Hidden Gems of Melbourne

Coburg Lake Reserve
Coburg Lake Reserve

Melbourne is a beautiful city with a plethora of hidden gems. I loved exploring the area while I lived in the city. During my excursions, I found a few hidden places that I thoroughly enjoyed and would be remiss not to share. If you find yourself in Melbourne, check out these great hidden destinations.

Abbotsford Convent

Lentil as AnythingThe Abbotsford Convent is one of my very favorite places in Melbourne. It is a convent turned art precinct with studios, galleries, cafés and plenty of green space. The area is so peaceful and absolutely beautiful. There are 11 historic buildings and gardens at the site. The convent hosts many events throughout the year, including tours, markets and crafting events. During the summer, the convent hosts Shadow Electric, an outdoor movie theatre. The Collingwood Children’s Farm is right near the convent and its horses are just a quick walk down from the convent gardens. One of my very favorite ways to spend time at the convent is to get a delicious buffet vegetarian meal from donation-based Lentil as Anything and eat while lounged on the grass of the gardens, and then head down to spend time watching the horses.

Abbotsford Convent is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., but the galleries and restaurants have various operating hours. Entry is free, but donations are appreciated. The convent is about 4 kilometers from Melbourne CBD. To get to there, take a train on the South Morang or Hurstbridge lines to Victoria Park Station then walk about 10 minutes along Johnson Street, take a right on Clarke Street and left onto St Heliers Street. Bus lines 200 or 207 also travel near the convent. Get off at Clarke Street/Johnston Street and follow the same walking directions as for the train, though the walk along Johnston Street will only be about 1 minute. The closest tram stop—Victoria Street/Nicholson Street for lines 12, 48 or 109—is about a 20-25 minute walk away.

Fairfield Park Boathouse

BoathouseThe Fairfield Park Boathouse is a lovely spot to step back in time and enjoy a small meal with a beautiful view or get out on the water in a water vehicle. The boathouse is located next to the Yarra River. Canoes, kayaks and 19th century replica rowboats are available to rent and row along the river. A photo ID is required to hire water vehicles, which are charged by the hour (though a half hour excursion is also an option). The boathouse also has the Tea Gardens. There is a tearoom with a varied menu. Enjoy a Devonshire tea, a glass of wine or a full breakfast or lunch.

The tearoom is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and public holidays. Watercraft are available to hire from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and public holidays. Melbourne bus 546 stops right near the boathouse at stop Westgarth St/Heidelberg Rd.

Coburg Lake Reserve

Swans on Coburg LakeThe Coburg Lake Reserve is a gorgeous park in the Coburg suburb north of Melbourne’s CBD. The reserve is home to the lovely Coburg Lake, which often has ducks and swans swimming about. It is a wonderful spot for a day out with family and friends. There is outdoor fitness equipment and several playgrounds located throughout the reserve. Walking and bike paths meander through the lush surroundings. There are also a few barbecue facilities and plenty of space for a picnic at a table or on a blanket spread on the grassy hills. The reserve is a great spot for a day of enjoying nature in the city.

The reserve is open 24 hours daily. To get there, take bus 561 to stops Lake Reserve/Newlands Rd or Golf Rd/Newlands Rd. From there it is about a 2 minute walk to the reserve.

Montsalvat

The Boulevard at MontsalvatMontsalvat is one of the oldest artist communities in Australia set in beautiful buildings among gorgeous grounds. The area fosters art forms of numerous varieties, including drawing, painting, jewelry, sculpture, photography, glass and film. Montsalvat is located on 12 acres and home to gardens and historic buildings. It is a truly lovely location worth exploring. The grounds are a popular spot for weddings and host to a variety of art classes and events.

Montsalvat is located in Eltham, which is about a 35 minute drive from Melbourne CBD. The grounds are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The restaurant, The Boulevard, is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Monstalvat is closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day. Admission to the park is $14 for adults and $10 for concession. To get there, take the Hurstbridge train line to Eltham Railway Station and then take bus 582 to Rockcliffe St/Mt Pleasant Rd from where it is about a 5 minute walk.

What hidden gems have you discovered in Melbourne?

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