Brunswick & Northcote

Just a few train stops out of Melbourne’s CBD are two of the most diverse and trendy areas renowned for cheap eats, great drinking holes and live music.

Highlights

There’s something about Brunswick and Northcote that continues to draw visitors time and time again. Is it the diverse and cheap food along and around Sydney Road? Or is it the unique and eclectic culture, or the surprising bars and cafes located on quiet streets? Whatever the reason, Brunswick and Northcote do not disappoint.

Head down Sydney Road to find yourself in a Middle Eastern cuisine wonderland. A1 Bakery pumps out hot Lebanese bread, pizzas and pies. Very Good Falafel next door serves up very good Israeli falafels, ktzitzot and salads. Nearby Tiba’s dishes up huge, wholesome mix-grill meals for cheap, and Turkish restaurant Alasya serves authentic halal grills, moussaka and more.

Cheap and cheerful cafe food can be found at Green Refectory and Kines; chicken joint Juanita Peaches has bottomless coffee; South American-inspired cafe Neruda’s does delicious empanadas, tostadas and mains; and social enterprise micro cafe, home.one, has delicious porridge and toasties.

For drinks, Brunswick has several hidden gems. Mexican taqueria Los Hermanos, wine bar Biff Tannin’s and craft brewery The Foreigner Brewing Company are all small, cosy places with friendly vibes hiding in laneways, small streets or warehouses.

Just behind Merri Creek is CERES Community Environment Park. Here, you can roam the gardens and plant nursery, buy organic produce, participate in classes, and get your bike fixed for free. For bargain shopping, check out Brunswick Flea Market and Savers, as well as other opportunity and vintage shops along Sydney Road.

Neighbouring Northcote also has an array of venues worth checking out. From the food truck park All Are Welcome, to organic vegan cafe Shoku Iku and the modern Japanese Kitchen Iroha, there are plenty of dining options to choose from on High Street. Night-time favourites offering live gigs, trivia nights and daily pub food specials include Northcote Social Club and Wesley Anne. For quiet drinks, visit Joe’s Shoe Store, which has a courtyard and a bocce court for fun times on balmy summer nights.

High Street is also home to a number of vintage and boutique stores such as Mim Found Ena and Vintage Marketplace. Nearby is the popular and well-priced organic grocery shop Terra Madre, as well as Palace Westgarth – a beautiful arthouse cinema with 1920s art-deco architecture that doubles as an outdoor cinema in its courtyard. Perfect for when you want to enjoy the long summer nights with a flick and spritz.

Community facilities

Brunswick and Northcote are blessed with large parks close to shopping districts and public transport so that you can relax and exercise with added convenience. Temple Park in Brunswick and All Nations Park in Northcote are two popular places to not only kick a ball or throw a frisbee, but also to enjoy a picnic with friends.

For exercise and relaxation indoors, both the Brunswick Baths and Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre have gym, group fitness, and aquatic facilities such as lap and outdoor pools. The Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre also has tennis courts for hire and tennis coaching.

Both suburbs have public libraries offering free wi-fi, photocopying and printing services, as well as plenty of borrowing resources. Northcote Library offers classes, craft groups and special events such as author talks and Harry Potter trivia nights. Brunswick Library has language and IELTS support classes.

Unique experiences

Brunswick and Northcote have become somewhat known as bouldering and indoor climbing hubs. If you’d rather climb with ropes, North Walls in Brunswick is a great spot with beginners courses to get you started. You’ll also find Northside Boulders venues located in both suburbs. Northside provides bouldering bootcamps, yoga and Ladies Nights that specifically help women get more confident with their climbing.

Want to try a unique style of dancing? Check out African dancing and drumming classes with Melbourne Djembe, where you can beat drums and dance at the same time. Or, head to Brunswick East for No Lights No Lycra – a fun and freeing experience of dancing in the dark. Entry is $10.

While most people head to the busy Italian hub of Carlton for gelato, at the Brunswick end of Lygon Street sits a small gelato joint with a difference. At Beku, you can buy gelato in teh tarik, jackfruit, cendol, and other well-known Southeast Asian flavours. Indonesian-Australian Agusta Triwahyu learned how to make gelato in Rome and uses fresh ingredients to create flavours inspired by her home.