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14 Quirky Things To Do In Melbourne, Australia

meatballs

Meatballs via the Meatball & Wine Bar

Looking for quirky things to do in Melbourne? For those traveling to Melbourne, Australia, the city’s ambient lanes and avenues filled with hip eateries, boutique shopping, and beautiful parks is also home to some quirky fare. You just need to know where to look. To make your trip to the city more interesting, here is a guide to the quirkier side of Melbourne. Note: If you want to take a tour of the hidden secrets and lesser-known side of Melbourne, two excellent travel operators are Hidden Secrets Tours and Real Melbourne Bike Tours.  

1. Have Your Balls Topped

Let’s kick this Australia travel guide off with a fun experience in a sultry space: The Meatball & Wine Bar. First, you’ll choose your balls – chicken, beef, pork, fish, or vegetarian. After this, you’ll be asked “What do you want to put on your balls?” and “What do you want your balls to sit in?” While it may sound rowdy, the venue is actually a sultry wine bar serving a variety of Italian and Australian vinos to pair with your balls and classic Italian food fare.

2. Have A Bite In Melbourne’s Smallest Cafe

This is one of the top hidden gems in Melbourne, and here’s why: Visiting the Switchboard Cafe, located in the Manchester Unity Building, is like sipping coffee in a dollhouse. If you don’t breath too deeply, you’ll be able to fit four people in the tiny space. While not the most inviting venue, it’s definitely quirky. Moreover, they’re known for making some of the best coffee in the city as well as serving tasty sandwiches on soft, warm bread.
aesop melbourne

Aesop made of cardboard

3. Sample Beauty Products In A Shop Made Of Cardboard

While Aesop sells high-quality bath and body products all over the world, its Melbourne shop on Flinders Lane is particularly quirky. That’s because it’s made completely out of cardboard. Not only are the products set up on cardboard displays, but the walls and shelves are, as well. Bonus: The shop offers free samples of their exclusive line that last all day.

4. Be Honest At “Cup Of Truth”

Located underground at Flinders Street Station you’ll find Cup Of Truth, a tiny coffee shop that operates using the trust system. Purchase your coffee, then put the money in the giant cup and take out your change. Not only is their business model surprising, but also the fact they brew artisanal coffees behind a counter space that’s so tiny you can barely turn around.
Gewürzhaus

Gewürzhaus spices

5. Browse Unusual Herbs, Spices & Chocolates At Gewurzhaus

Started by two sisters, Gewurzhaus in Block Arcade is home to some very unusual herbs, spices, salts, sugars, peppers, and chocolates. Their spices – some of which include Aussie Meat Pie, Salt & Pepper Squid, Sausage Roll, and Venetian Gondola- are prepared onsite. Some of these blends are then sent to a local chocolatier to create innovative chocolate bars for the shop. To go along with your edibles, Gewurzhaus sells interesting vintage kitchen pieces.

6. Get Your Name Written Inside A Candy

Located across from Gewurzhaus is Honeycomb. Here, you’ll not only eat some of the most delicious honeycomb and candy you’ve ever tasted, but you’ll also be able to have a special message written inside a “lolli.” Watch as trained “lollyologists” stretch soft taffy to create different letter shapes and sizes, which eventually become names and symbols inside hard rock candy. Bonus: Free samples of the honeycomb and rock candy are out on display.
graffiti

Graffiti in Union Lane

7. Explore Graffiti In Melbourne’s Hidden Lanes

While graffiti is illegal in Melbourne, there are areas where it is tolerated. Walking down the city’s hidden lanes, you’ll find interesting works sprayed all over, most notably in Union Lane. Walking down this alleyway is like strolling through an outdoor art gallery. Best of all, it’s one of the best free things to do in Melbourne!

