Discover fascinating suburbs off the main tourist route.
After the Second World War, the Australian Government began a formal migration program that has brought more than six million migrants to Australia.
Since then, people from some 200 different countries have made Australia their home bringing with them their cuisine and traditions. Many of those immigrants have tended to congregate in certain suburbs, which in turn made those suburbs more interesting.
Together, these precincts have helped shape our major Australian cities into the unique urban landscapes they are today.
In Sydney, head to the inner city suburb of Leichhardt for a taste of Italy. It was once a working class area populated by first and second generation Italian immigrants. ‘Little Italy’, as it’s sometimes called, is centred around busy Norton Street. There are plenty of Italian cafes and restaurants here, as well as bookshops and a movie theatre. The Italian Forum is a group of Italianate buildings with balconies, upmarket fashion shops and cafes all clustered around a central piazza.
Sydney’s Chinatown is another fascinating area. Located near Town Hall in the city centre, Chinatown is focused around Dixon Street. It’s a pedestrian mall with many Chinese restaurants and grocery stores. A firm favourite for many Sydneysiders is a weekend trip to Chinatown for yum cha. Close to Chinatown is Sydney’s Spanish quarter, where you can find several Spanish-style restaurants and bars.
Melbourne has some intriguing city precincts too. Among these is the bayside suburb of St Kilda. There are more restaurants and bars here than just about anywhere else in Melbourne, and the suburb attracts a distinctly bohemian crowd. The St Kilda Esplanade, which nudges up to a beach and a historic pier, is popular by day, while the restaurant and bar strips really come alive once dusk falls.
The city has its own Chinatown too, centered on Little Bourke Street. This compact area is home to Australia’s oldest Chinese settlement, which dates back to the 1850s. It’s packed with restaurants and Chinese stores.
Just north of the city centre grid are the suburbs of Carlton and Fitzroy. Carlton is known for its Italian restaurants and cafes which cluster along Lygon Street and its large student population and parklands.
Not far from Perth’s city centre is Fremantle which boasts perhaps the best preserved example of a 19th century port streetscape in the world. Back streets reveal old dockworkers’ cottages, and warehouses converted into trendy apartments.
Major attractions include Western Australia’s earliest convict jail, as well as Fremantle Prison and the Western Australian Maritime Museum.
Also here are the iconic Fremantle Markets, where you can shop for fashion, home wares, antiques and local produce. Treat yourself to Japanese, Turkish, Indonesian, French, or Vietnamese food too.
In Hobart, the state capital of Tasmania, you can find Salamanca Place. This was once the haunt of sailors, whalers, dock-workers and convict labourers. The old Georgian warehouses here act as Hobart’s cultural hub. They are home to art galleries, theatres, cafes, craft shops and restaurants.
The Salamanca Markets take place here every Saturday. Shop alongside the locals for local organic fruit and vegetables, freshly cut flowers, and arts and crafts.
As Queensland’s state capital, Brisbane has its fair share of fascinating precincts too. The small inner-city enclave of West End is one of them. It’s a free-spirited place known for its many ethnic restaurants, cafes, and Asian grocers.
Then there’s the Fortitude Valley whish has now been gentrified. Come here for vibrant cafes, trendy fashion outlets, popular nightclubs, live music venues, renovated pubs, great restaurants, and the city’s very own Chinatown.
In South Australia, the suburb of North Adelaide is crammed with Victorian and Edwardian architecture and the streets are lined with restaurants, cafes, bistros, and six popular pubs.
Northwest of the city centre is Port Adelaide, a historic seaport which is home to some of the finest colonial buildings in the state. There are several museums here, including the National Railway Museum. This houses Australia’s largest collection of locomotive engines and rolling stock.
Australia’s capital city, Canberra, is a relaxed culturally-significant place.
As well as accommodating some of the nation’s major museums and art galleries, Canberra hosts around 80 diplomatic missions from around the world. Most of the major embassies are in the leafy suburb of Yarralumla. You can explore the area by car, or it will take around one hour to cycle the ‘Embassy Tour’ route.