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 January 9th 2013
How to be cool when it's not
We seem like we've been waiting all year for a bit of sunshine and warm weather in Melbourne. Well, that's because we usually have. But, as usual, we're making up for it now, because it's hot. Hot. HOT! The minute the temperature gauge rises, all we want to do is get out of the heat and head for the cool. Here are some ideas for cooling off on those hot and horrid (or warm and gorgeous, depending on your preference) summer days.
1. The Ice House, Docklands
Ice Hockey at the Ice House
Not the most obvious marriage for a hot country like Australia, nevertheless, The Ice House is Melbourne's new(ish) home of all things 'ice-sports'. Think ice-skating, discos on ice (really!), ice derby and ice-dancing. They also have human ice bowling (the mind boggles, but it sounds like fun and certainly cool). And those who just want to live in denial about our hot clime, you can even join the local ice-hockey league, though it's definitely not for the faint at heart: even the spectating is raucous. Entry to the Ice House (including skates and helmets/wrist guards) is $25 per adult, $21 for children 6-14 and $12 for 3-5 year olds. There are also packages for birthday parties and group events. With a constant temperature of around 16 Celsius, this is definitely the place to escape the heat.
2. Outdoor Swimming Pools
MSAC's Outdoor Pool by night
Don't believe anyone when they say Melbourne isn't hot enough for outdoor public pools. In fact, it's so hot that some of them are under shade cloths! Check out the fantastic outdoor olympic size pool at MSAC in Albert Park, which during summer has the added attraction of wave boarding and blow-up obstacle courses. The bonus is that it's heated to a balmy 27C. Another favourite is Prahran Pool - families and those who are here for an actual swim on the grass on the far side, bodies (and admirers of bodies) and those here for the scene, on the grandstand opposite. It's a hoot.
3. The Rainforest Walk in the Botanic Gardens
Hide and Seek in the shade at the Children's Garden, Royal Botanic Gardens
Still want to be out and about to enjoy the day, but without baking under the sun? The Rainforest Walk in the centre of the Royal Botanic Gardens, which runs down to the lake and tea-house (ice-creams, anyone?), is a perfect, shady place to escape the sun. If you have kids with you, the Children's Garden, up near Observatory Gate, has a tiny stream running through it for children to paddle in and explore, and fountains when the temperature is over 25C. Pure Joy!
Tucked away inside the Southbank complex is another unexpected cool delight - the Chill On Ice Lounge. Carved entirely from ice, going inside this bar requires you to wear 'designer capes', ski jackets, gloves and woollen boots (all supplied) to stop the frostbite, as its ambient temperature is a chilly -10C. The bar, furniture, decor and even the glasses are carved from ice and there are changing 'themes' to keep regular bar flies entertained. If you are sick of your kids whinging their way through the hot months, you can even take them there for a birthday party. There is timed entry, which needs to be pre-booked via the website and starts from $30 per session - which includes a free blizzard (a 'real' one, not the cocktail variety).
5. A Dip in the Bay Head down to the beach at St Kilda on any morning of a hot day, and there will be the strange site of older folk standing motionless in the water, up to their knees. It's some sort of ancient cooling ritual.... possibly to do with the fact that the bay is so shallow you have to go out about a kilometre before you get your belly-button wet. Some people take it to extremes - the Brighton Icebergers go in every day of the year, come hail or shine - and in a Melbourne Winter that is pretty impressive. But they've got the right idea when it comes to cooling off.
Yes, it's true, frozen yoghurt bars have taken over Melbourne - particularly if you are 15 years old. It's like an alien invasion. If you can beat your way through the crowds of teenagers, try a place like Yo Chi in Carlisle Street, Balaclava, and hang out by the frozen yoghurt machines until you can resist no more - a tub of this swirling extravaganza is sure to cool the senses - in fact, my kids and I regularly get brain-freeze when eating it. Painful, but definitely cooling!
7. The Melbourne Aquarium If you can't be in the water to cool off, then try being surrounded by it. The walk-through tunnel at the Melbourne Aquarium, on the banks of the Yarra gives you the sense of being submerged deep in the cool, cool ocean, and surrounded by rays, sharks, eels, fish and all sorts, though - thankfully - without the thrill of providing a supper option for them. There is even an 'Icy Antarctica' area, with King and Gentoo Penguins - surely one of the coolest places in Melbourne! A quick tip is to book online for discounts of up to 25%.
Hopefully just reading this will have you feeling cooler and more collected already ... but if not, the only solution is to get out there and just, er, chill. Enjoy!