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Melbourne’s Secret Everything #2 | Hidden Parks, Landmarks, Shops & Experiences

By Hannah Valmadre
3rd Nov 2015

Melbourne's secret parks

If there’s one thing we’ve learned at The Urban List, it’s that Melbournians love being in on a good secret. However, what we seem to love even more is sharing these discoveries with our pals.

Traipsing around Melbourne’s cobble-stoned laneways, wandering into unusual buildings, and taking the stairs that lead to god-knows-where, have lead us to some fantastic discoveries. In round one we brought you the best hidden restaurants, cafes and bars this city has to offer; today our adventuring continues with the greatest things to do outside of our wonderful foodie establishments, which just goes to show how kick-ass our city is.

The Parks

Emerald Hill Place, South Melbourne

If you’re looking for a quiet spot to have a peaceful lunch in South Melbourne, may we suggest this tucked-away treasure? This multi-use open space is covered with synthetic turf, shaded by lovely leafy trees, and even has a permanent ping-pong table you can use to let off some steam.

Darling Gardens, Fitzroy North

Ditch the bearded throngs at Edinburgh Gardens and wander down to Clifton Hill for max-relax times. Like good old Eddy Gardens your puppies are most welcome to frolic (in their designated area, of course) and you can enjoy a barbecue in the park or just find a patch of grass to soak up some sun.

Canterbury Gardens, Canterbury

It’s no wonder these gardens host so many weddings, with their picturesque flower beds and elegant rotunda making the perfect spot for celebratory snaps. During the warmer months Canterbury Gardens hosts Carols by Candlelight and Summer Music, so you can enjoy some quality musical performances as you kick back in the park.

Coburg Lake BBQ Area, Coburg

The Coburg Lake park provides the space to do as much, or as little, as you want. One minute you’re reading a book in the shade, the next you’re feeding the ducks. It’s no surprise then that the BBQs get snapped up pretty quickly on the weekends, so grab your mates and head down early.

Anti-Gravity Hill, Woodend

Science nerds, get ready for something awesome. This unusual spot on Straws Lane makes everything seem like upside-down day, for example, if you were to pour water on the road, it naturally flows up the hill instead of down. The same thing happens when you let the hand break go on your car. Spooky!

The Landmarks

Brunswick Velodrome, Roberts Reserve, East Brunswick

This old-school concrete velodrome is seriously fun for those game enough to go for a spin on the track. For optimum Instagram hipster-cred, get a photo of you and your whip next to the big, bold ‘Brunswick CC’ lettering. The best way to get there is to ride down via the Merri Creek Trail; it’s a beautiful path and best enjoyed on a sunny day.

Pop-Up Patch, rooftop on Russell Court, Melbourne CBD

The Little Vegie Patch crew have set up a spot in the CBD and it is nothing short of delightful. What used to be an unused car park now holds 140 crates of fresh veggies where members can come and pick their produce. Pop-Up Patch also hosts plenty of food and gardening workshops, so if you’re keen to learn a few tips and tricks while developing a green thumb, this could be perfect.

The Wishing Tree, Clifton Hill

Wander down the Merri Creek Trail in Clifton Hill and you will undoubtedly stumble across the ethereal Wishing Tree and Labyrinth. The Wishing Tree is covered with wishes written on tags strung across the branches. Some wishes are amusing, some are hopeful, and some will break your heart. Feel free to string up your own wish, and embrace your childlike sense of wonder.

Burnley Bouldering Wall, Burnley

For those who like to climb, bouldering is a form of rock climbing where the person stays close to the ground. There are no ropes required for this free artificial climbing spot, but be sure to pack your climbing shoes and chalk if you’ve got some.

Pink Lake, Westgate Park, Port Melbourne

Oh Melbourne, you truly are a weird and wonderful beast. Due to high salt levels, high temperature and lots of sunlight, the saltwater lakes have been known to turn a shade of vibrant pink. It’s suggested that the pink lake has already done its dash for the year in early September, but the park in Port Melbourne is still certainly worth a visit.

The Shops & Boutiques

Christine, Melbourne CBD

Many Melbournians will remember the first time they stumbled across the basement goldmine that is Christine, and if you’re yet to join the club, get excited. Behind the crimson door is a wealth of specially selected accessories that will make you want to blow your latest paycheck in two seconds flat. From the sophisticated to the extravagant, there’s something for everyone to treat themselves with here.

