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Neighbourhood Guide: Brunswick and Coburg
By Concrete Playground
May 26, 2021
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By Concrete Playground
May 26, 2021
  shares

Sydney Road, that great gateway to the north, could have been just another thoroughfare. But thanks to a strong sense of community, the start of the Hume Highway has become one of Melbourne’s most diverse and fascinating areas.

Its beating heart? The neighbouring suburbs of Brunswick and Coburg. While the line between these ‘hoods has become increasingly grey over time, there’s no denying that each has retained its individual charm.

The traditionally working-class areas were once a stronghold for Melbourne’s Greek and Italian migrant communities — much of that influence can still be seen today — but have since become a hub for musicians, artists and other creatives. Oh, and did we mention the food? From incredible supermarkets to top ethnic eateries, here you can find the world on a plate.

Sydney Road, that great gateway to the north, could have been just another thoroughfare. But thanks to a strong sense of community, the start of the Hume Highway has become one of Melbourne’s most diverse and fascinating areas.

DID YOU KNOW

You can thank the Victorian Gold Rush of the 1850s for Sydney Road becoming Melbourne’s longest continuous shopping strip. As the main arterial connecting the city to the northern reaches of the state, it didn’t take long for businesses to pop up during that time so miners could grab supplies for the trek to Ballarat. Later, the 1920s boom in clothing and textiles arrived on Sydney Road, and is still evident today in the fabric shops, tailors and wedding dress boutiques dotting the strip.

GETTING AROUND

Brunswick and Coburg are some of the city’s best-served areas as far as public transport goes: the Upfield train line includes three stops in Brunswick, and four in and around Coburg. The grid formation of much of the streets here also make it ideal for trams, with trolleys running through Sydney Road, Lygon and Nicholson streets to the east, and Moreland Road to the west. A number of bike paths can also be found around the neighbourhood, with on-road lanes prevalent and off-road trails nearby.

PROPERTY PRICES

With its mix of renovated Victorian homes, California bungalows and modern apartment developments, Brunswick and Coburg have maintained steady growth over the past five years. In Brunswick the median price ranges from $540,000 for apartments to $1.1 million for houses, and in Coburg it ranges from $527,000 for apartments to $1.075 million for houses. Check out NAB’s Property Report to learn more, then use its handy Home Loan Calculator to find out how much you can borrow. Or, book an appointment here.

LOCALS LOVE

Sydney Road is Melbourne’s not-so-secret home of Middle Eastern bakeries. With so many dotting the stretch between Victoria and Bell Streets, it’s hard to know where to begin. The grand dame of them all is the decades-old, family-owned A1 Bakery, which has amassed a cult following for its freshly baked flatbreads and excellent baklava. Also, no trip to the ‘hood is complete without a visit to one of the many Greek, Italian and Middle Eastern grocery stores, where you can pick up imported ingredients to make a feast of your own.

Living in Brunswick and Coburg

Discover the spots that could become your new local favourites.

Cafes

The sense of community runs strong at these top brunch and coffee spots.

1. A1 Bakery

A Sydney Road favourite for two decades.

2. Ona Coffee Melbourne

Canberra's legendary coffee roaster Ona has opened its first Melbourne cafe.

3. Small Axe Kitchen

Breakfast pasta, espresso martinis and fried cheese sammies.

4. Wild Timor Coffeehouse

This registered social enterprise delivers no-fuss brunch plates and ethically sourced coffee.

5. Code Black Coffee

With freshly roasted coffee beans you can’t go wrong, but it's the food menu is where this Brunswick roasting house goes oh-so-right.

Restaurants

The ethnic diversity of Brunswick and Coburg is arguably best illustrated by the excellent restaurants in the area.

1. Very Good Falafel

What it says on the tin — nothing more, nothing less.

2. Green Acre

Brunswick's vegan-friendly pizzeria slings sourdough slices in a fairy light-lit courtyard.

3. Teta Mona

Heartwarming Lebanese food made just how Grandma used to.

4. Bhang

Big flavours and big vibes combine at this buzzy venue, specialising in Indian street food and cocktails.

5. Los Hermanos Mexican Taquería

This late-night taqueria brings the delicious flavours — and good vibes — of Mexico to Brunswick.

Bars

These local drinking holes are full of character — just like the streets they're on.

1. Joey Smalls

A small bar for Sydney Road.

2. Sig. Enzo Aperitivo Bar

An aperitivo bar perfect for a spritz, some snacks and some solo time.

3. Waxflower

What do you get if you cross a European wine bar with a Japanese listening bar?

4. Howler

A converted warehouse with two bars, two performance spaces and spicy hawker food.

5. Rascal

Pair one of 120 wines with caviar-topped fried chicken at this Sydney Road wine bar in a 150-year-old building.

Shops

You can find everything from made-to-order gnocchi to one of the city's largest vinyl selections.

1. Mutual Muse Brunswick

This Sydney Road consignment store is battling fast fashion one linen jumpsuit at a time.

2. Gnoccheria

Coburg's takeaway pasta shop is dishing up 20 different types of gnocchi.

3. Mediterranean Wholesalers

This third-generation Sydney Road mainstay houses Australia's largest selection of continental groceries — there are over 250 varieties of pasta, for starters.

4. Record Paradise

Browse through thousands of pre-loved, new issue and new release vinyls (and CDs and cassettes, too).

5. Clothing The Gap

The social justice enterprise has taken its online clothing store onto Sydney Road.

Leisure and Outdoors

There's a surprising amount of green space in the inner north, as well as a top farmers' market to check out on the weekend.

1. Merri Creek Trail

This 21-kilometre shared-use path is an easy stroll or bike ride, and features plenty of native flora.

2. Pentridge

Melbourne's most notorious prison is now a buzzing retail and hospitality precinct.

3. CERES Community Environment Park

A non-profit environmental education centre in the heart of Brunswick, with an on-site cafe, grocer, farm and regular markets.

4. Coburg Lake Reserve

This historic and picturesque park offers a number of outdoor amenities, as well as beautiful walking trails.

5. Coburg Farmers' Market

Swing by on Saturdays to pick up the freshest produce — and some excellent baked goods, too.

Art and Culture

Soak up the neighbourhood's diverse cultural scene with a gallery visit or night at the drive-in.

1. Counihan Gallery

A free-to-enter public gallery with a focus on contemporary art and a public talks program.

2. Mr Kitly

A boutique plants, ceramics and homewares shop above Sydney Road.

3. Beinart Gallery

A Brunswick gallery showcasing imaginative, surrealist artworks by established international and emerging local creatives.

4. Coburg Drive-In

An old-fashioned cinema experience with space for 900 cars, with an on-site 1950s diner.

5. Pink Ember Studio

A queer-run, non-profit gallery, workshop and studio space.

Living in Brunswick and Coburg

Discover the spots that could become your new local favourites.

CP's Picks

These are our favourite things to do in the area.

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