Vintiquing in Melbourne: best vintage & antique shopping

CoteProvence, 433 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
It may be a 24-hour flight away but Melburnian Belinda Jackson says her home town holds rich rewards for antiques and design lovers holidaying in Australia.



‘Which do you like better, Melbourne or Sydney?’ It’s a question we Melburnians can't help asking international visitors. Maybe we have second-child syndrome: founded in 1835, Melbourne is nearly 50 years younger than its glossy sibling. but despite Sydney’s glittering harbour and its first-city status, we also know that we have a great deal to rival what it offers. Who needs the harbour when you can walk the pier at St Kilda? Melbourne’s design scene is more exciting and, of course, the coffee’s better down south. You’ve come a long way - but Australia’s second-largest city definitely is worth the journey. 

DECO DELIGHTS

Melbourne is one of the world’s great Art Deco cities, thanks to a building boom leading up to its centenary in 1934. Many architecture aficionados rate the Manchester Unity Building their favourite, but guide and deco expert Robin Grow loves the Century Building for what he describes as its ‘sleek, unadorned and uncompromising verticality’(cnr Swanston St & Little Collins St). Join Robin on his Melbourne Art Deco tour, for $49, which takes place every second Sunday of the month, meltours.com.au/architecture.htm

AROUND TOWN

Undoubtedly one of the city’s most exciting streets for design is Gertrude Street in Fitzroy. It’s only a couple of blocks long, but packed with great cafes, restaurants and some of the city’s best vintage shops (see below). Fitzroy’s sister hotspots include its neighbour, Colllingwood, refined Prahran and the street-art-spattered lanes and alleyways of the central business district. Forget taking a taxi, make like a local and zip between these areas on the trams.

A word of advice for the serious hunter: the high-end antique stores cluster around Armadale’s High Street. Here you will find the Armadale Antique Centre (1147 High St, armadaleantiquecentre.com.au), the Francophiles at Capocchi (941/951 High St, capocchi.com.au), the fresh and fun Fenton & Fenton (471 High St, fentonandfenton.com.au) and the master of quirkiness, Graham Geddes Antiques (877 High St, grahamgeddesantiques.com).

Kazari + Ziguzagu,
450 Malvern Rd, Prahran

MARKET CULTURE

See what Melbourne's artist community has to offer at the Rose Street Art & Design market (rosestmarket.com.au) which takes place efvery Saturday and Sunday, or look for vintage reads in the weekly book market at Federation Square, the city’s love-it-or-hate-it modern architecture statement (fedsquare.com). You won’t find anything shiny and new or mass-produced at Camberwell’s enormous Sunday market, but lots of lovely pre-owned and handcrafted goods (Sundays, 7am-12.30pm). The 135-year-old Queen Victoria Market is an institution selling produce through the week, before acquiring a gifty edge on weekends (qvm.com.au). Lunch on hot pide (Turkish pizza) from the delicatessen hall or squeeze in with the hipsters for a caffeine hit at tiny Market Lane Cafe (109-111 Therry St, marketlane.com.au).

 

CAFE SOCIETY

Design Dispensary, 92 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
It’s said that if three Melburnians are standing together, an espresso machine will soon turn up. This town has a serious speciality coffee culture: aficionados hang in hip Proud Mary ordering cold drip, pourover, syphon and chemex coffees. The ricotta hotcakes are astonishing and yes, you can get a latte. (172 Oxford St, Collingwood, proudmarycoffee.com.au) For some New York love, everyone’s talking about Bowery to Williamsburg’s pecan pie (16 Oliver Lane, City) while old school vibes still resonate at oh-so Italian Pellegrini's Espresso Bar, said to be the first place to pour an espresso in this town and still rocking its original working-class diner theme (66 Bourke Street, City.

DAY TRIPPING

An hour and a half south of the city, you’ll discover our beloved beach getaway, the Mornington Peninsula. This is the ideal place to enjoy fish and chips and a paddle at Safety Beach or indulge yourself with a long lunch at Merrick’s General Store (3460 Frankston-Flinders Rd, Merricks, mgwinestore.com.au) or indeed at one of Red Hill’s many wineries. In Dromana, don't miss Felix which appropriately sums itself up as ‘unique, boutique, antique’ (167 Point Nepean Rd, Dromana, felix.net.au) while Big Chair stocks Australian-made, upcycled furniture and also pocketable gifts (119 Ocean Beach Rd, Sorrento, and 118 Main St, Mornington, bigchair.com.au) andhe little town of Tyabb is an antiques and vintage hub. Check out The Vintage Shed (thevintageshed.com.au) and the vast Tyabb Packing House at 14 Mornington-Tyabb Road (tyabbpackinghouseantiques.com.au) before heading back to the city.

NEED TO KNOW

WHERE TO STAY Artist and architect Maggie Fooke has created an artistic haven at Brooklyn Arts Hotel (48-50 George St, Fitzroy, brooklynartshotel.com.au) which is just off Gertrude Street. WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK Enjoy old-world glamour at The Everleigh bar (150-156 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, theeverleigh.com) Euro-cuisine at Moon Under Water restaurant (211 Gertrude St, Builders’ Arms Hotel, buildersarmshotel.com.au) or modern Australian gastronomy at Saint Crispin’s (300 Smith St, saintcrispin.com.au).

To find out which are Melbourne's top eight vintage & antique shops, click here.

This feature by Belinda Jackson was first published in British magazine Homes & Antiques

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