Docklands is renowned for its big statements: Costco, Icehouse, the Melbourne Star. But at street level, Melbourne’s newest precinct has much more to offer. Tucked behind Etihad Stadium and Southern Cross Station, Victoria Harbour is transforming from a port-side warehouse district into a hypermodern space for living and working.
Harbour food comes in every flavour. There are plenty of options for a sit-down bite along the Esplanade, or to grab something delicious on the go. Brothers-in-law Frank Bressi and Peter Mastro were winning awards for their homemade salami before they’d even gone into business, and now their sandwich shop, Saluministi, has two locations, one of which is on Bourke Street Victoria Harbour.
A25 Pizza is your stop if you’re after a satisfying slice. Owner Remo Nicolini (formerly of Little Bourke’s +39) learned his craft at an early age at his father’s pizza parlour in the Gold Coast, and later in his homeland, Italy. His focus is letting the ingredients shine, and he only uses southern Italian-grown tomatoes, Italian soft wheat flour with vital wheat germ (making it kinder to your digestive system), and seasonal produce.
For dessert, head to Jade Anderson’s Wawa Chocolatier on Bourke Street. Throughout winter, she will be serving hot chocolate and her famous handmade chocolate bars. The line-up of flavours, including toasted sourdough, and blueberry and blue corn, are made using locally-sourced and ethical produce. Before Anderson made chocolate she was a watermelon farmer in Western Australia, which gave her first-hand experience of the culinary supply chain.
Serving the harbour as well as the CBD, Victoria Harbour is serious about serving good coffee. Wheely Good Coffee brews its beans with a mission; it employs at-risk young people and offers them training and networking opportunities to become employable baristas.
For those looking for a taste of Brunswick by the bay, Joseph Haddad’s Code Black – a favourite of the northern suburbs – has a sister site in Karlsruhe Lane, just a block away from Docklands Park. Nearby, on the other side of the Docklands Community Garden and up Buckley Walk, is another Haddad spot, Cafenatics, a long-serving institution of Melbourne’s inner-city coffee scene. If you prefer your coffee with a sandwich, Caffe Bambino is on the same strip. But beware: its sandwiches are so popular they sell out around midday.
For the after-hours crowd, Tap831 offers somewhere to rival the best bars in the city. Make sure you get in quick to snag a seat on the balcony on the first level. Although it serves a strong menu, with produce sourced locally and dishes changing every season, it’s the cocktails that bring a buzzing crowd back here every night.
Victoria Harbour’s Library at the Dock is the first six Green Star-rated building in Australia. Its wide range of facilities form a pillar of the Docklands community hub, which also includes Buluk Park and Knowledge Market (“KnowMa”). All of them offer free workshops and activities. If you’re handy with a paddle, the library also hosts an indoor ping pong table on the third floor.
The Laughter Club, a laugh-therapy session run by president Mahes Karuppiah-Quillen, is on for half an hour on the first Saturday of every month. But if you prefer your alternative therapy to be silent, Tai Chi classes run in the park every Thursday morning.
You can gain a new appreciation of Melbourne’s unpredictable weather patterns with the real-time weather display, Light House. Head to the junction of Bourke and Collins Streets to see a lighting installation illuminating a a 15-storey residential building façade. The clever design forecasts the weather in a spectacular light show, illustrating how it feels to live in Victoria Harbour and be part of the ever-changing climate.
Across from the library, the Docklands Yacht Club runs community sailing days every second Sunday. The water sports don’t end there: moonlight kayak tours can be booked; start in Victoria Harbour and paddle yourself up the Yarra, lit by the glow of the city.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Victoria Harbour.