Tag Archives: Australia

Off the Beaten Path: Exploring Melbourne’s Laneways

Melbourne is the home of Aussie rules football, the film and TV industries, and a major center for literature and street art. Those interested in exploring something unique to Melbourne, and not seen in many other cities, should consider spending a day exploring the various laneways of the city, also known as “arcadeways.”

In the early days of the city, the laneways, which date mostly to the Victorian era, consisted of pathways for horses and carts, behind buildings, with roofs later added to protect from the weather. For decades, the untapped potential of these lanes remained dormant, until about 30 years ago when a change in Victoria’s liquor laws spurred a laneway renaissance.

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Architect and urban designer Craig Allchin noted in an interview about Melbourne’s unique laneways that the then-newly created “small bar” licenses, originally set up to spur the development of a local casino, alow allowed enterprising Melburnians to set up small bars all over the city. Before the change in law, establishments were required to serve food to serve alcohol, with the operational cost of kitchens making most undertakings difficult.

Additionally, Melbourne’s mid-1980s city center was mostly empty, with suburban malls poaching much of the retail out of the city. Allchin commented that, “State government strategists reasoned that specialist, one-off stores servicing the whole metropolitan population were important for the life of the city,” and noting that a savvy state government created rent policies which encouraged small businesses to try their hand in the city center.

With an eye toward maintaining the historical character of the laneways, state policies also forced businesses to get creative in the existing small spaces. Today, the laneways, which vary in size from very narrow to comfortably accommodating outdoor seating and music, have been transformed into “hole in the wall” delights, with the various arcades, each with their own distinct personality, boasting acclaimed bars, al-fresco dining, unique shops, and urban art.

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For music fans, AC/DC Lane located off Flinders Lane, is a must-see. Named for the legendary band, which filmed a video for their 1976 classic “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll” while riding a truck down Melbourne’s streets, this laneway boasts the popular live music venue Cherry, host to many a rock band.

Walk 5 minutes away from AC/DC Lane, back down Flinders Lane, and turn onto Hosier Lane. The center of Melbourne’s street art scene, this sprawling alley way features every kind of street art – colorful murals, stencil work, and classic graffiti “tagging.” References to both popular culture and Australian politics makes a jaunt down Hosier both educational and entertaining. The Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Melbourne, near Flinders Street Station, is just around the corner from Hosier Lane and the perfect affordable option to make “home base” when venturing out to explore the laneways.

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In search of food? A 15 minute walk away from Hosier, down Collins Street and Elizabeth Street, will bring you to Hardware Lane, a foodie’s delight with unmatched ambiance – outdoor seating beneath the facades of 1900s-era warehouses. At night, live music complements the food and drink. Try Amigos for tequila and tapas, Il Nostro Posto for pasta, and Aloi Na for Thai. If you’re planning to spend a lot of time eating your way through all of Hardware Lane’s options, the nearby Westin Hotel, just a 10 minute walk away, is a great option for home base.

Finding a drink isn’t difficult in Melbourne, but for a special experience, after dinner in Hardware Lane, walk 15 minutes down Little Bourke Street and into Meyers Place. There are several bars to hole up in, from modern cocktail bars to old-school style speakeasies, but make a point to stop by the city’s oldest laneway bar, Meyers Place, which often has great happy hours deals.

These are just a smattering of the laneways of Melbourne – part of the fun is going on a walking tour of the city and discovering the hidden delights! There are group tours available, or, download your own map and see where the laneways lead you!

How Different is Australia from the West Really?

Australia is often thought of as part of the western world, but when you consider the geographical neighborhood: Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Malaysia, you might begin to wonder just how different it is in Australia really? After all, it is on the other side of the world.

One way to think of it is this: Australia is to the West what Hawaii is to America. On a map, the space between them is vast. But in person the differences are only subtle.

Australia is on par size wise compared to the West. Bigger than all of Europe and as big as the United States, if you don’t count Alaska. However, there’s far fewer Aussies than there are Europeans or Americans. That leaves lots of room down under. And that is important to consider while you travel in Australia. There are not as many major cities to see.

