Precinct: Rathdowne Village, Vic

We visit Australia’s must-visit shopping destinations and their hidden gems
Annette O'Brien

With a swathe of trees set against a picturesque backdrop of converted terraces, it’s hard to believe Rathdowne Village is a few minutes’ drive from Melbourne’s CBD. Tucked away between Lygon Street and Nicholson Street in Carlton North, this quaint little hub is home to a bounty of artisanal cafes,restaurants and inspiring independent stores.


STOP 1 | The Lab Organics

Filled to the brim with delectable beauty products from both established and emerging natural and organic brands, The Lab Organics has garnered a raft of supporters since it opened its doors in 2011. The light, bright and calm space echoes the store’s mission to source and stock only luxurious products that deliver on its promise of environmentally friendly and sustainable ingredients. It stocks an array of beauty editors’ favourites as well as many Australian-made finds, including Karen Murrell lipsticks and Jacqueline Evans skincare. You’ll be hard pressed to leave empty-handed.

Must-haves: May Lindstrom Skin The Blue Cocoon beauty balm, $204/50ml; The Essential olive oil soap and organic cotton washer, $22.95.

Open: Mon-Sun, 10am-6pm.

Visit: 360 Rathdowne St, (03) 9347 8871.


(Credit: Annette O’Brien)

STOP 2 | Feathered Arbour

Sophie Croft and Julie Markovic have a knack for knowing what looks good. With a keen focus on Australian design, their lifestyle store Feathered Arbour is a treasure-trove of inviting homewares, unique gifts for big and little people and a bona fide experience for the senses. “There’s lots to see, beautiful smells and music to transport our customers as they wander through the store,” says Julie. Underpinning their ethos to choose products that “make you smile and tell a story”, the pair stock an alluring assortment of goods, ranging from original, locally produced works of art by Antoinette Ferwerda to Rachel Castle cushions. They also offer interior design and gift registry services.

Must-haves: Society Of Wanderers bedlinen, from $89.95; Ashley & Co candle, $60.

Open: Tues-Sat, 10am-5pm; Sun, 11am-4pm.

Visit: 430 Rathdowne St, (03) 9347 4430.



(Credit: Annette O’Brien)

STOP 3 | North Cafeteria

With a penchant for minimalist decor, the food at North Cafeteria is far from that. Renowned among the local folk for its simple yet consistently tasty favourites and brilliant coffee, this established haunt is often a bustling hive of activity. If you’re lucky enough to be seated straight away, don’t waste any time tucking in to classics like poached eggs, French toast or corn fritters – and you can be sure they’ll all be served up with a keen eye for detail, something that this hidden gem is known for. Breakfast and lunch are available all day, too.

Must-haves: Champion’s Breakfast – boiled egg, soldiers and homemade relish, $12.50; goats’ cheese bagel with poached egg, asparagus, roasted capsicum and roquette, $16.50.

Open: Mon-Fri, 7.30am-3.30pm; Sat, 7.30am-4.30pm; Sun, 8.30am-4.30pm.

Visit: 717 Rathdowne St, (03) 9348 1276.


(Credit: Annette O’Brien)

STOP 4 | Katie Hosking

After launching her eponymous fashion label in 2007, owner Katie Hosking now showcases her timeless Australian-made designs alongside a hand-picked selection of lifestyle and fashion wares in her artfully curated store. The result is an inviting and thoughtful assortment of pieces from cult brands Ivy Lee and James Jeans, as well as locally made offerings like Saide’s hand-poured candles. “Many of our customers stop by to stock up on favourites, or even just to have a chat,” says Katie.

Must-haves: Ziporah ‘Fidelis’ handtowel, $39, and towel, $99; Saide large soy candle in Peony Blush, $45.

Open: Mon-Thurs, 10am-5pm; Fri-Sat, 10am-5.30pm; Sun, 10.30am-4pm.

Visit: 633A Rathdowne St, (03) 9349 3936.


(Credit: Annette O’Brien)

STOP 5 | Belki

A longstanding hit within the local community, Belki is an eclectic store that offers a refreshing assortment of gifts and homewares for the discerning customer. Over the past 16 years, owner Tania Karabay highlights her passionate focus on “products with integrity”. Many are sourced from small local makers, with a caring appreciation for the materials from which they are crafted. Together with beautiful leatherwares from Bisonte of Melbourne, ceramics from Bison Home and, from further afield, sweet, handcrafted woodworks from T Lab of Japan, this store offers a wonderful selection of gifts – for friends and for yourself!

Must-haves: Studio Arhoj ceramics, from $35.

Open: Mon-Thu, 9.30am-5.30pm; Fri, 9.30am-6.30pm; and Sat-Sun, 10am-5.30pm.

Visit: 631 Rathdowne St, (03) 9349 1051.


(Credit: Annette O’Brien)

While you’re there… Definitely worth a visit is Alice’s Bookshop at 629 Rathdowne Street (, (03) 9347 4656), a second-hand store that has been buying and selling books since 1986. Open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm and Sunday from 11am to 5pm, it is stacked to the hilt with more than 18,000 books. There’s a strong emphasis on the arts, history, psychology and gardening, as well as a plethora of titles for kids. With a fine collection of first edition, signed and antiquarian books, this well-known haunt welcomes browsers, thinkers, readers and dreamers, and is the spot to while away the afternoon. And if you need a quick coffee and a bite to eat, stop by Rathdowne Village Delicatessen for a veritable feast of breads, cheeses and traditional deli fare, presented in a modern, welcoming way. It’s at 378 Rathdowne Street (, (03) 9347 4181).

Related stories