Eat, drink, shop, play: Melbourne’s newest precinct NOLA is on the rise

Eat, drink, shop, play: Melbourne’s newest precinct NOLA is on the rise

With Christmas coming, it’s the perfect time to explore our city’s newest precinct, NOLA, between Swanston, La Trobe, Elizabeth and Victoria streets (“North of La Trobe”).

Whether you want to eat, drink, shop or get a haircut, NOLA has something for everyone – from hidden gems like upstairs bar Loch & Key or board game cafe Go Marché, to old favourites such as the Oxford Scholar and KBOX Karaoke.

NOLA is a designed to give a leg-up to businesses impacted by construction of the Metro Tunnel’s new State Library Station. Workers are building the underground section of the station first, so need multiple access points to the site, ranging from La Trobe St to Franklin St.

Since its launch, NOLA has brought events such as the Silent Disco Tour (in collaboration with City of Melbourne) to the precinct, helped promote a growing list of local businesses through online and in-person channels, and installed bright and colourful artwork with neon lights on the temporary fencing around the construction site. 

Ebony Manusama, landowner and business support advisor at Rail Projects Victoria, which is delivering the Metro Tunnel, said it was a privilege to help businesses through a difficult time, including the pandemic.

“We’re defining a community identity that has the potential to last beyond the Metro Tunnel Project,” she said.

While the COVID-19 lockdowns of the past two years have hit some CBD businesses – including in the hospitality sector – particularly hard, Ebony said now that the city was opening up, foodies were flocking to the precinct.

“Thanks to RMIT University’s presence, there are heaps of eateries that cater to students, with tasty meal deals and a variety of cuisines to choose from,” she said. 

“All you need is a tenner and a hungry belly!”

When it opens in 2025, the Metro Tunnel will create capacity for more than a half-a-million additional passengers per week to travel during peak times across Melbourne’s train network.

The streets and laneways around the new State Library Station will get a makeover as part of the project, with new outdoor public spaces, wider footpaths, new bike lanes and extra bike parking spaces.

Passengers will be able to interchange between the City Loop and the Metro Tunnel, with a direct connection from Melbourne Central Station to State Library Station.

You can keep up to date with what’s happening at NOLA online at or head to Instagram (@nola_precinct) or Facebook (NOLA Precinct) •

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