Immerse yourself in fashion and skyline views in Doncaster.
It’s on one of the most elevated landscapes in metropolitan Melbourne and, for many years, Doncaster was a verdant hill of flourishing orchards bearing citrus and stone fruits, with views across the countryside as far as the eye could see.
Fast forward to the present day and the suburb’s highest point is still the centre of the action and at its peak is Westfield Doncaster Shoppingtown. Dubbed the fashion capital of the east, shoppers here can discover a full range of designer fashion — Alannah Hill, Sass & Bide, Max Mara and Zara are just a handful of the local and international labels available. There are also independent retailers like Gingham and Heels, where fashion pieces are both affordable and on-trend, and Readings bookstore, with its soundproof reading nook for a moment of respite. For something a little stronger, sip a glass of bubbly while tucking into a cheese platter at Louis Louise Champagne Bar. Worked up a real appetite? Make for The Drum, the centre’s swish food court, where you’ll find takeaway and dine-in options in a casual space with floor-to-ceiling windows that take in impressive views of Melbourne’s city skyline. Snag a spot and tuck into Korean fried chicken at Gami Chicken & Beer or head to the top level for yum cha at Secret Kitchen Express. Afterwards, pick up some sweet and savoury treats with macarons from Zumbo and freshly baked Japanese three-cheese creations from Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tart.
Once you’ve shopped up a storm, make for the greenery at Manningham Park Reserve on Park Avenue. There’s open space where dogs are allowed off leash, a pavilion for picnics and a newly installed soccer pitch. Nearby is Manningham Art Gallery, which hosts exhibitions of ceramics, contemporary art and emerging artists, as well as artist talks and workshops.
This area was also once home to the heritage-listed Schramm’s Cottage. Built in 1874 for German emigrant Max von Schramm as a home and Lutheran school, the stone building was relocated brick by brick from 1971 to 1975 to Victoria Street to accommodate road works. It is now overseen by the Doncaster-Templestowe Historical Society Museum, and the complex has become a home for local artefacts. Check out the archive of local newspapers dating from 1967 onwards. There’s also Finger’s Barn, built by Henry Finger on his orchard in 1870, and a full-size replica of the first electric tram in Australia, which ran between Doncaster and Box Hill from 1889 to 1896.
If you’re looking for holiday or weekend activities for the kids, take them to Aquarena Aquatic and Leisure Centre. There’s two indoor pools and a heated outdoor pool, a dedicated diving pool and, during the summer months, two giant waterslides.
There’s an excellent assortment of Asian restaurants in Doncaster. Head to Penang Flavours for authentic Malaysian hawker-style dishes like sar hor fun (noodles in an egg gravy with seafood and vegetables) and char kuey teow (spicy stir-fried flat rice noodles with seafood). Another restaurant offering traditional dishes is Don’t Tell Mama Shh…, where K-pop plays on the TV, vibrant posters adorn the walls, and the extensive menu, offering soy garlic fried chicken and corn cheese, is a delicious hit.
Hankering for a kid-friendly dining option once your exploring is done? The Shoppingtown Hotel has a bistro with daily specials, a play area for the kids and an open-air beer garden perfect for watching the sunset over the city.