St Kilda 101: Your Starter Kit to Melbourne’s Sweet Spot
Perhaps Australia’s most diverse city, Melbourne is a haven for the travellers who relish uncovering cities’ quirky enclaves and little-known dives. St Kilda is the perfect place to start your quest for the alternative Melbourne: a few kilometres south of the city centre, the beachfront suburb is known for its amazingly broad range of activities and demographics.
The area’s rollercoaster history is responsible for its diversity. While many wealthy families made St Kilda their home after Melbourne was settled, a local economic depression in the 1890s led to many of the mansions being subdivided into apartments for the working classes, and nearby entertainment venues changed accordingly. A sizable Jewish community arrived as the area rebounded and became more affluent, while bohemians, artists, criminals and prostitutes moved in during the Great Depression in the 1920s.
The economic yo-yoing has left St Kilda an area of sharp social contrast, populated as much by homeless people, backpackers and low-income labourers as it is by the upper class. Entertainment options are resultantly just as varied, and your options range from dingy music venues to palatial theatres and everything in between. As Michelle Nichol of St Kilda’s Tourism Association puts it, “St Kilda hosts just about any pursuit that could interest you. It’s been both an underground and high society playground since the day dot, and it’s utterly characterized by change, diversity, art and music.”
Here, I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of St Kilda’s dining and nightlife scenes, but take wing, dear reader! Check out these sites to get you started, and settle in for all of Melbourne’s best bits condensed into one very funky burb. Play on.