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Australia’s Capital City Secrets

Australia’s Capital City Secrets

Everyone knows about Melbourne’s laneway culture, Sydney’s Opera House or Hobart’s Salamanca precinct. But what about the “secret” spots – from secluded beaches to cool cafes and bars – that locals like to keep to themselves? We’ve canvassed a bunch of natives from Australia’s main cities to let us in on their favourite tourist-free spots. Promise not to tell anyone?

Hobart – Crumb Street Kitchen

(Photo: Crumb Street Kitchen/Facebook)

The US barbecue craze shows no sign of letting up, and while Sydney and Melbourne may claim to have the best smoked meats this side of Texas, Hobart’s Crumb Street Kitchen is so unassuming yet so damn good. Tucked away in a quiet street in Hobart’s CBD, this new-ish establishment prides itself on their no-frills approach to southern barbecue. You order off a large chalk board, drink from paper cups and eat from boxes that give a nod to Crumb Street’s past life as a pizza shop. Beef brisket, lamb and pork are their specialities, plus you get to pick from an ever-expanding selection of sides including spicy beans, a homemade potato salad and mac-and-cheese. But it’s best to get in early – on busy days they can sell out before 2pm.

Melbourne – Shadow Electric

(Photo: Shadow Electric/Facebook)

Only in Melbourne can you watch The Beatles’ Hard Days Night against the backdrop of a historic inner-city convent. Situated on the grounds of Abbottsford Convent, Shadow Electric is much more than a 300-seat outdoor cinema – it also hosts table tennis tournaments, special events and, of course, food trucks. The 300-person bandroom is a great place to watch a show – upcoming gigs include Jen Cloher’s single launch and a performance by emerging UK artist SOAK – and weather permitting the outdoor cinema also doubles as a performance space.

Sydney – Bradfield Park

(Photo: Catherine/Flickr)

Up for a bit of bridge-spotting? Escape the tourists and head to Bradfield Park in Milsons Point, where you can literally sit right under the Harbour Bridge. Situated on the “forgotten” north side of the harbour, this quiet spot offers picture-postcard views of the Opera House which is situated directly across the water. Its grassy slopes are perfect for a picnic lunch, while facilities include a kids playground and outdoor table tennis table. Just remember to bring your own racquets and balls.

Darwin – The Deckchair Cinema

(Photo: Deckchair Cinema/Facebook)

Operated by the dedicated film lovers making up the Darwin Film Society, the Deckchair is a well-loved local haunt tucked into a dark semi-hideyhole on the edge of Darwin Harbour. The Deckchair ticks so many boxes: it offers films beyond the multiplex blockbusters; it’s community conscious and regularly hosts film festivals and fundraising nights; it’s a fully licensed venue so you can kick back with a beer or wine while you watch the movie, plus you can even grab dinner from one of the caterers. [via inthemix]

Brisbane – Southside Tea Room

(Photo: Southside Tea Room/Facebook)

In the sleepy suburb of Morningside, Patience Hodgson and John Patterson from much-loved local band The Grates are building a foodie empire. The pair’s Southside Tearoom – a quaint café cum dive bar that looks like it was decorated by your eccentric great-auntie – has expanded to include the shop and carpark next door. Dubbed “Death Valley” (the name of their record label), this new addition features a bar, beer garden and a permanent food truck operated by popular pop-up restaurant The Red Robin Supper Club. “Every time I venture there I’m always glad I did,” says Brisbane musician Jeremy Neale of Southside. “John and Patience are fun people who employ like-minded staff.”


Adelaide – Grange Beach

(Photo: Anne In Adelaide/Flickr)

“Grange Beach is a nice place to go to if you’re looking for a beach that’s less crowded but still a cool hang out spot,” says rising Adelaide hip-hop star Tkay Maidza. Located just 11 kilometres from the city, this stretch of pristine coastline is “beautiful basically all of the time,” adds Maidza, but particularly between 5am and 10pm in the summer. Head to the Grange Jetty Café for a lunch and a coffee on the deck, which boasts some spectacular views of the coastline.


Canberra – The Front Gallery and Café

(Photo: The Front/Facebook)

The NGA might be the gallery tourists flock to in Canberra, but if you’re after something on a smaller scale head to The Front. Nestled on a quiet suburban street – like most of the capital’s best bits – The Front is part gallery and creative hub, part café and bar. By day, you can sit on couches with some coffee and cake while in the adjoining room, paintings, prints, photographs and sculptures from forward-thinking ACT artists sit on display. At night, The Front turns into bar, playing host to intimate gigs, poetry readings, comedy nights, performance art and storytelling sessions. Spend an hour there and you’ll get to see Canberra at its arty, community driven best – a side of the city that’s usually reserved for locals.

Perth – Gordon Street Garage

gordon street garage
(Photo: Gordon Street Garage/Facebook)

Something is brewing in an old garage in a pretty unremarkable street in West Perth. Opened just a couple years back, Gordon Street Garage is giving Sydney and Melbourne’s hipster café scene a run for its smashed avo. Like pretty much everything in Perth, the café is enormous (think high ceilings and exposed beams in a setting not unlike Freo’s ever-popular Little Creatures Brewery). While breakfast and brunch is their speciality, with a strong emphasis on their in-house roasted Mano O Mano coffee, this local hotspot transforms into a relaxed eatery with seasonal produce at night.

(Lead image: Southside Tea Room/Facebook)

Get exploring. The Qantas Explore Australia sale is on now.

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