Potholing with Safari Pete
Now I’m not the kind of guy who likes wriggling around in small, dark passageways (not unless the missus is feeling frisky) and there are definitely no caves in central Melbourne. So what’s this potholing malarkey? Well, it’s all about sinking a few casual pots in drinking holes around the suburbs of this great city. Here’s a guide to some of my
favourite places to enjoy a drink with mates. Please remember to drink responsibly.
$5 Pizzas til late, $10 Fish & Chips, Burger & Chips, $5 Carlton Pints, Free Pool Wednesday Nights and Live DJ til late www.turfbar.com.au
$5 Carlton Pints & $10 cocktails, Live music from 5pm Sundays, DJ’s 10pm til late - www.pjobriens.com.au
Velvet Underground Bar – Hotel Discovery
Happy hour 7 days a week, open 7 days til late. www.hoteldiscovery.com.au/velvet-underground
$4 Pizzas, free WiFi, DJ’s & Live music 7 Days a week -www.luckycoq.com.au
Live music & DJ’s 7 Days a week, Courtyard, $4 Pizzas. www.bimbodeluxe.com.au
The Shaw Davey Slum, or “The Slum”.
It is unique in style, great value for money. Daily happy hour, $10 meals & DJs
Asian Beer Café
Cheap eats, $8 jugs and $4 pizzas. live DJ’s playing 90’s pop and hip-hop .
If you’re looking for a drink, a gig and a good night out then Melbourne and its funkier ’burbs won’t disappoint. The EG section in Friday’s Age newspaper has a list of upcoming gigs, as do free street magazines like Beat and Impress. The Brunswick St area in Fitzroy has a long string of funky bars. Chapel St in South Yarra is where the trendy and the wannabe-trendy hang out. Richmond has a good rock pub scene and St Kilda is also a hotspot for backpackers. There are simply too many venues to list, but below are my favourite places for a beer or five. I’ll have a pot of what you’re having, lege!
How to order:
Pot - 285ml
Schooner - 425ml
Pint - 568ml
Jug - 1140ml
PJ O’Briens – Southgate Arts & Leisure Precinct, Southbank
With cosy snugs and a mix of traditional and contemporary live music every night, there’s always something to tap your foot to. www.pjobriens.com.au
On Safari: On the banks of the Yarra River in the precinct.
The Turf Bar – 131 Queen Street, City
Like Sports? Catch all the important games live and loud on the big screens at the Turf Bar while getting stuck into some bar tucker. Don't miss "Backpacker night" at the Turf bar every Wednesday, a great night !! www.turfbar.com.au
On Safari: tram routes 19, 57, 59.
Asian Beer Café
Overlooking the stunning State Library CBD, is known for its award winning cheap eats and never-ending drink specials, $8 jugs and $4 pizzas. With a 20m long bar and live DJ’s playing 90’s pop and hip-hop to help you get the party started, ABC is the place to be. www.asianbeercafe.com.au
On Safari: Level 3, Melbourne Central (Up escalators, CNR La Trobe & Swanston Street
Lucky Coq – 179 Chapel St, Windsor
Remembered more fondly by locals as its previous incarnation as the Duke of Windsor Hotel when it had a formidable reputation for live rock music, this place is still among the better nightly haunts along Chapel St if you prefer pubs, cheap nosh and pints of piss over alcoholic slush puppis and posers. And the kitchen serves until 2.30am. Winner! www.luckycoq.com.au
On Safari: Sandringham train line to Windsor Station, come out and turn left down Chapel St until you smell the cheap pizzas.
Croft Institute – 21-25 Croft Alley, City
This three-storey bar is nestled down a series of alleyways and is weird and wonderful Melbourne at its boozy best. The first floor is decked out like a laboratory, the second a hospital-themed waiting area and the top floor a 1930s-styled gymnasium. Get down and give me twenty! www.thecroftinstitute.com.au
On Safari: Wander along Croft Alley, off Little Bourke St in Chinatown in the city.
