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Take Me to Port Melbourne

With the help of a local, get to know the best places to shop, dine and relax in this irresistible bayside suburb.

Local resident Phoebe Sanders lives and breathes Port Melbourne. This mum of three, who runs a part-time design business, invited us to hit the streets with her to explore. Your adventure starts when you catch the 234 bus. It’s only a 16-minute ride from the Queen Victoria Market stop on Franklin Street.

Morning

It’s breakfast time, and Phoebe has just the spot: Hurricane Handsome [32 -331 Bay Street, Port Melbourne] is buzzing from 7am every day.

Phoebe’s Tip If you’ve never had duck eggs — they’re so rich and creamy — this is the place to visit. The eggs come on a potato rosti, with asparagus, prosciutto and thick-cut bacon. I love that it’s satisfying, but not uncomfortably filling. I’ve tried most things on the menu, and they’re all great, but this is the one I keep coming back to over and over.

Getting There It’s a short walk from the Bridge Street bus stop on bus route 234.

With your belly full, there’s more to Port Melbourne than food. Next up? Why, retail therapy, of course. Phoebe heads straight for Tiny Polkadots [293 Bay Street, Port Melbourne], a boutique for bubs, with an adorable array of toys, clothes, accessories and more for newborns to 12-year-olds. We love the divided focus on fun for the kids and practicality for parents. The friendly staff will help you with everything from educational toys to sleep solutions.

Phoebe’s Tip If you’ve got the kids with you and you’re on a budget, set a spending limit before you go in, then be pleasantly surprised by just how much you can get for the money. I brought my three kids in, with what I call our $50 challenge – that’s $50 for all three kids, not each. I got a packet of good quality watercolour pencils for my 11-year-old, three adorable Australian animal finger puppets for my four-year-old and a cool torch that shines moon silhouettes for my seven-year-old — and we had change left over.

Getting There It’s a short walk from the Bridge Street bus stop on bus route 234.

With the kids sorted, it’s time for a little something for yourself. At Pod Homewares [302 Bay Street, Port Melbourne] you’ll find a treasure trove of practical, quirky and cute decor and giftware.

Phoebe’s Tip Take the time to really look around. You’ll see plenty of stock that’s really on trend at the moment, but you’ll also find a lot that’s special and original. I follow Pod on Facebook to be the first to hear about new stock, especially when there’s something made in Melbourne that might make a great gift.

Getting There It’s just across the street from our previous stop, a short walk from the Bridge Street bus stop on bus route 234.

It’s time for a little take-home luxury of the liquor kind. Casa de Vinos [227 Bay Street, Port Melbourne] is more than just a bottle shop — it’s a specialist retailer of single malt whisky, rum, spirits, glassware and French knives.

Phoebe’s Tip If you don’t want to carry a bottle around with you while you explore, it’s open until 8.30pm on Saturdays. The shop is right on the 234 bus route, so don’t forget to pop in on your way back to town. Better yet, keep an eye on the website and book your Melbourne trip to coincide with one of the monthly tasting nights. It’s pretty special, limited to about a dozen or so people, and you get to try some unique craft spirits.

Getting There It’s a short walk from the Liardet Street bus stop on bus route 234.

Afternoon

All that shopping is sure to work up an appetite and, once again, Phoebe hits the mark with another outstanding recommendation: Ciao Cielo [111 Bay Street, Port Melbourne]. Since 2010, proprietors Bryan Nelson and Kate Dickins have been carving out a niche with their contemporary Italian cuisine but they recently moved to this amazingly atmospheric space in a former courthouse.

Phoebe’s Tip Italian is my favourite food because it’s about so much more than just pasta and pizza. In winter, I adore hearty ragus and rich wine sauces, but more than anything, I just love eating with my family. Bring them with you and you can order a whole salt-baked fish or a lamb shoulder for the table to share. It’s like a home-style Sunday lunch, but without the washing up.

Getting There It’s a short walk from the Graham Street bus stop on bus route 234.

From here, the 234 bus turns off onto Graham Street, but you can continue to explore the short remaining stretch of Bay Street, towards Port Melbourne Beach, on foot. What a great way to walk off your lunch.

Before you head off though, enjoy a comforting massage. Pure Thai Massage [162 Rouse Street, Port Melbourne] is just around the corner from Bay Street, and will have you relaxed in no time.

Phoebe’s Tip Don’t be shy to tell the friendly staff if you prefer more or less pressure. Thai massage does tend to be a deeper tissue style, but it can also be gentle. I started coming here because it’s one of the few places that offers pregnancy massages. I had a lot of back and neck pain, but regular visits here have had me feeling blissfully relaxed.

Getting There Walk 350 metres from Bay Street.

The final stop on your adventure is Port Melbourne Beach, just an eight-minute stroll away.

Phoebe’s Tip At the end of the day, I like to grab a chai tea from any of the cafes close to the beach and just go for a stroll. If it’s evening time, Pier Port Melbourne [1 Bay Street, Port Melbourne] is open for dinner and overlooks the ocean. It’s fun to grab fish and chips and head for the sand, but in this colder weather, this restaurant is a fantastic family hang-out with a great kids’ menu. But to be honest, I’m all about the sweets. The salted caramel apple crumble takes my breath away.