Melbourne, Australia

My Town

Melbourne, Australia

UBC alum Dave Lim posing in front of some street art. According to Dave, "COVID lockdowns unleashed the creativity and social commentary of our street artists." Photos courtesy of Dave Lim.

Dave Lim (BA‘92) is an alumni UBC Global Alumni Ambassador who has been living in Melbourne since 2019. He is a “polymath, provocateur, and possibilist” who works in innovation, investment, curation, and education, and has been a TEDx pioneer and organiser since 2009.

What three words best describe Melbourne?

Coffee. Culture. Creativity. (Correlation or causation? 🙂)

What do you like most about living there?

How much Melbourne and Vancouver are alike as cities. We’re surrounded by nature and greenery, friendly and helpful people abound...and we get lots of rain during winter. Melbourne has also evolved over the years to become one of the most diverse and cosmopolitan cities in Australia. It is one of the top 10 most liveable cities in many rankings and was named the “happiest city in the world” in 2018. We have parks, lakes, beaches, rivers, and forests, and city life is filled with cafés and restaurants featuring food from all over the world. There’s an abundance of theatres, multicultural music, film, and creative festivals, plus numerous sports, including the Australian Open tennis tournament.   

A city surrounded by nature and greenery, with a thriving coffee culture and lots of friendly people, Melbourne strikes Dave as being a lot like Vancouver — and that's what he most appreciates about his current hometown. Click on each image to learn more.

Describe your favourite neighbourhood.

Collingwood. It’s home to Smith Street  — named the “coolest street in the world” in 2021 — and is filled with eclectic shops that blend the old and new: From trendy designer shops and funky galleries to vintage and factory outlets. From old bars and pubs to cool and quirky restaurants. From artisanal ice cream to beer and wine bars, live music at night, and street festivals throughout the year. On Easey Street, a crazy imaginative restaurant entrepreneur hoisted three decommissioned train cars atop the roof of a five-storey building, converted them into a burger and drink bar, and invited street and graffiti artists to spray paint all the walls and carriages.

If you could change one thing about Melbourne, what would it be?

More Melburnians drinking tea! 😊

What might surprise a visitor about Melbourne?

Here are three fun facts:

  1. One of the founders was named John Batman, and the city was almost named Batmania. To this day we have Batman Park, Batman Avenue, and Batman Hill. (There might even be a Batcave somewhere — but its location would need to be kept secret, right?)
  2. The gold rush in Victoria, Australia boomed around the same time as San Francisco’s in the 1850s, making Melbourne one of the richest cities in the world. The gold from Victoria paid off the debt of the entire British Empire!
  3. We easily get four seasons within a day. One day, within hours, it went from a breezy-cool 21 degrees Celsius to a sauna-hot 42 degrees Celsius. Even when it’s a bright, blue, cloudless sky when you leave home, always bring along your umbrella or raincoat. Wet weather and winds from Antarctica can come up any moment.

What are your favourite hidden gems or activities that only locals know about?

Underground bars, plus restaurants and jazz bars hidden away in the laneways and many behind nondescript doors and enigmatic entrances. 

Also, in virtually every neighbourhood, there are independently operated bookshops, many lovingly curated and decorated.

What’s the most over-rated tourist hotspot?

Tourists take an entire day to drive down the Great Ocean Road to see the 12 Apostles rock formation off the coast, but along the way, bypass beautiful waterfalls, fern gullies, and rainforest trails. 

How easy is it to meet new people?

It’s very easy! Melbourne is the most diverse city in Australia, with its residents born in 146 countries. I once boarded a tram and simultaneously heard four conversations going on: in Indonesian, French, Spanish, and Nepali.

What is one local custom that every visitor should know about?

It’s a hard toss-up between drinking flat whites and wearing black, mate! Above all, knowing some Aussie slang is pretty useful, such as knowing the difference between “Barbie” and “barbie” (the latter meaning BBQ).  

From vibrant street art to sprawling parks, stunning architecture, and a plethora of cultural, historic, and urban attractions, Melbourne is a city of endless delights. Click on each image to learn more.

Looking to connect with your UBC alumni community?

Are you a UBC alum living in Australia? If so, be sure to check out this upcoming virtual meetup — happening March 27, 2024!

If you live outside our campus communities in the Lower Mainland and Central Okanagan, visit the Global Alumni Network page to see if there’s an alumni ambassador or social media community where you live.

Alumni volunteers also host fun My Town Meetups in locations around the world. Check out our Meetups page to see if there’s a gathering near you — or sign up to host one in your location!