#1: Neighbourhood – Chippendale, New South Wales The inner-city hub of Chippendale in Sydney has come a long way since its days as an overcrowded slum in the 19th century, jammed with tightly packed houses and the stench of nearby abattoirs. Hell, it’s come a long way since it was a semi-industrial hub for the likes of the rag trade, when the giant Carlton and United Brewery (originally Tooths) was still producing beer here in the late 20th century, a place of bustling activity during the day and a no-go zone at night. Now it is a much sought-after address, its old warehouses filled with art galleries (check out the renowned White Rabbit Gallery on Balfour Street for contemporary Chinese art), creative agencies and eateries (try the myriad offerings along Kensington Street), and its skyline dominated by the masterful Jean Nouvel-designed One Central Park, a 33-storey vertical garden of some 30,000 shrubs and 70,000 plants. In fact, the only thing jam-packed into Chippendale these days are diners enjoying the Asian hawker fare on Spice Alley and bright young things sipping drinks at the revitalised Old Clare Hotel.
#2: Neighbourhood – Carlton, Victoria The backstory of Carlton is writ large on its main, and most famous, thoroughfare of Lygon Street, where a profusion of cafes, eateries and delis trumpet its origins as a Melbourne neighbourhood settled by Italians and other migrants from post-war Europe in the middle of last century, who set up the kind of communal cafes they left behind. And hey presto, Australian cafe culture was born. But robust, flavoursome caffeine brews are not the only thing Carlton has going for it. For nature lovers, culture vultures and architecture wonks, the expansive Carlton Gardens are the ultimate drawcard, home to the compelling Melbourne Museum, the glorious World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building, completed in 1880 to house the Melbourne International Exhibition, as well as 26-hectares of lush Victorian landscape gardens complete with fountains, lakes and, come spring, achingly beautiful swathes of blooms. Bellisimo!
#3: Neighbourhood – Prahran, Victoria Ground zero for all that is good about Melbourne, from a thriving social scene to card-melting shopping to charming inner-city parks, the best way to experience Prahran is to immerse yourself and live like a local. Step one: Even the most cursory glance at Airbnb presents a roster of accommodation for rent that defines the vibe of this part of the city (including neighbouring St Kilda), from pretty Art Deco apartments to sleek new high rises with sexy rooftoop swimming pools. Step two: Find a cafe that you like the look of and cultivate a ‘I come here all the time’ air of confidence: try Fourth Chapter for light and airy, Piccolo Espresso with its resident DJ, or Hobba for quality beans. Step three: Head to Prahran Markets to buy up big from the passionate traders plying their trade here, from wild mushroom specialist Damian Pike to the family-run Cleo’s Deli to cheesemaker Anthony Femia, and head ‘home’ to cook up a storm. Step four: Put your glad rags on and head out after dark to sample the night life: White Oaks Saloon, The Flying Duck Hotel and Pawn & Co. all rate with locals.
#4: Neighbourhood – Braddon, Canberra “While still keeping elements of its industrial roots, the Canberra suburb of Braddon has grown into an art and design hub almost by accident rather than by plan. There is a beautiful organic growth here that you don’t get through traditional planning, a creative undercurrent that has resulted in the area becoming an incubator for design and epicure. For me it’s all about the laid-back sensibility and the wonderful sense of community.” - Designer and proud Canberran, Brian Tunks
#5: Neighbourhood – Surry Hills, New South Wales “Sydney’s Surry Hills presents a constant temptation to eat, drink and spend far too much," says Australian Traveller editorial director Leigh-Ann Pow. "When it comes to coffee, my favourite places are Three Williams on Elizabeth Street (you can often spot members of the South Sydney Rabbitohs there after training at nearby Redfern Oval), Bills on Crown Street, and the original Bourke Street Bakery. I love to shop at the regular sales at Extinct, Dinosaur Designs’ samples and seconds shop (Elizabeth Street), and browse the lovely stationery at Paper2 (Crown Street). And when I don’t want to spend a cent, I stroll the maze of streets off Albion Street admiring the eclectic mix of architecture that characterises the area.”
