Art & culture - Melbourne

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A visit to Melbourne Museum offers rich and surprising insights into life in Australia and abroad, but a walk around the city itself uncovers a few gems of its own.


Venture around the city’s laneways to reveal hidden cafés, acclaimed restaurants and bars, colourful street art, and cutting-edge art, design, and crafts in the small independent galleries and boutiques. If you can’t bear to miss any of it, here is our pick of books that showcase all that’s unique and extraordinary about Melbourne.

Book reviews

Stencil Graffiti Capital: Melbourne
By Jake Smallman and Carl Nyman

During the first few years of this century, Melbourne was the global epicentre of stencil graffiti, with artists like Meek, Sixten, and Meggs cutting amazing stencils and getting them up all over the city. The variety and abundance of the city’s scene attracted international attention, especially after Banksy paid a visit. Marvel at the artistry and ingenuity of the stencils; read about feats of derring-do as told by the artists; and laugh at the political puns and pop-culture references.
Mark Batty Publisher


The Melbourne Book: A History of Now
By Maree Coote

A modern chronicle of a unique city. Follow Maree Coote around Melbourne for a journey that will reveal new meaning to those who live here, and make those visiting wish they lived here too. Visual, passionate, and informative, it tells the story of a city and its style, its people and its vivid past. Crammed with anecdotes and detail and with over 700 stunning photographs, The Melbourne Book explores the city with an eye for the ordinary and the extraordinary.


Fashionista's Guide to Shopping in Melbourne
By Emily Power and Antonia Magee

The ultimate guide to the city's array of fashion boutiques and stores. Starting with ten of the best retailers in the city, the book then looks inside businesses as diverse as the delicate perfumery Peony in Armadale, the fashion-forward Green with Envy on Bridge Road and Treasurette in Little Collins St. The guide also includes the best of Melbourne’s men's boutiques. While some of the stores will be household names, hidden gems from around the city are also included.
Slattery Media Group


Flavours of Urban Melbourne
By Jonette George

After the international success of Flavours of Melbourne, there was a need to publish a sequel to showcase Melbourne’s thriving urban food scene. It’s hard to keep a finger on the pulse of the culinary movement that the city’s suburbs are experiencing today, but Flavours of Urban Melbourne showcases the profound ebbs and flows of styles and cultures within the café and restaurant culture in this Australian city of food, where cultures flourish together, as well as side-by-side.
Smudge Publishing


Handmade in Melbourne – 2nd edition
By Nancy Ianni and Julia Gaw

With a focus on Melbourne’s uniquely creative and crafty suburbs, this is an essential guide to Melbourne’s wealth of stunning products, galleries, shops, and markets. The book is perfect for visitors looking to experience the city’s lesser-known creative heart, as well as for Melburnians to discover the wealth of craft and design under their noses. Crafts range from boutique chocolate making, ceramics and furniture making to knitting, textile printing, and millinery, and everything in between.
Slattery Media Group


Headdress pendant depicting a ‘Dragon Master’. Tillya Tepe Tomb II, 1st century ad.Head of a youth Aï Khanum, early 2nd century bc. Unfired clay.

Visiting Australia for the first time, Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul showcases more than 230 priceless treasures dating from between 2,000 BC and AD 200.

The exhibition, at Melbourne Museum until July 28, offers a rare opportunity to discover the untold story of the long and rich culture of Afghanistan.

Ceremonial plaque depicting Cybele on a chariot, Aï Khanum, c. 300 bc. Gilded silver.

Many of the artefacts come from between the 3rd century BC and the 1st century AD, a period which covers the beginning of Silk Road trade, one of the most dynamic periods in Afghanistan’s history. The country was at the heart of the Silk Road, the trading route travelled by Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and Marco Polo, linking ancient Iran, Central Asia, India, and China, and the more distant cultures of Greece and Rome.

For years these precious artefacts of gold, bronze, and stone sculptures, ivories, painted glassware, and other ancient works of art were thought lost or destroyed as war and instability shook the country. In 2003, they were uncovered from vaults in the central bank of the presidential palace, where they had been placed in secrecy by a few courageous staff from the National Museum, Kabul.

Hidden Treasuresnot only offers visitors a look at the objects themselves but also reveals a diverse and thriving ancient culture.


Melbourne, Australia
Distance: 11,973 km
Flight Time: 13 hours, 30 minutes
Frequency: Daily

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