Mountain Goat Brewery – Corner of North and Clark Sts, Richmond
What started out as one guy churning out homebrews in his backyard has turned into an established microbrewery in the heart of Richmond. Free brewery tours on Wednesdays at 6.30pm. Open: Wed & Fri from 5pm. www.goatbeer.com.au
On Safari: tram routes 24 or 109 – get off at Victoria Gardens Shopping Centre.
Walk down Burnley St and turn left onto North St.
The Espy – 11 The Esplanade, St Kilda
This is one of Melbourne’s premier music venues and has a front bar where you can watch bands for free. More established bands play in the Gershwin Room at the back of the premises where a door charge applies. This place has a grungy atmosphere and is a top spot for a Sunday session. There’s also a kitchen for midnight munchers. www.espy.com.au
On Safari: tram routes 16 or 96.
The Shaw Davey Slum, 171-175 Elgin St Carlton
Or “The Slum” as it has been termed, draw’s from 1960’s era of Australia when life was eclectic & sophisticated. It is unique in style, presentation and represents great value for money. Daily happy hour, $10 meals & DJs make this a must!
Bar Nancy – 61 High St, Northcote
This ambient drinking hole has wine bottles lining the walls alongside long mirrors, and there’s a bay window if you fancy watching the world go by. Get fruity by indulging in their cocktail list and sup away in front of the fire in winter, or out in the fairy-lit garden in summer.
On Safari: Tram 86 from the city.
Bar Open – 317 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
A great venue for free live music. There are couches and a stage upstairs; downstairs there’s a fireplace and a snug courtyard. Open everyday til late. www.baropen.com.au
On Safari: tram route 112.
The Retreat – 280 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Live music showcasing local talent every night (nearly always free) with a grungy front bar and a DJ and band area at the back. They serve traditional pub grub and there’s a big beer garden to eat it in. Open: everyday til late.
On Safari: tram route 19.
Bimbo’s Deluxe – 376 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
For $4 pizzas and cheap pots of beer, head to Bimbos Deluxe in Brunswick St. They also have a cheap all Australian wine list. www.bimbodeluxe.com.au.
On Safari: tram route 112.
Black Cat – 252 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Free jazz on Friday and Saturday nights with a large dance floor to bust out your James Brown moves. Open: Thurs-Sun 9pm-late.
On Safari: tram route 112.
The Corner Hotel – 57 Swan St, Richmond
This place is an institution in the Melbourne live music scene. It attracts top quality acts from around the world and has a great band room, front bar and a rooftop bar with good city views. Open: Tues-Sat until 3am; Sun until 1am. www.cornerhotel.com
On Safari: tram route 70.
The Workshop – Level 1, 413 Elizabeth St, City
A converted motorcycle repair shop that houses a grungy open plan bar. Half of the roof has been cut away to make a relaxing beer garden. Open: Mon-Tue 10am-late; Wed-Thurs 10am-2am; Fri 10am-3am; Sat 1pm-3am; Sun 1pm-midnight. www.theworkshop.com.au
On Safari: a 5-10 minute walk from Flinders St Station.
Bennetts Lane Jazz Club – 25 Bennetts Lane, City
Chill out with cool cats in a snug and intimate venue. Open: daily from 8.30pm.
On Safari: Off Little Lonsdale St, between Russell and Exhibition Sts.
The Prince of Wales – 29 Fitzroy St, St Kilda
A unique boozer full of St Kilda characters, the Prince also boasts a band room upstairs that hosts top-shelf local and international acts in an intimate setting.
On Safari: tram routes 16 or 96
James Squires Brewhouse at the Portland Hotel
– 439 Docklands Drive, Docklands, City
Fine beers to match the pleasant dockland views. Open: noon-late daily.
On Safari: tram route 30.
