Dubbed Australia’s capital of culture, Melbourne has an abundance of art, history, culture and food to offer – much of it for free. From independent artists at weekend markets to searching for eccentric sculptures, you don’t need to spend a penny to envelope yourself in Melbourne’s cultural heart.
Located in the middle of Melbourne’s Fitzroy district, the Rose Street Artists’ Market runs every Saturday and Sunday, showcasing the work of some of the city’s best independent artists. Free to enter, the market ranges from art and sculpture, to homeware, children’s clothes, jewellery, ceramics and more. It houses more than 120 of Melbourne’s artists, with many new stalls joining every month. It’s always worth heading down to see if you can find a one-of-a-kind piece or commission an original from an upcoming talent. Open from 10am till 4pm both days, visitors should head down early to miss the afternoon rush.
On the traditional lands of the Boon Wurrung and Woiwurrung (Wurundjeri) people of the Kulin Nation, Melbourne looks to acknowledge and celebrate its history. Spend a day learning more about its Aboriginal heritage on this interesting walk around locations of significance that takes a self-guided route you can get from the local council’s website. The official Aboriginal Melbourne Walk begins at Parliament Gardens and leads you through central Melbourne towards the Docklands, where it ends at an artwork called Standing by Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner, which shows two Aboriginal men who were publicly hanged in Melbourne in 1842, leaving you with thoughts on your own knowledge of Aboriginal history and the part colonisation has to play in its contested narratives.
Melbourne’s Model Tudor Village, which sits in the centre of Fitzroy Gardens, was modelled in 1948 by Edgar Wilson, a 77-year-old pensioner from London, England, and presented to the city of Melbourne as thanks for the city’s generosity in sending food and supplies to England during the Second World War. The houses, which are modelled on a traditional Kentish village, are fenced off for preservation, but can still be appreciated from a distance. While visiting the village, take a stroll around the beautiful Fitzroy Gardens, which is also home to a fairies garden, fountains, sculptures and a number of cottages.
Queen Victoria Market is a major Melbourne landmark that everyone should spend some time exploring during a weekend here. This market offers a mix of stalls ranging from delicatessens, bakeries, butchers and seafood, to art, pets, technology, homeware and even barbers. The Queen Victoria Market also runs a weekly Ultimate Foodie Tour, where you can find out a bit more about sustainability and local history of the area’s speciality food. Suitable for both adults and children, the best part of this tour is that not only can you meet the makers behind the stalls, you can usually also sample their food as well.