Shopping Precinct: Albion, QLD

We reveal Australia’s must-visit destinations and uncover their hidden gems
John Downs

Once a strictly industrial area – home to panel-beaters, mechanics and the like – Brisbane’s Albion, set between a large park and an arm of the river just north of the CBD, has recently undergone a significant change. The Fox Street and Crosby Road precinct now hosts forward-thinking independent retailers with an emphasis on antiques and vintage wares – superbly handy for those wanting to scout a few stores over a lazy couple of hours.

Vieille Branche (Credit: John Downs)

STOP 1: Vieille Branche

When Brisbane-born Jennifer Hillhouse met Frenchman JC Lehuby, a partnership – both personal and professional – was born. Seeing a gap in the local market for French vintage and antique pieces, the couple set up shop in a large old industrial building, sourcing stock in Normandy, where JC’s family is based. Only authentic items that “tell a story” make it back to Brisbane. A delicious fit is the cafe within the store, which serves French home-style food. Vieille Branche also hosts workshops in everything from spoon carving to creating flower crowns.

Open: Mon-Fri, 7.30am-4pm; Sat, 7.30am-2pm.

Visit: 10 Fox Street, (07) 3862 1840.


Botanick (Credit: John Downs)

STOP 2: Botanick

Set in the grounds of Vieille Branche, this gardening mecca is the vision of Andrea Fitzpatrick and Sue Hillhouse, whose first goal was to turn the unused industrial lot into a living, breathing, self-sustaining oasis. “The site has no water and no power and it floods – but I figure if a plant can survive here, it can survive anywhere,” Andrea says. In the yard, you’ll find unusual and vintage pots, antique garden tools and memorabilia. Andrea also acts as a “plant whisperer”: take your struggling plants along to Botanick and she’ll try and help to resurrect them.

Open: Mon-Fri, 7.30am-4pm; Sat, 7.30am-2pm.

Visit: 10 Fox Street, 0419 685 644.

Follow: @botanickbrisbane on Instagram.

Wallrocks (Credit: John Downs)

STOP 3: Wallrocks

At Wallrocks, the materials, workmanship and beauty of the predominantly 19th-century French pieces are sure to inspire. Run by Jessica Wallrock, whose father Nick started the business 38 years ago, the store deals in genuine, exceptional antiques. “Each piece is in original condition, which helps ensure authenticity and it allows clients to customise through restoration,” Jessica says. “We then add new fabrics, gilt highlights or timber stains as requested.”

Open: Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm; Sat, 10.30am-1pm. Other times by appointment.

Visit: 21 Crosby Road, (07) 3862 2253.


Industrial Zebra (Credit: John Downs)

STOP 4: Industrial Zebra

The newest recruit to the precinct, Industrial Zebra is run by husband-and-wife team Peta and Glenn O’Brien. It’s a treasure trove of industrial-style antique and vintage bits and bobs, sourced from around Australia as well as from the UK and US. Among the goodies, you’ll also find old architectural hardware, such as door handles and Bakelite electrical switches, ideal for those undertaking sympathetic restoration projects.

Open: Tues-Sat, 9am-3pm.

Visit: 41 Crosby Road, 0417 019 147.


Fonzie Abbott (Credit: John Downs)

STOP 5: Fonzie Abbott

Dan Pappas has killer passions for coffee, travel and surf. He opened his first espresso bar in Brisbane’s Ascot, then started travelling the world surfing and sourcing the finest beans. As the business grew, Pappas moved his roasting and blending operations to this Fox Street premises and later added a cafe with a limited food menu to keep the focus on the coffee. The decor is industrial but polished, hipster but relaxed. You can also buy your favourite blend by the kilo at the outlet.

Open: Mon-Fri, 6am-3pm; Sat, 6am-1pm.

Visit: 2/45 Crosby Road (entry via Fox Street), (07) 3162 7552.



 While you’re there…

If you love grand old architecture, be sure to pop into the world-famous Breakfast Creek Hotel. Built in 1889 in French Renaissance style, the hotel sits close to the water, boasts the best steaks in the city and has a visitor list that includes Russell Crowe, Powderfinger and Mikhail Gorbachev. Other notable heritage-listed local buildings include the old Albion post office at 349 Sandgate Road and the former fire station (42 Bridge Street in nearby Wooloowin). The Eagle Farm Racecourse is a truly beautiful venue just a few minutes away. Aside from racing events, the site is also home to the Eagle Farm Markets, which are held every Sunday and are a gourmet food lover’s delight. 


For more shopping inspiration, take a look at our picks of Red Hill in Victoria, Wahroonga in NSW and Coorparoo in QLD. 


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