Matt Frank and Dean Bryant were country kids who both grew up loving Broadway, so their move to a glittering big city for their adult life was always imminent.
‘When we moved to Melbourne after drama school in Perth, we were drawn to the sort of city life that Manhattan represents – a place where there’s always something down every street, where it always feels alive,’ explains Dean. ‘The CBD is so beautiful, especially the blocks around us on Collins Street, with their late 1800s buildings mixed with a new glory like Collins Arch.’
The pair landed their apartment in the heritage Temple Court building a decade ago, which affords breathtaking views down historic Collins Street. Above the treeline, Melbourne’s architecture unfolds towards the sky – offering new perspectives on a place so many locals often disregard.
The pair’s passion for inner city living is evident not just in their words, but in their actions. Rather than explaining why they live in the middle of the city, they bring friends to their apartment to let the building speak for itself.
‘We truly got lucky in finding a 100-year-old building that retained the art deco features, has lots of space, and a view across a new park and down to the Yarra,’ says Dean. ‘We renovated last year and it’s like an oasis in the middle of this incredible city. You can have friends for drinks then walk a few minutes to an endless series of incredible restaurants and bars, to stunning theatres and galleries, or to parks in every direction. And when you’re done? Five minutes and you’re home on the couch.’
These two make such a compelling case for living in the city, we followed them around for a day to pick their brains on the best spots and local haunts. (If you’re curious about inner-city dwelling, find out how you could save big on stamp duty here.)
I wake up at 6am each day and meditate on the daybed before making a short black, sitting at the island and reading the local and NYC papers online. Then I’ll go to the gym two blocks away, grab a flat white at Mork in Equitable Place on the way back, then shower.
Matt wakes up a little later and goes directly to yoga at a great studio located inside our building called Yoga Corner. He’ll grab a soy flat white at Two Conversations, which is also in Equitable Place.
If it’s a rehearsal day, we’ll head off to that. We’re both working on the musical Fun Home for Melbourne Theatre Company, myself as director, Matt as music director.
If we’re writing (we’ve written five musicals together, which have played here, London and in NYC) I’ll go to City Library to work, and Matt has a music studio in our apartment.
During the lockdowns, we’d walk along the Yarra every morning before Matt had to Zoom into class (he also teaches students). It was critical to make sure we got out of the house early in the day.
If we’re in rehearsal, that starts invariably at 10am. MTC is 20 minutes walk from our apartment, just over the Yarra and through the Arts Precinct. That part of Melbourne has recently had an amazing revamp, with a series of parks being finished near the Southbank Theatre and ABC headquarters.
If it’s a writing day, there is a lot more procrastinating going on! We might grab a donut at Shortstop, which truly makes the best donuts in the world. It sounds hyperbolic, but they can’t be beat. My favourite there is Coconut Lemon Meringue.
We get our groceries at the Queen Vic Market, a few blocks away, so will stock up on fruit, veggies and cheese down there.
I’ve always loved cooking (and especially so since we renovated the kitchen), but we also live in the centre of one of the great food cities in the world, so we like to get out into it. We often meet for lunch at Soi 38, which is a Thai restaurant in the middle of a car park, which does incredible boat noodles.
Another favourite is Krimper on Guildford Lane, which is a converted wooden warehouse in a street lined with huge plants. And our favourite dumplings in the city are the fried zucchini ones from ShanDong Mama.
I’m supposed to do a second meditation in the afternoon – I trained in Transcendental Meditation last year – and after that (if not in rehearsal) I’ll put off the afternoon writing by browsing at Melbourne’s most beautiful bookshop, Hill of Content. Our apartment is overflowing with books, so I have brought in a one-in one-out rule.
Matt sits on a piano stool almost every day for hours, so relies on massage to get out the kinks – he’ll go for one at Sense of 5 in Russell Street.
Rehearsals finish at 6pm. Matt often does a night class back at the yoga studio while I cook, but if it’s been a tough day, or I’m being lazy, we’ll go out to Kirk’s Wine Bar on Hardware Lane or pick up the best pizza in the CBD from 11 Inch Pizza.
We see a lot of theatre and cabaret at night, which is usually up the Parliament end of the CBD. If we’re going to a cabaret at fortyfivedownstairs (a great performance space from a similar vintage to our apartment) then we’ll eat at Cumulus in the same building.
Our favourite thing to do after dinner in summer is get ice cream from Pidapipo in Degraves Street and then walk the Yarra. The flavours are always changing and never disappointing.
The walks beside the Yarra to the east of the Flinders Street Station are like nothing I’ve seen that close to a major city. It’s so peaceful, with trees and grass everywhere. That walk kept us grounded last year!
We’ll get into bed by 10pm, unless we’ve been at the theatre. Even though we’re on the main street of Melbourne, and live opposite a nightclub, we don’t really hear anything through the double glazing.
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