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Why we love Carlton

14 February 2022

Leafy inner-city suburb Carlton is home to Melbourne’s Little Italy, beautiful parks and old buildings, as well as iconic institutions.

In the heart of Carlton, Lygon Street is bursting with authentic cafes and restaurants, quintessential to the Melbourne hospitality scene. It’s also constantly reinventing itself: independent fashion and retail spaces are burgeoning here.

Carlton sits on the lands of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin. The area is rich with Aboriginal heritage and continuing cultural significance. Explore the area at Mapping Aboriginal Melbourne.

When enterprising migrants bought corner store King & Godfree in 1955, it had already been a fixture of Lygon Street since the gold rush in the 1800s.

Amid the post-war Italian coffee houses, King & Godfree soon became a place where people could get hard-to-find goods such as parmesan, pasta, olive oil, tinned tuna and tomato paste. Little Italy flourished.

Nowadays this iconic corner is a foodie precinct of its own, on a street famous for pasta, pizza and gelato. Lygon Street is also loved for choc tops, best paired with an indie flick at Cinema Nova.

On the top floor of the K&G building perches Johnny’s Green Room, a rooftop bar named after the neon-lit 1960s pool house on Faraday Street where thinkers like Helen Garner gathered at all hours, shaping the narrative of the area and a generation.

Carlton is home to more than 20,000 people, making it the second largest populated suburb in the City of Melbourne.

  • The youngest median age in the greater Melbourne area belongs to Carlton, where the average age is 24 years.
  • Nearly a quarter of residents born overseas and 57 per cent speaking a language other than English at home (Mandarin being the most commonly spoken language).
  • The area nurtures many lush, leafy parks and break-out garden spaces, offering residents and visitors a natural contrast to the vibrant and bustling streetscape.

Home to many high quality tertiary institutions, Carlton welcomes flocks of students each year, offering a warm and inviting atmosphere for newcomers to call home.

Nearby major hospitals and key tourist attractions such as the Melbourne Museum, make Carlton an attractive hub of employment, recreation and opportunity.

Though historic, the area is continuously evolving. Major infrastructure works like the new Metro Tunnel train station in Parkville, coupled with new bike lanes, elevate the suburb’s connectivity and accessibility, further positioning Carlton as a great place to live.

We proudly foster many positive collaborations with the local community, which help to identify the issues that matter most to local families and inform placed-based projects and community building programs.

Free: Drop in at the Kathleen Syme Library to find local stories and catch up on the latest reads, try something new in the creative makerspace or kick start your podcast in the recording studio.

An outdoor swimming pool

Carlton Baths

Do: Spend sunny days with friends and family at the Carlton Baths outdoor pool, built in 1916 to keep locals cool, and recently renovated.

Explore: Look for the underground car park straight out of a scene from Mad Max. It’s under the South Lawn, off Grattan Street. Standing sentinel nearby, four ancient river red gums are significant to Traditional Owners,.

Play: Did you know the new treetop playground in Lincoln Square sits on the site of Melbourne’s first playground? It’s designed around majestic Moreton Bay figs, on advice from local kids. Or check out the city’s newest public artwork in nearby University Square.

A neighbourhood Future Melbourne Committee meeting will be held in Carlton on 4 April 2023. Get to know the area through the Carlton Neighbourhood Portal.

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