As many of you know, I recently I travelled to Melbourne with Qantas and Visit Victoria. One of my favourite cities in the world, I’ve been back several times since living there for a year in my teens, and every time I visit I have an amazing time. Beyond excited to be heading over to discover the best activities that Melbourne has to offer, my husband and I set off to the airport with an itinerary in hand… and some mysterious black envelopes provided by Qantas and Visit Victoria!
Instructed to open them in order, at the time stated on the envelope, each one revealed a question for me to ask my Instagram followers by way of a Story Poll. And so began a journey of A Twist at Every Turn, where we were led to some incredible places around Melbourne. The first twist however began on our Qantas flight where we received a few fun surprises.
As part of the Qantas Curates initiative, the airline has teamed up with some of Australia’s leading artists, photographers and digital influencers to feature their work on the airline’s international Business class amenity kits. We were treated to the Rachel Castle and Craig & Karl kits (pictured above) which include SPAR products by Aurora Spa, a wrap-around eye mask in the same artwork as the kit, Colgate toothpaste, toothbrush, earplugs and travel socks. I instantly recognised the work of well-loved Sydney-based artist Rachel Castle, who is known for her whimsical artworks that take the form of paintings, screen prints and fabric embroidery.
Dean’s amenity kit featured the work of Craig Redman and Karl Maier, an Australian illustration duo who collaborate over the Atlantic, with Craig based in New York and Karl in London. Specialising in illustration and installation, their bold work is filled with simple messages executed in a thoughtful and often humorous way.
Mid-flight a special announcement was made, followed by the flight attendants handing out a red envelope to every passenger on the plane. These were packed to the brim with vouchers offering all kinds of Melbourne experiences from sports to fashion and culture to cuisine. A fun way to give people a taste of the city with A Twist at Every Turn, it certainly created some excitement on board!
On arrival in Melbourne, we checked in to the QT Melbourne. A boutique hotel located in the heart of the CBD, we were welcomed with an eclectic interior that mixes art, design, style and luxury, with a touch of quirkiness. Featuring a distinctly New York style aesthetic, our QT Loft room didn’t disappoint. Located on the highest floor overlooking the fashion forward Russell Street precinct, the room’s natural herringbone wood flooring, high ceilings and exposed concrete provide an industrial feel that is very much in keeping with the Melbourne aesthetic. A striking all-black bathroom and one of the comfiest beds I’ve ever slept on added to the overall charm.
On our first morning in Melbourne (guided by the poll results) we headed to Higher Ground for breakfast. An all-day dining destination located in a former power station, we were immediately wowed by the incredible interior created by award-winning Melbourne practice DesignOffice. Commissioned by Nathan Toleman and the team behind two other Melbourne favourites, Top Paddock and The Kettle Black, the space blends new architectural elements with existing brick and concrete, across a series of tiered platforms. Providing both intimacy and a unique layered perspective, I was in my element amongst the designer furniture, lighting and rugs.
Our grumbling bellies were met with an incredible menu and after our delicious meals we headed off on foot to visit the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).
The beautiful gallery was in the midst of presenting Melbourne Design Week while we were there, so it was a great time to be visiting. In addition, it is currently running the NGV Triennial (through to the 15th of April), showcasing the work of over 100 artists and designers from 32 countries. With free entry, the landmark international exhibition offers a rich array of art (more than we could possibly see in an afternoon) some of which I have shared above. Highlights included the installation by leading international contemporary artist Xu Zhen, and Mass by Ron Mueck, whose figurative sculptures I have been in awe of for some time.
Next up we visited the lovely Melbourne milliner Serena Lindeman. Known for her contemporary designs and classic hats that have adorned the heads of some of Melbourne’s racing royalty, needless to say the Melbourne Cup Carnival is the focus of her year with fashion parades and millinery competitions. Based in Melbourne’s historic Nicholas Building, Serena kindly started by giving us a tour, introducing us to the other creatives who have found residence there, including a number of art curators exhibiting the work of up and coming artists. Choosing our own colours and decorative elements, we then created our own gorgeous hats to take home to New Zealand. Now we just need to plan a trip to the races!
Our day ended at the beautifully elegant Italian restaurant Rosetta, followed by a drink at the tiny but super stylish laneway Bar Americano. The next day the polls took us to one of Melbourne’s famous cafes, Manchester Press, and then on to an afternoon of shopping at the Emporium Melbourne. Home to a mix of local and international designers, flagship stores and world class architecture, the shopping precinct connects to Melbourne Central, Myer and David Jones. The exquisite Aesop boutique below, by Kerstin Thompson Architects, was one of my first stops.
The weekend of our trip also happened to coincide with the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, and we were very lucky to attend the Dinner at Our House held at the stunning Lindrum Hotel with renowned chef Clayton Wells. Treated to an amazing six course meal, accompanied by a selection of beautiful Australian wines matched by Louisa Chalmer, we couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend our last night in Melbourne.
The next day I visited some of the Melbourne Design Week exhibitions, including the incredible Geronimo balloon installation at The Hub General Store. Representing the incredible works of famous British designer Faye Toogood, I was so excited to see her awe-inspiring furniture and lighting designs in real life.
Photography by Michelle Halford for TDC
Another highlight was the Artefacts Exhibition which featured the works of 10 Australian object makers pushing the outer limits of what design can be. Shown above are the unique and sculptural ceramics by Nicolette Johnson, the architectural and geometric plaster sculpture installation by Melbourne-based artist Sean Meilak and the incredible Metallic Weaving Franz Chaise and S01 divider by Michael Gittings.
And that wraps up my overview of our amazing weekend of finding the finer things in Melbourne. There really is so much to discover I think we need to plan another trip soon!
Keen to plan your very own trip to Melbourne? Qantas can help you plan the perfect itinerary with their interactive itinerary builder. To get started, head over here.
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