During the Victorian and Edwardian eras, St Kilda became a favoured suburb of Melbourne’s elite, and many palatial mansions were constructed along its hills and waterfront. Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, St Kilda served a similar function for Melburnians as did Coney Island to the residents of New York City and its history draws an interesting parallel. Densely populated postwar St Kilda became Melbourne’s red-light district, home to low-cost rooming houses. Since the late 1960s, St Kilda has become known for its culture of bohemianism and as home to many prominent artists, musicians and subcultures, including punk and LGBT. While some of these groups still maintain a presence in St Kilda, in recent years the district has experienced rapid gentrification pushing many lower socio-economic groups out to other areas
There’s some interesting old photos of the town here.
It was a sunny day, so there were plenty of other people who’d turned out to enjoy the beach and other attractions. On Sunday’s there’s a craft market along the Esplanade, so we took a look
The market was very good. The stalls were generally selling good quality arts, crafts and other items. We bought a painting from a stall run by an indigenous artist and had an interesting chat with him. Unfortunately I neglected to take a photo.
There was also a rather good busker, blasting out some raw blues
We stopped and watched him for a while.
After looking round the market we felt the need for some sustenance and went looking for somewhere to get a drink and a bite to eat. We didn’t have to go far. Acland Street, at the end of the Esplanade, is renowned for it’s cake shops . There’s a whole row of them all with windows full of different types of cakes, tarts, meringues and the like.
We were tempted and stopped for a coffee and cake.
Revived, we walked back along the Esplanade and then took a stroll along the pier where there were panoramic views cross the bay to the skyscrapers in the city centre.
Then we doubled back and walked along the beach
as far as Luna Park, an old fashioned funfair.
By then we felt we’d seen enough so hopped back on a crowded tram and set off to explore Prahan, another suburb.
We returned to St Kilda the next evening. It was quite a windy day and there were lots of people kite surfing in the bay
The reason for re-visiting was to see the little penguins (Eudyptula minor) that nest in the pier’s breakwater. During the day they’re out swimming in the sea, but return after sunset.
Waiting for the sun to go down we had a walk along the beach,
returning to the pier to watch a dramatic sunset.
The end of the pier, where the penguins nest, was crowded. So we weren’t the only ones who’d heard about the penguins! It started to go dark and, at first, it seemed like we had made a fruitless journey. But then there was some movement in the water and a few penguins started to hobble onto the breakwater. After a short while there were dozens of them. Unfortunately it was too dark to get any decent photos – you can’t use flash or you disturb the penguins. However, there’s some photos on the St Kilda Penguins website.
We stopped for a while, watching them come ashore and waddle about on and in the breakwater. They look rather comical on land, but it’s a different story when they’re in the water. Then it was back down the pier to catch a very crowded tram back to Federation Square.