Why I loved living in St Kilda

January 24, 2012 in Australia,Places,Victoria

When discussing suburbs in Melbourne, many people instantly discount St Kilda as being “full of backpackers.” With Luna Park and the beach being an undeniable tourist draw (and the rave reviews of Base Backpackers), it’s true that St Kilda does get its fair share of foreigners.

View from my apartment of Luna Park, St Kilda, Melbourne, Australia

But as a Working Holiday-er who lived in St Kilda for eight months and befriended several locals (and even lived with one!), I fell in love with the laid-back, casual vibe of the beachy suburb that’s only a 20-minute tram ride from the heart of the CBD. I mean, it’s not hard to fall in love when you see a roller coaster from your balcony…

St Kilda beach on a sunny day, Melbourne, Australia

The beach: St Kilda Beach is not going to be nominated for the best beach in Australia anytime soon: it’s not even on the same level as the surf and sand havens in Sydney and Western Australia. But when the sun comes out, it’s still a sandy stretch close to the water. It’s a popular spot for kiteboarders, and there’s a weekly sand volleyball club in summer.

View of sunset over Port Phillip Bay from St Kilda Beach

Sunsets: St Kilda kicks off the stretch of Mornington Peninsula that borders Port Phillip Bay: in other words, it’s one of the few places on the East Coast where you can see the sun set over the water. Head to Republica or The Stokehouse for happy hour drinks and sip a glass of bubbly while watching the sky swirl with pinks and oranges. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the promenade fills up with runners at sunrise: a gorgeous way to start the day.

Street art on Acland Street, St Kilda, Melbourne, Australia

Acland Street: Most famous for its cake shops with windows stacked high with enough baked goods to make you drool, Acland Street is your stop for pretty much everything. It’s home to grocery stores Woolworth’s and Cole’s, several cake shops and cafes, clothing and gift stores, restaurants and bars to fill you up any time of day. There’s also a pretty sweet street art alley that goes to the parking lot behind Woolie’s. Head up to Fitzroy Street for more of the same on the “other side” of town.

Veg Out Gardens and market: The community garden project lets city-dwellers dig up their own fresh flowers and produce on a plot of land and organizes compost donations. The first Saturday of every month, a local farmers market takes place behind the Veg Out Gardens. I always traded in my old jam jars for a new stock of rhubarb-raspberry jam and bought a bag of ugly-but-delicious Pink Lady apples for $2. There’s local, seasonal fruit and veg, organic meat and fresh-baked bread—and gorgeous daffodils twice a year.

Summer day on St Kilda beach, Melbourne, Australia

Small town vibe: After a few weeks, it’s impossible to walk down Acland Street or stroll down the beach without running into someone you know, whether you want to or not.

Clouds over Melbourne CBD, view from St Kilda Harbour

Clouds: On the days when clouds fill up the expanse of sky over the bay, there’s nothing better than lying down on a patch of grass by the bay and staring up at the swirl of blues, whites and grays.

Penguins: No reason to drive to Philip Island: head down the pier at dusk to spot St Kilda’s very own penguin colony.

red rose in St Kilda Botanical Gardens, Melbourne Australia

Botanical Gardens: The perfect spot for a picnic or an afternoon nap in the sunshine.

Clouds over St Kilda Beach, Melbourne Australia

The right spots: Galleon Café for a vegetarian brunch—complete with rocking Bloody Marys—after a boozy night out. The Branch for cheap pizzas and cold pints with awesome acoustic background and fun people for a Sunday sesh. I Carusi for date night, complete with glass tumblers of red wine. Racer Café for the perfect latte and plenty of men in Lycra. Readings to while away an afternoon reading employee reviews of the best books. The Vineyard for an after-work sip in the sunny courtyard. Dalton to watch the footy with a pint.

Now you know why it was so hard to say goodbye to Melbourne

p.s. I wrote a post on Australia Travel Guide a while back on how to spend the perfect Sunday in St Kilda if you’re interested!

  • Great photographs! I especially love the shots of St. Kilda beach and the street art. Is that Banksy? 

  • Exquisite photos! St. Kilda is pretty awesome. I’d live there. We get just as many tourists and backpackers in Fitzroy but have no beach or sunsets!
    I wish I’d been a reader of your lovely blog when you still lived here. It would have been nice to meet for coffee and talk about travel; I’m American-Australian. :)

  • Jan

    I love St. Kilda too.  Lived there for  9 months long ago.  It has it all.  Beach, Cakes, Bars, Coffee, cafes and  so close to the city.  Train is convenient, but catching bus/tram down St. Kilda Road is hard to pass up.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t think it’s a Banksy–local artist who’s all over the place in Melbs, can’t remember his name for the life of me. Do know where a few Banksys are though :)

  • Anonymous

    Awww shame! I always loved hopping up to Fitzroy on the weekends for brunch and Brunswick street shopping–would have been lovely to meet up :)

  • Anonymous

    I always grabbed the tram–absolutely loved heading up St Kilda Road and crossing over the river on it!

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