Back in London, I loved strolling around the more ‘alternative’ parts of town – where the second-hand shop frequenters were hanging out. The bearded amongst us. The tweed wearers. The artistic bohemians. They are my kind of people. I was lucky to live in a neighbourhood called Brockley – back then relatively unknown (until the overground was linked), which encompassed all of this and is popular for good reason. In fact, it gained so much in popularity, it’s now hard to afford a flat there (same for Brunswick street & surrounds).
Ever since I have left Brockley, I craved to find suburbs that would awaken my Brockley nostalgia. This is precisely what Brunswick Street did. It’s not hard to see why – it’s hip beyond belief. Brunswick street is located in a suburb called Fitzroy – throughout history, it had been a working class district, home to many ethnicities – now a trendy bohemian quarter and in fact, the oldest suburb in Melbourne.
Note: Be aware, there is also a town just outside of Melbourne called ‘Brunswick’ (which is equally enticing to visit by the way!), so if you ever decide to meet with friends to visit Fitzroy, make sure they don’t end up travelling all way to Brunswick!
Fitzroy is also famous for its numerous bars that regularly feature oustanding live performances. The best known ones are: the old bar, bar open, the evelyn hotel, gertrudes brown couch and cape live. Some of you may even know the famed punk acts of the 1970’s (Ollie Olsen’s Whirlywirld, Primitive Calculators – anyone?).
If you are into ethnic foods, healthy vegan & vegetarian options, cocktails and simply ‘out of the ordinary’ stuff – you will be guaranteed to find it there. One of my favourite bars is called ‘Naked for Satan’. And of course, nothing is normal about it. Read their history here – it’s fascinating and you’ll know why the bar is called that way. Apart from Vodka, they also serve Pinxtos. In other words, Russia meets Basque land. Told you…it’s confusing – but oh so unique!
The CBD (Central Business District) is probably the first stop on anyone’s agenda when visiting Melbourne for the first time. Which is precisely what I did when I first came to Melbourne back in 2008. I did not even think to wander out into a suburb. I wish I had.
Brunswick street is the coolest street in Melbourne – and probably in all of Australia – and it would be a sin to come to Melbourne and not visit. Next time, I will try to find an airbnb abode just to live amongst the locals for a while. The apartments are as extraordinary as Fitzroy itself!
If you want to get a real insight of local life, head to Brunswick street on a Saturday for brunch and you will know what I’m talking about! Hordes of super trendy people have their hair cut, stock up on vegan products (or share a delicious vegan cheesecake in one of the many restaurants that are ‘moo-friendly’), sit on one of the many benches outside the cafes to soak up the sun while drinking a pint of beer – while holding an umbrella…
We even had a conversation with a friendly lady about how she likes to dye her pony-sized dog in all sorts of Henna colours when her boyfriend and her had one too many. Emmm…yep…weird…but it just adds to the charme of this area. People are crazy like that. They don’t conform, don’t oblige and know how to have one hell of a good time.
Brunswick street is like something you’ve never seen before. There is a special vibe to this place.
Make the most of it and wander out of Brunswick street – Fitzroy has so much more to offer. When was the last time you did something for the first time? Why don’t you enrol for a Knitting workshop in a Pub? How about sweating like crazy and taking a Hot Bikram Yoga class? Watch a movie over at Nova – guaranteed to show movies you haven’t seen in ages (if you head there on a Monday, ticket prices are discounted). How about some shopping?
Here is a comprehensive guide of the best shops in Gertrude street.
How do you get there, you may ask? It’s very easy – so easy, that there should be no excuse not to go! Simply, walk along Swanston Street to Bourke Street and catch the No. 86 Bundoora tram. Alternatively, Tram 96 runs along Nicholson Street, the western border of the suburb. (catch it on Bourke Street). The tram runs between St.Kilda and West Brunswick. Or, take Tram 112 which runs directly along Brunswick Street in Fitzroy (hop on at Collins Street in the city).
If you find yourself somewhere else, double check on Metlink’s website.
Also make sure to check out the official Melbourne tourism website to see if there are any special events going on; and for a comprehensive guide of Fitzroy’s barscene, select your favourites on Timeout.
Have you ever been to Brunswick street / Fitzroy? Any cool hang-out places you may recommend? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.