We stayed in an apartment in Fitzroy sourced on Airbnb. It was on the second uppermost floor and sprawling branches on a nearby gumtree threatened to overtake the small balcony. As soon as we arrived Bruce, a diabetic cat from a ground floor apartment, was adamant we let him in and I had to oblige. We were fast friends.
We only had a couple of days to spend in Melbourne. On Thursday we found our apartment, wandered up Brunswick Street a little way, and I enjoyed a paloma and enchilada, while my sister ate “meat pancakes” (chicken tacos).
On Friday we walked to the CBD, a cool 20-25 minutes from Fitzroy, and spent a few painstaking hours at the big international retailers that have opened up shop in Bourke Street and surrounds: H&M, Uniqlo, TopShop, a few others. We lunched at DeGraves Street, enjoying gourmet sandwiches, took a stroll past Dame Edna Place and ACDC Lane, before getting on a 96 tram to St Kilda beach.
We walk up Acland Street, coming to the Famous Four (cake shops). Armed with a few treats, we make our way to the beach and devour a caramel cupcake and a chocolate tart. At the St Kilda pier at dusk, you can see fairy penguins (!!!) climbing back into their houses on the rocky banks of the pier. It’s still a few hours till dusk, so we decided to kill time at the Espy. There are a few other patrons enjoying their Friday afternoon knock off beers when we arrive. The Espy is conveniently located directly across from the pier where we will see fairy penguins, so we sit back on a landing out the front with our pots and wait. One old man waves to my sister from inside the pub, leering, she promptly turns her chair around so that it’s harder to make eye contact. About 45 minutes later, another old man who keeps repeating himself – he tells me his name, that he has only been to Sydney once and shakes hands, several times – wants to join us. We leave after that.
The sun is setting and we’re off up the pier. Other people are there waiting for the penguins too. We wait for about an hour and the sun has almost completely set when we hear penguins behind us, in the rocks already. People start to mill around a hidey hole that has a few babies inside, growing increasingly impatient waiting for their food. A little while later, we start to see a few ripples, followed by penguins glimpsing out of the water and then proceeding to shore, and soon after, a big group. They’re very cute. As we start to head back up the pier, we can see penguins standing atop the rocks and making their way back into their cave-like dwellings.
Apparently volunteers are usually there to make sure visitors don’t use flash photography on the penguins. They weren’t there on Friday night and a few people were using flash – much to the chagrin of others – and I had to start telling people off. My sister and I vowed to make a donation for the volunteers. We catch the 96 tram back to Fitzroy. Tonight we dine at a Vietnamese restaurant. Tummies full and feet sore, we are back at our apartment and soundly asleep not long after.
Saturday, the plan was to visit De’Jour jeans and dine at the Little Creatures Dining Hall – both of which plans are abandoned – they’re way too popular and I refuse to queue for things. Next time! Instead we have an exhausting few hours looking in all shops on Brunswick Street, before eating some delicious and trendy seafood. More shops. We spend the last few hours of daylight sitting, leaning against a tree in Carlton Gardens. Observing very happy dogs, a few weddings, and people acting weird because they’re not usually outdoors (hoola hooping). We stop by a pub, the Catfish, where I wish I’d stayed for dinner – they specialise in Philly cheese steaks, and end up at a pub on Brunswick Street, eating way too much food and having to basically roll home. On our roll, a man air-kisses my sister on the cheek. We scream and start running, only half joking; a casual way to let this guy know that that’s creepy.
On Sunday we go to the Rose Street Markets in Fitzroy. There are a lot of cute home-wares and wacky jewellery. We walk to Carlton, only to find that nothing’s open before 1 o’clock on Sundays. That is a shame because everything there looks cool. We’re both flying out that afternoon, so it’s time to say goodbye to Bruce. Holding back tears, we leave the apartment block for a taxi. Bruce watches us from a stairwell. Bye Bruce! Until next time.
Author: Emma Carroll