From bohemian vibes in Fitzroy to the historic waterfront marina in Hobart, we have the coolest Australian neighbourhoods for you to explore.
By Paul Chai
Australia's most interesting and creative city enclaves are packed full of vintage fashion, underground bars, rooftop cafes, and popular restaurants. Wander the streets, people watch, or do some serious shopping in the country's trendiest districts.
Fitzroy, just a 10 minute tram or taxi ride north of the city centre, is an alternative haven full of street art, retro clothing and live music. Walk along Brunswick Street, Fitzroy's main artery, or head to Gertrude Street for local fashion designers. Discover bars such as Bad Frankie, which specialises in Australian spirits, escape to the tiki-themed tropical paradise of The LuWow, or survey the whole 'hood from the rooftop bar Naked in the Sky. Don't forget to shop at Rose Street Artists' Market, and pick up a pastry from Lune Croissanterie.
Newtown, in Sydney’s Inner West, has always been popular with students due to its close proximity to Sydney University. The neighbourhood's distinct aesthetic – you'll find alternative bookshops, cheap eats, craft breweries, and cocktail bars, mingling among vintage clothing stores and record stores – has made it the preferred backdrop for countless photo shoots. UK band Coldplay shot their A Sky Full of Stars video on the main strip, King Street. Locals love Earls Juke Joint, a playful cocktail saloon with a double shot of personality, and laid-back afternoon drinks at local pub, the Courthouse Hotel. You'll find excellent food at Hartsyard and industrial-chic Bloodwood, and live music hub Leadbelly offers a relaxed, social atmosphere.
Fortitude Valley, Brisbane
Fortitude Valley, in Brisbane's inner city area, was one of Australia's first entertainment districts, but in recent years there has been less grunge and more style as the area has become progressively gentrified. It is still the best place to sample Brisbane's live music scene, and is home each year to the music industry conference Bigsound, at which hundreds of bands take to various stages. Cram in to the distressed brick walls of Black Bear Lodge, catch international acts at The Zoo, or join music fans at The Foundry, which has a recording studio upstairs.
Canberra's inner city suburb of Braddon was once an industrial area rife with car dealerships, but is now the place to be in Australia's capital. With pop-up design stores, retro op shops (charity shops) and local homewares stores such as Handsomepretty or itrip iskip to rummage through, there's plenty of choice for shopaholics. Sip on some coffee at Barrio Collective, then once the hunger hits, take your pick of food van, gastro pub or fine dining restaurant for a decent meal. Some local faves include Elk & Pea for a delicious Central American themed brunch, or Bentspoke Brewing Co. for some craft beer and pub grub.
City centre, Adelaide
The parallel laneways of Leigh and Peel streets in Adelaide's city centre have a huge concentration of cocktails and great bar food. Start in West End with a bespoke creation from Clever Little Tailor, order up some tapas – plates of jamon Iberico or anchovies marinated in citrus olive oil – in the high-ceilinged surrounds of La Rambla, or hide away in the award-winning Maybe Mae, inspired by the Cotton Club era. Be sure to stop in at Adelaide Central Market to sample some local produce and the Midtown arts precinct for live music and comedy at one of the many entertainment venues.
The Perth suburb of Northbridge, just a 10 minute walk from the city centre, is a cosmopolitan area with so many good restaurants that it has inspired foodie walking tours. Get a taste of Indian street food, such as the signature twice-cooked lamb ribs, at Sauma. Try some Mediterranean bites at the southern Italian-inspired wine bar No Mafia. Or if you have a bit of a sweet tooth try the pimped waffles at Superstar Waffles.
Hobart waterfront, Hobart
In Hobart’s waterfront precinct you can stay in one of the city's oldest warehouses, now home to the stylish Henry Jones Art Hotel. The hotel epitomises the unique mix of history and luxury that is drawing travellers to the city. Pay a visit to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG), which celebrates local culture and artists. On the other side of the harbour from Henry Jones is Salamanca Place, with its historic sandstone buildings and the weekly Salamanca Market creating a charming artsy vibe.
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