A Love Letter to the World’s Most Liveable City

Promotional materials from the Baron von Munchausen Travel Agency containing a totally factual guide to Melbourne, Australia.

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Art by putraart
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Pretty sure that’s the dome of Flinders Street Station in the lower right corner.

Ah, birthplace of Mozart, psychoanalysis and, of course, the Wiener schnitzel: Melbourne, once again ranked the World’s Most Liveable City in

Record scratch.

Wait one hot minute. Hold up, hold up. Vienna was named World’s Most Liveable City in 2019.

And on behalf of all Melburnians, I’d like to say, ‘Thank you’. Thank you, Vienna, for keeping us on our toes. Doubtless, Melbourne will spring back from this minor blip in its seven-year reign of terror far more liveable than ever before.

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Site of a future multiplex, probably

As liveable as Melbourne is, a lot of it seems to have been built over (un-exhumed) cemeteries.

The Queen Victoria Market was built over a non-denominational cemetery — two acres per every major religion, one acre each for the Quakers and Methodists — the first of its kind in Australia. There seems to me something rather perverse in building a bustling market over a cemetery.

Perhaps in mourning over the nine-thousand lost souls still buried beneath the carpark of the Queen Vic Market, the denizens of this great city dress as one swath of black for the entirety of winter.

The fashion-forward wear a dark grey.

Nice guy.

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Hosier Lane, Melbourne

Lygon Street, the Italian precinct, is the best place for a gelato or a bowl of freshly-made pasta. In recent times, it’s also diversified into the sort of place you can get authentic Thai and some really good fish and chips — the best, in fact.

When one is in a foreign country, naturally the instinct is to find a restaurant exemplifying the local cuisine. Digs about British cuisine aside, this is exactly what I did when I visited London. Battered haddock, chips and mushy peas at the Golden Hind (‘Best Fish and Chips in London’), only to be told by the proprietor I needn’t have bothered — I could have just gone to Tank on Lygon Street. Hm. Though one can’t get treacle tart (like they’re always talking about in the Harry Potter books) with your fish and chips in Melbourne.

Point 1, London.

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(Award-winning) photography by Adrian Ortega

Melbourne sinkholes consume one library per decade. When will city planners learn the folly of building libraries in this location?

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Almost as nice as the gates to the Berlin Zoological Garden

Any time you wish to gaze upon lobsters treading the bottoms of their tanks and contemplate the futility of life, lamenting the evolutionary fork which saw us inadvisably leave the ocean —Chinatown’s the place to go.

Also if you wish to purchase fireworks. R4 cards. Pirated DVDs/Blue-rays. Cheap dumplings from a place on Tattersalls Lane that’s been shut down multiple times for breaching OHS regulations.

The floor used to be a grease trap, you’d slide across it to fill your cup with free tea, rimmed by dishwashing liquid bubbles. If you were seated upstairs, your dumplings would arrive haphazardly fried via a dumbwaiter, downstairs via a surly waitress. With the loose change in just your pocket you could afford enough dumplings and pumpkin cakes to feed a pack of starving uni students. It was glorious. It may have cleaned up in recent years, which is a shame.

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All of Melbourne’s best restaurants are found behind unmarked doors down grimy alleyways. No self-respecting Melburnian would be caught dead in a street-facing eatery with signage. Excluding Lygon Street, of course.

Melbourne only narrowly escaped being named after John Batman rather than after the British Prime Minister, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne. Oh, who am I kidding, that would have been amazing.

Brunswick and Fitzroy, ghettos of macramé crafts and vinyl record stores. Rather than being built over a cemetery, these inner city suburbs seem to have been built over some sort of Hipster Hellmouth.

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Let me riddle you this: how is it possible my 8:20AM train is running ten minutes late according to the announcement when it is already 8:35AM?

The pockets of time dilation exclusively centred around the train platforms of Melbourne require investigation by astrophysicists.

All seasons in a day. The average citizen dresses in at least ten layers like some sort of quick change comedian.

  1. AFL Grand Final Friday
  2. Melbourne Cup Day

There are more, however, for the sake of expediency I have opted to not list all five — I mean, ten sporting based public holidays.

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Melbourne is a city of highly caffeinated individuals. The average Melburnian contains five quarts of coffee at all times. The density of cafes is 800 per square kilometer; the ratio of barista to non-barista citizen is 3 to 1.

Melbourne has made its own contribution to the coffee world. If you order a Melbourne Magic you shall receive steamed milk poured over a double ristretto. What a ristretto is precisely I couldn’t tell you. Or for that matter, the difference between a latte and a flat white. I’ll leave the alchemy of coffee to the professionals.

Will cost you — sometimes I think I expect too much of the internet, it turns out there is no avocado to mortgage calculator — an arm and a leg and an avocado grove.

Various demographers and real estate moguls have suggested early 30-somethings could stand to purchase a detached house out in the far-flung ‘burbs if only they’d give up their Melbourne Magics and smashed avo with crumbled feta on toast. The median house price is approximately seven times the median income.

It’s a liveable city, but it’s not an affordable one.

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Coffee’s not Melbourne’s only religion. The locals also worship a 33 foot tall, two-headed, three-legged cat god (pictured above).

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Glutting myself on all that life has to offer and writing about it. Art, language, science, humour, and whatever else takes my fancy…

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