SOS Explores: Melbourne

April 27th, 2011 by  |  Published in Features, Headline  |  4 Comments

Melbourne is a great city to explore, just look at the above photo where you have the mixture of the old and new in the one view and you just know that down the lane-ways hidden in the nooks and crannies of the city are fantastic cafes, boutiques and bars just waiting for you to find them. Well explore we did, here is a rundown on team ontheSOS’s favourite shops and cafes in the fair city.

Melbourne’s GPO
The iconic General Post Office building, which was transformed into a beautiful boutique shopping centre after the aforementioned post office caught fire ten years ago. The fire in a way helped reshape the surrounding Bourke Street back into a major shopping hub as boutiques like Fat, ACNE, Gorman, Alpha60 and Trimapee have been able to open up in the grand old building bringing buzz back into this corner of the CBD.
Corner of Bourke Street and Elizabeth Street

A day in Melbourne isn’t complete without a stop off at Laurent for lunch, brunch or simply desert. The French Patisserie has the most delicious quiches, baguettes and macaroons you will ever eat outside of France. Just looking at the photos makes our mouth water.
Corner of Causeway Lane and Little Collins Street

Curtin House
Hipsters paradise, from the rooftop bar and cinema to cult restaurant/bar Cookie, Curtin House has everything a hipster could ever need for in life. There is the Metropolis bookstore who specialise in art and design books and for the fashion obsessed their is the Someday store by PAM which carries their label (Perks And Mini) as well as  avant-garde labels like Bernhard Willhelm and Cassette Playa.  After all that shopping grab a drink at the The Toff in Town in one of their private booths reminiscent of a train carriage.
252 Swanston Street
Rooftop website
The Toff website
Metropolis bookshop website
Someday website
Cookie website

Carlton Club
When a giant taxidermy ostrich greats you by the door you know you’ve come to a great bar, and Carlton Club is exactly that.
193 Bourke Street

Alpha60, a label as synonymous with Melbourne as rain. The Alphaville flagship boutique situated inside an old shop front which makes up part of St Paul’s Cathedral on Flinders Lane perfectly represents everything about Melbourne. You have the old with the new, the minimal mixed with the industrial not to mention the colour black, you don’t get much more Melbourne than that.
201 Flinders Lane

Federation Square
Fed Square as locals call it houses The Australian Centre of the Moving Image and The Ian Potter art gallery as well as some well known restaurants. Home to many a festival spending time at the square is a must for any visitor to the city.
Corner of Swanston Street and Flinders Street

Cathedral Arcade
The Nicholas building and its beautiful arcade filled with lovely boutiques such as Lenko, Alice Euphemia and Retro Star is a Melbourne institution. The building itself is one of the few remaining in the city which house artist and designer studios, exploring the floors is made ever more fun because of the manned elevators which are adorned with family photos and memorabilia of those whose job it is to send the elevator from floor to floor. Ask them to tell you a story about the building and its inhabitants and you will be wishing the elevator never stops. On the ground floor arcade you will find Alice Euphemia, an Australian fashion lovers paradise with Arnsdorf, Romance Was Born and Tina Kalivas pieces to make your heart melt. Next door is Lenko, a friendly little boutique with a cute aesthetic. Stocking Evil Twin and Limedrop with a few American labels Lenko is always worth a visit. Retro Star on the 1st floor is a vintage lovers paradise. There is something for everyone with over flowing racks of 50′s day dresses and scores of vintage band tees.
37 Swanston Street
Alice Euphemia website
Lenko website
Retro Star website

Journal Cafe
A great cafe with friendly staff attached to the City Library. Some say it has the best coffee in Melbourne, it sure has one of the best interiors.
253 Flinders Lane.

Degraves Street
A typical Melbourne street, lined with cafes and boutiques, the perfect place to explore and people watch.

Corky Saint Clair
Part jewellery design studio part boutique, this unique little store in the Degraves subway has lots of heart and soul. Stocking their own range of jewellery plus carefully selected pieces from around the world Corky Saint Clair is a Melbourne institution for gift buying, seriously just ask Chris the owner (no seriously do ask him because his bitchy commentary will have you in stitches). This store is an absolute must visit!
Shop 3, Degraves Street Subway

The Melbourne label’s boutique stocks their own quirky designs and some great accessories by Elke Kramer and Karen Walker.
4/289 Flinders Lane

Leornard St
Another cute as pie boutique in the Flinders lane precinct. The local label is known for its prints.
6/289 Flinders Lane

Centre Place
Cafes, boutiques and graffiti, explore the small European style lane-way and get lost in thought at one of the cafes.


  1. Vanessa says:

    April 27th, 2011at 9:40 PM(#)

    Wow, I wish I’d had such a comprehensive guide when I was in Melbourne. Can’t wait to check out all the shops, but in particular the Journal Cafe ^^

    Great job guys!


  2. No thanks says:

    April 28th, 2011at 2:50 PM(#)

    Laurent isn’t even that good.. their macaroons and baguettes are nothing in comparison to, say, EARL canteen. For someone exalting the virtues of the small and hidden in Melbourne, you’re sure quick to advocate the consumption of bland chain bakery food - what about some of the “fantastic cafes…down the lane-ways hidden in the nooks and crannies of the city”? I’d love to hear about them, I’m tired of this Ponyfish Island/1000 £ BEND banter common of the Melbourne cafe ‘scene’. No hate or anything, I’m just really confused - you always seem pretty on-trend with everything but the inclusion of Laurent just confuses the heck outta me.

  3. Hayley says:

    April 28th, 2011at 3:07 PM(#)

    Hi. Laurent may not be the coolest cafe in town, and yes its part of a chain, but this location is a personal favourite as I believe their food to always be consistantly fresh and yummy. Most people I know in Melbourne love Laurent too so I’m sorry you feel like this, but you can’t please everyone. I didn’t get a chance to go to all the places I wanted to share in this article, but yes there are some other great cafes around town.

  4. Sleekit says:

    May 2nd, 2011at 10:10 PM(#)

    I like Laurent too, not because I’m an uncultured connoisseur in the area of bland chain bakery, I just like it; sitting outside people watching whilst scoffing cake and sipping on a wee latte…had no idea there was such a thing as an on trend bakery???

    Sleekit x

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