In the 1970s, Fitzroy took over from Carlton as the home of the city’s artistic community, and every year at the end of September, the area is awash with pop-up art installations, exhibitions and street performers as part of the colourful Fringe Festival – the alternative scene’s answer to the highbrow Melbourne International Arts Festival. The district’s focus is Brunswick Street (tram #112 from Collins St), especially between Gertrude Street, home to trendy galleries, art spaces and boutiques, and Johnston Street, with its lively Spanish bars. In the shadow of Housing Commission tower blocks, funky secondhand shops rub shoulders with ethnic supermarkets and cafés packed with grungy students, hipsters and musicians.

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