Charcoal Lane Restaurant
Charcoal Lane's specialty is bush tucker meets fine dining - nothing like your last camping trip. Think wallaby tartare, yam fritters, crumbed crocodile and wild barramundi - it comes highly recommended if you love
adventure on your plate! The casual menu is fresh and affordable, perfect for a quick bite to eat or for taking your time enjoying the ambience of contemporary Aboriginal art and style.
Moreover, the Australian blend of produce, flavours and textures is not all that makes the restaurant unique. Charcoal Lane also operates as a Mission Australia social enterprise program, which provides on-the-job
hospitality industry skills, training and experience for Aboriginal youth.
This experience, as they say, is true reconciliation through dining.
• Taste unique flavoursome dishes made from
• Enjoy the hip atmosphere and contemporary
• Set in a historic building in the heart of
Charcoal Lane Restaurant
136 Gertrude Street Fitzroy VIC 3065
Phone +61 03 9235 9200
POTHOLING IN SOUTH MELBOURNE
• From the city, catch a number 1 tram to St Vincents Gardens on Montague St. If you
fancy a quick game of lawn bowls before dipping in for the first pot, then pop into
Albert Park Bowling Club. Otherwise, head to the first pub on the route by walking
up Montague St (in the direction you just came on the tram), and head for Park St.
• FIRST STOP: Montague Hotel, 355 Park St; www.montaguehotel.com.au
And they’re off! This place has a bright interior, outdoor seating, an open fireplace
and lots of acoustic music.
• Walk up Park St until you reach Ferrars St and then turn left. Cross Bank St.
• SECOND STOP: Railway Hotel, 280 Ferrars St; www.railwaypub.com
This joint serves food and has a beer garden. It’s popular with office workers at the
end of the week.
• Walk down Banks St until Clarendon St. Turn right.
• THIRD STOP: Limerick Arms Hotel, 364 Clarendon Street; www.limerickhotel.com.au
A traditional, Irish-themed pub and one of Melbourne's oldest.
• Walk down Clarendon St (away from city)
• FOURTH STOP: Cricket Club Hotel, 435 Clarendon St;
Stuffed animals adorn the walls here; there are two bars: one out front and another out
back which is more intimate.
• Walk up Thomson St until you reach Moray St. and turn left.
• FIFTH STOP: The Water Rat Hotel, 256 Moray Street (Cnr Park & Moray Sts)
This pub has couches, booths and a beer garden.
• Walk up Moray St until you reach the roundabout on Coventry St.
• SIXTH STOP: Bell's Hotel & Brewery, 157 Moray St; www.bellshotel.com.au
Sample a boutique beer at this microbrewery. There are five to choose from.
• Continue up Moray St.
• SIXTH STOP: Maori Chief, 117 Moray Street. www.maorichief.com.au
Don’t let the painting of a Maori chief above the entrance scare you away! This place
has an old couch and an open fire.
• Continue up Moray St until you reach Market St. Turn left.
• FINAL STOP: Star Hotel, 160 Clarendon Street; www.starbarhotel.com.au
A two-storey pub that’s in with the young crowd. If you’re potholing on Sunday arrive
before 9pm to avoid lengthy queues.
POTHOLING IN EAST MELBOURNE AND RICHMOND
• From the city, catch tram 24 or 109 along Victoria Parade (which turns into Victoria St).
Get off at the stop just after you pass the railway track, between Jonas and Shelley sts.
• FIRST STOP: The Aviary, 271 Victoria St; www.theaviary.com.au
Located in the centre of Little Saigon, look out for the bluestone facade. Warm up your
drinking muscles with a beer in the leafy garden.
• Walk up Victoria St (away from the city) until you reach Lennox St. Turn right and
follow it down until you reach Highett St. Turn right again.
• SECOND STOP: Kingston Hotel, 55 Highett St; www.thekingston.com.au
• This place has a paved courtyard and grassy beer garden for summer, and a fireplace
for a bevvy during the winter.
