There’s a surprising blend of urban wonder and semi-rural splendour in Melbourne’s northeast. Shopping, strolling, supping… Whatever you fancy, it’s all in Manningham.
It’s the diverse dozen. The City of Manningham in Melbourne’s northeast has a total of 12 suburbs, ranging from the biggest, Doncaster, right down to little known (and tiny) outposts like Wonga Creek and Park Orchards. The Yarra River runs along its length, and in the east you’ll find a green wedge where remnant bushland still dominates the landscape. You’re only ever about 17km from the CBD though, so it’s possible to enjoy a great blend of life outdoors and all the amenities that come with being in the suburbs.
Many people take to the highway to visit Westfield Doncaster, one of the largest and most modern shopping malls in Melbourne. Designer shopping here is de rigueur, whether you’re chasing fashion or homewares, but there’s also a huge range of dining options in the fancy food court, called The Drum, and a Village Cinemas complex. Plus, it’s all under one roof. For something more intimate, head to Tunstall Square in Doncaster East, where many of the stores are owner operated.
There’s more to life than shopping, of course, and it would a shame to head this way and not enjoy some of the natural reserves and parklands to be found. Warrandyte’s Pound Bend Reserve is a great spot to go for a walk in nature, but those in the know are also aware that this is where you’ll find one of Melbourne’s best hidden swimming spots. Don’t forget to bring your togs and a towel. Follow the trail through Templestowe’s Wombat’s Bend and you’ll find an impressive suspension bridge that crosses the Yarra to join up with Main Yarra Trail. If you’ve got kids, they’ll love the timber sculpture trail at Currrawong Bush Park in Doncaster East.
Because the steady march of development is somewhat hindered in these parts by the green wedge, slices of Manningham’s history have been preserved. Check out local artefacts at Schramm’s Cottage, which was relocated brick by brick to Victoria Street, Doncaster, after it was threatened by road works. Combine history and a slice of cake at Petty’s Orchard in Templestowe. It’s one of the oldest orchards in Melbourne and cultivates about 200 varieties of heritage apples. Take the self-guided Built on Gold Walking Tour in Warrandyte to find out about the part the precious metal played in the township’s development.
The restaurants and cafes in Manningham take dining to another level. Cool, new spots like Three Monkeys Place and Down the Rabbit Hole match anything you can find in the inner suburbs (along with views you’ll never find there). There’s also plenty of diversity when it comes to flavours — local, seasonal produce is the key to some venues, while others concentrate on a specific cultural cuisine, whether that’s Indian, Italian or Korean. You can even learn how to create the dishes yourself at places like Zero 95 in Doncaster East, which doubles as both the area’s best pizza restaurant and cooking school. There’s one thing you can be certain of: you’ll never go hungry.