Spend a day exploring Melbourne’s north — a treasure trove of foodie hot spots, rich history, impressive wineries and beautiful scenery.
Did you know that Craigieburn sits on one of Melbourne’s highest points? Or that you can find kangaroos and retired racehorses just 20 minutes from the airport? The northern suburbs of Melbourne are full of surprises so we thought it was about time we shared some of our favourites. This adventure is best taken by car, so get your friends together and strap yourselves in for a day of fun.
Start your morning off early as you’ve got a full day ahead, beginning with great coffee and tasty food at this north-side gem. The locals agree Corner Store Espresso [1/64 Sahi Crescent, Roxburgh Park] has brought the inner-city coffee scene to Roxburgh Park. Make sure you’ve got your phone ready, as the dishes here are completely Insta-worthy. Picture polenta corn and zucchini fritters served with chargrilled eggplant purée and poached eggs or, if you’re feeling like something on the sweeter side, try the ricotta pancakes, topped with ice cream, honeycomb crumble and berry compote.
Hero image source: Hume City Council/Marnong Estate
Image credit: @cornerstoreespresso
Whether you want to get active or enjoy some relaxation time, Splash Aqua Park and Leisure Centre [60 Central Park Avenue, Craigieburn] has both options covered. Feel like getting moving after your morning coffee? Head into its recreation centre and do a few laps of the pool before jumping in the spa for a bit of respite. You’ll be spoiled for choice with two spas, a sauna and a steam room to enjoy.
If you’ve really filled up on brekkie and you are looking for something a little more hands-off head to Bunjil, the onsite wellness centre at Splash, for some pampering. Its treatment menu covers everything from facials to lash tinting, so take your pick then sit back and relax. Choose a colour for your manicure and watch your nails transform, or really spoil yourself with the Body Indulgence treatment. It starts with a cleansing body scrub, leading to a body massage to leave you in a state of complete relaxation.
Image source: Hume City Council
After the fun at Splash, you must be starting to feel a bit hungry! Mayflour [38 Fawkner Street, Westmeadows] will satisfy both your sweet and savoury tooth with a selection of homemade cupcakes and pasta dishes. You’ll feel like you’ve walked into a friend’s home in this charming store owned by locals Kris and Pasquale.
Before looking at the rotating array of cupcakes, start with an Italian-inspired lunch that will make you feel like you’ve woken up in the Cinque Terre. Choose from a selection of lovingly prepared fettuccini, gnocchi, spaghetti and ravioli dishes made on site by Pasquale. We’ve heard that the carbonara is up there with the best you’ll find in Melbourne.
Now it’s time to get to the cupcakes! Mayflour’s offering is always changing so you’re sure to find something new to try, regardless of how often you visit — and trust us, it’s so good you’ll want to return. The lemon meringue cupcake is a crowd favourite, as is the peanut butter but we recommend ordering a few flavours and sharing so you can taste test as many as possible.
HOT TIP: It can get busy at Mayflour at lunchtime so it’s always best to book ahead.
Image credit: @mayflour_cupcakes
The team at Living Legends [Woodlands Drive, Greenvale] have been caring for retired racehorses since 2006 and welcome you to visit and meet some of Australia’s racing greats. One of the best ways to enjoy this experience is to book in for a guided tour which runs daily in the morning and afternoon. With the knowledge of a friendly guide, you’ll get up close and personal with some of horse racing's champions including Fields of Omagh (Cox Plate 2006), Might and Power (Caulfield and Melbourne Cups in 1997) and Rogan Josh (Melbourne Cup 1999). Prefer to go solo? You can take yourself on a self-guided tour of the grounds. Each paddock has information about the horses and if you’re lucky, they might wander over and say hello.
It’s not just the horses that make Living Legends special. As the sun starts to set you can spot kangaroos in the bushland surrounding the site so if you’ve got visitors with you or simply love kangaroos, make sure you keep an eye out for our furry friends.
Finish your Living Legends experience with a Devonshire tea at the Black Caviar Café and Dining Room. Enjoy your tea on the veranda of the property’s beautiful 1843 homestead, looking out over the horses and gardens.
Marnong Estate [2335 Mickleham Road, Mickleham] has opened its doors including the development of its new Bankvale Restaurant. With stunning views over the Macedon ranges, Deep Creek and Emu Creek, it’s the perfect spot for fine dining.
You will be dining on the ‘Paddock to Plate’ themed menu, that was created by renowned chef Matt Coates and uses ingredients from the estate's onsite winery and farm. Whether you want to share an antipasto plate of cured meats, duck and rosemary terrine, olives and pickles or you’re after one of its headliners (we love the Cotoletta alla Milanese — a pan-fried crumbed beef with almonds and shaved halloumi), you will not be disappointed. If you still have a little room, order dessert plate to share and taste all the sweet delights that Marnong has to offer.
It’s not just the food that will impress. The homestead on the estate is believed to date as far back as the 1840s and is part of one of the early pastoral runs in Victoria. You will feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you travel up the entrance avenue of mature conifer and eucalyptus trees.
Don’t want your north-side adventure to come to an end? Extend your experience by booking to stay in Marnong’s historic homestead, that will see you enjoying luxury accommodation and waking up alongside the picturesque vineyard.
Image credit: facebook.com/marnongestate
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