Ah, the romance. Mitcham was named after Mitcham Grove, a farm owned by William Slater. Here, he grew roses and herbs that were used to make perfumes and remedies. In the years that followed, orchards were planted here, and the other major products came from the brickworks and pottery.
There are still some remnants of those days dotted around the suburb. Schwerkolt Cottage was built using stone in 1884. The house and its surrounding buildings — a smokehouse, barn, wine cellar and machinery shed — have been completely restored and can be explored by visitors on weekends and public holidays. The extensive grounds also have a playground, barbecue facilities and walking trails. Head to the museum within the complex, where there’s a collection of photographs and artefacts documenting local history.
The stones for Schwerkolt Cottage were collected from Mullum Mullum Creek, just upstream from what is now the Yarran Dheran Nature Reserve. Covering slightly more than seven hectares, this large park has remnant and regenerated bushland and is home to more than 85 species of birds. In spring the black wattle flowers, and there are a number of different types of orchids growing wild here. The Mullum Mullum Creek Trail runs through the reserve and you can also pick your way along smaller, unsealed paths to do a complete lap of the area. Keep your eyes peeled while you’re deep in the bush because this is a corridor for kangaroos and wallabies and a permanent home for possums, sugar gliders and echidnas.
After a long walk, head to The Mabel for a tasty pick-me-up. This white-washed cafe with polished concrete floors and recycled church furniture offers a short menu of dishes — a green bowl, French toast with stone fruit and lemon curd, and a fried chicken burger —to keep you going until much later in the day. Another popular option is Dark Horse on the Brit. Tuck into superfood porridge, a Middle Eastern breakfast or spiced lamb kebabs before facing the rest of the day.
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When hunger hits hard, order up a bowl of vermicelli with grilled pork and spring rolls, a plate of rice paper bowls or a piping hot pho with beef and brisket at Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Minh Long. If you’ve got a group, book a table at Khusboo Indian Restaurant then order dishes from the tandoor as well as your favourite curries — there is a big selection of vegetarian options — to share around.
When it’s time for some down time, take a seat in the lounge area at the family-friendly Mitcham Hotel before heading into the large, modern bistro for dinner. When the kids get bored, they can take off to the indoor play area, while you check out the latest big game in the sports bar.