DSC07593v1Today’s HOT Chat is with Dave Carswell, the brains and legs behind Melbourne By Foot. I think that Melbourne is particularly conducive to exploration by foot but all those dark and smelly alleyways can be a bit daunting for a newbie. Melbourne By Foot takes you by the hand (foot?) to help you discover the history and hidden secrets of the city.

Hi Dave, tell me a little bit about your background and the story behind Melbourne By Foot?

Hi Joyce! I studied business and worked in a variety of industries including hospitality and tourism. Having spent a few good years aimlessly wandering the globe I often found myself telling strangers how great Melbourne is. Inspired by the almost compulsory nature of walking tours in European cities I wanted to share a similar experience with visitors to our city.  It’s no secret that the best parts of Melbourne are hidden. When you arrive in any foreign city the best thing you can do is grab a local and get them to show you around.

What can a person expect when they come on a walking tour with Melbourne By Foot?

At Melbourne By Foot we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We want you to walk away (pardon the pun) with a knowledge of how Melbourne was and how Melbourne is. Guests on the tour can expect a healthy dose of early history blended with Marvellous Melbourne’s modern elements including public art, music and sporting culture. It’s a great introduction for first time visitors who will no doubt find places they will want to return to on their visit.

Melburnians however, shouldn’t feel left out. Sure, you know where to get a good coffee and know which rooftop the hipsters are frequenting this summer. But! Do you know anything about our founding fathers Batman & (Robin) Fawkner? Did you know Melbourne was once called Bearbrass?DSC07601v1

Why do you think Melbourne is best explored by foot?

Have you tried using the bus or bike lane in Centre Place? By nature, Melbourne’s famed alleyways make for a nice stroll and we like to take you to some places that you can’t access by bike, bus or tram. Walking is also healthy for the heart and the environment – you don’t have to feel so guilty about the carrot cake consumed en route.

What are your next plans for Melbourne By Foot?

Perhaps taking one or two tours out of the city. There is some great history in places like St Kilda and Fitzroy.  Visitors will definitely experience more of the ‘real’ Melbourne if they venture out of the bounds of the CBD. Does Frankston By Foot have a nice ring?

What advice would you give to other people who are starting their own business?

Go for it! Do as much research as possible. Look at competitors and see how your product/service differs from theirs. Business Victoria (www.business.vic.gov.au) is a good place to start. There is a wealth of information on starting your own business which includes grants, licenses, workshops, tax etc.

Finally, what are your tips for what’s HOT in Melbourne?

Mountain Goat Brewery (Corner North St & Clarke St Richmond +61 3 9428 1180) In an age of micro brewery madness this Richmond staple stills serve up a healthy splattering of tasty brews. Mountain Goat Brewery open their warehouse/brewery to the public on Wednesday and Friday nights for beer tastings, tours and delicious pizza. Dave and Cam (the brewers) are often testing out one off beer batches on the Goat crowd so you may find yourself tasting the next big thing. Beer can’t get any fresher! Our summer pick is the Indian Pale Ale.

Georgia Fields
at Pure Pop Records (221 Barkly St, St Kilda +61 3 9525 5220) Melbourne songstress Georgia Fields has been the darling of the local pop/indie scene for the past few years. Her infectious songs marry mature lyrics with quirky instrument arrangements and draw inspiration from the likes of Angie Hart, Clare Bowditch and Imogen Heap. With an album due for release shortly, you can catch her each Sunday in January at Pure Pop Records in St Kilda (the only licensed record store in the world). She’s onstage in the courtyard at 6pm and this may be one of the last times you will see her in an intimate venue like this!

Federation Square street theatre – Although their shows are quite identical in content, I would challenge anyone not be entertained by the performers who take up a residency each weekend outside the Melbourne Visitors Centre. The main event (their show) is nothing on the street theatre they use to build a crowd. There is lots of crowd interaction and jokes played on unsuspecting passer bys. Be careful not to get caught out yourself! Donations welcome.

Thanks to Melbourne By Foot, I’ve been invited to go for a walk around town with Dave, Batman and Robin. You can read all about my experience next week.