• Retrace your steps back along Highett St until you hit Lennox St. Turn right and walk
down this road until you reach Richmond Terrace (which will be on your right-hand
• THIRD STOP: London Tavern, 238 Lennox St; www.thelondon.net.au
If you’re getting a little peckish at this stage, then his place does good pub grub. It also
has a beer garden.
• Turn left onto Richmond Terrace and keep walking until the end. Turn right down
Docker St and go all the way down. Turn left onto Swan St and walk for a little way
until you reach Church St. Turn left.
• DETOUR: Bar Economico, 438 Church St; bareconomico.com
This place just opened shop and is getting great feedback. Get a little fancy and try one
of their very popular cocktails
• Retrace your steps back to Swan St. Either catch a tram (number 70), or walk along
Swan St back in the direction of the city (in the direction of the London Tavern).
• FINAL STOP: The Corner Hotel, 57 Swan St; www.cornerhotel.com
One of Melbourne’s premier live music venues, the Corner is somewhat of an icon.
Catch a live band or else chill out on the rooftop bar.
POTHOLING IN FITZROY
• Catch the number 112 tram to Brunswick St. and get off at the Gertrude St
• FIRST STOP: The Workers Club, 51 Brunswick St; www.theworkersclub.com.au
Formerly the Rob Roy, there’s a cool band room out back. Get here on Monday for $2
• Walk up Brunswick St. (away from the city).
• SECOND STOP: Perseverance Hotel 196 Brunswick St; theperseverance.com
Aptly named, this pub has been trading for over 100 years. It has a courtyard, puts on
Uni nights and has a party atmosphere on the weekend.
• Continue up Brunswick St.
• THIRD STOP: Little Creatures, 222 Brunswick St; www.littlecreatures.com.au
A traditional beer hall filled with long tables. When full, the place is abuzz – it can
house up to 260 patrons, and you can pick up some tasty grub here too.
• Retrace your steps until you reach Moor St. Turn right into it and then right again into
• FOURTH STOP: Standard Hotel 293 Fitzroy St; thestandardhotel.com.au
A backstreet pub with a cosy beer garden and bar. They also have live music.
• Keep walking up Fitzroy St until you reach Johnston St.
• FIFTH STOP: Provincial Hotel 299 Brunswick St; www.provincialhotel.com.au
The exterior walls may be flaking off, but it’s not too shabby inside. Enjoy a pot while
people watching across the busy Johnston St-Brunswick St intersection.
• Cross the road and walk along Johnston St.
• SIXTH STOP: THE Commoner, 122 Johnston St; www.thecommoner.com.au
For all you Poms, this is a taste of home. If you haven’t already splurged in the Little
Creatures dining hall, then try one of the Sunday wood-fired roasts here (if it’s
• Continue along Johnston St until you reach Napier St. Turn right and keep walking until
you reach Moor St.
• SEVENTH STOP: Napier Hotel, 210 Napier St
Located on the corner of Napier and Moor Sts, this old drinking house has been a
potholing venue for over a century. There’s a small outside area and the front bar has a
• Walk up Moor St (away from Brunswick St) until you reach Smith St. Turn left and
walk until you reach Greeves St.
• FINAL STOP: Lambsgo Bar, 136 Greeves St. www.lambsgobar.com.au
This intimate beer nook is the place to sample international beers. You could easily stay
here all night and try everything, but in the spirit of potholing drink up, there’s a good
chap/ette, and come with me to the final stop.
• Retrace steps to Smith St. Turn left and walk until you reach Johnston St, then turn left.
• FINAL STOP: The Tote, corner of Johnston and Wellington sts;
This is the place to see live music in Fitzroy (it’s actually in Collingwood, but it’s close
enough!), a grungy venue that showcases both local and international bands. This
down-to-earth pub has an enclosed beer garden as well as a front and back bar (where
the bands play).
POTHOLING IN CHAPEL ST
• From the city, catch the 78 or 79 tram. This will take you along Church St, which will
eventually turn into Chapel St. Shortly after you pass over Toorak Rd, get off the tram.
Palermo St should be on your left hand side.
