If you’re looking to explore the ‘real’ Melbourne, you’re not going to find it in the CBD.
Many Melbournians will enthusiastically refer to eclectic places like Sydney Road and Brunswick Street as the ‘real’ Melbourne, but what about High Street in Northcote?
Tourists and locals alike can easily miss this dynamic location, but it is nothing short of a cultural mecca – offering a wide array of unique fashion retailers, bars, cafes, speciality stores and entertainment spots.
Proclaimed online as being “a little bit different,” High Street prides itself not only on its mix of shops, but the relationship between its retailers and the local community.
Quite frankly, there’s so much to see and experience, it would take nearly a full day to enjoy it all.
Barry is one such beautifully designed cafe, featuring a range of colourful dishes and its very own house espresso blend.
Barista, Christian says Barry is one of those places you absolutely must visit if you come to the Northcote area.
“There’s a lot of attentiveness towards the customers and a lot going on, [and we’re] catering to a lot of different needs and tastebuds.
“[Barry] is very spacious, [with] plenty of options to choose, [from] where to sit [and] what to eat,” he says.
When asked what advice he’d give to those who haven’t been to High Street, Christian was quick to answer.
“I’d tell them to go…have a look at the fashion that there is, and to end the night [with] maybe a film, and an easy drink…at the bars.”
Seeing a film is a popular pastime amongst Northcote locals, and High Street is home to one of the most iconic theatres in Melbourne.
Palace Westgarth is the source of quality cinema in Melbourne’s, inner north.
Built in 1921, Westgarth Cinema combines classical features and art-deco, housing multiple stylish bars and a new outdoor cinema.
Madi, a supervisor, has worked at the architecturally-striking venue for five years, enjoying every aspect of her job.
“There’s definitely a camaraderie among the staff…everybody knows each other.
“…We have such pleasant customers most of the time; it’s always really fun to come to work…while also talking about movies,” Madi says.
Unlike large-scale cinemas that only showcase blockbusters and popular releases, Westgarth Cinema prides itself on its variety of art house and foreign films.
“We actually have quite a few film festivals a year; the first one is the French Film Festival starting close to February.
“We have a bit of pride over what we like to show, especially if it’s an Oscar-nominated film we know everybody would like to see,” Madi explains.
Its popularity is second to none, with most sessions selling out early or hurriedly being booked online.
Deeply entrenched in Melbourne’s cultural landscape, this is a must-see location for all the cinephiles out there.
For those eager to shop, High Street does not disappoint.
Some of Melbourne’s most innovative independent designers line this street, as well as furniture and homeware stores unlike anything else in the city.
For almost 20 years, Obus has been a staple fashion destination for women in the inner north.
Featuring a collection of beautiful, locally-made clothing pieces, this boutique, according to Marketing Manager, Tess, is a big part of the Northcote style scene.
“We manufacture the majority of our clothing in Melbourne so it’s all locally made.
“We’re actually coming up on our 20th year in business and we’ve had our store in Northcote for almost 10 years,” Tess says.
Obus also has a very strong relationship with its customer base, getting to know its clients very well over the past decade.
“Some of them are featured in our most recent campaign as our models,” says Tess.
For the Ladies campaign celebrates the Obus customer. The shots themselves feature furniture from fellow High Street retailer, Grandfather’s Axe.
This community connection is what makes Northcote such a special place.
Whether it is a high-fashion venue such as Obus or any of the vintage stores that line High Street, there is something for everyone to satisfy their shopping desire.
Possibly one of the best kept secrets about Northcote is health food store, Terra Madre.
From the front, it is unassuming and humble, but once you enter, it’s a different story altogether.
Offering a wide range of organic produce, owner, Ryan, says the specialty store appeals to a wide range of customers.
“Our store interests people who want to eat organics to benefit themselves and the planet; people who have specific food and diet requirements and those who want to save money on eating better, as it can be an expensive lifestyle,” Ryan says.
Constantly busy with the hustle and bustle of its local community, Ryan believes Terra Madre is one of many reasons people should visit High Street.
“There are lots of little nooks and crannies to explore, with new products and bargains popping up every week.
“It really is a great atmosphere with a community feel, and nice vibes,” the shop owner says.
This sentiment is echoed by most in Northcote, reinforcing High Street’s status as part of the ‘real’ Melbourne.
If you want to experience the best of Melbourne’s cultural landscape, High Street, Northcote is not to be missed.
Feature Image Credit: Charlie Kinross