Taste the flavours of the Torres Strait, fall in love with changemaking Aboriginal art and browse designer fashion that supports children in remote communities.
Whether you’re dining out, buying a gift or contracting services for your workplace, we can all play a role in helping First Nations businesses thrive.
At the City of Melbourne, our Aboriginal Procurement Strategy guides us in promoting economic participation and development among Aboriginal people to close the gap of disadvantage.
Here are five beloved dining and retail businesses you can explore around the City of Melbourne.
1. Big Esso by Mabu Mabu
Federation Square, Melbourne
Settle in with in pepperberry and saltbush fried crocodile and damper with golden syrup butter at Big Esso by Mabu Mabu, an all-day bar and kitchen in central Melbourne. Stay a while to enjoy chargrilled seafood alongside bevies and beats from Indigenous creators, or browse small-batch pantry supplies online.
2. The Torch
146 Elgin Street, Carlton
Browse stunning artwork by First Nations creatives who’ve taken part in the powerful Indigenous Arts in Prisons and Community program run by The Torch. Each year, this Melbourne Award-winning program supports around 600 First Nations people who have been impacted by incarceration in Victoria. This creates new pathways for participants’ lives beyond the prison system.
“With The Torch program, with the art, it shows us a new pathway. A lot of people, when they get out of jail, they go back to where they came from and that’s what put them in jail the first time. A lot of them go back in because there’s low self-esteem, there’s no money, there’s homelessness and all that. If The Torch program didn’t come along, I don’t know where I’d be at to this day.”
Indigenous Program Mentor, The Torch
The Torch is running an exhibition called Confined 14 at Glen Eira City Council Gallery and online until 4 June 2023. The exhibition features around 470 artworks by 400 artists in prisons or post-release.
24 Aurora Lane, Docklands
Shop for silk dresses, scarves, clothes and tops that share the stories of Country through stunning artwork. These street and runway-ready First Nations designs are a sustainable and meaningful alternative to fast fashion. Proceeds from your purchases will support literacy and IT programs for children in remote communities.
“I believe as an Indigenous person, there is a connection to our ancestors that we feel guided by. It’s like an invisible support… that’s why we feel like we have freedom to create. As a culture, I think we just see things a little bit differently. I measure Ngali’s success on what it means for the remote Indigenous artists we work with, what it is we can contribute to educating our kids in remote communities, and the ability for us to share our stories and celebrate who we are as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
Founder and Designer, Ngali
4. Pawa Café & Bar
Southbank Promenade, Melbourne
Grab a lilly pilly croissant, kangaroo meat pie or pre-show cheese board at Hamer Hall, overlooking the Birrarung (Yarra River). Pawa collaborates with a network of Indigenous native food growers, farmers, foragers, artisans and makers. Pawa means ‘to cook’ in the language of the Gunditjmara people.
5. The Koorie Heritage Trust
Federation Square, Melbourne
Browse authentic Victorian Aboriginal artwork and artefacts at the Koorie Heritage Trust in the heart of Melbourne. This curated collection includes paintings, carvings, didgeridoos and clapsticks. By deepening people’s understanding of Indigenous arts, the Trust aims to improve outcomes for Aboriginal people.
Need more stops on your shopping trip?
These are just a few of the ways to support the more than 100 First Nations owned and operated businesses in the City of Melbourne.
Discover more online
Many First Nations businesses from Melbourne and beyond trade online.
Get empowering kids toys from Yarn Strong Sister, plants from Pop Wilder, chocolate from Jala Jala Treats, wellbeing-boosting teas from Ilan Style and popcorn in zesty native flavours from Uncle Charlie’s Taste of Country.
Start and grow your business
If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person looking to start or grow a business in Melbourne, reach out for support with permits, grants, marketing and more. For more information, visit Aboriginal Melbourne.