• FIRST STOP: Imperial Hotel, 522 Chapel St (South Yarra)
This is a good place to start your night out with the after dinner and pre-party crowd.
• Turn left out of the Imperial and walk down Chapel St (in the direction you were
travelling on the tram).
• SECOND STOP: Bridie O’Reillys, 462 Chapel St (South Yarra)
Put some darkness in your glass in this traditional Irish pub. A pot of Guinness is a
must, although they have a range of international beers on tap and a beer garden in
which to enjoy it.
• Keep walking down Chapel St (in the direction you were travelling on the tram). Cross
Commercial Rd and keep going until you reach Greville St, a right hand turn. Walk up
• THIRD STOP: College Lawn, 36 Greville St (Prahran) www.collegelawnhotel.com.au
A relaxed spot for a pot, this place has two courtyards and two bars. Also look out for
the happy hours and slab raffles. If you’re feeling peckish at this point, then they also
serve pub grub.
• Retrace your steps down Greville St until you reach Charles St. Turn right and walk
down until you hit High St. Turn left and head back towards Chapel St.
• DETOUR: Borsch, Vodka & Tears, 173 Chapel St (Prahran);
I couldn’t bring all this way without telling you about this specialised vodka bar which
features 100 European vodkas. Pop in here for a quick chaser before hopping next
door, to the next stop.
• FOURTH STOP: Lucky Coq, 179 Chapel St (Prahran) www.luckycoq.com.au
A European-style bar well endowed with imported beers. If it’s getting to dance o’clock
time, then this place has a large floor space where you can shake your toosh.
• Cross over High St, continuing to walk up Chapel St.
• FINAL STOP: Revolver Upstairs, 229 Chapel St (Prahran)
From here the choice is yours: either nip in for a final pot or else bust several moves to
fifty-four hours of non-stop music (on the weekends).
This club has a lounge-room feel.
POTHOLING IN BRUNSWICK
• From the city catch tram number 19 and alight at Brunswick and Sydney Rd junction.
• FIRST STOP: Bridie O’Reilly’s, 29 Sydney Road; brunswickrd.bridieoreillys.com.au
• Walk up Sydney Rd (away from city).
• SECOND STOP: Brunswick Hotel, 140 Sydney Rd, www.brunswickhotel.net
This pub has poetry, open mic and live music nights, and they proudly announce there is
never a cover charge.
• Continue up Sydney Rd (away from city)
• THIRD STOP: Cornish Arms Hotel, 163 Sydney Road, www.cornisharms.com.au
Enjoy your pot in the lounge area or courtyard. They have DJs in the evenings and
acoustic sets on Sundays.
• Continue up Sydney Rd (away from city)
• FOURTH STOP: Retreat Hotel, 280 Sydney Rd, retreathotelbrunswick.com.au
A traditional corner pub with a beer garden and live music nearly every night of the
• Continue up Sydney Rd (away from city). When you reach Albert St, turn right. Keep
walking until you reach the end.
• FIFTH STOP: East Brunswick Club, 280 Lygon St; www.eastbrunswickclub.com
If you’re here on Monday, then tuck in to a cheap burger, pasta or parma (vegan options
available). There’s also midweek trivia.
• Walk up Lygon St (away from city) until you reach the intersection with Albion St.
• SIXTH STOP: Lyndhurst Club Hotel 513 Lygon St. www.lyndhurstclubhotel.com.au
Feeling lucky, punk? This place is packed with pokie machines which will gobble up your
loose change. Nip in here for a quickie en route to the next stop.
• Turn left up Albion St. and follow it until you reach Sydney Rd.
• FINAL STOP: The Edinburgh Castle, 681 Sydney Road. www.edinburghcastle.net.au
Now’s the time to strut those pool skills! Challenge the locals to a game or else head
into the beer garden for a game of ping pong (there’s an outside pool table as well).
• Those who fancy themselves in the singing department can have a bash at karaoke, held
each Friday night from 9pm.