Stuff your face with fancy sugar
Tis the time for padding. Cacao has just launched a new chocolate lab in the CBD and they're selling a whole new range of eclairs filled with chocolate, vanilla and pistachio creams and topped with images of tigers and Aubrey Hepburn. Southside? Get down to A La Folie patisserie in South Yarra where pastry chef Mercédé Coubard is doing her own custard-filled almond choux bombs and macarons. If it's past sundown, Pierre Roelofs dessert degustations at Café Rosamond are still going strong four years since he launched them – three-courses of technically gymnastic dishes and a dessert tube for $50.
Go and grab yourself a sandwich and a coffee from the STREAT café in Melbourne Central, Mackillop Street or in Flemington, or head to the brand new café Ways and Means in Lonsdale Street. The crew at all these cafés are at-risk youth who are being given training and support to help them build a better future. It's the excuse to eat cheese toasties you've been waiting for.
As any knitter would know, casting and purling your way towards woolly scarf success is always more fun with a friend. Craft circles are a time-honoured tradition, and whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned knitter, everyone can do with a bit of extra inspiration.
If you’re a bit short on craft-buddies, then Melbourne’s yarn emporiums are here for you. Many craft shops host free weekly stitch’n’bitch sessions where you can pick up the sticks, sip tea and chat while you clickity-clack.
Avoid the droves in Chadstone or Melbourne Central with a good ol’ crafty market. Thread Den’s massive North Melbourne Market, which is always held on a Sunday in every month, houses fabulous vintage fabric stalls among other unique goodies. Craft Hatch Market in the CBD’s fine café-cum-gallery 1000 £ Bend is quarterly, with Etsy-style delights including a large range of handcrafted stationery and buttons. Hungry? Get your grocery shopping out of the way and grab dumplings and dim sum at the South Melbourne Market. Make sure you check out the new section for emerging fashion designers, SOME Space. Once you’re finished in the market you can duck around the corner to Chez Dre for a coffee and a cake.
Don’t let the rain dampen your desire to outfit your house with retro furniture and kitsch curios. The Lost and Found Market in Collingwood is a one-stop shop for the adventurous interior designer. Where else can you find a 1970s love seat and a 1940s picnic set in the one warehouse? This Melbourne vintage institution is open daily and has a second location in Brunswick East. For those on the other side of the Yarra, there’s the Chapel St Bazaar, home to over 70 stalls filled with retro knick-knacks.
Red Triangle Snooker Room
To spice up a dull day inside, sneak in a game of pool at Red Triangle. The cavernous venue is open until 2am every day. You can play pool, snooker or billiards on their full-sized tables and there’s also a selection of board games for those who are cue-challenged. Red Triangle is unlicensed, but it’s famous for its outrageously good milkshakes in flavours like Jam Donut or Snickers. From its no-nonsense website to its beat-up leather couches, this venue is about as authentically old-school as it gets.
The cosy Booktalk Café in Richmond is perfect for a toddle around their wide selection of new and second-hand books with a pit stop for a healthy meal. Alternatively, don your specs and head down to Mr. Tulk (attached to the State Library of Victoria), for some fantastic flatbread sandwiches that you can munch while you curl into a booth with your own book or one of the kooky volumes from the café. If you’re around Flinders Lane, seek refuge and a warm drink at the Journal Café, attached to City Library. This place is always busy so be prepared to wait or get friendly with a cute stranger and share a table.
Yoga and Dinner
Attend Urban Yoga night at the CBD’s Hare Krishna centre on Monday or Thursday, and you can have a yoga class followed by dinner. The sessions are cheap as chips, the food is scrumptious and it’s a fantastic way to switch on your mind and body after the drudge of a rainy day.
Community Kitchen Garden
Beat the weather with some indoor gardening in the CBD. The level 2 link bridge in Melbourne Central has been transformed into a garden escape for inner-city shoppers and residents. With its wall-to-ceiling windows, grassy corners and multitudes of garden beds, the Community Kitchen Garden cheats the outdoors. Pick up a recipe, attend a workshop, forage for some veggies or simply curl up on the grass.
Go past the first floor
Melbourne has some truly gorgeous buildings just waiting to be discovered and like the arcades, serve as a quick (and undercover) walkway. On a rainy day, scan the list of tenants or jump in a lift and go for a wander. Go beyond the first floor where you’ll find antique jewellers, local artists and vintage clothing boutiques. Go exploring in the Nicholas Building (21-47 Swanston St, Melbourne), Curtin House (252 Swanston St, Melbourne) or the Manchester Unity Building (220 Collins St, Melbourne).
Get all Blades of Glory and head to the rink
Who says you have to head somewhere warm when it’s raining – why not rug up and go ice skating instead? Icehouse is also a ‘safe’ place you can be as daggy as you like and revisit your adolescent almost every night of the week - albeit on skates - without judgment. Dress to the nines for Glam Night every Wednesday or dig out your fluro ensemble for 80s Countdown every Friday.
More winter warmers...