Consistently named as one of Melbourne’s most exclusive suburbs, an exploration of Balwyn makes for a relaxed day out.
Originally named by a former editor of The Argus newspaper, who bought a property on the hill overlooking Canterbury Gardens in the 1850s, Balwyn means ‘the home of the vine’. These days, with its leafy streets and family residences, it is one of the most sought-after suburbs in which to live in Melbourne.
One of its original venues dating back to the 1930s is Palace Cinemas Balwyn, with its beautiful Art Deco facade. When the theatre was remodelled into a multiplex in the 1990s, the original foyer was uncovered and refurbished. Now it features 11 screens, showing new releases and arthouse and independent movies, and has two bars and the stylish cafe, Bianca Noir.
Start the day at stylish Mr Hendricks Cafe on Whitehorse Road. The all-day menu features a range of dishes from chocolate brioche French toast to a southern fried chicken burger. Another top breakfast spot is nearby Focus Melbourne; later in the day it’s a great place to relax with burgers (the soft shell crab version is a cracker) and tasty salads.
For those looking for a brunch that doesn’t include smashed avocado, The Turkish Tea House is an excellent option. Borek (baked pastries stuffed with feta and spinach), spicy scrambled eggs served with feta, pita bread and sucek, and a large range of Turkish teas and coffees are all on the menu.
When fully fuelled take in Maranoa Gardens. Arranged on a circuit, this is one of the largest botanical displays of Australian plants in Victoria. They are gathered into collections that display different climates, geology and land forms, from rainforest to heathland.
Shopping in Balwyn is concentrated along Whitehorse Road. Head to ENNI Boutique for a range of women’s fashion from brands including Mela Purdie, Jump, Levis and Jag. With its philosophy of simple elegance, Almond Boutique is another spot to shop for a beautiful outfit. Australian and New Zealand labels, including Sabatini and Moss & Spy, are included alongside brands from around the world.
As the sun goes down and thoughts turn to the evening, find a table at Arthur Radley. This contemporary bistro serves European share plates and fine wine. For Italian flavours, try Postino Pizza Bar, where you can team a tasty Aperol spritz or glass of prosecco with pasta dishes and delicious pizza.