In the early 2000s, the main reason to visit Thornbury was dusty shops spruiking TV antennas, discounted shoes and second-hand whitegoods. Being that bit further out than Northcote, it took a while longer for gentrification to arrive.
Things began to change around 2010, when local Marco Finanzio opened the now classic Umberto Espresso Bar – a fitting bellwether for an area thousands of Greek and Italian immigrants have called home since the end of World War Two.
The stretch of High Street between Darebin Road and Dundas Street really exploded in 2014 with the opening of four new bars, including Finanzio’s second business, Joanie’s Baretto, and Carwyn Cellars, which we feel confident calling Melbourne’s best beer venue. With the later addition of Thornbury Picture House, this is now one of our favourite areas for a night out. It’s like a smaller, more relaxed Northcote, with much better carparking.
Thankfully, none of this has come at the expense of Thornbury’s previous character. Old social clubs such as Democritus House and House of Hercules are still going strong, and the wide, weatherboard-lined side streets still feel more suburban than developed. The few cafes that have opened are consistently down-to-earth and suit the relaxed landscape.