’s a very nice place, some good weather, some bad…It’s a real city, no outback like you always see or hear about.”
While Kai and Jipjan are left to contemplate their lazy Sunday, Chris is busy getting a haircut at the local barber down on Barkly Street. He’s here from the outer suburbs of Melbourne with his wife and they’re soon to feed their bellies with lunch. “It’s a nice day so we thought we’d have lunch, check out the market.” He thumbs through a magazine while waiting his turn. “I like it because it’s near the beach, lots of cafés…It’s outside the city and a little bit different. It makes me feel like I’m on holiday.”
Here are my quick tips for spending a lazy Sunday in St Kilda for yourself!
Hotel Urban on Fitzroy Street or Easystay Apartments on Raglan Street.
Eat + Drink...
Fritz Gelato on Fitzroy Street, Bluecorn Mexican Restaurant on Barkly Street, Sister of Soul on Acland Street or Ichi Ni Izakaya on The Esplanade.
Rare Records, Urban Attitude or Readings on Acland Street, The Esplanade Market each Sunday on The Esplanade.
The Esplanade Hotel (The Espy) on The Esplanade or the beer garden at Pure Pop Records on Barkly Street.
Spa Dreamtime and public pool bathing at St Kilda Sea Baths, wander the pier and boardwalk at St Kilda Beach or explore Veg Out Community Garden on the corner of Shakespeare Grove and Chaucer Street.
Movies at the Openair cinema on St Kilda Beach during the summer months. Or, watch the people of St Kilda doing their happy dance here.