Surprisingly affordable despite its proximity to Melbourne’s CBD, Southbank is a great bet for investment in the Victoria capital
A former industrial inner-city suburb of Victoria’s state capital, the riverside hotbed of Southbank has been prized for many years for its location, a stone’s throw from the CBD, the Yarra River, and seafront St Kilda. The area’s architecture was reimagined 30 years ago when a succession of high-rise apartment and office towers sprang up alongside one of Australia’s pre-eminent entertainment and shopping districts. It swiftly became a prime catchment area for affluent families yearning for a live-work-play urban lifestyle. Southbank nevertheless offers good value compared to other Melbourne suburbs as it tends to be more affordable than Docklands or the CBD.
Stature Southbank (Salvo Property Group)
Stature by Rothelowman Architects showcases a modest 171 units across 33 storeys, with upper floors commanding spectacular views. Southbank’s familiar retail, transport, and cultural amenities are close by, and plentiful parks within walking distance chime with the development’s own lush, green flora, including a rooftop garden with a pool area. Stature’s muted colour tones, minimalist design, and large windows—which allow light to flood the interior—emphasise this harmony with nature, as well as the sleek modernity of the glass-dominated exterior. Two years in the making, the project is particularly endowed with enviable communal spaces, including a sympathetic, elegant entrance area and a lounge guaranteed to make residents linger, featuring multi-purpose spaces for entertaining or working.
Melbourne Square (OSK Property)
Malaysian firm OSK teamed up with design-focused local practitioners COX Architecture and landscape specialists TCL to fashion this expansive project overlooking a giant park. Melbourne Square adds to this green space, previously scarce in the area, with its two public parklands that became especially popular post-pandemic and generous planting below, while other useful amenities include a double-storey supermarket (a Melbourne first) and early-education centre. Ultimately, it will incorporate a luxury hotel as well as office space. More than 20,000 residents can avail of the uncluttered designs of this swish mega-complex, whose soaring twin towers conjoin at the base to form a multilevel podium, replete with public facilities; key-holders also enjoy private dining areas, pools, gyms, a sun terrace, movie theatre, and garden.
Hopscotch Urban Beer Bar
In a city overflowing with idiosyncratic bars, an earthier, perennial favourite by the river is this spacious gastropub with a capacity for 600 people featuring an onsite microbrewery called “Frank”. Hopscotch is always buzzing with drinkers sampling the 36 beers from 52 taps, sports fanatics watching regular televised clashes, punters enjoying live music, and diners feasting on superior comfort food or enjoying private events. The venue’s waterside location, streamlined interior design, and an unfussy menu of entertainment bring a mainstream crowd at all times of the year. Serious cocktail aficionados might be better directed elsewhere. But the dazzling array of ales, many churned out in boutique batches, has won it major kudos among the city’s substantial craft-beer fraternity.
Melbourne’s only major public plaza has become such a staple of city life that it’s hard to remember a time without it. The square’s unveiling coincided with the centenary of Australia’s Federation after drawn-out delays in its construction, first suggested almost a century before. After a worldwide contest to find a suitable architect, the winning consortium proposed, controversially, a deconstructivist design filled with complex, asymmetrical shapes. Occupying an entire block in Melbourne’s busiest quarter, near Flinders Street station and the CBD, its paving forms a giant artwork using ochre-coloured sandstone blocks, invoking the Outback. Visitors flock to its prominent attractions, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and the Ian Potter Centre— which houses 20,000 art pieces from the National Gallery of Victoria.
Melbourne’s premier garden-within-a-city since the 1850s, and named for an ex-governor of New South Wales, the 26-hectare Fitzroy Gardens lie on the edge of the city’s CBD. They were initially designed by English naturalist Clement Hodgkinson using ferns, blue gums, and willows, establishing an identity reinforced in subsequent years whereby trees became the park’s calling card feature. Sweeping lawns and ornamental flowerbeds were added in wartime, along with a conservatory; in 2014 a visitor centre began, offering information on the gardens’ famed building, Cooks’ Cottage—an idyllic domicile transported from Yorkshire that once housed the parents of noted explorer Captain James Cook. Must-see horticultural highlights include the intricately patterned Fairies’ Tree and the Scarred Tree, whose bark was used by Aboriginal Wurundjeri people to make canoes and shields.
Gimlet at Cavendish House
Chef Andrew McConnell kickstarted this all-in-one gastronomic haven within Melbourne’s CBD in early 2020. It slowly won Melburnian diners’ hearts before landing a coveted spot (84) on 2022’s World’s Best Restaurants list. Named for a vintage gin cocktail, Gimlet evokes nostalgic glamour in its 1920s heritage building though the menu cleaves to a European template. The layout, with its booths and dining stage, is designed to encourage casual catch-ups as much as luxuriant dinners, while the showstopping bar serves time-honoured classics (New Mexico, Sazerac, Gimm’s Cup with pisco and vermouth) alongside an extensive global wine list. The cuisine is a largely carnivorous affair focusing on local produce and sustainability, and starring steaks and seafood; oyster shuckers will be in seventh heaven.
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