Travel in Australia and New Zealand

Melbourne: the Magic of St Kilda
By:Richard Greaves

Melbourne's sandy suburb of St Kilda has a long and chequered history. Once a place of stately homes and grand residents, it fell into disrepute. Now it's reclaimed its former glory as Melbourne's bay side beauty offering music, restaurants and cafe society along with its beaches.

Located on a delightful section of Port Phillip Bay just seven kilometres south-east of the city, St Kilda is one of Melbourne's premier tourist pulls. It's an easy hop on the tram from downtown Melbourne. You can gauge how attractive it is from the fact that St Kilda has a higher population than any suburb in Port Phillip.

The Esplanade is St Kilda's main drag. It's divided into upper and lower sections. The Upper Esplanade offers great views of the bay and its Esplanade Hotel is a local landmark and a popular venue for music events. A Sunday crafts market has been held on the Upper Esplanade since the 1980s. It's a great place to pick up paintings, ceramics, hand made soaps and other knick knacks made by local craftsmen.

The Lower Esplanade is right on the beach and features some inviting beachside restaurants. It's home to a number of St Kilda landmarks such as the St Kilda Baths, the Palais Theatre and Luna Park, an amusement fair.

St Kilda Baths is an old St Kilda institution. Also called South Pacific, its Arabian style facade was first built in the 1920s. It fell into disrepute and was demolished and was later rebuilt in its original style to preserve its sense of tradition.

Luna Park is probably St Kilda's most famous icon with its entrance in the form of a huge laughing face. The park features a roller coaster and 15 other thrilling amusements. The park was opened in 1912 and has been often refurbished.

Another delightful feature of St Kilda is its many parks and gardens. The most common flora are the Canary Island Date Palms and Californian Fan Palms. The St Kilda Botanic Gardens off Ackland Street are also called Blessington Gardens and are famous for the spectacular roses. The Botanical Gardens feature a conservatory and a lake.

Then there's Acland Street, a shopping and restaurant strip famous for its cafes, and cake outlets, and art displays. Its proximity to the beaches makes it a popular sleeping area for the backpacker set. Fitzroy Street is also a major cafe and restaurant strip with a bustling night scene. Running off Acland Street is fashionable Robe Street with its delightful Edwardian houses.

St Kilda is a great place to go anytime but it also hosts many major annual events that make the area especially good for a visit. The jewel in the crown is the St Kilda Festival. From a modest beginning in 1981, it has grown to become a major event attracting more than half a million young people each year.

Other notable events that take place in St Kilda include the Gay Pride March, sections of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, the St Kilda Film Festival and St Kilda Writers Festival.

On your Melbourne holiday, don’t forget to head for St Kilda. It's a quick and easy trip and you may well be so charmed you'll want to stay there. If so, you'll find a wide range of St Kilda Hotels and guest houses to suit all style and pockets.

Richard Greaves has over 20 years experience in the travel industry and writes for Cheaper than Hotels. Cheaper Than Hotels offers St Kilda hotels as Cosmopolitan Boutique Hotel Melbourne and Easystay @ The Bayside Motel Melbourne http://www.cheaperthanhotels.com.au/Australia/Melbourne/St-Kilda/[email protected]/.






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