Section 8

Melbourne's most quintessential laneway bar.

What was meant to be a temporary container unit bar in an empty car park has stayed put and is possibly the best thing to have ever happened to Melbourne. In the heart of the CBD, on the outskirts of Melbourne's Chinatown, down an alleyway lies Section 8. 

Section 8 is as industrial as it gets. The open-air space is surrounded by a chain link fence and graffiti every which way you look. Inside, there are barrels to perch your beer on, wooden crates to sit on and pallet furniture galore. This place is proof that you don't need to spend a ton of money to create a great bar. DJs are regularly spinning the decks meaning there is basically always a laneway party going on at Section 8.

The drink selection is pretty vast for such a small place. Grab something exotic from their imported beer selection like a Royal Jamaican Ginger Beer - a delightfully refreshing beer with a lingering spicy kick. Sink an Australian classic in the form of Coopers Pale Ale, Melbourne Bitter or good ol' Stone & Wood Pacific Ale. Or check out what beer specials they're stocking for the week. Cocktails are aplenty too - choose from the classics or try a herbaceous Chartreuse Swizzle combining Green Chartreuse, pineapple juice, lime and velvet falernum or a Mediterranean Azedar with gin, fino sherry and elderflower with apple, lemon juice and egg white.

Need food to soak up some of that alcohol? Section 8 also serves a selection of burgers, hot dogs, fries, and melted cheesy open-face sandwich goodness aka zapiekanki (which is basically a polish pizza).

This is a Melbourne beer garden like no other.

www.section8.com.au

27-29 Tattersalls Lane, CBD, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000

Section 8 Melbourne CBD Voyage Collective Billie Norman
 

8bit.

Fast food at its best in Melbourne's CBD.

Remember when you used to play video games in 8bit? Well now you can eat delicious fast food and pretend you're in one. In the heart of Melbourne's CBD lies 8bit - a fast food joint whose quality puts it above the rest. 8bit is a reminiscence to video games of days gone by. The interior is fun and playful with a bold blue and yellow colour scheme. On the walls you'll see 8bit artwork of your favourite Nintendo games. Even the tiles are pixelated. At the front of the store, you can get your 8bit fix while you wait with the old school Arcade Classics game machine.

The menu has all of the varieties of burgers and hot dogs you could ever want (and they are all named after old school video games, of course). Grab the 'Double Dragon' for double everything, the '1 Up Mushroom' for all of your veggie needs, or the 'After Burner' if you think chilli sauce and jalapeños should coexist. But sometimes you've just got to go for the classics. The '8bit with Cheese' comprises of a juicy beef patty with tomato, lettuce, onion, pickles, mustard, cheese, ketchup and 8bit sauce all squeezed into a soft sesame seed bun. While the '8bit Dog' consists of a huge smoked frankfurter topped with grilled onions, pickle, relish, ketchup, mustard and spring onions. 

For those who say it isn't over until they've had dessert, don't you worry, salted caramel, peanut butter, and strawberry cheesecake milkshakes are available. And there's even a changing weekly chocolate bar milkshake.

Classic 8bit, classic food.

www.eat8bit.com.au

231 Swanston Street, Melbourne, VIC, 3000

 

Goldilocks

Have a rooftop bar to yourself, go to Goldilocks.

Hidden above a bustling Chinese restaurant (Noodle Kingdom) lies a rooftop bar that apparently nobody has heard of. Jump in the elevator, head up to the fourth floor, walk through the exquisitely decorated yet outdated interior bar, climb up the stairs on the left and you'll find yourself with your own private rooftop bar. Well, we did.

With wine, cocktails and craft beer aplenty, you can while away a fair few hours at Goldilocks. Grab a seat around one of the barrel tables or sit on the edge (quite literally) to take it all in. Try the Lebowski and sip on a delicious blend of butter vodka, kahlua, black walnut bitters and almond milk. Get some Dutch Courage in you with a gin, lemon, lavender, and white cacao number. Or indulge in a classic Espresso Martini. Feral, Murray's and Mornington are the main craft beers on offer. And as those those cold winter months start to set in, so too does Goldilocks hot mulled cider (in collaboration with Custard & Co.). For extra warmth, add spiced rum or red wine to this beautiful concoction.

