Buzzy St Kilda is more than a suburb – it’s an icon. For those who are yet to visit, chances are you’ll recognise the grinning façade of Luna Park. But there’s so much more to this much-loved beachside suburb. From an impressive international dining scene to endless late night revelry, colourful St Kilda has it all.
If there’s one word that describes St Kilda, it’s eclectic. Beginning life as a glittering seaside resort for the rich, it evolved into the gritty epicentre of Melbourne’s bohemian scene. Now, this heavily gentrified neighbourhood is home to trendy cafés, bustling markets, a rowdy nightlife and backpackers aplenty.
Needless to say, St Kilda is a real mixed bag – in the best possible way.
While still a little rough around the edges in parts, Melbourne’s original red light district has long since cleaned up its act. St Kilda now offers residents a laid-back beachside lifestyle with a remarkable worldwide dining scene (Fitzroy Street is home to a number of hatted restaurants) and brunch roster that draws fans from across the city for everything from inventive vegan specialties to traditional fry-ups.
Beyond the area’s impressive foodie pedigree, there’s no missing its fabled history. Luna Park isn’t the only iconic venue to grace St Kilda’s streets. The Palais Theatre, The Esplanade Hotel (known fondly as ‘The Espy’), The Astor cinema and more – this suburb is home to some of Melbourne’s most-loved establishments. And the uproar whenever trigger happy developers propose closing them is thunderous.
But it’s when the weather is warm that the entire place really comes alive, with locals and visitors gravitating towards the beachside boardwalk to watch the sun go down over fish and chips and a drink or two.
Back in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, St Kilda was the suburb of choice for Melbourne’s elite in search of a sea change. Traces of this grand past can still be seen in the area’s multitude of historic mansions (some in better shape than others). These stately properties sit by side with Art Deco apartment blocks, Victorian terraces and cottages and an increasing number of modern developments.
While property prices in St Kilda are certainly on the steeper side, renting is still affordable. This allows students and travellers to occupy the neighbourhood’s cheerily decked out workers’ cottages, ensuring that this increasingly gentrified enclave doesn’t lose its character.
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