Collingwood football supporters are not the most popular people when it comes to AFL, such is their reputation for behaviour that borders on feral.*
Living in the inner-city suburb on the other hand, is considered undeniably cool.**
(*The writer is a Collingwood supporter. **The writer lives in the neighbouring suburb of Abbotsford.)
And while residents are privy to the artisan shops, cafés, breweries and bars that have found a home amid the brick warehouses and industrial architecture, visitors will likely need a helping hand finding them. Here are six reasons to discover these hidden treasures.
Coffee and Cafés
Like all Melbourne suburbs, coffee shops and cafés can be found on every corner—literally in many places. But have you ever heard of a black coffee (only) bar? Aunty Peg’s is the first of its kind in the world. Those who really appreciate the caffeine bean will understand this place’s purist milk-free dedication, from the backroom piled with hessian bags stamped with the names of South America’s best coffee plantations and the uber-expensive German coffee roasters, to a barista bar with built-in coffee scales and home-purified water.
Those who still prefer creamy lattes can head around the corner to sister café Proud Mary in a cosy corner locale chockers with lap-toppers, or to Arno, an impossibly small three-table café that mingles cool tunes with Italian natter.
On a bigger scale, coffee roaster AllPress Espresso has big wooden share tables and floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook an immaculate distribution warehouse.
The 360-degree open fireplaces make ideal companions for beer drinking in winter and Stomping Ground Brewing Co has three. This craft brewery and beer hall has taken over an old warehouse allowing masses of space for a pizza kitchen with a wood fire oven, central bar with 24 beers on tap, bench tables and a substantial indoor cubby for kids to get lost in.
Smaller but no less appealing is The Mill Brewery, a gleaming new place where shiny kegs rub up against red gum tables. Craft enthusiasts can choose from three or four tap beers and a tap cider, and there’s a wine list for mugging up on Victorian varietals.
Newcomer bar Paradise Alley champions natural wines and craft beers which can be imbibed in a narrow courtyard space and a huge co-opted interior warehouse that includes Casati Deli’s start-up microbrewery.
Boutiques and Design
Smith Street, the hipster haven that divides—or joins—Fitzroy and Collingwood boasts good book shops like Happy Valley and artisan jewellers like Bini Gallery, but the back streets hold their own in eclectic cool too.
The History is worth a peek for its vintage and antique furniture collection featuring mid-century chairs and artwork by Roy B. Wilkins and Carolyn O’Neill.
Alex Earl is a design store waving the ‘made in Melbourne’ flag with pendant and pod lights, furniture and beautifully detailed sound systems.
Down the road, Clingan Guitar has bespoke guitars and one-off amps.
Collingwood’s rag trade is still alive with wholesalers, but factory outlets exist too. Most are on Smith Street (Adidas, Kathmandu, Linen House and Brands United) but quality back street finds include Pure Baby for organic cotton onesies and yoga outfitter lululemon athletica where sale prices are almost half those in-store.
For The Greater Good
Speaking of yoga and all things Zen, Collingwood’s spankingly new meditation studio A-space has regular 30-minute drop-in meditation classes with themes including ‘be vibrant’ and ‘be connected.’
Follow a session with an outing to social enterprise STREAT, which supports youth homelessness and disadvantage. The 80-seat café is housed in a beautifully restored 1860’s manor and has an in-house coffee roaster and artisan bakery overlooking a rambling courtyard and pot garden.
One of the suburb’s most prized attractions, Collingwood Children’s Farm, is actually in the neighbouring suburb of Abbotsford, but it’s worth crossing Hoddle Street to explore this wholesomely rural plot on the bank of the Yarra River. Milk a cow, hold a guinea pig and walk among the pigs and goats.
While you’re in the neighbourhood, next door’s Abbotsford Convent has been converted into a hub of art galleries, studios and eateries.