Among sleek skyscrapers and funky architecture, this is a great little rooftop spot to take in the bustling city of Melbourne while feeling like a million miles away from it all. At sunset is the best time to go. As the sun lowers, it’s last few rays flicker in and out of view as they weave their way around dark office buildings. And as day turns into night, see the city become even more alive.

Watch Melbourne life go by from up high at Goldilocks rooftop bar.

www.goldilocksbar.com.au

Level 4, 264 Swanston St, Melbourne, 3000

 

Doughboys Doughnuts

Happiness in circular dough form in the heart of Melbourne's CBD.

Among skyscrapers and business suits, you’ll find a small shop serving happiness in circular dough form – often with sprinkles on top. Doughboys Doughnuts brings a little life to Melbourne’s CBD with a variety of creative doughnut flavours to try, as well as coffee (of course).

The space was created primarily with doughnut production in mind. From the rolling to the baking to the dipping, you can see it all - whether you're inside waiting for your doughnut or walking past glancing through the window. That being said, the place is pretty small with limited seating and has more of a grab-and-go feel to it. Check out those checkered floor tiles though...

The doughnuts are delicately soft, pack a lot of flavour and end with a sweet finish. Our top picks are blueberry coulis, apple spiced cider, almond butter and original glazed. If you’re really going for it, sit in and grab the affogato - enjoy the hot-cold sensory combination of espresso poured over Messina ice cream and a sugar donut.

And don't worry if you can't get to Doughboy's CBD store as they deliver their goods to a number of Melbourne cafes.

Get your afternoon delight at Doughboys Doughnuts.

www.doughboysdoughnuts.com.au

535 Bourke Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000

 

Honeycomb Hideout

Pizza and tinnies on pallets and milk crates.

Tucked away in a back alley in the western suburb Footscray is Honeycomb Hideout. As its name suggests, the space is intimate and cosy with a menu to match. Serving six pizzas and nine craft beers, Honeycomb keeps it simple – and really, what more do you need?!

The courtyard bar came about due to a vacant parking space behind the owners other venture, Fox in the Corn (which has a strong focus on pasta and boutique beer). Before long, corrugated walls went up and the empty lot was filled with wooden pallet seating, milk crate tables, lanterns and graffiti. The hideout was complete.

Pizzas have that smoky wood-fired taste with an array of toppings (salumi, braised beef, salmon, pumpkin), and can be made to eat in or takeaway. Make sure you try the pumpkin one as homemade garlic oil is brushed on the crust and hits your senses before a slice even goes into your mouth. For those who like to end on a sweet note, grab a Gundowring dixie ice cream cup. 

The craft beers have been selected from Fox in the Corn’s extensive 13-page beer menu; some of which include Brewdog Punk IPA, Mornington Peninsula Pale Ale and Lager, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Panhead American Pale Ale, Napolene Cloudy Cider and Rodenbach Original.

Call it cliché, but this truly is a hidden gem.

Honeycomb Hideout is open Friday (5pm-11pm), Saturday and Sunday (12pm-11pm).

www.facebook.com/honeycombhideoutbar

4 Droop Street, Footscray, Victoria, 3011

 

 

 

 

Williamstown

A bayside suburb offering views of Melbourne from a different perspective.

Only 15km from Melbourne's central business district, Williamstown is a great spot if you want some time away from the city. Established in 1837 as Melbourne's first port, Williamstown and its sheltered harbour played an important role in the early settlement of Victoria. Delve into the rich maritime history of this quaint little suburb, soak up some local life and admire the city skyline from the other side.

