Chelsea May Wheatley—a.k.a. Chela—travels all over the world when she’s on tour… and as a rising electro-pop starlet, that’s happening quite a bit.
But the Australia native moved to Melbourne at age 15, and she still knows the coolest places to shop, eat, and hang out in the city. Naturally, we begged her for a list… and because we’re super lucky, she obliged.
THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF VICTORIA
The NGV stands at the center of the Botanical Gardens, The Yarra River, and the Victorian College of the Arts—many of the things that make Melbourne great. And the museum itself is an impressive structure, with even more impressive inventory: some of the world’s greatest creative works are inside, with a special focus on native Australian artists. (Bonus: The gallery store is exceptional. I bought my newest and best frisbee there, featuring the work of David Shrigley.)
Camberwell is a little drive out of the city, but it’s worth every drop of gas. The massive flea market is held in a monstrous parking lot where you can browse the trash / treasure of many weird and wonderful characters.
One of my favorite places for a quick and easy bite, it’s in Collingwood, among some of Melbourne’s greatest retail shops. Try the salted caramel and coconut shake.
There are three locations of this vintage shop in Melbourne, and they’re all bombastic Technicolor havens.
You could spend a whole day here, between the museum rainforest, the IMAX theatre, the Aboriginal Cultural Centre, and their endless galleries of magical history. Outside, stroll through the Carlton Gardens to watch picnicking love birds and scurrying possums. Really.
Smack bang in the centre of an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood is a place where dreams come true. Built in the 19th century for two of Melbourne’s wealthiest families, it’s now a place where you can explore the mansion, gardens, and green house for yourself. I broke in a few times on school nights with friends years ago; we unleashed boats and floated by the lake under the midnight moonlight, making out. Not sure if the security has been updated since!
ABBOTSFORD CONVENT / CHILDREN’S FARM
Another place where you can escape the city despite being 10 minutes away, this old convent and farm hosts one of summer’s best outdoor cinemas, The Shadow Electric. During the day, you can lie in the garden grasses, visit the farmer’s market, or stroll by the Children’s Farm to have a gander at the animals.
One of our best restaurants, Cookie, lives in this 6-story building, along with bookstores, live music venues, and one of my favorite clothing stores, Someday. Just don’t play with your favorite frisbee on the rooftop (which also hosts a bar and movie theater) because you’ll never get it back. (Sad face.)
On Little Bourke Street, you’ll find Chinatown, with Gaylord, my favorite Indian restaurant, and Section 8, a bar where you can battle on the D-floor like a B-girl. If you duck around the bend to Market Lane you’ll find one of Australia’s greatest Chinese restaurants, Flower Drum, and once you’re done filling up on dumplings, go to Ding Dong Lounge, where many of Melbourne’s biggest bands have gotten their start.