The Little Library, inside Melbourne Central, Melbourne CBD

Bookworms, gather round, here’s a community initiative you’re sure to embrace with open arms. The Little Library is heartwarming proof that the paperback is not dead—and one of the nerdiest things to do in Melbourne—as commuters and consumers swap and share their pre-loved books. It’s based on an honesty system of trade, so if you’re looking for something good to read, or you’d like to pass on a good book to someone else, drop by.

Cibi, Collingwood

Cibi means ‘little one’ in Japanese, and Meg and Zenta Tanaka have certainly created quite the little gem. The gorgeous food and retail space is a must visit for those poking around Collingwood; drop in on the weekend for one of their Japanese breakfasts.

Slow Waves, Melbourne CBD

For those in the fashion know, Slow Waves is the destination of choice. Their specially curated range of labels are unique to say the least, from the jewellery creations of Jiwinaia, to Japanese cult label Ambush, to the icons Maison Martin Margiela.

Nicholas Building, Melbourne CBD

Oh what fun there is to be had in here. Yes, you have the brilliant Melbourne labels Kuwaii and Limedrop on the bottom floor, but things get truly weird and wonderful the higher you go up. The vintage legends at Retrostar, the literary treasures in Collected Works bookshop, the designer goods at dot.COMME, and the bead store are among our favs. There’s even a place where you can do a taro card reading if the mood strikes.

The Experiences

Aurora Spa Retreat, St Kilda

The first floor of The Prince Hotel is our secret hotspot to go and get pampered, the Aurora Spa Retreat. Hit up the steam room, grab a massage, rejuvenate yourself with a facial, or have that long overdue pedicure you promised yourself months ago. If you needed further convincing to treat yo self, treatments that last for 2 hours or more will be discounted by 20%, and up to 30% if you drop in on a weekday.

D-Tox Box, Richmond

Our favourite spin class and fitness centre, KXCycle, has a hidden new addition to its awesme fitness and wellness set-up. D-Tox Box is an epic steam-free sauna that allows your muscles to relax after an intense session. As well as offering relaxing treatments, the D-Tox Box includes steam-free infrared treatments for weight loss, detoxification and rejuvenation of your circulation. We WISH we could have one installed in our office, but in the meantime, we're calling 0476 868 949 to book our secret sauna sessions. 

Escape Room, Flemington

Melbourne has well and truly dived headfirst into the Escape Activity phenomenon, and our pick would have to be Escape Room in Flemington—if you’re looking for something new to do in Melbourne, this is your jam! Gather up the clues to aid your escape before the time runs out and you’re ‘trapped’. The rush you get while trying to crack the code has to be experienced to be believed. Best of luck!

Red Triangle Pool, Fitzroy

Wander off the main drag of Brunswick Streer and you’ve found Melbourne’s most-loved pool hall. We can’t count how many times we’ve come in for a quick hit and lost hours to endless rounds of pool, and we’re betting you’ll do the same. In even more excellent news, their milkshakes here are absolutely killer, so be sure to grab one while you’re visiting.

I Scream Nails, Collingwood

If there’s anything more amusing then getting little sharks, aliens, and jars of Vegemite painted on your nails, we’ll eat our hat. Tucked away in Collingwood is Celia Cecchi’s I Scream Nails, and if you’re looking to adorn your nails with the weird and the wonderful, you’ve come to the right place. One of the quirkiest things to do in Melbourne, we highly recommend booking, especially around the weekend, but they also do lots of pop-ups around Melbourne, so keep your eyes peeled.

CERES, East Brunswick

Melbourne’s Northside transport mode of choice would have to be the humble bicycle, and like any vehicle, these bad boys need some maintenance from time to time. Head to The BikeShed with your wheels and learn from the highly-skilled volunteers the best way to take care of you noble steed. Wear clothes you’re not afraid to get dirty in, leave your tools at home, and bring a can do attitude.

Check out Melbourne's Secret Everything #2 | Hidden Restaurants, Cafes & Bars for more new secret finds.

Image credit: Pop-Up Patch via The World Loves Melbourne

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