In a city so overrun by laneways, Melbourne certainly has a few secrets. It is well-known for hidden things; concealed bars, secret cafes, quirky museums and undiscovered attractions – you’ll find these and more around Melbourne. With that in mind, steer clear of the path well worn and check out some of these hidden gems and secrets in the city’s biggest and educated scavenger hunt.
Everything starts with coffee, so lets begin here…
Carlton’s hidden coffee roaster. In a hidden alley (really hidden alley – Raffa Place) behind a petrol station, “Vertue Coffee Roasters” used to have a name even more obscure than its location. It opened in 1652 and began as “The Vertue Of The Coffee Drink.” A micro roaster, cafe, kitchen and retailer, they take their coffee very seriously – check it out!
At the top of Collins Street (Spring Street end) where it is sometimes referred to as the ‘Paris End’ of the city, an art-deco building, Kodak House, at 252 Collins Street speaks of the building’s history through its architecture. The parapet of this building features the letter ‘K’, as well as a couple of silver disks representing the silver buttons on a Kodak camera. Sneaky code!
Across the way, 247 Collins Street, what was originally ‘Newspaper House’ has an incredible glass mosaic if you look above the street awnings. This was by an artist known as Napier Waller. Waller lost his arm serving in the First World War, but he was still able to produce this magnificent mural referencing to newspapers as well as the latest technology of the time.
If you’re seeking gourmet goodness, 157 Spring St, follow Spring Street Grocers’ neon cheese sign down a spiral staircase. Behold! A white-tiled basement temple of cheese, sourced seasonally from around the world and sold at optimal ripeness. From brie to blue, your heart desire awaits cheese lovers!
Then, we have the bar behind the bookshelf. Imagine yourself in a kooky mystery novel at “Island Somewhere” (213 Franklin Street) nestled behind the Queen Vic Market. In-the-know patrons give one of the bookshelves a push to reveal a secret passage, leading up a winding staircase to Pinball Paradise. Australias first dedicated pinball bar, it offers fancy drinks and 17 machines, old & new.
What better way to end a discovery tour of Melbourne then heading to Siglo. Siglo is located above the European Restaurant and Wine Shop in Spring Street, overlooking Parliament House and Princess Theatre. Designed by b.e. Architecture, Siglo, Portuguese for ‘cigar’, was partially driven by the city’s ban on indoor smoking. With comfortable 1930s armchairs and dark timber-panelled walls, this lounge has a distinctly European feel.
Have fun roaming!