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Neighbourhood Guide: Footscray
By Concrete Playground
May 26, 2021
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By Concrete Playground
May 26, 2021
  shares

Melbourne has plenty of rags-to-riches tales when it comes to its neighbourhoods. Perhaps the most surprising turnaround has been at the foot of the West Gate Bridge.

The traditionally working-class Footscray long had a reputation for being one of Melbourne’s more unsavoury suburbs. However, a decade of investment and rapid development in the area has seen its fortunes change dramatically. Footscray is now regularly listed by experts as one of Melbourne’s most liveable suburbs — and it’s still relatively affordable. Add to the mix its excellent restaurants and bars, booming arts scene and diverse multicultural identity, and you’ve got all the makings of one of Melbourne’s best places to live. 

Melbourne has plenty of rags-to-riches tales when it comes to its neighbourhoods. Perhaps the most surprising turnaround has been at the foot of the West Gate Bridge.

DID YOU KNOW

That most famous of Footscray mascots, the bulldog, came about purely by chance. Footscray’s footy team went by a variety of nicknames following their admission to the VFA in 1886, but a 1928 game at Western (now Whitten) Oval against Collingwood changed all that when a rogue bulldog ran onto the field and accidentally led the players out on the ground. The home crowd went into raptures — and thus the nickname, and the mascot, were born.

GETTING AROUND

The greater Footscray area is currently serviced by three train stations, as well as several bus and tram routes. Melbourne’s new public transport developments will see Footscray become the gateway to the west in the coming years, with a regular airport rail service cutting travel time to Tullamarine to 18 minutes and new services establishing easy connections to the regional hubs of Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo.

PROPERTY PRICES

A vibrant, multicultural lifestyle, charming period homes and a locale that’s just a stone’s throw from the city — it’s a wonder Footscray has remained so affordable. The median price ranges from $840,500 for houses to $445,000 for apartments. Check out NAB’s Property Report to learn more about this area, or use its handy Home Loan Calculator to find out how much you can borrow. Or, book an appointment here.

LOCALS LOVE

Footscray Market is, in many ways, the heart and soul of the suburb. The brutalist structure is a constant hive of activity, and offers an expansive range of fresh local produce, seafood, meat and Asian ingredients. Open from Tuesday to Saturday, the market is easily accessible by train, bus or tram.

Living in Footscray

Discover the spots that could become your new local favourites.

Cafes

Brunch in a shipping container or in a former wool factory? Restaurant locations are just as interesting as the food itself.

1. Rudimentary

A cafe made from disused shipping containers in an abandoned car park.

2. Small Graces

A cosy neighbourhood brunch spot with an ever-changing, seasonal menu.

3. Olive Oil & Butter

A charming, family-run spot plating up Greek-inspired brunch and excellent homemade pastries.

4. There

The veg-heavy menu is designed to share in this one-time wool factory.

5. Konjo Ethiopian Restaurant & Craft

Start your day with a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony at this all-day restaurant.

Restaurants

From family-style Ethiopian to an ultra-modern degustation, Footscray has just about any craving covered.

1. Navi

An innovative 25-seat restaurant from an acclaimed chef in Yarraville.

2. Roti Road

Authentic Malaysian cooking in the heart of Footscray.

3. Harley & Rose

Footscray's diner churns out pipi pizzas and has an impressive front courtyard.

4. Cafe Lalibela

This homely, family-run restaurant is one of Melbourne's longest-standing Ethiopian diners.

5. Station Hotel

This Footscray pub has long been considered a go-to location for steak in Melbourne.

Bars

Seemingly overnight, Footscray has become one of Melbourne's best spots to do a wine or cocktail bar crawl.

1. Trouble in Dreams

This 25-seat bar is an ode to the world's greatest speakeasies.

2. Lay Low

Finding this hidden neighbourhood cocktail bar — which also serves delicious Greek snacks — is half the fun.

3. Mr West Bar & Bottleshop

A two-storey bar and bottleshop in the heart of Footscray.

4. Baby Snakes Bar

A colourful, no-fuss wine bar that also slings frozen cocktails and seriously good sandwiches.

5. Back Alley Sally's

Jerome Borazio's bar is a first for Footscray.

Shops

Sip coffee and browse secondhand vinyls, or explore a world of produce at one of Melbourne's best food markets.

1. Counterweight Vinyl & Espresso

Browse secondhand vinyl — the specialty is classic dance and bass — or sit down for a coffee and pastry.

2. Footscray Market

This buzzing indoor market is, in many ways, the heart of Footscray.

3. Post Industrial Design

This design store is committed to sustainable local production.

4. T. Cavallaro & Sons

Famed for its cannoli, this family-run pasticceria has been crafting traditional Sicilian pastries in the heart of Footscray since 1956.

5. Two Faces Eyewear and Optometry

Community-minded providers of the power of sight.

Culture and Leisure

Picturesque parks, community-run creative spaces, and one of Melbourne's finest movie theatres all share the spotlight here.

1. Footscray Community Arts Centre

A community-based arts, culture and events space in Footscray.

2. Heavenly Queen Temple

Australia's largest Taoist temple, featuring a 50-foot statue of Chinese sea goddess Mazu.

3. Quarry Park

A new park for the west with mountain bike trails and one of the best views of the city from anywhere.

4. Sun Theatre Yarraville

This historic art deco theatre is one of Melbourne's finest places to take in some screen time.

5. Bulldogs Museum

Telling the story of the team from the mighty west, from its inception in the 1880s to today.

Cheap Eats

No time to sit down? No worries — Footscray is home to some of Melbourne's best quick and cheap eats.

1. Pho Hung Vuong Saigon

A bustling Vietnamese joint dishing up the classics, all day long.

2. Pie Thief

This nostalgia-heavy in Footscray pie shop serves up with Milos, vanilla slice and lasagne-filled pies.

3. Slice Shop Pizza

Footscray's corner store slinging New York-style pizza by the pie or slice.

4. Nhu Lan Bakery

For over 25 years, this hole-in-the-wall has been making one of Melbourne's best banh mi.

5. 8bit

Get a byte of Footscray's games-themed burger joint.

Living in Footscray

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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