A Black Girl’s Guide To Exploring Melbourne

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It’s giving rich auntie.

That was my thought as I basked in the luxurious experience of sipping chardonnay at the Pt. Leo Estate in Melbourne, Australia. There I was, drinking a glass of the robust white wine from the estate’s vineyard while gazing at its privately owned sculpture collection, which included rare pieces you won’t even find inside The Louvre.  

A few words into a conversation with my server, they realized I was American. She told me President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama had visited the winery just a year before. I beamed. As a proud aunt of 13 (for now), the image of me sitting by that tall glass window, sipping the finest of wines with the one-of-a-kind sculptures in the background, is precisely the image I hope my nieces and nephews picture when they tell their friends about their aunt who is out here exploring the world.

A Black Girl’s Guide To Exploring Melbourne
Author at the Australian Open, Courtesy of Mitti Hicks

This experience at the Good Food Guide Chef Hat Award-winning establishment (Australia’s equivalent to Michelin recognition) was just one of the many ways I was able to immerse myself in Melbourne’s vibrant culture where brunch dining, both street and fine art, the Australian Open, and impressive wine regions were all on display.

It took me over 19 hours to get to Melbourne from Chicago. Yes, it was a long trip. Nevertheless, it was a memorable experience that I think other Black women would love. With that said, here’s the cheat code for living your best life in Melbourne, Victoria.

Where I Stayed

One of the highlights of this trip was my stay at voco Melbourne Central because I was close to everything on my itinerary. I was centrally located in two major shopping centers, Bourke Street Mall and Emporium, as well as museums and Melbourne’s free public tram.

My room was cozy, and I loved the city views and the modern luxury design. On the days I didn’t want to venture too far off, breakfast was always a hit at the Blacksmith bar and grill on the hotel’s seventh floor.

What I Ate

Breakfast and brunch, or Brekkie as the Aussies call it, are elevated experiences in Melbourne. If you’re an avocado toast lover like me, you will appreciate that Australia takes credit for inventing this popular “brekkie” dish. My experience with avocado toast (which I ordered every day) was that it was made with ricotta cheese mixed in, lemon zest, and pea shoots. Other unforgettable breakfast items were the scrambled eggs served with truffles and the popular corn and chili waffles from Brick Lane.

Other great places include Rudimentary, Sir Duke, and Lune. The latter is a staple for locals and visitors alike, as it’s known for having the best croissants outside of France. The bakery opens at 7:30 a.m., but people camp out at least 45 minutes before. I arrived at 6:57 a.m. and was the fourth person in line. Lune also has a popular doughnut shop called Moon Cruller worth waiting in line for.

A Black Girl’s Guide To Exploring Melbourne
Moon Cruller, courtesy of Mitti Hicks

In addition to that, Melbourne is Australia’s coffee capital. You won’t find a Starbucks here. In fact, don’t even mention Starbucks because it’s blasphemy for a community that strongly supports its local cafes.

Gimlet is located in the historic Cavendish House, a landmark building in Melbourne dating back to the 1920s. It’s in the heart of the city on Russell Street. The cocktail bar and dining room are timeless, and the establishment consistently ranks as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world thanks to its ever-changing menu.

Supernormal is another fine dining option that interprets Asian cuisines from Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul, and Hong Kong. For this experience, I ordered from the banquet menu, which allows you to choose between the à la carte options and exclusive items such as the slow-cooked lamb shoulder with truss tomato and Yuxiang sauce topped with crispy garlic.

Where I Drank

Just an hour south of Melbourne is one of Australia’s more than 60 wine regions. Mornington Peninsula is a change of pace from Melbourne’s vibrant energy. It’s situated on Victoria’s coastline, where the breezy seaside villages serve as coastal escapes. The real gem in Mornington Peninsula is the wineries. Pt. Leo Estate and Montalto are spectacular wineries where you can sip and dine amid stunning views.

For a taste, nap, rest, and repeat experience, Lancemore Lindenderry Red Hill is an excellent choice. Lush gardens and sprawling vines surround this luxurious and cozy inn. It would be the perfect stay for a girls trip or honeymoon.

A Black Girl’s Guide To Exploring Melbourne
Levantine Hill Estate, courtesy of Mitti Hicks

Yarra Valley, Australia’s oldest wine region, is an hour east of Melbourne. Sommeliers in the Yarra Valley wineries and cellar doors gave me the best lessons in figuring out my wine palate.  My time at St. Hubert’s left an indelible impression on me. During my wine tasting, a sommelier took me on a journey to ensure I understood the intricate details, including how growing altitudes can change wine flavors.

After St. Hubert’s, I went to Levantine Hill Estate for another food and wine tasting. What I appreciated about this experience was each wine was carefully selected and paired with each dish for a flavor-filled five-course meal. A wine tasting here means people can savor some of the most expensive offerings in the world. And both Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley are known for producing cool-climate wines.

Fine Art and Fun

Melbourne Street Tours is the first and only street art tour in Australia run by the artists responsible for the colorful artwork. Melbourne has an impressive street art culture that is known worldwide, and seeing it is a great way to kick off a trip to the city.

Wurrdha Marra is the newest exhibit at NGV Australia at Federation Square. Located on the ground floor in The Ian Potter Centre, it is the first exhibit in Australia centering the work of First Nations artists and designers, otherwise known as Australian Aboriginal people.

A Black Girl’s Guide To Exploring Melbourne
Street art in Melbourne, Courtesy of Mitti Hicks

Visiting Melbourne’s iconic Fitzroy neighborhood is also a must. The area is known for its bars, cafes, and local artisan markets on weekends. It’s a colorful neighborhood that locals take pride in. Fitzroy Mills and Rose Street Artists markets take place on the weekends here. 

And on the way to Mornington Peninsula, I made a pit stop at the award-winning Peninsula Hot Springs. It’s a natural geothermal mineral springs and day spa with more than 70 outdoor bathing and wellness experiences.  

As mentioned, getting to Melbourne from the States is a journey, but there’s so much to see, do, and consume when you get to the city that it’s absolutely worth the trek. The wine, the art, the food, the culture. You certainly won’t be disappointed if you add Melbourne to your bucket list of must-see destinations.

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