Street Photography Melbourne – The Mean Streets of Footscray

melbourne street photography
Street Photography Melbourne – The Mean Streets of Footscray
footscray asians
Colourful streets, colourful people – Footscray, Melbourne.
footscray police - street photography Melbourne
Officer Rick Springfield belting out “Jessie’s Girl” on the streets of Footscray, Melbourne.

Street Photography Melbourne – The Mean Streets of Footscray

Out doing a bit of street photography in the area of Footscray, Melbourne, I didn’t expect to see a police officer belting out seminal 1980’s pop music hit “Jessie’s Girl”. And yet, there he was in the middle of Footscray – one Melbourne’s most multi-cultural suburbs, about 5km’s from the center of the city. Great voice, fancy footwork, a class act all round. When he wasn’t singing, Officer Rick Springfield he was playing African bongos. Of course.

Street Photography in Footscray, Melbourne, is  a Real Treat

It’s difficult not to be clichéd when talking about areas like Footscray. Multicultural melting pot. Diversity, grit, and soul.  To me, areas like Footscray make for the most interesting areas in any given city. The colour, flair, and individuality of the locals, makes street photography in Footscray a real treat.

Making up the latest wave of cultures in Footscray, Vietnamese and East African immigrants have taken up the mantle left by Italians and ‘Slavs, and placed their stamp on the suburb. Signs advertising Pork Bahn Mi sit side by side with “authentic Afghanistani food”.  On top of the incredible diversity of local restauranteurs, there a little guide-book publisher that calls Footscray home.  You may have heard of them. They’ve published over 100 million travel books.  First name “Lonely”. Last name “Planet”. Very apt, for a travel blog like this.


footscray multiculture
Multicultural Footscray. If you find this location, turn around and order a Pork Roll. Seriously.
footscray street basketball
This guy only just fit into the frame. B’baller, Footscray, Melbourne.
footscray police band
Officer Springfield and the Band.

Less than 40% of people who live in Footscray, were born in Australia. Most recently, newcomers from Ethopia, Sudan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh have immigrated to Footscray. A large proportion of these recent arrivals are refugees. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, knowing that people who have escaped such adversity have ended up in such a wonderful place.

Gentrification has a long way to go in Footscray. With most of the buildings in an honest (if slighty-run down) state, it feels like a “lived in ” suburb. Heavy on local patina, light on shiny franchise chains . Understandably, various Australian movies have used Footscray as a locale.  The incredibly interesting layers of the streets, combined with a local history of Vietnamese immigrants, made Footscray the obvious choice in 1992 for  “Romper Stomper” – a violent and gritty  movie following a gang of Skinheads and their run-ins with Vietnamese gangs.


Footscray street photography
How could you not be happy, watching the cops play Jessie’s Girl? Footscray, Melbourne.
Little Saigon, Footscray
Inside Little Saigon, Footscray.
melbourne graffiti
Footscray has plenty of Graffiti. Keep it up.
Melbourne street photography
The smoke is coming from the man, not the van. Footscray, Melbourne.


Street Photos on the Formerly Mean Streets of Footscray?

These days, the violence isn’t what it used to be. Around the same time that Romper Stomper was released, the aptly named “Little Saigon” market opened for business. Operating for twenty years, this institution catered for the population growth of Asian people in the early 90’s. Tropical fruits, live seafood, and those popular Asian cuts of innards are the standard fare. Noisy and crowded, Little Saigon had me feeling like I had been transported back to South East Asia. Fun fact: Nguyen is now the second most common surname in Melbourne’s phone book.


street photography melbourne
Love the hair. Footscray, Melbourne.
street photography footscray
He didn’t see me, he was engrossed in his reading. Footscray, Melbourne.
photography street melbourne
The streets of Footscray are full of life.

Recommended budget lunch in Footscray : Ask for a pork roll at “To’s”, and you’ll get a freshly baked Vietnamese Bahn Mi, filled with succulent pork, salad and fresh chilli, for $3 a pop.

So, there you have it. It gets a bad wrap in some conversations, but really, Footscray is one of Melbournes neighbourhood gems.

I hope you enjoy the photos, from the formerly mean streets of Footscray, Melbourne.


BTW, I would love to send you the next dispatch, posted from some-where random around this planet (and you'll soon find out why YOMADIC email followers are my favourite followers):

14 thoughts on “Street Photography Melbourne – The Mean Streets of Footscray

  1. I really enjoyed this look at Footscray in Melbourne, one of the cities to which I’m returning in the next few weeks. I think the black and white really drives the contrast beautifully between the different types of people from the urban architecture in the background.

    Thanks to your photo-essay, I’m now going to consider giving the neighbourhood a visit when I’m back in the city!

    1. Thanks Henry for your comments, really nice critique of my photos. If you’re heading to Melbourne, you really must consider going to Footscray – even if just to have a walk around, take a few photos, and get some nice food. Totally worth it.

  2. Great post Nate and great pics! You do street photography so well. It’s nice to hear about the less touristy places in a city where you can get a feel
    For how people really live.

    1. Aww, thanks Noelle. I really love taking photos on the streets. You can always be sure to see the less touristy places on here (as well as some of the more well known sights).

  3. Totes summed it up Nate! Awesome photos!

    To’s Pork rolls are the best. (And the coconut yam puddings at Little Saigon)

  4. awesome photos. this has motivated me to give another visit to a great place in melbourne, but this time not just to eat from the flavourful restaurants but also to try street photography! footscray rocks! thanks for posting!

  5. Hey Nate, just discovered your site tonight, looking around for street photography. Great shots (have looked through hong kong and this set on foots ray thus far), and really enjoy the narrative.

    Funnily (or sadly) enough, I’ve lived in Melbourne all my life, and never once ventured across the city to footscray!! Might need to make the effort one weekend, now that the weathers fining up!!

    1. Thanks for the compliment, I’m glad you enjoy the narrative, sometimes I feel as though it’s a bit of an afterthought compared to the photos. And dude, you MUST go to Footscray! It’s very different from most of Melbourne, you can do some street photography AND get a cheap meal! What are you waiting for! ;)

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