Concrete Playground
October 16, 2019

Along the guiding line of the Yarra and Merri Creek, Melbourne’s inner north is filled with character.

It’s a haven of hobby farms, community gardens and warehouse conversions, along with coffee shops, record stores and some of the best vintage shops around. In fact, there are so many great local businesses in our beloved shopping mecca that it can be hard to know where to start.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with American Express to put together this handy guide to shopping small in the inner north. With it, you’ll be able to navigate the boutiques of Gertrude Street, the warehouses of Smith Street and the vintage shops of Sydney Road as if you were a local. As a bonus, all of these shops and eateries will let you pay with a swipe of your American Express Card.


The 86 tram will take you from the CBD, along Gertrude Street in Fitzroy, before turning left onto Smith Street. After trundling through Collingwood, the tram continues up Northcote’s High Street. For Sydney Road, jump on either the 19 tram or the train headed for Upfield. Once you’re there, you’re best to wander on foot.


There’s a reason this area has an arty reputation and you can’t miss soaking in the work of the dozens of creatives that call the inner north home. Browse one of the many galleries, pick up some locally designed wares, catch a gig at the pub and wash it all down with a locally brewed beer.


The inner north is choccas with shopping strips. There’s the ever-popular Brunswick and Smith streets, Sydney Road cutting through Brunswick and Coburg, and Northcote’s High Street, which extends into Thornbury and beyond. Keep an eye out for the side streets though, as gems like Lune and Project Forty Nine are slightly off the beaten track.


When the sun’s out, nothing screams ‘inner north’ like a picnic at Edinburgh Gardens, or one of the many patches of greenery dotted through the area. McCoppins Clifton Hill is just down the road or the 11 tram will drop you in front of a strip of local shops for some picnic fare.


Explore three of the inner north's thriving shopping precincts.

Sam from HANDSOM
The Localist: Fitzroy
Coming Soon

Your Inner North Hit List

Looking for fresh produce, funky cheese or a one-of-a-kind gift? Find what you're looking for here.
  • Restaurant

    Pizza Meine Liebe

    231 High Street, Northcote

    Pizza that's well worth the trip up north.

  • Bar

    The Rochester Hotel

    202 Johnston Street, Fitzroy

    The Rochey is not just your average local pub.

  • Restaurant


    60 Lygon Street, Brunswick East

    The team has collectively worked at Attica, Cutler & Co, The Roving Marrow and Rosetta.

  • Restaurant

    Marquis of Lorne

    411 George Street, Fitzroy

    Drink down on the street, dine at the second floor restaurant or soak up some rays on the rooftop.

  • Bar

    The Standard Hotel

    293 Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy

    The bar offers a comforting retro vibe while huge beer garden is a breezy little oasis that's well worth the search.

  • Bar

    The Everleigh

    Upstairs, 150-156 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

    Experience the hedonistic pleasures of the 1920s in Fitzroy's hidden cocktail den.

  • Bar

    Carwyn Cellars

    877 High Street, Thornbury

    This Thornbury stalwart has been sating northside thirsts for over a decade.

  • Shop

    The Fishmonger's Son

    703 Nicholson Street, Carlton North

    After the closure of a 100-year-old family seafood business, another family legacy has taken its place.

  • Shop


    110 High Street, Northcote

    Bespoke jewellery handmade with ethically sourced Australian stones at a Northcote design studio.

  • Shop

    20th Century Scandinavia

    79 Lygon Street, Brunswick East

    Across two showrooms, this family-run business imports and restores quality mid-century design pieces from Europe.

  • Pachamama Wholefoods + Kitchen - CLOSED

    74-78 Sydney Road, Brunswick

    This Brunswick grocer is now selling fresh, healthy and organic cafe fare.

  • Shop

    Mutual Muse Brunswick

    171a Sydney Road, Brunswick

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

  • Shop

    Greener House Nursery

    95 Sydney Road, Brunswick

    A community-minded store for indoor plants, pots and accessories, plus care advice, workshops and gallery nights.

  • Shop

    Henry Lee Barbershop

    145 Johnston Street, Collingwood

    A friendly community space where you can stop by for a trim, a cold beer and a chat.

  • Shop


    360-364 Smith Street, Collingwood

    Mid-century, vintage, antique and modern furniture and design from a family-run business.

  • Shop


    8 Peel Street, Collingwood

    Say goodbye to fast fashion and buy, swap and sell your preloved clothing and accessories at this Collingwood shop.

  • Bar

    The Moon

    28A Stanley Street, Collingwood

    A moody and atmospheric spot for sipping from an extensive selection of interesting wines.

  • Shop

    Spares Store

    368 Smith Street, Collingwood

    This Smith Street store has independent and limited-run labels across mens streetwear and accessories — and its own gallery space.

  • Shop

    Nicholas & Alistair

    387 Johnston Street, Abbotsford

    Step inside this Abbotsford showroom to discover high-end vintage furniture and design pieces in a gallery-like space.

  • Shop

    Habbot Shoes Studio Store

    2 Robert Street, Collingwood

    Cute and comfortable shoes designed in Melbourne and made in Italy.

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