I visited Australia a few years ago but didn’t have time to make it to Melbourne. When I was planning my round the world trip, I decided I wanted to stop there in between Southeast Asia and New Zealand. Originally I thought maybe I’d spend a few days in and around Melbourne and a few days in Tasmania, but after the stress of traveling too quickly through Southeast Asia, I decided 10 days in Melbourne was a much better idea. During my time there, I encountered a variety of quirky things including landmarks and signs among others.

St. Kilda

I stayed at a hostel in St. Kilda, which is a suburb of Melbourne, because Australia is much more expensive than Southeast Asia and this was a slightly cheaper option. Right down the street was Luna Park, an amusement park with a giant face at the front. The mouth is the gate. This is the place to go for all your roller coaster needs.

In a few places in St. Kilda and the surrounding neighborhoods, I began to notice these bright yellow signs that that said “smiles per hour zone” with a number on it. Confused, I took a picture so I could look up the website on it later. Basically, a community survey was taken in 2005 to determine how friendly people viewed their neighborhood. Then smile spies were sent out to track how often people smiled, made eye contact, said hello, or any sort of positive gesture made to another person on the street. Check out the website here, it’s kind of amusing.


While walking around Melbourne withΒ Genevieve, who I met in my hostel, we came across several quirky landmarks. The Fitzroy Gardens are listed in my guidebook, and it was a really pretty place to stroll through. However, the guidebook did not mention the miniature Tudor village or the Fairies Tree.

Genevieve and I went into a mall to see a Christmas light show that she had seen the day before. In between shows, she took me to see an edible display that took Christmas gingerbread houses to a whole other level. Aside from the house, there were reindeer, kangaroos, frogs, birds, trees, flowers, and Santa with a car instead of a sleigh. And it was all edible!

While walking along the Yarra River, Genevieve and I decided to check out a pub located underneath a bridge and have some cider. It wasn’t anything spectacular and it was small, but it sure was a creative location and the views were great! It’s called Ponyfish Island and it’s located under the Yarra River pedestrian bridge.

Melbourne seemed to have quirky things around every corner. It added to the fun vibe of the city, and I enjoyed seeing these things that, for the most part, were not in a guidebook.

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16 comments on “Quirky Melbourne

  1. Matthew Cheyne

    Yay! We’re finally up to the Melbourne posts:)!

    Melbourne is full of quirky things like the bronze statues of the three guys on the corner of Bourke and Swanston streets. People are often seen having their pictures taken as in line as the fourth person behind the statues.

    Brunswick Street, Fitzroy is the creative hub of Melbourne and that whole strip of shops, cafes and restaurants is quirky. One day I was with some friends out the front of a vegetarian restaurant and there was this weird procession down the street of artists painted as fishes waving real dead fishes in the air as though they were swimming in a fish tank or the ocean. It was really weird and freaked my friend out totally. It’s one of those times when you had to be there to understand fully what was going on. And then a couple years later I was watching a Lonely Planet documentary DVD on Melbourne and they had footage of that exact moment! If you see it you’ll agree that it was mighty weird.

    I love the quirkiness of Melbourne. It kinda makes the city unique and stand out. Were you in the city on a Saturday afternoon to see the Hari Krishnas do there march and chanting in a huge procession? There used to be about five hundred of them do it years ago when I was in my teens. Nowadays you get about one hundred doing it but again it’s what makes Melbourne unique.

    Just the other day some bass jumpers jumped off the Rialto Towers, the second tallest building in Melbourne. It used to be the tallest building until the Eureka Tower went up a few years ago. Anyway there is a restaurant there on the 55th floor with an exposed balcony. These guys, four of them went there in business suits, had a few cocktails and then jumped! Again quirky. And again only in Melbourne would something like that happen. There is news articles of it and footage all over the net so if you Google “Rialto Towers Bassjumpers” you’ll find them in no time.

    I’m glad you liked the pub on under the pedestrian bridge on the Yarra. I’ve been past it tonnes of times but never went down there for a beer. I’ve heard the atmosphere of being on the water is really serene. I might shout myself a beer or 10 if I get high distinctions this semester in the two subjects I’m studying at uni:)

    Did you go inside Luna Park? It’s usually always packed with kids and to be honest with you it’s quite old and if Melbournians want to see a theme park, we fly up to the Gold Coast for $60 each way and go the theme parks up there.

    I look forward to reading the rest of your Melbourne articles. This one is really good!

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Matthew! I did see the bronze statues on Swanston and Bourke, I’m going to use that picture in another post. The fish day sounds crazy! I definitely didn’t see anything like that. I think the one Saturday I was there, I was hanging out with some friends from the hostel and we stayed out in St. Kilda.

      The base jumpers jumping off the Rialto Towers, I wonder if that’s similar to people jumping off the Sky Tower in Auckland. Not for me. I love that they jumped in their business suits though!

      I didn’t go into Luna Park, I have found that I don’t enjoy roller coasters or amusement park rides in general to be fun anymore. I guess it’s a sign I’m getting old πŸ˜‰

      Good luck with your classes, I hope you do well enough to reward yourself with some beer under the bridge!

      I’m glad you liked my post, I have a few more coming about Melbourne!

  2. Mari @allmillionpcs

    Oh, I just love Melb! And I think its quirkyness plays a big role in why πŸ™‚ The golden bees in the building in South Bank are also cool, as are the buildings behind Southern Cross Station. And Brunswick street. And Swanston street. The list goes on and on. Enjoyed your post, thanks!

    1. Ali Post author

      Yes! I have a picture of those bees! I’m glad you enjoyed my post, thanks Mari!

  3. Kieu - GQ trippin

    Love Melbourne! Gerard was fascinated by the graffiti there. Even wrote a post about it recently. Lol. Great and yes, quirky city. πŸ™‚

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Kieu! Can’t say that I noticed the graffiti, but I rarely do in most places.

  4. Andrea

    Wow – we lived in Melbourne for more than four years and I haven’t seen any of these things, even the smile zones in St. Kilda. Melbourne definitely has a lot to uncover, though would you agree it doesn’t seem to have much for tourists on the face of it (excluding things in surrounding Victoria like the Penguin Parade or the wine country)?

    1. Ali Post author

      Agreed, the city itself doesn’t have a lot of touristy things, but lots to do outside of the city. I probably would’ve tried more restaurants in the city if I hadn’t been on my own half the time. It is a nice city though!

  5. Christy

    Scott and I were a little bummed we didn’t make it to Melbourne during our first Australia trip too. 10 days sounds like a great amount of time to spend in one place. We are going to Italy for 10 days and I’m trying to force myself to limit our stay to 2 places so we can get to know the areas a little better.

    1. Ali Post author

      10 days for 2 different places in Italy sounds perfect. I love Italy! Have fun!

  6. Sabrina

    That was so interesting! I love how you can find random quirkiness everywhere when you have the time to look. Makes exploring a city much more fun.

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks! Melbourne sure was a fun city to explore & the quirky things just made it better.

    1. Ali Post author

      You should, I think you’d like it there!

  7. Tash

    Ha, I am from Melbs and don’t think I have ever checked out the Tudor Village and the Fairy Tree! Or maybe not since I was little, so is a vague memory.
    Love reading about my hometown from a visitors perspective!

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Tash! It wasn’t in my guidebook, no way I would’ve know about them if I hadn’t been hanging out with someone who knew about it. It was really funny to see.

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