Melbourne: St Kilda triangle 20km

What I call the St Kilda Triangle is the stretch from Melbourne city centre to Port Melbourne, on to St Kilda and via Albert Park back to the city centre.

The terrain is flat, lots on combined bicycle and walkways with water and parks thrown in.

Since I live in the Melbourne city centre, the map starts from there. As does the distance which is 22km in my case, but would be shorter if you start from for example Crown Casino. Or Crown Melbourne as it is marked on the map below.

This winter Tuesday in Melbourne was gorgeous to start with. Cool and crisp with blue skies.  Not so wintery Melbourne in other words. The weather did change somewhat as the day progressed.

Let’s kick off the post with one of the most photographed views in Melbourne. Yarra River south from Princess Bridge. Not hard to understand why. Looks even better at night.

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Yarra River from Princes Bridge

Me. Yes, I am listening to my favourite band Calexico at this time.

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Hans The Hiker on Princes Bridge

Melbourne City Centre to Port Melbourne

Soon after passing Crown Casino, you follow the tram line towards Port Melbourne. Just here, there is a tram depot and the trail is momentarily squeezed between the running trams and that depot.

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Path to Port Melbourne – between tram lines and tram depot

Melbourne has its own restaurant trams, with a dedicated tram stop close to the Casino to enter and exit those trams.

When not serving eating and drinking patrons, those trams can be found at this tram depot. I have never been on the restaurant trams, but they are popular and I hear that they are more fun than you may expect.

This depot must be a tram spotters dream. In addition to the restaurant trams, there are a variety of newer and older Melbourne trams on display. And you walk alongside them all for a little while.

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Melbourne’s restaurant tram

At the end of the tram depot you cross Montague Street Bridge.

This bridge is infamous in Melbourne. Vehicles get stuck underneath on a regular basis. The clearance is only 3 meters and despite well marked as such, it has become a joke.

Some comedian has even created a web site: “How many days since the Montague Street has been hit?” Find it here.

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Montague Bridge – infamous low underpass

The path then follows the tramline through several linear parks towards Port Melbourne. All very lovely.

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Combined cycling / walking path towards Port Melbourne

This tram’s natural finish is Port Melbourne. Beyond that is Port Phillip Bay.

In the olden days, this was heavy rail supporting ships anchored at the port. The rail line was an offshoot to and from Flinders Street Station.

The old train station to the left now houses cafes, restaurants and other services.

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Port Melbourne tram stop – end of the line

Today in Port Melbourne, the Spirit of Tasmania vessel takes vehicles and passengers to and from Davenport in Tasmania. As those vehicles roll off the ship, this sign confirms where they are.

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Port Melbourne – Welcome to Melbourne sign

Before we move on, I should mention that there are several more restaurants at Port Melbourne next to the ferry terminal. Including an excellent fish and chips shop called D’lish Fish. You can do worse than stopping there for lunch.

Port Melbourne to St Kilda

Onto the promenade alongside Beaconsfield Parade, looking back towards Port Melbourne and Spirit of Tasmania.

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Promenade – Port Phillip Bay to the left and Beaconsfield Parade to the right

From Port Melbourne, you walk southeast along Port Phillip Bay passing several coffee shops and restaurants along the way.

Mind you, I have tried some of those coffee places and found their coffee being both overpriced and average. After all, they are in prime almost monopoly positions.

After some 5km of most pleasant seaside walking you arrive at the iconic St Kilda Pier.

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St Kilda Pier

The cafe at the end of St Kilda Pier was closed this winter Tuesday. Beautiful building which was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1993 but then totally rebuilt.

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St Kilda Pier cafe / Downtown Melbourne in distance

Behind the cafe on St Kilda Pier, there is a colony of little penguins.

And water rats and other animals. And fishermen and some oddballs. Note that German flag. Belongs to an older German bloke attracting the water rats with food. The kids loved it.

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Out on St Kilda Pier

St Kilda

Moving on into St Kilda proper and you pass Luna Park and Palais Theatre.

The former amusement park has a rickety rollercoaster modelled on the Cyclone at Coney Island, NYC.

The latter predominantly music venue is undergoing major renovations at the moment. Palais Theatre is lovely but rundown both inside and outside.

The clouds are now rolling in from the sea…

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Luna Park to the left, Palais Theatre to the right, Port Philip Bay down the street in between

The below section of Ackland Street in St Kilda will soon become car-free, which will make it even more popular. Lots of bars and restaurants but I go mostly here for one thing…

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St Kilda – Ackland Street towards Barkly Street

A bit quiet on Ackland Street at midday this winter Tuesday. Not always so.

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St Kilda – Ackland Street

St Kilda being an alternative place has of course art. Including on top of awnings in front of shops. The One and Only Son loved this one when he was a kid.

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St Kilda – Ackland Street art

Well, my main purpose for coming to Ackland Street in St Kilda is for coffee and cake. And I am not the only one.

Monarch Cakes, started by a Polish immigrant in 1934, started that European trend.

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St Kilda – Monarch Cakes

My favourite coffee and cake shop is Le Bon. They have the most impressive shop window of them all. If you can’t find something to your liking here, well, I guess that you don’t like cakes that much.

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St Kilda – Le Bon cake shop

Today, I made an exception. I had fish and chips and salad for lunch instead of coffee and cake.

Pink Flake take away on Ackland Street has $10 lunch deals for all the above. Delicious. Would recommend if you’re after a seaside lunch. You can sit inside and eat off plates with proper cutlery as well.

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I turned around on Ackland Street and walked back on The Esplanade.

I soon passed Hotel Esplanade. Known as Espy, it is a Melbourne institution undergoing renovations at present. The ABC TV program Rock Wiz was filmed here and they had regular live bands. Lovely grotty and rundown.

I believe that there will be a new outside balcony area on the first floor. That would provide excellent views of The Esplanade, towards St Kilda Pier and beyond.

Time will tell whether the renovations would remove the grungy feel or if Espy will keep its karma. I hope that it will not become too trendy and upmarket in the process.

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St Kilda – Hotel Esplanade aka Espy

Fitzroy Street in St Kilda has gone downhill for some time. Few people and lots of “for lease” signs in front of empty shops and restaurants.

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St Kilda – Fitzroy Street

The inhabitants and their “guests” of this building have a lot to do with Fitzroy Street’s decline. The building is Gatwick and is the home of last resort for many whose next step would be homelessness.

Gatwick is now advertised for sale, I read for some $10M+, so it is unlikely to continue “as is”. More likely, it will be completely renovated.

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St Kilda – Gatwick on Fitzroy Street

St Kilda to Melbourne City Centre

Follow Fitzroy Street and you are in Albert Park, the home of Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix. Outside that time of the year, the park is very peaceful. Built on swamplands, there is a lake and plenty of bird life in Albert Park. Several stadiums and sports fields complete the picture.

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Albert Park – Albert Park Lake

The numbered black swans of Albert Park. Hence, you can immediately spot an outsider…

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Albert Park Lake – Black swans

I noticed several new wooden benches along Albert Park Lake. They looked fantastic.

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Albert Park – Park bench

Beyond Albert Park, I crossed the busy Albert Road and then followed Clarendon Street towards Crown Casino. Again, plenty of restaurants, bars and coffee shops. And South Melbourne Markets is just a block away.

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South Melbourne – Clarendon Street

Well, dear reader. I leave you here. Clarendon Street will take you back to downtown Melbourne and you can then find your own way.

I never tire of walking this “St Kilda Triangle”. 20+km walking may be a lot for some but you can always jump onto a tram in several places to take you back to downtown. And you can just as easily cycle the triangle.

Highly recommended!

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