A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published May 30th 2014
Gertrude Street: the name conjures up visions of another era, sort of like a great grandparent who has long since left this earth. That is appropriate, really, because Gertrude Street, Fitzroy was certainly named in another era. To be more precise, it was created in the 1840s, by the two Captains who were the landowners at the time: Brunswick Smythe and Benjamin Baxter. As you might guess if you know the area, neighbouring Brunswick Street gained its name from Captain Smythe. 'Gertrude' was the name of Smythe's daughter. Gertrude Street is historically significant to Melbourne in that it is the location of Melbourne's oldest surviving terrace houses.
I haven't spent much time in Gertrude Street recently, but I was in the area the other day and found myself asking, 'what's happened to the old (and may I say slightly seedy) Gertrude Street'? It's become all cool and hip, and features some fascinating and inviting shops. One could say it's become 'gentrified'. Not that I'm complaining, it's a great place to visit.
And it's not just the shops, there are some really good restaurants. I recently visited (and recommend) Belle's Diner. The Builders Arms Hotel is now looking very swish and modern. But there are many other options as well, so if you head there for a shopping trip, there will be no problem finding a place for a coffee. There are also multiple very interesting looking clothes shops, and a toy shop with seemingly every comic book superhero or figurine imaginable.
Here are a few of the shops I saw that I think are way cool.
Manufacturing jeweller William Llewellyn Griffiths has had his shop at 122A Gertrude Street for 8 years. He has an amazing selection of handmade jewellery, accessories and art works. All pieces are made on site. His pieces have a strong, bold, independent style.
Master Jeweller William Llewellyn Griffiths
There is also a very chilled out resident cat called Prince!
It's all go for Prince the cat
You can visit Metal Couture Jewellery from 11am - 6pm Tuesday to Saturday. If it's difficult to get there in person, you can view and buy the interesting range online.
Aunt Maggie's is an organic food success story, with four Aunt Maggie's stores now operating in Melbourne. The Aunt Maggie's store located at 188 Gertrude Street attracted my attention because it was promoting a 'kale sale' - and that made me smile. Kale seems to be THE popular vegetable at the moment!
But Aunt Maggie's offers a lot more than kale. There's an extensive range of organic goods, both fresh and packaged, including fruit, vegetables, meat, wine, beer, bread and make-up.
Inside Aunt Maggie's (looking out into Gertrude Street)
Aunt Maggie's is open from 9am - 7pm Monday - Friday, 9am - 6pm Saturday and 10am - 5pm on Sunday.
Tarlo and Graham is a fascinating store, full of antiques and collectible items. I saw items as diverse as stuffed animal heads (zebra, moose, impala), old dental tools, and a collection of hand beaters. There were also old theatre chairs and surgical lamps. It truly felt like a place where you could find anything!
An impressive collection of hand beaters
Tarlo and Graham is located at 202 Gertrude Street (they also have a store at 60 Chapel Street, Windsor). The Gertrude Street store is open: Mon - Fri : 11am - 6pm, Sat : 10am - 5pm, and Sun : 11am - 4pm.
Hands up if you like Tarlo and Graham?
These are a few of my favourite Gertrude Street haunts - what are yours?