Time Out Melbourne

Finally - a comprehensive list to explain why a certain strain of Melburnian refuses to go south of the river

Best Parks
In need of an instant tree change? Your options are many. Spy on the possums at East Melbourne’s Treasury Gardens, stomp like a giant through Fitzroy Gardens’ model Tudor village, be hypnotised by the fountains at Carlton Gardens and fling a frisbee at North Fitzroy’s Edinburgh Gardens.

Cinema Nova
Arthouse gold and the best of contemporary films share space at this Lygon Street institution. Looking for silver screen sustenance beyond choc-tops? Cinema Nova has regular three-course movie meals and High Tea on weekends! Monday is discount day.

Best community radio
Mute the mainstream! Melbourne community radio stations are listening out for the little guy, with regular foreign language programs (3CR and 3ZZZ), too-deadly Indigenous tunes (3KND) and music – local and international – that you won’t hear anywhere else (PBS and Triple R).

Best music venues
The Inner North is home to Melbourne’s finest rock-yoursocks establishments. See if your eardrums survive stints at the Tote, Gasometer, Bendigo Hotel and the Gem (all in Collingwood), Brunswick’s Retreat Hotel, Northcote Social Club, Abbotsford’s Yarra Hotel and the Old Bar in Fitzroy.

Tastiest tattoos
Gawking around the Inner North means copping an eyeful of ink, and little wonder: some of the finest purveyors of indelible art ply their trade in these here streets. Check out the fine needlework going down at Third Eye (Fitzroy North), Tattoo Magic (Fitzroy) or Eureka (Collingwood).

Pub footy
Prefer grassroots pigskin kickin’ to MCG brawlin’? The Renegade Pub Football League is for you. Eight teams, each representing Inner North alehouses, slug it out at Brunswick’s Gillon Oval each Sunday during the footy season. Expect players (mostly musos) to be about as hungover as you are.

Melbourne Zoo
Lions and tigers and (koala) bears, oh my! Get down to the wildest place in town and recapture the frenzy of childhood. Screech at the adorable seals! Giggle at the monkeys! Pitch a fit when you realise you can’t take home a wombat!

Rose Chong Costumiers
Bored by constant exhortations to “be yourself”? Hit up Rose Chong’s and discover the true you hidden somewhere in ten sprawling rooms of costumes. Are you a wanton caveman? A giant strawberry? An Elizabethan bunny? Ask the trained stylists and wig experts.

Most mega markets
Sate your cravings for the creative at: the People’s Market in Collingwood; Rose Street in Fitzroy; Fitzroy Market; Finders Keepers in Carlton; Makers’ Market at Abbotsford Convent; Take 2 in Northcote; and Made ’n Thornbury Craft Markets.

Offspring stalking
Sydney-based TV shows drape their plots off the glamorous Coathanger (aka: Harbour Bridge), but this paean to all things Fitzroy is more likely to feature Brunswick Street’s ceramic chairs and grungy watering holes. Take the Offspring pilgrimage and see if your own messy moments can’t top those of protagonist Nina Proudman.

Harvest Workroom
Reap the rewards of your own creativity at a Harvest workshop. Learn to screenprint, design and print your own fabric, hand-dye scarves and even knit: it’s as Inner Northy as you can get.

Gaspworthy galleries
It should come as no surprise that Fitzroy is home to one of Australia’s most vibrant contemporary arts scenes. Grab a vino, tuck your fist under your chin and nod sagely at the wonderful works found at Gertrude Contemporary, Colour Factory Gallery, Brunswick Street Gallery and the whole damn Smith Street precinct.

The Alchemist
So they can’t change lead into gold. But the mixologists at this baroque bar do have the knack for turning spirits into bewitching cocktails imbued with a magic all their own. Accompany your libations with tapas and snacks from their Periodic Table of Food.

Brooklyn Arts Hotel
Much like the neighbourhood it calls home, this boutique hotel is quirky, stylish and gentrified-in-a-good-way. A mixture of makeshift and mansion, the hotel’s dreamy rooms and whimsical garden have made it a favourite for arty wayfarers from around the globe.

Rathdowne Village
An elegant slice of gourmet heaven, Rathdowne Village in Carlton North ticks every bon vivant box. Organic produce, window-licking pastry shops, cafés and a posh dive bar in the shape of the Beaufort have put this once sleepy street back on the happening map.

Dr Follicles Barber Shop
Apart from scoring a dapper ’do or beautified beard, there’s a five-word reason why blokes should beat it down to this old-school barbershop: free Coopers with every haircut. Go early to beat queues on the weekend.

Abbotsford Convent
Heal what ails you! Pencil in a retail therapy session at Slow Food, Skirt and Shirt and Makers’ Market, indulge in holistic treatments in the old nuns’ dorms and move like a maniac at Sunday’s 5Rhythms dance workshop.

Dinosaurs!
Never mind the retro: go waaaay back in time on Melbourne Museum’s Dinosaur Walk. Almost 20 skeletons keep you company as you frolic through the prehistoric past; don’t miss the prehistoric poo! Duck next door to the IMAX and goggle at the world’s third largest movie screen.

Fitzroy Nursery
An oasis in the centre of suburbia, Fitzroy Nursery sells everything from water features to rose bushes and bonsai. Whether you’re looking to stock your own arboretum or indulging in balcony botany, head here to browse in fecund surrounds.

Ofuroya Japanese Public Bathhouse
Relax, get nude and forget about the water bill. Wash, soak, steam, get a shiatsu massage and then finish off with hot sake in the Tatami relaxation lounge. The bathhouse is sex-segregated.

Good Brew Company
Beer can make the world a better place. Not just your world: the whole world. Good Brew’s sustainable microbeers mean no guilt and (thanks to organic ingredients) no hangovers! They’ll even deliver your booze via tricycle: très Brunswick!

Anna's Go-Go Academy
Ditch the body jerks and awkward shufflings: let Melbourne’s go-go guru show you the way to fancy footwork. Do the Bony Maroni! The Twist! That weird ‘Thriller’ thing! Other novelty dances! Stay hydrated with swigs of bubbly between the moves.

Food Trucks
The north got ’em first and still has the most. There are mobile units now rocking Footscray and (little by little) the City of Yarra ’burbs, but Rucker’s Hill is still where it’s at.

Yarn Bombing
To yarn bomb is to knit something and attach it to a pole ensuring inanimate objects of Fitzroy – Gertrude Street trees, penny farthing-shaped bike racks – are warm this winter. Yes, it’s twee, but it’s embraced largely by the north.

Idiocy
Fitzroy and Collingwood are great for grassroots activities (dare we say, pop-up grassroots activities) like go-karting, hopscotch, twerking… but blink and you’ll miss them. You’ll just have to sign up to the Time Out newsletter to keep posted.

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