Spend a day in Yarraville and discover why people from this charming suburb are immensely proud of the fact they live in one of Melbourne’s nicest locales.
Yarraville is a poster child for the changing face of Melbourne’s west. It has a long working-class history, but in recent years the suburb’s proximity to the city centre has been discovered – it’s just six kilometres away, on par with St Kilda and Kew – resulting in skyrocketing real estate prices and an influx of classy and cool residents.
One of the ironies of this changing demographic is that the most well-known Yarraville attraction, the Sun Theatre, is steeped in history. An Art Deco cinema that originally opened as a single, 1,050-capacity theatre in 1938, it now houses eight boutique theatres ranging from 200 seats down to 23 couches. It’s the perfect destination for catching arthouse films (although they screen their fair share of Hollywood blockbusters).
The area around the intersection of Ballarat and Anderson Streets is where the food action happens in Yarraville; the exceptional coffee and mouth-watering cakes at The Naked Egg pull crowds from breakfast till night on weekends and weekdays alike (except Monday), and Heal.thy Self Co. serves up plant-based, organic and sustainable breakfast, lunch and smoothies for health-conscious visitors and locals.
For something a little more refined, Vault Yarraville – on the southern tip of the pedestrianised strip of Ballarat Street – pairs its food and wine lists with a rotating calendar of acoustic music and open mic comedy nights. And for a slice of history, the Railway Hotel has been pouring beer for more than 80 years. Take a seat in the dining room or sip your way through the cocktail list on the rooftop. Add an exotic element to your time in Yarraville with dinner at Yim Yam Thai Laos. Also in Ascot Vale and formerly in Collingwood and Moonee Ponds, Yim Yam’s homemade chive dumplings are worth the visit to Yarraville all by themselves.
Yarraville is also a hotspot for the latest fashion trends. Angelica draws women looking for effortlessly cool clothes and shoes, from all over Melbourne, and Green Collective combines the best elements of second-hand shopping – low prices on retro threads and homewares – with ethically-sourced new products and enviable customer service. For the kids, Chalk stocks toys for babies, toddlers and young’uns, as well as an excellent range of scooters and accessories. It’s also the go-to spot for mums looking for shoes and sandals for the little feet in their lives.
For some fresh air and the chance to clear your head, drive or take the route 409 bus from Fehon Street (a block to the west of Yarraville Station) to Yarraville Gardens. Mature trees line the footpaths, barbecues and picnic tables are scattered across the park ready for you to take advantage of, and there are regularly families and groups of friends enjoying the oasis of green in the bustling inner west. You’re also likely to spy a food truck or two along its perimeter.
Despite its reputation as a fashionable suburb, Yarraville also offers an amazing perspective of one of Melbourne’s most notorious – and unfashionable – icons, the West Gate Bridge. Stroll through Stony Creek Backwash Reserve and Stony Creek Park to look up at the bridge and marvel at the impressive structure. A pedestrian/bike path meanders through the parkland, and you will spy a surprising amount of native birdlife; keep an eye out for Great Egrets, Royal Spoonbill and the royal Black Swans, who call the mudflats and mangroves – yes, mangroves – home. Despite the thousands of vehicles whizzing overhead, it’s Yarraville’s most peaceful secret.