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An Insider's Guide to Melbourne

Canadian motion designer Jason James takes us to his favourite spots in the Australian city.

Jason James

Photo: Katherine Ong

More than 10 years ago, motion designer and animator Jason James left Montreal for a dose of Melbourne sun and never looked back. The Woodstock, Ontario, native behind this year’s playful, multi-pronged Australian Open animated campaign (he’s also designed for Nike and Spotify) says it’s the balmy winters that got him hooked for good. “I felt at home here as soon as I got off the plane.

 Umberto Espresso Bar

Photo: Laura May Grogan

1. Umberto Espresso Bar

This mom-and-pop spot in Thornbury is one of the best Italian places in the city, and no one knows about it. Hot peppers hang from the walls and a chalkboard wine list stretches the length of the restaurant. There are usually eight or so pasta dishes on offer, like egg tagliatelle and seafood spaghetti marinara, but I go for the gnocchi whenever it’s the special.

822 High St., Thornbury, 61-3-9484-8654,

Wax Museum Records

Photo: Nicole Reed

2. Wax Museum Records

When I first moved to Melbourne, there wasn’t much reggae, dancehall and hip hop in the record shops. Tim Bartold, who co-owns this vinyl institution, is a local DJ who knows how to source those hard-to-find hip hop, soul, funk, house and indie imports. But be warned: If you go, you’ll likely leave with five or six records, easy.

Shop 2, Campbell Arcade Degraves St., 61-3-9663-6310,

Carlton Gardens

Photo: Takatoshi Kurikawa/Alamy

3. Carlton Gardens

The 64-acre Victorian-era park is across the street from my house – I like to go for a half-hour jog before work. It’s filled with beautiful tree-lined paths and is home to Melbourne’s massive natural history museum. Day or night, the four-tiered Exhibition Fountain is incredible to look at.

1-111 Carlton St.

4. Everyday Coffee Midtown

The newly opened second location of the popular Everyday Coffee is now my regular spot. The sleek space is right in the heart of the CBD (Melbourne’s downtown core), at the base of the Victoria Hotel. In the summer, I love their NOLA cold brew, with simple syrup, milk and a hint of roast chicory.

213 Little Collins St.,



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