As the 86 tram edges its way, Fitzroy on its westside and Collingwood on its east, “you’ll still spy Vietnamese haberdashers, Chinese butchers and old-school souvlaki takeaways,” says Carrie Hutchinson in Delicious, “but there’s an increasing nod to the gentrifying population … designer homewares stores sit alongside indie fashion boutiques, as well as some of the city’s best eateries.”
Brunswick Street is the cafe capital of the universe, says Besha Rodell in Eater. “There are a few neighbourhoods in Australia that might try to claim that title, but my money’s on Fitzroy, which also puts Williamsburg and Silver Lake to shame on the hipster scale. You can’t walk two feet in Fitzroy without stumbling over another cafe serving pumpkin, pomegranate, crispy kale, and goat cheese on toast, another craft cocktail bar with a more exclusive cocktail bar upstairs that you have to buzz into, another shop selling gorgeous clothes you can’t afford.”
Gertrude Street, once overlooked, is now one of the city’s most vibrant high streets and home to a mix of independent shops. Monocle Films meets six retailers who anchor the street.
“Fitzroy has the bustles on the weekend,” says Travel Insider, and it’s partly because of Rose Street Artists Market, tucked into a side street. “You’ll know where you’re going because Grant, an unmissable guy with tatts, silver jewellery and leather hat, sits on the corner at Brunswick Street pointing shoppers in the right direction. In a former junkyard, artists and designers sell their handmade wares – everything from cute baby clothes to funky jewellery and artworks.”
The Fitzroy Bowling Club offers lawn and ball hire in two-hour blocks, not to mention a beer garden and bar. “The basic premise of lawn bowls doesn’t take too long to grasp,” writes Samuel Zifchak in Hide Seek Melbourne: “roll the ball as close to the jack (the little white ball) as you can … just ask the staff – keen bowlers themselves – for handy handling tips to get the one-up on your mates.”
Marios is one of the great institutions of Fitzroy -- and Melbourne. Founded in the mid-90s by two men named Mario (Maccarone and De Pasquale), it "was really set up for artists and musicians," says Mario Maccarone in Inner Circle. What happened then, he explains, was that "all of a sudden writers and actors and agents and promoters and directors and all the periphery of the arts scene then sort of followed suit." The Mario thesis was to offer this vibrant community "a kind of place that they would like to sit in that had nice music and a nice atmosphere" combined with good, honest Italian fare that draws the most flavour out of the least ingredients. And, as part of their contribution to society, the Marios aim to employ "refugees, students and people in need," says Inner Circle.
Melbourne’s Gertrude Street, once overlooked, is now one of the city’s most vibrant high streets and home to a mix of independent shops.