St Kilda is a suburb of Melbourne, located 6 km southeast of Melbourne’s city centre. Its local government area is the City of Port Phillip. St Kilda’s population as at 2011 census was 17,795. It is renowned for its expansive view of Port Phillip, safe sandy beach, palm-lined boardwalk, huge range of beach activities, big skies, gorgeous sunsets, lovely park and gardens, great restaurants, bars and cafés, incredible historic buildings, and its long history as an artistic centre of Melbourne.
Being keen to explore the suburb, I visited the Melbourne Visitor Centre at Federation Square to check out how to get there as well as what I could do for half a day. A very friendly and helpful staff suggested that I visit the St Kilda beach, Melbourne’s most famous beach and visit Fitzroy Street Precinct for some good dining. In fact if I could leave St Kilda after dusk, I could take a stroll at St Kilda pier, where a colony of about 1,000 Little Penguins call home there since 1974. Wow, sounds wonderful!
Without further ado, I bought myself a Myki card from the visitor centre, a smart card essential for travel on Melbourne’s trains, trams and buses, V/Line commuter train services and buses in Seymour, Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, the Latrobe Valley and Warragul. The card costs A$6 and for a daily full fare travel in zone 1, it costs A$7.16 (total A$13.20 = S$15.50), not cheap for a day of travel, unless I keep taking Melbourne’s public transport throughout the day just to “get my money worth”! Not much of a choice since only Myki card is allowed…
Within 25 min from taking tram #16 opposite Federation Square, I arrived at the tail end of Fitzroy Street Precinct, lined by great restaurants, cafes and bars on both sides of the street. I took a long stroll along the famous St Kilda beach, soaking in beautiful sights of the sandy beach and clear blue skies while watching joggers ran and cyclists zoomed past me.
As I wanted to hang around at St Kilda Beach till after sunset to catch the Little Penguins returning to their burrows, I headed back to Fitzroy Street to check out the dining options there since there was still another hour or so before sunset. Perhaps it was still early, the street was still pretty quiet at 5+pm. I was not very hungry given that I had a heavy lunch at Brunetti Carlton earlier in the day so I did not want to dine at the restaurants, knowing the serving would be huge for me again. In the end I decided to try the jam doughnut from Aussie and French bakery at 5/63-73 Fitzroy Street.
The bakery shop front did not look impressive or too appealing. However, do not judge the quality of the confectionery it sells by the shop front hehe. The jam doughnut was quite big at A$3.30 (S$3.90), fluffy on the outside and sweet with generous filling of the delicious jam. I liked it a lot, thanks to recommendation from Australia’s dining app – Urbanspoon, as I used it to search for good eats in the vicinity. A filling and yummy snack!
Seeing that the sun was setting, I walked down to the St Kilda Pier after that. Seems like the home to 1,000 Little Penguins was not the “best kept secret” afterall as there were several visitors heading to the end of the pier like me after sunset too! 😉
The historic St Kilda Pier Kiosk was first built in 1904. After a fire destroyed the kiosk on 11 September 2003, it seemed like St Kilda had lost part of its soul, as many people linked special memories with its simple yet elegant form. Original drawings from 1904 were used as the basis for the kiosk’s reconstruction in 2005.
Past this kiosk and one would be able to reach the St Kilda Breakwater – home to the Little Penguins and Rakali (native water rats). I saw and heard numerous Little Penguins return onshore to their burrows at the Breakwater, but did not see the Rakali. Perhaps it was because I had never seen Rakali before so did not recognise them. According to the information board at the Breakwater entrance, Rakali have a thick water repellent coat which is black or brown, with an orange to white belly. Too bad it was too dark at the Breakwater to take photos of the Little Penguins successfully. I considered myself quite lucky to manage to get 2 shots of the cute little one when we saw it swimming towards the burrow as there was still a bit of light at that time! The way it swam was so cute and adorable! 🙂
It was an exciting time here seeing and hearing so many penguins walking towards us on the wooden platform. In fact I heard a lot of them under the wooden platform where we stood, made me very happy just thinking about that hehe. Best part was visitors do not even need to pay any admission fee to see the Little Penguins and Rakali! 😛
Although I did not spend a full day here at St Kilda and miss out on other attractions like Luna Sea, the Esplanade Hotel and popular restaurants, it was still a worthwhile trip made. I will have reasons to visit St Kilda next time should I visit Melbourne again. 🙂