Johnstone Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

12 Things to do in Fitzroy, Melbourne

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Fitzroy might be the oldest of the many neighbourhoods in Melbourne, but it’s far from a quiet and reserved retirement area. Energy flows in Fitzroy – next-wave entrepreneurs’ debate over business opportunities, eclectic pubs and bars host parties, and colourful fashion fill shop windows.

Fitzroy’s past is one of bohemia and eccentricity. Though, even with the progression of gentrification in the 80s and 90s, the avant-garde culture of the 3065 endured. From vintage stores to art, Fitzroy has charm. 

A happening place, Fitzroy is right on the doorstep of the inner-city. Two miles to the southwest is Melbourne’s CBD. And with the availability of city trams, twenty minutes is all you need to get from one to the other. 

Fitzroy exists as a blend of mainstream liveability and bohemian curiosity, and this unity of ideals makes it such a popular location for locals and travellers alike. 

Here is the list of things to do in Fitzroy, Melbourne. 

Naked for Satan/Naked in the Sky

You need not look through many Fitzroy recommendations before you’re met with this establishment – a Fitzroy mainstay that has risen to city-wide acclaim. 

Fitzroy’s Brunswick Street is famous for many things, and Naked for Satan is undoubtedly one of them. What was once a casual local eatery has grown to be a magnet for out-of-towners and locals alike. This ascension is very much understandable when you’re faced with panoramic views of the Melbourne cityscape whilst sipping on any number of flavourful cocktails. 

Naked for Satan is, in fact, the name of the downstairs eatery of the establishment. Its rooftop counterpart is called Naked in the Sky – though the two are practically synonymous. 

Naked for Satan’s rise from a clandestine destination to Melbourne bar behemoth is deserved, making the Brunswick Street establishment a must-go near Fitzroy. Though you’ll be glad that, nowadays, access need not be preceded by the words ‘let’s get naked for Satan’ – Naked for Satan’s rich backstory can provide context for that; find it on their website.

Brunswick Street

Foot traffic on Brunswick Street is not all heading towards Naked for Satan. No, Brunswick Street has its allure: pre-loved corduroys, cruelty-free toiletries, and eclectic cocktails. 

Like Fitzroy as a whole, Brunswick Street has a rich history of bohemian culture. And again, mirroring Fitzroy, much of that relaxed spirit endured even with the pervasion of neighbourhood gentrification. 

Brunswick Street is the destination for vintage bargain hunting and retrofits – look no further than Hunter Gatherer or Vintage Sole.

Though, gentrification is a formidable opponent. As such, Brunswick Street is not devoid of modern boutiques and flash new eateries. 

So, regardless of if you’re on the hunt for aged goods or contemporary homeware, Brunswick Street accommodates for all. It is well worth a wander. 

The Everleigh 

It didn’t take long to return to the Fitzroy bar scene. But there’s a good reason for that. 

Gertrude Street’s The Everleigh has enjoyed two years on the ‘World’s 50 Best Bars’ list. That seems like a good enough reason to bring attention to it. 

With its classy yet relaxed vibe, The Everleigh is renowned for sitting back with an excellent cocktail and sharing good conversation. 

The Everleigh shoulders the ethos of a fine-drinking renaissance – joining an esteemed loss of global establishments that stand to focus on detail-orientated service and quality. It rightfully earns its place on this list. 

Industry Beans

Any Melbournian list cannot exist without a mention of coffee, in one form or another. With that said, enter Industry Beans. 

Like Naked for Satan, Industry Beans saw an astronomical rise in recognition and popularity – starting from their genesis storefront in Fitzroy, the establishment now has branches across mainland Australia. 

Industry Beans boasts an all-in-one setup, roasting and brewing their coffee on site. It’d be impolite not to sample the signature Fitzroy blend upon visiting. 

Brunswick Street Gallery 

As said, Fitzroy has a history steeped in the creative arts. Bohemia and expression are near synonymous.

Situated on the road with which it shares its name, the Brunswick Street Gallery or BSG exists as a haven for local and national artists to self-represent their bodies of work. Plus, with new exhibitions forever on cycle, few visits to the gallery are ever the same. 

Rose Street Artists’ Market 

Like Brunswick Street, Fitzroy’s Rose Street has made a name for itself regarding the retail opportunities it offers. Much of this reputation rests on the shoulders of the esteemed artist market that draws crowds each weekend. 

The market spotlights handmade crafts created and made by local artisans and artists. Curiosity is the name of the game here, making it an incredible spot to grab something that you cannot find anywhere else. 

The Rose Street Artists’ Market is truly the embodiment of Fitzroy’s bohemian vibe. 

Das T-Shirt Automat

Das T-Shirt Automat
Source: Sue from Das T-Shirt Automat

Perhaps one of the more fun ideas for a Melbournian souvenir – pay a visit to this quick-turnaround printing establishment. Select from many products – t-shirts, hoodies, bags, mugs, and even baby onesies – and get your distinctive design printed onto it.  According to the staff, Das T-Shirt Automat started accidentally. Fortunately, it’s been able to keep doing what it does best thanks to the locals’ support and enthusiasm in making their own fun t-shirts.

