While there are plenty of sights, restaurants, architecture and pubs in Melbourne’s city center to keep us busy for weeks, it’s hard to resist a peek at Port Phillip Bay, which is just a short tram ride away. The beachfront suburbs in the City of Port Phillip have small entertainment districts and the distinct vibe of coastal living, providing an idyllic get away from the hustle of the CBD. Always eager to spend time by the water, on a sunny Saturday, we headed south from the city and made the walk from Port Melbourne to St. Kilda.
From Collins and Elizabeth Streets, the 109 tram rattles 5km to Port Melbourne. The mostly residential suburb was once Melbourne’s hub of transportation and the Spirit of Tasmania still sails from the mainland to Tasmania daily from the historic Station Pier. The once seedy area has recently undergone major gentrification, turning it into a prominent region once again, while retaining some of the historic character.
At Station Pier, we jumped on Bay Trail and headed east to start our walk from Port Melbourne to St. Kilda. The paved path is shared by bicyclists, joggers and walkers and follows the coastline 4.4km to St. Kilda Pier. Dispite the bright sunny day, the chilly water kept us firmly on land, but we imagine it’s quite a different case in the height of summer. The few beachgoers we saw were out walking their dogs and playing sports in the sand.
Dozens of sailboats floated on the water, taking advantage of the breeze. We passed an array of residential homes, from old, Victorian cottages to shiny and modern abodes, all mixed together. I favored the preserved homes, but fear new building will win out in the future. The relaxing walk from Port Melbourne to St. Kilda took us about an hour, including stops to gaze out to sea.
Once we arrived in St. Kilda, we walked the stretch of the historic St. Kilda Pier. At the end of the pier is the Little Blue Restaurant, also known as the St. Kilda Pier Kiosk. The original building was completed in 1904 and was an instant success that lasted for 99 years, but, in 2003, it was burnt to the ground. Residents of St. Kilda were determined to replicate the structure and so now stands a brand new historic-looking building.
Beyond the restaurant is a path that leads out to the breakwater, which protects the harbor. On the breakwater lives a colony of about 100 Little Penguins and a lower path provides an opportunity to get a glimpse of the 12 inch tall birds. None were home when we strolled through in the middle of the day and we were told that they had gone fishing, most likely to return at dusk. We may not have seen any penguins, but we did get a beautiful view of the Melbourne skyline.
With all of our walking, we worked up quite a thirst – and it just so happens that St. Kilda’s Acland Street is a perfect place to quench said thirst. The street is packed with restaurants, boutique clothing shops and salons.
The Saturday afternoon crowd was a mix of coffee drinkers still recovering from Friday night escapades and day drinkers revving up for a big night out. We fell into the latter category and joined in the fun with a two liter beer tube at Abbey Road Café before catching the #16 tram back into the city.
We want to know: Have you made the walk from Port Melbourne to St. Kilda? What did you think? Tell us in the comments!