Student’s Survival Guide to Footscray

Perfectly perched on the wrong side of the tracks, Footscray is the gateway to Melbourne’s most exciting inner suburbs and the CBD. It also has just about everything a student needs to get the job done – check it out.

What’s What and Where

Barkly Street is Footscray’s main drag. Gloriously South East Asian in tone it becomes more Sub Continental as you head out west – it becomes Hopkins St as you head east. Meanwhile, in nearby Irving Street things get distinctly African. On these streets you’ll find everything you’ll need from a feed to cleaning products, furniture and electrical goods, clothes, groceries, wigs, electric Jesus statues and more. Take a wander and get familiar.

dragon fruit little saigon resizeEat in

Footscray Market (81 Hopkins St) covers the fresh produce, meat, fish and deli side of things (great selection of coffee beans too). Not too far away, Footscray’s best-kept secret, Little Saigon (63 Nicholson St), does the same but from an Asian point of view and Bharat Traders (580 Barkly St) has everything Indian including a huge selection of Bollywood DVDs.

Eat out

Take your pick from the Vietnamese restaurants on Barkly and Hopkins St – they’re all great – cheap too. Look for African restaurants and cafes on Irving St and some ripper Indian joints West on Barkly. Head to Lentil as Anything (233 Barkly St) for vego food at a price you set.

Get Jiggy

When the night falls head to the Mona Castle (45 Austin St, Seddon) for reliable counter meals, try the LGBT-friendly Commercial (238 Whitehall St) or hit The Reverence (28 Napier St) for great tacos and cheap Mexican beer on Tuesday nights – check out the band room too.

Wanna start you own band? Head to Troy House of Music (184 Barkly St) or Davis Music Centre (27-35 Byron St) and get everything you need to rock da house.

fcac containerGamers should head for iZone (3/234 Barkly St) Internet lounge. Movie buffs must check out the Sun Theatre – great choc tops and a super bookshop too (8 Ballarat St, Yarraville). And art lovers could do worse than check out the exhibitions at Trocadero Art Space (1/119 Hopkins St) or Footscray Community Arts Centre (45 Moreland St) which also hosts the awesome St Jerome Laneway Festival.

If you’re having computer troubles – MAC or PC – see the good guys at Jedi Media (63a Victoria St).

Get Dressed

There are a host of cheap clothing shops in Footscray, but serious shoppers head to Savers (33 Albert St) for quality retro and second hand duds.

Dress the house

Find reasonably priced white goods at Betta Home Living (216 Barkly St) and head next door to Econo Furniture (228 Barkly St) if you’re looking for that budget priced sofa. Also try Savers and the Salvos (199 Barkly St) for second hand furniture.

Get Fit

Feeling flabby after all that high life? Head to the lovely Footscray Park (Cnr Ballarat and Geelong Rds) go for a stroll, run or cycle along the river. Need a bike? Check out Ted’s (265 Barkly St) Ted Whitenor Beasley Cycles (125 Buckley St, Seddon). Pump iron or make a splash at the VU Sports and Aquatic Centre (Cnr Ballarat and Geelong Rds). Box with Mischa (10/107 Whitehall St) or take a trip to the Whitten Oval (Cnr Barkly and Gordon Sts) and watch the Doggies train. Psst, when they’re not using the Oval you can have a kick there yourself.

By John Weldon
Freelance Writer
Lecturer in Creative and Professional Writing at Victoria University