With same-day printing, you can be wearing your Fitzroy souvenir within an hour. 

Smith & Deli 

In keeping with Fitzroy’s free-thinking character, Moor Street’s Smith & Deli exists to expand the food culture of plant-based eating. In service of battling vegan misnomers, the eatery’s ethos centres around the idea of convenience – offering a spectrum of sustenance from pre-prepared to make-your-own provisions. 

Know that your taste buds will be in safe hands, with the establishment’s head chef – Shannon Martinez – being the recipient of numerous culinary awards. 

The Night Cat

The Night Cat
Source: Management at The Night Cat

Fitzroy’s art culture spills into the neighbourhood’s love for music and performance. The Night Cat on Johnston Street is a vessel for that expression. 

Boasting a 360-degree performance area – where the crowd encases the band or artist in question – The Night Cat offers an immersive night of funk, soul, R&B, jazz, or whatever other genre is playing that particular night. 

The Night Cat is an institution in itself, the launching pad for many successful Australian enterprises. Its success and reputation are self-explanatory.

From the Management

What is The Night Cat most known for?

Probably the thing we are known most for is our Sunday night Domingo Latino shows. This starts with Salsa classes and then an authentic Latin band that plays every Sunday on a rotating roster. These nights have been going for years and celebrate the breadth of diversity in our music community. Celebrating music and talented artists, giving them a platform to share their prowess is what The Night Cat is all about.

What are some memborable acts that have played at The Night Cat?

Some memorable acts include The Cat Empire, The Bamboos, 30/70 and Alysha Joy, Zeitgeist freedom Energy Exchange, Dubfx, Honey, The Senegambian Jazz band, Vaudeville Smash, Incognito, Cactus Channel, Mansionair, Shigetto, Sampa The Great, Digital Africa, Melbourne Ska Orchestra, Mildlife, PP Arnold, SunRa Orkestra, Htrk, Amyl and The Sniffers, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Disco Faith Choir, Lonnie Liston Smith, Kylie Auldist, Osaka Monaurail, The Pharcyde, Mulatu Astatke, floating points, Gold Haus, Teskey Brothers, John Cleary, Kingswood, Dead Prez, DJ Jazzy Jeff.

Management at The Night Cat

Vau d’vile 

Vau d'vile Vixens - Divas Show
Source: Richard at Vau d’vile

Maintaining the performance course, we come across Vau d’vile, one of Fitzroy’s premier drag establishments.

Fitzroy hosts one of Melbourne’s thriving LGBTQIA+ communities, making it a no-brainer location for some weekend enjoyment. Be sure to check out the Vau d’vile Vixen Diva’s show where all of your favourite Diva’s are live on stage.

Owner Richard Taki also recommends Bingo a la Vau night with prizes to be won.

Bingo a la Vau been a hilarious night at Vau d’vile, every Thursday night with our beautiful Drag Queens, a very popular night every week in Fitzroy with funtabulous prizes including a dinner for 2 on Friday night to the Vau d’vile Vixen show on offer each week.”

Richard Taki / Bumpa Love, Owner atVau d’vile

 Book in for a weekend Vixen Show and be immersed in the world of drag cabaret. 

Centre for Contemporary Photography

Another example of Fitzroy’s intimate relationship with the creative world is the Centre of Contemporary Photography on George Street. The not-for-profit exhibition space promotes and showcases a range of established and rising artists, providing an enthralling alternative to the galleries of other art forms in Fitzroy. 

With five exhibition spaces highlighting pioneering styles within modern photography – the CCP carries a celebrated legacy of championing photographic art. 

Street Art

Creative expression has been a running theme of this list, and its culmination does not stray from that notion. 

Melbourne as a whole is famous for its offering of world-class street art and public murals. The brickwork of Fitzroy’s back alleys and side avenues plays host to some of these incredible pieces of creative ingenuity. 

See Cecil Street for the form-defining piece, Fitzroy Faces – a homage to members of the Fitzroy community. 

Visit the intersection of Fitzroy and Johnston Street for viewing of a mural that begs attention. The mural of an Indigenous Australian boy that dons the walls here is nothing short of astounding. 

With a fear of being too brief, Johnston Street also holds a piece by one of the world’s most iconic artists – Keith Haring. 

Final Thoughts 

Self-expression and imagination are ever-present in Fitzroy. Walking the 3065’s streets will leave you inspired, whether at the hands of local artisans that showcase wares at the Rose Street Artists’ Market or when standing in awe of the street murals that have become synonymous with Melbournian culture. 

Fitzroy’s energy is undeniable. The neighbourhood’s history transcends the pressures of modern gentrification is heart-warming. 

For rooftop merriment, seek Naked for Satan/Naked in the Sky. For retro bargains, Brunswick Street is your answer. Coffee? Industry Beans has you covered. 

There is no shortage of interest in Fitzroy, one of Melbourne’s most happening neighbourhoods.

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