It’s known as the Chinatown of the eastern suburbs, with a huge number of restaurants and stores creating a colourful, vibrant place to explore.
Any visit to the City of Whitehorse by public transport will probably first lead you to Box Hill. This exciting suburb has a diverse population that has brought with it a huge number of interesting places to eat and visit.
To boost the production at the local brickworks in 1935, Box Hill Town Hall was constructed. The huge white building with its imposing facade is one of the suburb’s landmarks — if you recognise it, that’s because it’s appeared as a courthouse in episodes of Neighbours. Many of its rooms and halls are hired out for functions, but within its walls you’ll also find Whitehorse Artspace, which hosts exhibitions by important Australian artists and photographers.
Get more hands on at Box Hill Community Arts Centre. Art classes and workshops for all ages are offered throughout the year, and there’s an exhibition space and the Alcove Art Shop selling arts and crafts — from handmade paper to ceramics — from local designers.
If you’re feeling a little weary, head to the ATO building on Whitehorse Road where you’ll find The Penny Drop. As well as serving up some of Box Hill’s best coffee, this is a beautifully designed, light-filled space. The food menu, that has Asian influences and healthy options, is tempting, too. Another option that runs from breakfast till late is Platform 3 Eatery & Bar. If someone wants baked eggs and another hankers for a selection of sliders, this is the place to please all.
Escape the bustle of the suburb at Box Hill Gardens, with its duck pond, playgrounds and stretches of lawn and shady trees where you can take a load off or spread out lunch in the sunshine.
Don’t forget to bring your shopping bags because you’ll want to hit up Box Hill Fresh Food Market. This is one of Australia’s oldest fresh food markets and an authentic Asian produce market. As well as getting supplies from the greengrocers, butchers and fishmongers, you can visit a herbalist, check out the Chinese delicatessen and buy some handmade fresh noodles.
If you love lollies in all their forms, a visit to Sweet As is a must. You can pick up all the favourites from your childhood in bulk, as well as well-known brands like Toblerone, Jelly Belly and Lindt at discount prices. More bargains are on offer at Daiso. A huge range of Japanese items, from weird Halloween costumes to kitchen implements, are available and everything costs just $2.80. Prepare to spend a little while browsing the shelves and trying to work out what some of those beauty products are used for.
In Box Hill on a Friday and looking for furniture, homewares, collectables and bric-a-brac? The Friday sale at Abbeys Auctions is one for those who can see a gem among the junk.
Of course, you can’t leave Box Hill without sampling some of the superb Asian cuisine. Tien Dat Restaurant is a favourite for traditional Vietnamese dishes, including pho. For Hong Kong-style meats, you can’t beat Roast Duck Inn. Meals start with bone broth, then it’s up to you to choose which of the meats hanging in the window you want to sample — along with the duck, of course. For something spicy and stylish, try Dainty Sichuan Food. Everyone here orders a version of the hot pot; choose a soup base and everything you want to dunk into it then tuck in.