#6: Neighbourhood – Leederville, Western Australia This Perth suburb is small but it packs a serious punch when it comes to eating, drinking and making merry. The main drag of Oxford Street, and the offshoot of Newcastle Street, present cafe after restaurant after bar after concept store as you walk their length, offering up everything from South American-influenced drinks (The Blue Flamingo) to serious coffee (Pixel Coffee Brewers) to tapas (The Meatball Bar, Pinchos and Duende) to vinyl (Black Records and Urban Records). In fact, the precinct’s eclectic mix of food and drink, its close proximity to the CBD (it’s less than four kilometres or an easy 10-minute drive), and its friendly disposition might just make this the ultimate hood in which to hang out in.
#7: Neighbourhood – Fortitude Valley, Queensland “There is so much to love about the Valley. Here you will find people from all walks of life, a burgeoning cafe scene, premier retail precincts like James Street and Emporium, late night feeds and fascinating street art, all within a stone’s throw of the CBD, river and major transport hubs.” So says the team at Tryp, the funky street-art hotel in the thick of the action of this Brisbane neighbourhood. “Fortitude Valley also has some of the best nightlife, with everything from dive bars (RG’s, Ric’s) to whiskey joints (Savile Row), jazz clubs (Press Club), live rock (Zoo, Greaser), premier nightclubs (Family, The Met), quirky bars (Viscosity, Heya), beer gardens (Pig ‘N’ Whistle, The Elephant), rooftop bars (UP on Constance, Eleven) and everything in between.”
#8: Neighbourhood – Hindmarsh, South Australia When it comes to ahead-of-the-curve indicators that a neighbourhood is about to be huge, craft brewers and food trucks are definitely worth paying attention to. Which is why there is a big buzz around the Adelaide suburb of Hindmarsh. It has its own brewery, Pirate Life Brewing, run by a collection of bearded and baseball-capped boys who have made it their mission to produce quality, full-flavoured beer that they are now supplying to a long list of Adelaide drinking institutions; and Hindmarsh Square is a regular gathering place for food trucks (and hungry customers), selling everything from burgers to hotdogs to churros out of caravans and through hatches. Also here is Holden Street Theatres: a funky hidden gem of a spot that showcases world-class independent theatre productions within converted church buildings. “Hindmarsh (and neighbouring Thebarton) are still pretty rough around the edges, but they are emerging areas for sure,” one Adelaide local told us. Early adopters might need to get in there fast.
#9: Neighbourhood – Battery Point, Tasmania With a fascinating history and picturesque streetscape, this inner-city Hobart neighbourhood is best discovered by foot. Start at Salamanca Place, heading up Kelly’s Steps and along to Hampden Road to the Narryna Heritage Museum, which is well worth a look. On the corner of De Witt Street, Invercoe is a sandstone home built in 1883, and around the corner on Cromwell Street, St George’s Anglican Church, built in 1838, marks the highest spot in Battery Point. Along nearby Waterloo Street historic houses like Harriet House and Fusilier’s Cottage are easy to find, before heading back to Hampden Road and onto Arthur Circus, the circle of pretty cottages that is a hallmark of the neighbourhood.
#10: Neighbourhood – Barangaroo, New South Wales “What I love about Barangaroo is that it has a real urban village feel to it,” says Somer Sivrioglu, executive chef of Anason, one of the first restaurants to take up residence in the newly minted Sydney CBD precinct: a considered collection of restaurants, bars and shopping that is proving a huge drawcard to weekday workers in the surrounding office blocks and weekend revellers. “My barber is there, I can shop in good quality little shops, no big names. The food is amazing, there’s good coffee and, I think, the best ice-cream shop in Sydney (RivaReno Gelato Barangaroo),” he continues. “I think Sydney lacks waterfront venues that are for the locals and for local tourists; this is the best choice in town to take friends and visitors.” No wonder Somer’s been referred to as the unofficial Mayor of Barangaroo; it’s definitely got our vote now.