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Shopping and street art in Melbourne

In Melbourne’s Central Business District, shops are interspersed with alleyways full of coffee-brewing cafés and colourful street art. Exploring the city’s best shops and street art is not only a unique treat for tourists but also a chance to learn about Melbourne’s history and heritage. Award-winning travel blogger Jayne Gorman walks us through the best places to find shopping and street art in Melbourne.

A good place to begin your exploration of the best of Melbourne’s shops is the Bourke Street Mall. Bourke Street Mall is Melbourne’s main outdoor shopping stretch. The area between Swanston and Elizabeth streets is only open to trams and pedestrians, enabling you to pop in and out of stores without dodging traffic. Here you will find Australia’s well-known department stores - David Jones and Myer - as well as Melbourne’s GPO. Formerly a post office this elegant building now houses a range a high-end designer stores including Gorman (which I am a fan of for personal reasons!)

Once you have finished browsing the fashion in Bourke Street head down Union Lane to browse some of the city’s brightest street art. The constantly changing graffiti in this alleyway makes the passage feel like an open-air museum. A similar effect has been created in Chinatown’s Croft Alley where the Croft Alley Project has been introduced to celebrate, showcase and sometimes sell the artists’ work.

In contrast to this modern art The Block Arcade, an opulent 19th Century shopping arcade linking Collins and Little Collins Streets, offers the chance to reflect on Melbourne’s rich history. The arcade’s glass domed roof and mosaic floor are a tribute to the Galleria Vittoria in Milan, on which the Arcade was modelled. Points of interest inside the Arcade include the Hopetoun Tea Rooms, which were established in 1892 but still produce drool-worthy cakes today.

Another of Melbourne’s unique arcades is a little harder to find. Campbell Arcade lies hidden underneath the road and links Flinders Station with Degraves Street. This subway hosts an eclectic range of retail stores, the acclaimed coffee of Cup Of Truth and various art installations. Look out for the vintage clothes at Subject to Change and take some time to browse Sticky Institute, a non-profit arts space dedicated to Australian and international zine culture. At the nearby Nicholas Building you can also get your fill of retro clothes at Retro Star, purportedly the largest vintage clothes warehouse in Australia. The Nicholas Building itself heralds from the 1920’s and has heaps of historical charm, as well as a rather unusual vintage haberdashery on the second floor. Degraves Street is a hotbed of street art and pavement cafes that line the pedestrianized area and the nearby Hosiers Lane is another alley of creative graffiti.

Leaving the Central Business District (CBD) there is one last area I recommend you visit for a combination of shopping, street art and historical significance. The Queen Victoria Market is a Melbourne institution dating back to 1878. In the heart of the market you will find a mix of fruit, vegetables and household goods but it is the buildings around the edge that hold the most interest. Look out for old storage containers turned into coffee shops and gift store Melbournalia – full to the brim with quirky souvenirs representing the unique shopping and street art found in this city.

Jayne is an award-winning travel blogger and social media specialist on a mission to blog 40 countries before turning 30. Find her on twitter (a lot) @jayneytravels and on Facebook (often) at 40before30


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Written by Jayne Gorman

Jayne is a latte-loving travel and lifestyle blogger who has travelled to more than 60 countries and spent the last 10 years writing about it.  She’s called London, Sydney, Melbourne and (very briefly) New York home – but don’t ask her to rank them. Often found brunching or scoping out boutique hotels – now with a mini explorer in tow.

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