In the Victorian capital, Hawthorn is synonymous with its football team, but this suburb has something to appeal to everyone.
There are many reasons Melburnians are attracted to Hawthorn. It’s one of the city’s most affluent suburbs, and has been since the days of Victoria’s gold rush — evidence of those heady days is still evident in the grand architecture that remains. But as well as well-heeled families, the suburb is also home to many students who study at Swinburne University. The mix of residents means there’s a huge range of restaurants, shops and things to do within its boundaries.
Start your exploration of the suburb at Short Straw, a designer brunch spot tucked away from the hustle of Glenferrie Road down Mary Street. You might have trouble choosing what to order, since the choices include Stacks On Waffles (saffron and caramelised banana waffles injected with wild strawberry coulis) and Sweet Beet Vegan Panna Cotta (coconut and beetroot panna cotta with poached rhubarb and dehydrated fruit).
In the heart of Auburn Village, you’ll discover Hello Sailor. Again, the breakfast choices are many, and there’s a menu for kids. When the sun’s out, a spot on the deck at Crabapple Kitchen is just the ticket. This homey spot serves breakfast and lunch every day, and also offers Friday Night Flights — a set menu featuring the cuisine of a different region in the world.
There’s much to see and do throughout Hawthorn. Take the kids for swimming lessons or do a few laps yourself in the pools at the Hawthorn Aquatic and Recreation Centre. Set within the beautifully restored Hawthorn Arts Centre, the Town Hall Gallery has three spaces showing contemporary works of art. If historic design appeals, the Villa Alba Museum is housed an 1882 Italianate mansion that was decorated with huge murals and the finest furnishings. It is being restored to its original form and is open on the first Sunday afternoon of each month.
Another historic building has been transformed in the suburb’s east. Village Cinemas Rivoli was originally built in 1940 in the Art Moderne style. The building underwent a multimillion dollar restoration in 2000 and still boasts the stunning facade. Its multiple screens show contemporary and arthouse movies, and there’s a rooftop bar with local views.
Shopping in Hawthorn is concentrated on Glenferrie Road. Rose Street Trading Co offers a luxurious selection of fashion, homewares, accessories and gifts. For established and emerging fashion designers, head to Hokey Curator. If you’re seeking a signature fragrance, try Peony Haute Parfumerie. Some of the world’s most exquisite perfumes, including ranges from Penhaligon’s and Santa Maria Novella, can be found here.
Hawthorn also delivers after dark. Small Patch Wine Store stocks a select range of microbrews, craft beers, spirits and boutique wines. While it operates as a bottle shop, you can also choose something, pair it with cheese, olives and chips, and drink it in the cosy bar. For a Spanish flavour, head to Tinto. Operated by the Triado family, whose roots are in Catalonia, it offers Spanish wines and cocktails, as well as tapas and raciones (small plates). With its exposed brick walls, Nevermind Bar is a casual spot where you can sip on a cold beer or a decent glass of wine, play pool and order cheesesteaks and fried chicken.