The best way to get to Williamstown is by jumping on a ferry – see how the city meets the seaside as you cruise along the Yarra River through the waterfront hub of Southbank, past colourful corrugated cargo in the Docklands, and into Hobson's Bay before arriving on the other side. 

A walk along the waterfront provides you with an insight into life in Williamstown, way back when and present. Originally built in 1867 to protect Melbourne from invading ships, Two Sir William Armstrong Rifled Muzzle Loading Fortress Guns (or cannons, to the rest of us) bring to life the town's history. Nowadays, you’ll see an abundance of boats bobbing up and down in the water in an almost rhythmic pattern. Get even closer to the action by taking to one of the many piers. At the end of Ferguson Street Pier, local fishermen dangle their feet over the edge as they wait for the catch of the day.  

Over winter, you'll find the Steve Irwin Sea Shepherd ship docked at Gem Pier. Sea Shepherd, the non-profit ocean conservation organisation provides free tours of the vessel every Sunday (while it's docked) from 10am-4pm, with crew members onboard giving you the latest info on current and recent campaigns. 

After taking in all of that ocean air, while away the rest of the afternoon at Crowded House cafe and enjoy some good ol' coffee.

Williamstown, you cute.
 

www.visitwilliamstown.com.au

Williamstown, Victoria, 3016

 

Cape Schanck

Walk from clifftops to beaches in the Mornington Peninsula.

Mornington Peninsula is the perfect day trip when you need to escape the hustle and bustle of Melbourne city life. Only an hour from the city, the region boasts a number of vineyards, farms, and outdoor activities. And with a plethora of picturesque coastal spots to choose from, you'll definitely have to go back more than once. 

Cape Schanck, the southernmost tip of the peninsula, is a great place to go if you want a leisurely stroll along a striking coast. Atop of the cliff stands the Cape Schanck Lighthouse showing off its 1859 architectural beauty. A timber boardwalk begins at the main car park, descending you from the clifftops through bush to rocky beaches. Along the way, there are several viewing platforms to take it all in.  The large jagged rock formation at the bottom, which seems as if someone has just plonked it there from out of the sky, is Pulpit Rock. Formed over millions of years, it is a remarkable coast line complete with ferocious waves and basalt rock pools.

If you're wanting more of a walk, the Bushranger's Bay Trail begins at Cape Schanck and ends at Main Creek. The 5km (return) path meanders through the Australian bush, next to farmland and along the rugged coast, with stairs heading down to the bay if you want to get close and personal with those wild waves.

Cape Schanck, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Victoria, 3939

The Grampians

Hiking adventures only 3 hours from the city.

Three hours drive away from the city of Melbourne lies an incredible and rugged mountain range - the Grampians. This National Park boasts an array of adventure, hiking, camping, and even some food and wine from local producers and nearby vineyards. At the heart of the Grampians lies Halls Gap, a perfect spot to grab a bite to eat before a day of exploration begins. We recommend Harvest, a cute little cafe (come provedore and accommodation) delivering a number of hearty brunch choices and, of course, coffee.

No matter how long you spend at the Grampians, the trip is not complete without hiking the Pinnacle. This trail is an easy 2.1km with a short 2 hours return time. Starting at the Wonderland car park, follow the signs and walk over the bridge. The start of the trail is predominantly bushwalking and stairs. As you ascend, steep sandstone walls with spectacular layers will tower above you on both sides - this is Australia's very own Grand Canyon but, obviously, much smaller in scale. As you reach the top of the canyon, a green sea of Australian forestry as far as your eyes can see will be on your right. On your left, a trail leads you further up to the peak (aka pinnacle) where you'll find a magnificent 360° panoramic view of the Grampians. 

For more awesome views, head to Boroka Lookout. For some waterfall scenes, check out Mackenzie Falls. Both of these are only a 10 minute drive from Halls Gap.

Wild kangaroos are aplenty in the Grampians, so you'll be sure to see some hopping about.

Grampians National Park, Victoria

www.visitgrampians.com.au