8. Drop By The Studios Of Local Artisans

Inside the Cathedral Arcade you’ll find many shops on the ground level; however if you take the old-fashioned lift up to the 2nd floor and higher, you’ll be able to see local artisans at work in their private studios. Many leave their doors open, although even if it’s closed you can simply knock to see if it’s okay to come inside.
toga button

2,000+ year-old button from Buttonmania

9. See A 2,000-Year-Old Button

Also in the Cathedral Arcade is Buttonmania, where you can see over 4 million buttons curated by Kate Boulton. She has them in all colors, shapes, sizes, and styles, and simply seeing how many buttons can be kept by one person is fascinating. Her most notable button is one that is 2,000+ years old and was once used to pin togas in place.

10. Eat At A Restaurant With No Menu

At Jim’s Greek Tavern, guests don’t decide what they want to eat, the restaurant does. Don’t be nervous, as many locals and patrons say this is as authentic as Greek food can get outside of Greece. Everything is prepared in-house, and you’ll be served dishes like chargrilled seafood and meat, golden fried cheese, eggplant dip, lamb skewers, Greek salad, octopus, baklava, galaktoboureko, and more.
chloe

Chloe

11. Visit The City’s Most Iconic Prostitute

The upstairs bar at Young and Jackson is home to Melbourne’s longest-living resident, a prostitute named Chloe. A nude portrait painted by Jules Lefebvre, the piece became the focus of adoring soldiers on R&R leave during WWII. These men fell so in love with the naked woman, they would write her love letters and poems. Sadly, she committed suicide when she was 21, although you can still have a drink with her portrait today.

12. Get A Haircut And A Beer

At Dr. Follicles, men can relax with a free Coopers Beer before getting their hair cut. The shop is funky and has Indian-style music playing and apparently sometimes loud rock.
william barack bridge

William Barack Bridge. Image via Mike Hauser.

13. Walk Over A Singing Bridge

The William Barak Bridge was created in honor of Aboriginal artist William Barak. Walking or cycling over the bridge, you’ll hear Aboriginal songs and music coming from the speakers on the bridge walls. It’s an immersive experience, as you’ll feel like you’re next to actual Aboriginal performers.

14. Have A Drink In A Shipping Container

Section 8 Container Bar is literally a shipping container that has been re-purposed as a bar. Like many taverns in Melbourne, the unassuming outside gives way to the trendy, ambient inside. Even their slogan, “A bar in and around a box in a back alley of Melbourne” plays on the fact this urban venue — designed from something that is usually tossed in the trash — is actually really hip. Surrounded by graffiti, patrons sit on furniture made of recycled materials while red lanterns warm the ambiance. Enjoy imported beers, handcrafted cocktails, and a few select wines.

What are your favorite quirky things to do in Melbourne?

About Jessie Festa

Jessie Festa is an New York-based travel content creator who is passionate about empowering her audience to experience new places and live a life of adventure. She is the founder of the solo female travel blog, Jessie on a Journey, and is editor-in-chief of Epicure & Culture, an online conscious tourism magazine. Along with writing, Jessie is a professional photographer and is the owner of NYC Photo Journeys, which offers New York photo tours, photo shoots, and wedding photography. Her work has appeared in publications like USA Today, CNN, Business Insider, Thrillist, and WestJet Magazine.

Jessie Festa standing in front of grafitti wall

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3 Comments

  1. fotoeins | Henry on at 11:40 pm

    Love these great tips, Jess!

    * Oh those balls! Finger-licking good!
    * Beer before a haircut? How about before *and* after a haircut? Yes!
    * Love exploring those narrow Melbournian lanes …

    • jess2716 on at 2:40 am

      Thank you! 🙂

  2. Maryanne on at 6:19 am

    Love some of these ideas on this list. Sounds like you had a lot of fun in Melbourne. You mentioned Cathedral Arcade which is on the ground floor of the Nicholas Building. The whole building is full of artisans but recently the building was up for sale and the future of the artisans was in jeopardy. Such a shame! Anyway I really enjoyed your post 🙂

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