Fitzroy and Collingwood: what to do in Melbourne’s first suburb

Fitzroy and Collingwood: what to do in Melbourne’s first suburb

posted in: Australia, CITY LIGHTS, Melbourne, Spring, Victoria | 2

If you’ve read my Sydney post you’ll know I previously spent an amazing 4 years living in that addictive city. The almost too fond memories I hold of Sydney contributed to my topsy-turvy rationale for instead choosing Fitzroy and Collingwood in Melbourne as a base for my 2016 stint in Australia. Melbourne is an awesome city more akin to East London, my home, whilst I was worried living in Sydney again would bring too much last-time-around comparison and a sharp pang to want to move back! Instead the hipster suburbs of Fitzroy and Collingwood represent new and unexplored places: open to fresh memories and more discoveries, with many excellent flat whites on the side.

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3 THINGS YOU REALLY CANNOT MISS:

GRACE DARLING | this pub on Smith Street was our local and quickly became a fave for it’s great happy hour of $3 pots or $6 pints from 4 – 7pm every day. It has perfect outdoor seating that catches the sun all day long, plenty of room around the bar which the regulars prop up until they fall of their stool, and a pretty tasty looking menu and tonnes of space out the back if you are eating.

Also check out: Huxtaburger and Biggie Smalls are two of several cheap-eat spots clustered together on Smith Street, or try Jimmy Grants for Greek and definitely don’t miss Messina for their addictive gelato. The Birmingham and The Gem are two other great pubs and Mr. Wow’s Emporium’s first floor windows are perfect for people watching. Easey’s food and service is pretty average, but a good novelty option – train carriages on a rooftop.

Fitzroy and Collingwood
Inside dining at the Grace Darling Hotel
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The view from Easey’s burger bar, over Collingwood
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Typical building style in Fitzroy and Collingwood – this is Elizabeth Terrace

NORTH FITZROY | we stayed on Nicholson Street for 3 weeks with a great Airbnb host and totally fell in love with this no-less-hipster but slightly more homely and liveable area. North Fitzroy appears to be a smallish conscientious community of mostly young working professionals and is lucky enough to have the lovely Edinburgh Gardens on its doorstep.

Also check out: The Moroccan Soup Bar and Horn Please are long-standing institutions, and rightly so – the food was incredible. Birdie Num Num and the Tin Pot are cool little cafes. For drinking try both extremes: sophisticated new wine bar Underwood or no-graces local the Parkview Hotel.

Fitzroy and Collingwood
Typical street cafe set up in North Fitzroy
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Enjoying an afternoon beer at Underwood, North Fitzroy

STREET ART | is prolific throughout Melbourne, but particularly synonymous with the previously grungy working-class neighbourhoods of Fitzroy and Collingwood. Here are just a few snaps from my travels, but there are many awesome blogs out there that do a much better job of promoting these artists – try Juddy Roller, Streets of Melbourne or Land of Sunshine for inspiration.

Fitzroy and Collingwood
Kingfisher outside the Adidas outlet on Smith Street
Fitzroy and Collingwood
Previously Chopper Street was home to memorials by 29 artists to local Collingwood underworld figure Mark ‘Chopper’ Read
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Juddy Roller enrolled artist Smug to create this amazing piece on Wood Street, Fitzroy
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The Refugee by Fintan Magee is 5 storeys high, in Collingwood
Fitzroy and Collingwood
Built in 1911 for Patersons Home Furnishing Emporium, for 40 years this amazing building had been home to artists, musicians and gallery spaces: now it’s being converted to flats.

3 THINGS WORTH A SNOOP:

GERTRUDE STREET | it’s a tough contest for me between Smith Street and Gertrude Street as ‘favourite Melbourne Street’: both are always buzzing and full of bars, restaurants, vintage shops, hipster barbers (how many beard trims do they need?) and increasingly designer homeware and gift shops. Gertrude has a better selection of more swanky bars such as Bar Clarine and The Everleigh, as well as tasty fodder at Archie’s and Belles Hot Chicken.

