It’s common knowledge in Australia that Melbourne has some fabulous suburbs and it has fast become a favourite activity of mine to choose a random suburb and go explore it, as you’re always in for something new and exciting.
Carlton and Fitzroy are two suburbs which come up a lot and are raved about repeatedly so I was desperate to check them out, armed with my camera- in classic tourist fashion.
A couple of weeks ago, Nathan and I had a free Sunday together and decided to take a stroll through both Carlton and Fitzroy at once- as they’re basically right next to each other. They’re also super close to the city and you can get a tram from the CBD in a few minutes which just adds to their pull.
Carlton is a real taste of little Italy, in the heart of Australia. Delicious looking Italian restaurants featuring al fresco dining line the leafy streets, and there’s more gelato shops than even I could ever wish for. The smell of garlic and mozzarella mixes with the decadent scent of rich chocolate fondant ice-cream- it’s the stuff of foodie dreams.
I love the atmosphere in Carlton. When you’re living and working abroad, just getting on with the routine of your life, it’s easy to forget that you’re on the other side of the world- coming here made me feel like I was on an Italian getaway and reignited my passion for discovery.
Carlton made me really appreciate Melbourne for the unique, mixing-pot that it is, whilst also making me crave all of the garlic bread, pasta and ice-cream.
It also has a lovely green space, Carlton Gardens, which is a dreamy place to read a book or catch a bit of a tan before the weather in Melbourne deteriorates (although to say summer is ‘over’- it’s 33 degrees as I write this!).
Carlton feels fairly upmarket, very trendy and incredibly European- and I adore it.
When you walk just a few streets away, you feel a huge change in this atmosphere the minute that you hit Fitzroy.
Fitzroy feels like the birthplace of the ‘hipster’ and everyone and everything is a little less fancy and a lot lot lot more grungy.
Vintage record stalls, graffiti-covered buildings, second-hand clothing stores (or ‘op shops’ if you’re an Aussie) and vegetarian and vegan food are in abundance… high-street stores and minimalist chic are not…
And yet- although it is so far-removed from the white, minimalist, sleek look that I personally adore- there’s something about Fitzroy that I really enjoy. I’m certainly not saying that I’d like to live there, or even frequent it regularly- but to visit every now and then, it’s pretty special. It almost feels like an alternative grungy universe and I feel like it’s a side of Melbourne which you have to embrace.
If you look beyond the decaying shop facades, you’ll also find some of the coolest and trendiest cafes and bars in Melbourne.
Plus, there’s some seriously skilled graffiti art which is especially great if you want to see that side of Melbourne, away from the tourist trap of Hosier Lane in the city.
If I had to choose my favourite, it would definitely be Carlton, as it just suits my personal aesthetic perfectly. However, when they are literally side by side, it would be silly to visit one without at least stopping by to check out the other.
They offer an insight into two sides of Melbourne; the laid-back, European chic of Carlton and the grungy, arty flair of Fitzroy are what makes this city so diverse and exciting.
Melbourne, I love you.