More than a hundred years ago, artists were drawn to the bushland settings here. These landscapes still exist, along with plenty of other attractions.
This eastern suburb continues to boom, so it can be hard to imagine artists, such as Tom Roberts and Frederick McCubbin, travelling into the bushland here to paint. But that’s exactly what happened near the turn of the 20th century. Already progress was starting to shape Blackburn, with brickworks and quarries established to assist with Melbourne’s building boom, and manmade Blackburn Lake becoming a popular day trip for city dwellers. McCubbin even lived by the lake during the 1890s and it was here he painted ‘Down on His Luck’ and ‘The Bush Burial’ — the former resides in the Art Gallery of Western Australia, while the latter is closer to home at Geelong Gallery.
Even today, you’ll forget you’re near civilisation as you explore the Blackburn Lake Sanctuary. The 30 hectares of land around the lake has been regenerated and walking trails wind through the bush, many of them passing the lake where you might see Pacific black ducks and herons.
Another vast swathe of bushland is known as Blackburn Creeklands, a series of three reserves — Blacks Walk, Kalang Park and Furness Park —that covers a total of 21 hectares. Narrow paths and trails follow the bends of the creek through indigenous bush and majestic gum trees. Look into their branches and you might spot a camouflaged tawny frogmouth owl; no doubt you’ll hear galahs squawking and kookaburras laughing. If you’ve got the kids with you, head straight for Furness Park where there’s a playground and interpretative plaques that tell the history of the area.
Every member of the family will love Bounce Inc, with 50 interconnected trampolines, wall runs, dodgeball courts and slam dunk areas. Jump to your heart’s content or practise flips, handstands and other gymnastic moves without doing any damage. There’s a range of classes, including ones for pure fitness and others that focus on skills.
Whether you’ve been walking or jumping, you’ll no doubt have worked up an appetite, so head to Black Alchemy Cafe. There’s a wide range of dishes, from quesadillas to burgers, as well as a kids’ menu. Another pretty, modern venue with an outdoor area is Aunt Billies. Breakfast is served all day, alongside salad, burgers and more substantial dishes, plus there are plenty of options for vegetarians.
Looking for gifts for yourself or someone else? Taylor Francis & Co is a store that specialises in fragrances, make-up and women’s accessories. If you’re looking to spritz yourself with Fragonard or Carthusia, you’ll find them here. At the other end of the spectrum is Dixons Recycled, where you might spend hours flipping through the second-hand CDs and vinyl records. There’s an excellent selection of hard rock and heavy metal albums, so if you’ve lost your copy of Megadeth’s Rust in Peace, check through the crates here to see if you can replace it.
If you’ve never cooked your own dinner on a slab of heated rock, head to Sonley Stonegrill & Bar. Natural volcanic stones heated to 400ºC are placed on each table to sizzle steaks, chicken and seafood. It’s a unique way to serve a meal, plus the high temperatures lock in all the flavour and nutrients. More high temperatures are responsible for a delicious menu at Bar Doh. Here, the tastiest pizzas you’ll find in the eastern suburbs — some with traditional toppings and others offering more creative combinations — are cooked in the central wood oven.