Julie is the author of a number of guidebooks, including 'Melbourne's Best Bush Bay and City Walks' & 'Melbourne for Dogs' (with RSPCA). Read more of her adventures at her walks blog: walksmelbourne.com
Published June 11th 2012
Brrr. It's getting cold enough to pull out the finger gloves, stoke up the fire and hunker down inside your biggest, warmest, furriest coat to fend of Melbourne's winter chill. Time for all things warm and comforting. Here's my list of Melbourne's Top Cold Weather Comforts to make you feel all warm and toasty inside.
1. Peninsular Hot Springs
It may be outdoors, but sitting up to your neck in the 36-43C steaming pools as you laugh in the face of winter is one of the best ways to beat back the Melbourne chill; unless, of course, you choose to brave the cold plunge pool as part of your bathing regime. Not me! Happy to sweat it out.
Peninsula Hot Springs is just an 80 minute drive from the CBD. Entry to the Springs will set you back around $30 per adult, though if you whizz in and out before 10am, it's half price. Oh, and no need to feel at all shy about booking in a fabulous hot rocks and massage treatment or swanning about in the Turkish Hammam (steam room) while you are there. All in the name of warming up, right?
Or you could try the myriad private galleries scattered around Armadale and the city, and even venture out to explore some of the incredible Artist Run Intiatives (ARI) - often temporary galleries which pop up in buildings from time to time, curated and run by artists themselves. One stalwart ARI is the Blindside Gallery on Level 7 in the Nicholson Building, on Swanston Street opposite City Square. For up to date info on current ARIs, check out The Melbourne Design Guide.
There's nothing that warms the cockles of my freezing heart more than a bowl of steaming, delicious soup. If you're not inclined to have your own brew bubbling away on the stove, try some of Melbourne's best eat-out soups: a steaming bowl of Vietnamese Pho in Victoria Street, Richmond; Red Lentil or Carrot and Coconut from Soul Soup in Carlton; Feedme's (Prahran and East St Kilda) Moroccan Bean Soup or hearty Chicken Soup; Organic Salmon Miso Soup or Oyster Chowder from funky organic Japanese coup cafe Brimm CC in the city; or anything at all from the Moroccan Soup Bar in Fitzroy North.
Nothing like heating up with a good argument ... err debate ... about your current favourite book, ideally over a nice glass of red or a good cup of restorative tea while the rain lashes against the window. Melburnians love to review their books en masse so there are literally hundreds of book clubs scattered across the city just waiting for you to join them. Meetup offers a free service matching readers with Melbourne clubs and provides a bit of extra info about the 'culture' of each club so you can browse before you buy, as it were.
There's a place in Melbourne,where the hard people go; those who feel no pain, feel no cold. Actually, it's also a place for anyone wanting to stretch and leap and have a heap of fun. The Hard Rock Indoor Climbing Wall, spectacularly sited on the corner of Swanston and Franklin Streets in the city, welcomes beginners, and runs course for those who get a bit addicted to the adrenaline rush that comes from hanging 20 metres in the air by your fingertips and toes (oh yes, and some pretty good safety harnesses).
Hard Rock in the City
6. Outdoor Indoors
It may be cold and dreary outside, but you might just need to make a break for it in order to warm up. What about a compromise? Brave the cold to get from A to B, then kick back in a balmy climate - cheaper than getting a flight to Noosa, right? Head to the glasshouses and plant conservatories of Melbourne's parks and gardens, or better yet, the Butterfly House at the Melbourne Zoo, where you'll work up a sweat in no time.
A tropical Birdwing Butterfly in the Butterfly House at the Melbourne Zoo (c) Zoos Victoria
If this isn't enough to get you up and about, think of all the cinemas, coffee houses, chocolate cafes, libraries, gyms, spas, and saunas which could otherwise warm you through the winter. Alternatively, embrace your inner freezer, dress up in as many layers as you can find, and head out for some ice skating at the Icehouse in Docklands, or an icicle-dripping nip at the Icelounge at Southbank.
The Japanese bath house in the city is great on cold days - OnsenMa...or finding a great pub with a wood fire like the Dick Whittington in St Kilda or Flying Duck in Prahran ...or just explore some of Melbourne's laneways and arcades - popping into cafes and galleries to warm up. Go-karting is also fun on a winter's day (a surprisingly warming activity:-)