On a hot Melbourne summer’s day, the trams are full with people going to St Kilda Beach on Port Phillip Bay. It’s an easy, half hour ride on the number 96 tram from the city direct to the beach. On the tram, there are some who are going to the Sunday markets and others who are looking forward to having a drink or coffee at the many bars, cafes and restaurants along Fitzroy and Acland Streets amongst many of the other places to go in St Kilda, including Luna Park.
Trams are the easy way to go The convenience of the tram system is without doubt. After departing from the grid and grittiness of the city, you pass through the Botanic Gardens, along St Kilda Road, swinging into Fitzroy Street and sharply again onto the Boulevard.
The fun of the foreshore promenade If you get off at Luna Park, you pass the markets and look out to the bay from the upper level of Beaconsfield Parade, Jacka Boulevard and the old Catani Gardens. It’s worth going that bit further to enjoy the upgraded promenade that runs along a one-kilometre stretch from Luna Park to St Kilda Baths.
This is the sort of promenade you may expect to see in Spain –it has geometric, free form timber bench platforms, seats and hexagonal paving that doesn’t try to control or confine people who are using different modes of non-motorized transport, into regulated areas. Site Office and Jackson Clements Burrows designed it and they researched similar edge treatments in Barcelona for the City of Port Phillip and the project was completed in 2009.
It is an intensively used area and the irregularity of the forms and shape of the actual ground plane – there is are different scale spaces with different elements in them – allow for a high volume of people to leisurely interact without feeling crowded. The promenade may be a separate linear area from the beach, but it really acts as a transition between the beach and the various restaurants, gardens and entertainment along its’ way.
After all that fun, you can simply return the same way that you went on the tram and as a tourist, this avoids the confusion of understanding the local geography. With luck there’ll be some buskers performing in front of Luna Park if there’s a wait for the tram.
An easy day at the beach without the all the fuss of parking that you can find at places like Bondi. Beach, Sydney.