Fitzroy and Collingwood
Bar Clarine on Gertude Street (source: threethousand.com.au)

FITZROY POOL | this city can get hooooooot and when it does, you’ll be panting for a dip in the sea. Make like a Melbournian though by shunning St. Kilda and heading to an outdoor pool. In Fitzroy and Collingwood, this one is great at $6 for a swim, especially on weekdays when you’ll be able to grab a lounger and enjoy some laps. Weekends in the height of summer are best avoided, as it’s pretty depressing sitting on the hard concrete surrounded by tonnes of kids.

Also check out: if you’re craving some green space, visit beautiful and serene Fitzroy Gardens.

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Fitzroy Pool is a watery haven on a hot summer’s day
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This is it on a Sunday!…..
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Touches of art deco style in the mural outside Fitzroy Pool
Fitzroy and Collingwood
The Conservatory in Fitzroy Gardens is a beautiful green house inside
Fitzroy and Collingwood
Lovely green Fitzroy Gardens, bordering Fitzroy, East Melbourne and the CBD

YOGA | Melbourne is a city full of really positive, progressive individuals and there’s a huge undercurrent of people living more conscientiously and considerately, whether that be through concern for the environment, animal welfare, and/ or fellow human beings. As an indirect result, there’s also one hell of a lot of people seriously in to yoga! Enjoy low-cost trials through ClassPass or BodyPass and check out modern Yoga37 or get unlimited 30 days for $30 at friendly Gertrude Street Yoga. Namaste.

Fitzroy and Collingwood
This little girl will eagerly greet you at Yoga37

3 THINGS TO STEER CLEAR:

TRIPPY TACO | not only is Melbourne a city of yogis: it’s got a disproportionate number of vegos and vegans. Which is great. However I think sometimes any type of niche establishment can get slightly overhyped…. Take Trippy Taco: a vegan Mexican diner that is jam-packed everyday of the week. I just don’t get it! We ordered two Tofu Asada Tacos and a Trippys Original Burrito to share and they were both pretty bland.

Also check out: on the other hand, Smith and Daughters on Brunswick Street is so good that their vegan substitutes blew my mind.

POOR DEALS | Melbourne, or perhaps Australia, is the land of tantalising eating and drinking deals that make it very hard to justify shopping in the crazily overpriced supermarkets. There are so many Parma and Pots for $12 you’ll be spoilt for choice, however some places have either taken their deals too far or not jumped on board at all. The Bimbo’s $4 pizza is like eating the pizza box, whilst The Fitz doesn’t advertise any happy hour yet sits opposite superior pub The Evelyn, with regular deals. Pick and choose people.

Fitzroy and Collingwood
The Evelyn on Brunswick Street

BRUNSWICK STREET | this is a tough one to criticise, as Brunswick Street has a host of great spots and has contributed to the popularity of Fitzroy long before Gertrude Street and Collingwood’s Smith Street were even on people’s radar. As is the inevitable catch 22 of trendy, gentrified hipster ‘burbs – take London’s Shoreditch – their own success turns to bite them as the area becomes overly commercialised: it’s impossible to get in to Vegie Bar without a 2 hour wait; Little Creatures Brewery has been and gone; there’s even a themed Ice Bar?! Sorry Brunswick Street, you’re just a little too sparkly now.

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Brunswick Street in Fitzroy
Fitzroy and Collingwood
There’s a lot of contrast and history in Fitzroy and Collingwood, with huge council block buildings fighting for pavement rights with the newer hipster hangouts

Also check out: The Rose Street Artists’ Markets are open every weekend and are worth a short creative detour.

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These fairly small craft markets are open on weekends

1 THING I WISH I’D DONE:

FITZROY BOWLING CLUB | it’s now March and the so far warm Melbourne autumn will be sadly creeping in to Winter, so we really need to get a wriggle on with this one…. Inspired by a short stint in North Fitzroy, I really want to organise a game of lawn bowls at popular Fitzroy Bowling Club whilst it’s still warm enough to stand out on the grass in bare feet with a cider in hand.

AND KNOW THIS: Fitzroy was Melbourne’s very first suburb, established back in 1839 when the area between what is now Melbourne CBD and Alexandra Parade (originally named Newtown and later renamed Collingwood) was subdivided into vacant lots and offered for sale.

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2 Responses

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  2. […] to cheap eats. It’s not my favourite area in Melbourne (I’d rather spend time in Fitzroy or East Brunswick), but then what city’s commercial heart is ever the highlight? Oxford […]

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