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MELBOURNE’S relatively new Docklands precinct remains an enigmatic one

August 23, 2014 Destination Feature No Comments Email Email

unnamed (20)Its Etihad Stadium is second only to the MCG as spiritual home of Australian football; its strip of classy waterfront restaurants offers most things to diners at quite reasonable prices; the developers have shown more than normal taste; it’s right on the edge of the CBD, to which it’s linked by a free, efficient tram service; and it has some excellent tourist accommodation.

But it doesn’t yet seem to have caught the local imagination. The weekend crowds that clog Carlton’s Lygon Street and the city’s Little Bourke Street don’t seem to have found their way across Spencer Street and the associated railway terminal.unnamed-226

Like the restaurateurs and shopkeepers, I reckon Melbournians will eventually embrace it for more than the footie, but whether it’s as soon as they hope remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, the area presents a wonderful opportunity for visitors to Melbourne to enjoy Docklands’ unquestioned ambience in very relaxed conditions and to visit some fine eating in establishments such as Renzo’s Bar Café Italiano and Cargo without having to jostle for a table.

A delicious evening risotto with porcini mushrooms and goat cheese, plus a glass of pretty reasonable shiraz, at the former set me back just on $30. Good value I thought, given the ambience and food quality. With water views on three sides, a breakfast unnamed (22)burger ($12) at Cargo on a clear sunny morning really did start the next day well.

Both restaurants are open seven days for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

It was the view from my suite at The Sebel Melbourne Docklands — sun glistening on bright water, moored boats bobbing, a smattering of jogging locals — that drew me early from bed for a more extensive exploration of New Quay Promenade, where I’d wandered briefly the previous evening.

And a large, very comfortable bed it was too. Indeed, this apartment-style hotel is overall a very comfortable unnamed (21)base for enjoying Melbourne.

The living area offers a large TV, granite-and-chrome desk and side table, comfortable lounge with large, bright cushions, and plenty of entertainment options such as an ipod dock.

Miele and DeLonghi appliances — stove and cooktop, microwave, toaster, jug, etc — make the fully equipped kitchenette a pleasure to be in. There’s also a full-size fridge and separate dining table, plus a neatly tucked away washer/dryer.

Not a bad place to have in mind as the footie season nudges towards its concluding days, woeful though they may be for a Carlton fan still dreaming of the glory days of 1995. Or for a bit later on, when you just want to enjoy Melbourne for its unrivalled status as Australia’s home of the arts, dining, style and fashion. Sorry Sydney, and apologies to Adelaide.

CONTACTS

The Sebel Melbourne Docklands

18 Aquitania Way, Docklands

Phone 1300 789 200unnamed (23)

www.sebeldocklands.com.au

Renzo’s Bar Café Italiano

46 New Quay Promenade, Docklands

Phone 03 9640 0550

www.renzosbar.comunnamed (24)

Cargo

55a New Quay Promenade, Docklands

Phone 03 9670 0999

Docklands

www.docklandsmelbourne.com.au

Yarra Trams

www.yarratrams.com.au

Story and photos: JOHN ROZENTALS

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