As a cultural hotspot in Melbourne’s West, the suburb of Footscray is eclectic and vibrant. What was once an industrial area, thanks to its recent regeneration Footscray is fast joining the ranks of suburbs like Fitzroy and Collingwood with an emerging reputation as alternative, artsy, and downright cool.
Footscray’s diverse community and its rich migrant history contributes to the area’s upbeat community spirit and provides the basis for Footscray’s unique dining scene. In addition to a range of ‘Insta-worthy’ cafés, the local eateries offer various international options, ranging from authentic Vietnamese fare, modern American barbeque and traditional Ethiopian feasts. The ingredients are most likely sourced from Footscray’s large, fresh food markets known for their affordable produce and exotic items – think lotus flowers and cassava roots. Plans are currently in the works for The Little Saigon Market to undergo a $5.4 million redevelopment following the fire that closed the local institution in 2016.
Apart from offering some of the best pho in Melbourne, Footscray is home to the flagship 8-bit burger outlet that serves up juicy, brioche bun burgers to lines of devout customers. Yet, Footscray’s old-school appeal still prevails through long-standing establishments such as T. Cavallaro & Sons’ pasticceria. Opening in 1956, the family business has cultivated a reputation for their traditional Sicilian cannoli – a perfectly flaking pastry that is filled with rich ricotta or chocolate custard and finished with a light dusting of icing sugar. The rich tapestry of cuisines makes Footscray an epicurean delight and Melbourne’s ultimate food destination.
Deemed ‘The Festival City’, Footscray annually hosts the St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival, which sprawls across the banks of the Maribyrnong River and features world-class music artists. Melbournians flock from all corners of the city for the chance to see artists like Flume, Lorde, and Tame Impala, while revelling in the underground arts scene. To meet the increasing demand for cultural pursuits, a new Sun Theatre venue is set to open in 2019 on Albert Street. Art house and local films will be screened alongside Hollywood blockbusters in the 8-screen complex. Before the new cinema opens, pop-up rooftop sessions will run throughout the warmer months.
Ideally positioned within the metropolitan inner-ring, Footscray’s proximity to the CBD is proving to be attractive to young professionals and families who seek convenience without the intense bustle of city living. The transport network serves locals well – the Footscray Train Station underwent a significant upgrade in 2014 and has become a major transport link to Regional Victoria. Southern Cross Station in Melbourne’s CBD is now only a nine-minute journey via the train line. Footscray’s liveability and accessibility will only improve with time as it transforms into a progressive, urban hub.
City planners are cognisant of the growing appeal of Footscray and aim to match the influx of residents with improved amenity and architecturally impressive developments. Yet, Footscray remains relatively affordable as it undergoes a dynamic regeneration process. The streetscape is balanced against one of the last remaining examples of a true Edwardian-style garden – Footscray Park spans over 15 hectares with valley views offering a refreshing combination of urban and rural vistas, a lifestyle affordance that is rare with metro living.
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