It’s not surprising that many families want to live in Hawthorn, given the number of private schools in the suburb; including prestige schools such as Scotch College, perched on Glenferrie Road’s hill and Bialik College, located in Auburn Road. As with many elite suburbs, where transport networks and main thoroughfares define an area, Glenferrie Road is almost synonymous with the word Hawthorn. If you’re not in a hurry, take the time, as this writer did, and mount tram number 16 as it moves towards the suburb’s main shopping centre that starts at Burwood Road.

With Swinburne University only a short stroll away, this shopping centre has become a drawcard for restaurants and cafes. Santoni Pizzeria, on the corner of Burwood and Glenferrie roads, offers a number of dining experiences, including a private dining area on the first floor and an impressive rooftop terrace, complete with a full bar and outdoor seating. If you want to appreciate the broader environ of the suburb and have the energy, climb the endless staircase that offers unique aspects, including Melbourne’s skyline. The Victorian bluestone church on the north west corner, diametrically opposite, sets the tone for many of Hawthorn’s heritage-listed streets.

Although it’s tempting simply to walk in a straight line down Glenferrie road until you come to Barkers Road, take a right along the alley bordering the railway station and discover Alley Tunes. Located in a group of period shop fronts, circa 1922, this hybrid, between a café and record shop, sees people spilling out on the pavement. Where else could you enjoy a latte while rummaging through racks of vintage records? Who could forget the Johnny Mathis Souvenir Album, Bob Marley and the Wailers or the iconic Album Pearl, by the legendary Janis Joplin? There’s even a DJ’s turntable at the back of the venue!

As with many shopping strips, the old-fashioned barber store has become a hallmark. Urban Man Supplies is a fusion between barbers and men’s products. The floral and paisley printed shirts labeled ‘John Lennon by English Laundry Shirts’ have a distinctive late 1960s-feel: think of London’s Carnaby Street. But rather than the long locks that Lennon supported, here the customers are requesting upper cuts and side-parted dos, more akin to the 1940s.

For women there’s Et Al, known for its mostly black and layered clothing, often oversized. “Our collections are easy-to-wear and focus on comfort, aiming primarily at fashion conscious women who are confident in their choices,” says Silvana Sakumoto, the company’s store manager for the Hawthorn boutique. The shredded lined curtain used as a backdrop for the window display captures the textures of the garments, many with unfinished hems.

Many people are drawn to the shopping strip as a result of Readings, one of, if not Melbourne’s largest, independent bookshops. Owned by the same family since 1969, it is known for its well-stocked collection of architecture and design books. As well as House & Garden’s 70th anniversary book tracing each decade of style, there’s the latest book on fashion designer Akira Isogawa, celebrating his 25 years in the industry. Those renovating their period homes, or building new ones, will also need to head to Pittella, a leader in door-ware and bathroom accessories in Melbourne.

Although there are numerous shops and cafes lining Glenferrie Road, these are only a ‘front’ to the wonderful architectural gems in the heritage-listed Grace Park Estate immediately to the west. Explore some of the estate’s premier wide and tree-lined streets, including Mary Street, Chrystobel Crescent and Kinkora Road. Grand Victorian villas, set well back from the street, rub shoulders with fine interwar homes. Some were built in the early 20th century and are of the Queen Anne style, while others, such as number 42 Chrystobel Cresent evoke the work of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School, with its low-slung roof and deep eaves. And rather than severe high-brick fences, many of these homes share their magnificent gardens with those strolling past. A series of reserves connecting these streets, used mainly by locals, become an extension of one’s own back yard!

Text by Stephen Crafti


Lifestyle & Design

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