Only in Abbotsford can you stroll along the banks of the Yarra River, eat and drink at some of the best spots in town and relax in an historic convent — all just a few minutes from the city centre.
The cool kids have been calling Abbotsford home for a while now; but for a long time, the area – covering only 1.8 square kilometres and home to nearly 10,000 residents – was traditionally an industrial area. Rolling along on a Mernda or Hurstbridge Line train through North Richmond, Collingwood and Victoria Park Stations a glance out the window showcases the old façades of its working-class past. These days Abbotsford is a multicultural melting pot, with 60 years of immigrants rubbing shoulders with young urban professionals and everyone in between.
Kelso’s Sandwich Shoppe caters to those looking for a delish sandwich, burger, coffee, milkshake, and any combination of those things. Open daily, it’s the perfect place to kickstart a visit to Abbotsford, or simply to stop in for a takeaway toastie and coffee on the way to your next destination.
If you’d prefer to settle in somewhere for a while, there are a couple of great old pubs that cater for Abbotsford locals and visitors alike. The Yarra Hotel is open till late each night, with live music a staple. Its beer garden and open fireplace lend a peaceful and homely atmosphere in the winters, while the menu caters to vegetarians and carnivores alike. A little further east is The Retreat Hotel, a venue that oozes nostalgia and cares for the local clientele as if they were family. Select from the great range of tap beers, have a hit of pool, or bring the pooch and have a session in the beer garden.
No self-respecting visitor to Abbotsford can leave without visiting arguably the most popular destination in the area, the Abbotsford Convent. The largest multi-arts centre in all of Australia, the former Convent is now home to more than 100 studios, galleries, cafes and even a radio station. Exhibitions and classes run consistently, and the sprawling expanses of the well-manicured grounds ensure that a visit to the Convent is beautiful year-round.
On the fourth Sunday of each month, the Convent is also home to the Slow Food Farmers’ Market, with more than 80 stallholders who pride themselves on their good, clean and fair produce. This ensures you not only get the tastiest food around but can also be confident knowing it’s sustainable and ethically sourced. Remember to bring your own bag, basket or trolley, as the Slow Food Farmers’ Market is proudly plastic bag-free.
Another community-focused Abbotsford institution is the Collingwood Children’s Farm. Established 40-odd years ago to offer city kids a farm experience, it is open every day of the year (weather dependent) except winter solstice. Take a stroll through the paddocks, pack a picnic or time your visit to coincide with the Collingwood Children’s Farm Farmers’ Market (second Saturday of each month, 8am-1pm). It’s one of the most popular farmers’ markets in all of Melbourne so come ready to stroll, browse and buy from one of the dozens of stallholders eager to share their produce with you.