Three Melbourne Suburbs You Shouldn’t Miss
Like many other tourists, I am in love with Melbourne. I wander through the CBD’s hidden narrow laneways, search for colorful street art and sip coffee as I sit on vintage cinema seats at outdoor cafes. Like other tourists, I like to eat Italian food in Carlton and top it off with gelato for dessert. I wander around Chapel Street window shopping and wishing I could eat at one of the chic cafes. I pretend to be one of Melbourne’s hippest bohemians in Fitzroy and get my picture taken outside of Luna Park in St. Kilda, Melbourne’s beachside suburb. I am just one of the 2.3 million international visitors to Melbourne each year. And for good reason. The most livable city in the world, Melbourne is renowned the patchwork of inner-city suburbs, such as Carlton, Fitzroy and St. Kilda.
With the endless cafes, bars and restaurants, live music and multicultural festivals, it’s easy to get sucked into the traditional tourist stops. As I’m living in Melbourne on a working holiday visa, it was by accident that I ended up exploring the city- a necessary trip to Kmart and a date opened my eyes to the possibilities that lay beyond. There are lesser known areas that are most often forgotten by tourists but celebrated by locals. These three suburbs west of the CBD continue the story of Melbourne that is left off at the already frequented ones.
From the train stop a short journey from Flinders Station, Yarraville may not look like much. Small in size but big in character, the area is a hub for arts, culture and community. This past January, Quentin Tarantino, Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell even visited it’s iconic Sun Theatre for the screening of Hateful 8. Tourists can admire street art, food and shopping, too. From a range of international cuisine to vegan frozen yogurt, vintage shops and monthly farmer’s markets, this previously working class neighborhood is more than just the backdrop of the 2000 film The Wog Boy.
Footscray concentrates international cuisine, festivals and street art into one western suburb, and has been dubbed the “melting pot turned hipster hotspot” by the ABC. It’s a place where visitors can listen to live music (try The Reverence Hotel) buy exotic fruits from markets, and snack on Olympic Donuts, a local favorite. Known for its Vietnamese and Ethiopian restaurants, get past the grungy exterior for a truly authentic Melbourne experience: eclectic, multicultural, and inviting.
If the name itself doesn’t draw you in, the relaxed social atmosphere of Mount Alexander Road will. Home of the comedian Barry Humphries and his character Dame Edna, satirizing snobbish housewives, a local explained Moonee Ponds to me as “not trendy, but still cool in its own way.” Walk down Puckle Street and you’ll find a mix of middle-aged, quiet residents and younger crowds who prefer the cheaper rent without losing a sense of community.
Drink a quality cup of coffee at Coffee Cupboard – don’t forget to snap a picture of their handy coffee chart (tourists know how confusing coffee in Melbourne can be!), catch a performance at the Clocktower Centre Theatre, grab a drink and classic pub food at the Rooftop Deluxe Bar and watch the sunset along the Maribyrnong River.