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Last weekend I ventured to North Melbourne as the suburb’s main thoroughfare, Errol Street was closed to traffic for the annual Spring Fling Street Festival. As it turns out, this suburb has got it going on. It’s located just a short stroll to the north-west of Melbourne’s city centre. From its architecture to its abundance of cafés, it was a photographer and foodie’s delight. So here is my guide to North Melbourne: what to do, see, eat and shop.
THINGS TO DO IN NORTH MELBOURNE
SPRING FLING STREET FESTIVAL
I found out about the Spring Fling Street Festival (now in its 38th year) thanks to some aimless Sunday morning Facebook scrolling. A quick Google Maps search told me that it was a mere 30 minute walk from my apartment, so off I went with my camera in hand.
The festival fell on a glorious spring day, and I think most of the neighbourhood came out to celebrate. There were two music stages and spectators even got the chance to sit on some vintage couches to soak up the tunes. There were many food and market stalls and a mini Suitcase Rummage. I got lucky and a lady was selling handmade jewellery for $1! I might have picked up a couple of pairs of earrings and some cool hair clips. Worth the trip alone.
I loved the community feel, which was evident as I walked down Errol Street and saw so many friends sitting in the sunshine. Apparently about 10 000 people rocked up to the event to support North Melbourne.
Yeah, you can’t visit any Melbourne suburb without doing some street art spotting. There are some alleys off Errol Street, which are made for street artists. I love this colourful work below. Turns out Sosta Cucina is a restaurant in North Melbourne. Good Melbourne advertising, right?
THE COMIC’S LOUNGE
The Comic’s Lounge features the best comedy in Melbourne. Live comics take the stage six nights a week, including Aussie favourites like Claire Hooper, Lehmo and Tom Ballard. Tickets are a good price too, so it’s a great night out option in North Melbourne.
The architecture in North Melbourne is beautiful. I mean, Victorian terraces and run-down single stories. There’s something about buildings with paint peeling and exposed bricks that work in Melbourne and make a place look appealing, not uninviting. Plus, look at the suburb’s town hall.
WHERE TO EAT IN NORTH MELBOURNE
AUCTION ROOMS CAFE
This cafe’s name comes from the fact it is housed in a former W.B. Ellis auction house. Auction Rooms is a local favourite for its food and coffee. It has a “coffee of the day” and a wall complete with different coffee beans for purchase. The menu looks so good I may have to return to try it out for myself. Brûlée French toast? Let me at it. There is also a nice patio for some sunshine soaking.
5 Lire offers a small window into the passion, the simplicity and mouth-watering tastes of Italian cuisine.
The cafe’s website tells a great story about the owner, Laura and her reasons behind establishing 5 Lire. Once again, the menu looks amazing and it is always good to walk into a business owned by someone passionate.
Mörk Chocolate call themselves the Cacao Artisans of Melbourne. They specialise in producing different types of hot chocolate, including varying dark chocolate concoctions. They also offer coffee as well for a perfect winter pick-me-up.
We have the coffees down, now onto a little something stronger. Joe Taylor is the name of the tailor (seriously) that called the building home in the early 1900s. It is now a bar and restaurant, offering customers a two-paged cocktail list, rotating beers on tap and an extensive wine list too. Joe Taylor specialises in French food, which can be enjoyed in the restaurant’s private courtyard.
WHERE TO SHOP IN NORTH MELBOURNE
QUIRK & CO
Yes, Quirk & Co is all about the quirky and original. Their products include a range of national, international and vintage collectibles. Like a piggy bank cast from a real piglet, plants potted in wombats, a hamburger stool and yeah, bogan rings. A must visit in North Melbourne.
ACE ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES
If you like your antiques, then this is the stop for you. Apparently Ace Antiques has the largest collection of Bakelite Radios in Australia, if that’s your thing. They also specialise in vintage enamel signs and toys.
BERNARD’S MAGIC SHOP
Bernard’s Magic Shop is Australia’s oldest magic store, as it was established in 1937. It stocks costumes, practical jokes, magician necessities, and magic books and DVDs.
NORTH MELBOURNE BOOKS
Every shopping list needs a bookstore, and it’s even better if it’s of the independent variety. North Melbourne Books is open every day except Mondays. Check out their website/blog for new book updates.
Heartland Records is the place for vinyl lovers. The huge store has a massive collection of records, plus new release CDs. I know they say shops like this won’t be around much longer, but I hope that’s not the case. So much inspiration inside those doors.
You may have to venture into the city if you are after chain store wares, because North Melbourne is all about unique, local businesses. Case in point: Martin Fella. A vintage store with plenty of options hand-picked from auctions around the country, Asia and the UK. Customers will find no-names next to the big names like YSL and Givenchy. These items will cost you, but most fashionistas will say it’s worth every penny.
I hope you enjoyed this spotlight on North Melbourne. I loved my brief Sunday visit and look forward to returning to eat some of that French toast at Auction Rooms. North Melbourne is an easy stroll from the CBD, otherwise you can visit by car, tram #57 or train.