What was previously an edgy, gritty urban centre has been transformed in recent years, thanks to the addition to this neighbourhood of some quirky independent boutiques, slick bars, and cafes with baristas who take their work seriously. The shopping strips of Northbridge, Leederville, and Mount Lawley are home to vibrant fashion and design stores, galleries and artist spaces, and provide some of Perth’s best people-watching. Every second shopfront seems to be a quirky new café, complete with beautiful barista – perfect for an afternoon shopping break. Or, if you’re so inclined, visit after dark for a drink and a bite in one of the area’s cosmopolitan late-night bars.
Stretching out from Perth CBD to the north and east, the main retail strips of William Street, Oxford Street, and Beaufort Street are the places to find the best shopping, viewing, eating, and drinking – whatever your taste.
An eclectic mash-up of hipster bars, grimy nightclubs, and hole-in-the-wall coffee shops, William Street in Northbridge balances perfectly the suburb’s daytime hipster sheen with its after-dark underbelly. Visit during the day to browse independent boutiques like the Butcher Shop, which sells art, books, magazines, and clothes. Stop for coffee at one of the strip’s tiny cafes, and check out some local art at indie gallery Paper Mountain. In the evening, head to a nightclub or, visit hip bar Ezra Pound for a gin and tonic.
A more upmarket option, Mount Lawley’s Beaufort Street is home to great restaurants, slick pop-up bars, and niche interest retail stores. Browse for rare records and videos, and quirky books, at Planet – part record store, part bookstore, with a just-renovated café, it’ll keep you occupied for hours. In the evening, head to the Flying Scotsman and its upstairs bar Defectors for live music and cheap pints. If you’re around in November, make sure to check out the Beaufort Street Festival – it’s a huge, vibrant street party with music, food, fashion, and art.
For food and shopping, head to Leederville’s Oxford Street – scattered in between boutiques and bookstores, you’ll find gourmet burgers, cheap Vietnamese, pizza and pasta, and arguably Perth’s best breakfast – it’s at Sayers, and it’s definitely worth the crowds. In the evening, head to an indie film at the Luna Cinema, and finish your night off with a slice of cake and a game of Connect 4 at Greens and Co, which is open late.
Northbridge is the best option for cheap activities in this area, but Leederville and Mount Lawley pull their weight as well. The restaurants on the competitive main strips often put on special deals (try the Sunday $10 pizza and pint combo at the Flying Scotsman). To burn it off, visit the Leederville skate park or Banks Reserve in Mount Lawley, which has free basketball courts.
For more options, though, head closer to the city – there’s free entry to the State Library and the Art Gallery of WA, and two giant outdoor screens in the Cultural Centre and the Northbridge Piazza, which show free films and music.
Northbridge is also a great option for cheap food – there are nicely-priced dim sum houses and Vietnamese restaurants everywhere. You can buy the cheapest dinner from Govindas, a Hare Krishna restaurant. It serves an $8 all-you-can-eat buffet at lunch, and then sells the leftovers in the evening – $4.50 for a huge takeway container will keep anyone happy.
One of the first areas developed in Perth, this neighbourhood has seen dramatic cultural change since its establishment, changing from an elite, privately-owned area to a home for post-war immigrants and eventually, Perth’s multicultural culinary centre.
Formerly home to several of Perth’s elite private schools, Northbridge changed dramatically during World War I due to the schools’ relocation and an increase in European immigration. The post-war European lifestyle heavily influenced the suburb, creating its al fresco dining culture and contributing to the variety of multicultural foods on offer today. Northbridge has a historical connection to Greek and Italian communities – you can visit Perth’s first Orthodox church on Parker Street.
Similarly, Mount Lawley was developed at the turn of the century as a residential suburb for high-ranking public servants. Great care was taken in building these workers’ houses, and there are some great examples of well-preserved Federation buildings throughout the suburb – visit the Astor Theatre on the corner of Beaufort and Walcott Streets.