The Urbanist’s Melbourne: What to Do

Mercat BasementPhoto: Courtesy of Desertchorus/FastLouder

Bowery Ballrooms Down Under
Melburnites take their live music seriously. (Architecture in Helsinki, Crowded House, and Nick Cave all hail from here.) Below, singer-songwriter Jon Michell picks his favorite genre-specific venues.

For nonstop indie rock:
“Local bands as well as Pitchfork-approved Brooklyn acts play the upstairs room of Boney (68 Little Collins St.; 9663-8268) seven nights a week. The downstairs serves jalapeño doughnuts.”

For scene-y electronica:
The basement at the Mercat Cross Hotel (456 Queen St.; 9348-9998) attracts a flashy crowd. They host 24-hour disco and techno nights and international D.J.’s. like Madmotor-miquel.”

For black metal:
“The grimy pub in the Bendigo Hotel (125 Johnston St., Collingwood; 9417-3415) is the place to go for hardcore, punk, doom, and metal bands like Scab Eater, the Vaginors, and Hailgun.”

The Melbourne Flea
Four types of markets, from the crafty to the posh, as recommended by fashion blogger Cecylia Kee.

“Die-hard thrifters arrive at the crack of dawn at the Camberwell Sunday Market (Station Street Carpark, Burke and Riversdale Rds., Camberwell). There’s a strict used- or handmade-only policy: The 370 stalls are filled with vintage clothing (I recently scored an ultrachic emerald-green silk blouse with a unique butterfly collar), crockery, furniture, and books. Fortify yourself with snacks from the on-site food vans: My favorite sells hot-jam doughnuts.”

“You’ll regularly find celebrities as well as film-costume buyers at the indoor Take 2 Market (rotating locations and hours;, which has a mix of designer and high-street fashion brands like Zimmermann and Akira, plus vintage from the odd Victorian-era item onward; there’ll be gems like an eighties silk animal-print coat or that perfect leather jacket. The market also has a signature eclectic iPod playlist: Think New Kids on the Block and Michael Jackson.”

“Located in a park that was once the neighborhood’s botanical gardens, Greville Village Market (corner of Greville and Grattan Sts., Prahran; first and third Sunday of the month) is Melbourne’s newest and hippest fashion market. It’s the place to rub elbows with local artisans and emerging designers like Sarah Fallonof Hearsay Designs, who makes chunky braided necklaces. There are also vibrant textiles and a range of stationery and home décor.”

“Fitzroy Market (Fitzroy Primary School, 319 George St., Fitzroy;; third Saturday of the month) is held in a local elementary school and has a real community flavor. There are 65 stalls of Australian-made artisanal accessories, décor, clothes, and food, along with pre-loved furniture. Among the popular regular vendors is the Wire Tamer, who makes animal shapes out of rusty antique fencing wire.”

Urban Amalgams
Melbourne, like New York, is a study in neighborhoods. Here, diagrams of three worth exploring.

Do this: Fuel up on a vanilla-ice-cream-topped iced coffee from Short Round café (731 High St., Thornbury; 9484-3904), then catch a film at the recently renovated twenties-era Palace Westgarth Cinemas (89 High St., Northcote; 9482-2001).

Do this: Sample exotic fruits and seafood at the Footscray Market (81 Hopkins St.; 9687-1205); check out a local-artist exhibition at the Riverside Community Arts Centre (45 Moreland St.; 9362-8888).

Do this: Get same-day custom jeans at Dejour Jeans (542 Sydney Rd.; 9380-4884) and used vinyl at Round & Round (556 Sydney Rd.; 9380-5095); snack on tangy oregano ­pizza from A1 Bakery (643-645 ­Sydney Rd.; 9386-8585).

The Urbanist’s Melbourne: What to Do