Australia’s flag contains the Union Jack, so unsurprisingly there are some similarities to the United Kingdom, but those similarities make it different than America. For example, in Australia they drive on the left side of the road. When it comes to spelling and slang words Australians use what is usually called “proper English” by everyone not American. For instance, ‘colour’ versus ‘color’, Australians would use the former spelling.

Language differences are probably one of the most obvious difference you are likely to encounter. The Australian accent and use of slang words is often one of the first things that comes to mind. And you are probably thinking right now, “G’day mate!” But that is a stereotype.

A good thing to know is that in restaurants the word “docket” is used instead of “receipt” or “bill.” Slang words are often just shortened or abbreviated words with “o” or “ie” added to the end. The word Aussie is a good example of this. You will pick up on the local and colorful language, just listen!

But what about sports? In America the game is Baseball. In Europe it is Football. But in Australia the game of choice is definitely Cricket. You probably will not figure out all the rules of Cricket during your time in Australia, but it is worth watching a match and drinking a beer. You will be surprised at how expensive the beer is in Sydney, the most expensive city overall.

If you are dependent on having free wifi access know that there is much less connectivity available compared to Western cities. Perhaps, a good way to summarize the differences between Australia and the West in general would be to say that Australia has a bit of the same, but much less of it.

There are not as many major cities save Sydney and Melbourne. There are fewer architecturally stunning or historically important buildings to gawk at. There is arguably only one great museum: Australian War Memorial in Canberra. (Western cities generally have several museums worth noting.) And compared to Europe, Australia has a lot less cultural diversity.

This isn’t to “knock” Australia. It is its own continent for crying out loud! The birds are more exotic, the beaches are great, but beware the bugs are massive. You are probably going to get more mosquito bites than you have ever received.

Hopefully, this post has got you thinking a bit about what to expect when you travel to Australia. It is all the way on the other side of the world, but you probably are not going to suffer from any culture shock. Which is not such a bad thing. Australia has a charm of its own that you’ll need to discover for yourself as with all places.


Victor is an passionate blogger and experienced traveler. He writes for Melbourne car rental as well as several other reputable blogs.

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Adventures to Experience in Australia

If you are looking for a great vacation full of fun and adventure, look no further than fabulous Australia! With a diverse ecosystem that ranges from the arid outback to the subtropical climate of the Gondwana Rainforests, Australia has an action-filled excursion for everyone. So make your plans, pack your bags, call your travel agent and do not forget your travel insurance cover! It is time to head out for an adventure!

One of Australia’s best known features is the remote areas of dry desert known as the outback. While it is sparsely populated, there are still many places to visit there. Alice Springs in the Northern Territory is a well-known destination in outback. With a population just under 30,000, the town is big enough to provide comforts for a traveler yet still small enough to retain its outback charm.

Another attraction in Australia is the Great Barrier Reef, the largest reef system in the world. The reef is composed of more than 900 islands and almost 3000 individual reefs located off the northeastern coast of Australia. Scuba divers love visiting the area where an array of sea life can be observed in the clear blue water, but boat trips are available for those who wish to stay on the ocean’s surface. The Great Barrier Reef is definitely a must for anyone who appreciates natural beauty.

Some people are surprised to learn that Australia, so well-known for the outback, also is home to the world’s largest area of subtropical rainforest known as the Gondwana Rainforests. Just as the outback and the Great Barrier Reef have completely different ecosystems, the rainforest is a vibrant area full of wildlife and plant life. With beautiful waterfalls, scenic vistas and more trees than you can imagine, the rainforest is another destination waiting to provide you with a vacation adventure.

Of course, any discussion of vacation spots in Australia has to mention the thousands of miles of beaches that line the continent’s coast. From the beaches of Western Australia’s wine country where surfing is a popular pastime to the more than 70 beaches of Sydney that range from secluded bays to strips of golden sand popular with tourists, you can find the perfect beach for any activity.

So what are you waiting for? Adventure awaits in many varieties in Australia. It seems the only thing that is not there is you!