Courtney Barnett's guide to Northcote

Melbourne’s Northcote strikes the right note for home-grown chart-topper Courtney Barnett.

View of rooftops in Ruckers Hill, Northcote
  • Courtney Barnett
  • June 2018

She’s the darling of the indie world, a singer-songwriter who has gone on to conquer the charts, both in Australia and overseas.

From her Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, to big appearances on the likes of The Ellen Show and The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, Courtney Barnett is the toast of the alternative music scene in both the UK and the US.

Back on home soil, her winning streak has continued, with the singer taking home four ARIA awards, including Best Female and Best Independent Album, all while running her own successful record label. And despite her huge international success, this lyrical storyteller has no plans to move from the suburb, which she says has “everything I’ll ever need”.

We asked her to reveal a few of her favourite local haunts.

The Northcote Social Club

301 High Street, Northcote opens in new window

“This is the best place to see live music. The acoustics are great and it’s perfectly-sized - it fits around 300 people – so it’s pretty intimate, but at the same time they have really good bands. When I moved to Northcote I made a great bunch of new friends, many of them musicians, so this is a venue we’ll go to together a lot.”

Thornbury Records

591 High St, Thornbury opens in new window

“I love this place. I used to live over the back fence, so I’d go every day. Nowadays, I don’t go as much, but I still live close by, so I’m there pretty regularly.

It’s cool, small and independently owned. They always source cool music and they give great advice, so when I ask them what I should buy, I’m confident they’ll suggest something good. I spend a lot of money here.”

Penny Farthing

206 High St, Northcote 

“Though there are so many places in this area that do-good coffee – this is Melbourne, after all – Penny Farthing is my favourite. They do great coffee and amazing breakfasts. Breakfast is my favourite meal, so that’s a big plus for me.

I always get a dish called “smash”, which is a poached egg on top of mashed avocado and feta, drizzled with chilli oil on sourdough. It’s really, really good.”

Joe’s Shoe Store

233 High St, Northcote

“This is my favourite bar. It’s a converted, old shoe store turned small bar. They play records, there’s no TV and they have a nice little courtyard too. Also, you can order pizza from the amazing Pizza Meine Liebe next door and they’ll bring it straight to you in the bar. It’s the kind of place where – if you go enough – you’ll always know someone in there.”

Palace Westgarth cinema

89 High St, Northcote opens in new window

“I love coming here to watch movies, and this cinema shows a great mix of old, new and avant-garde films, plus they have some great regular events, including an annual Spanish film festival.”

Merri Creek Northcote opens in new window

“I get inspired by walking and the Merri Creek trail, which runs past the train line and goes along the creek, is my favourite place to do it. It’s beautiful and I actually write a lot of songs in my head while I’m walking down this track.”


257 High St, Northcote

“Japanese is pretty much my favourite food and this is my go-to Japanese restaurant. The decor is great and the communal tables are ideal for eating with a big group of friends.”

Ruckers Hill Northcote

“Ruckers Hill has the best view of the city there is. Walk down High Street from Northcote towards Westgarth and the views of the CBD are incredible. Sometimes, if it’s a bit overcast, I think it looks a bit like Gotham City. I love watching the sunset there and if there’s ever fireworks it’s amazing. I’ll come here with friends or by myself. It definitely has a special place in my heart.”