Experience the local arts and fascinating history of Moonee Ponds, home to Australia’s most famous housewife.
If you want to experience some interesting history in Melbourne, head to Moonee Ponds. It’s where Queen Victoria’s Silver Jubilee was commemorated in 1897. It is also the home of Dame Edna Everage (created by comedian Barry Humphries), who made her debut in 1955. Over time the suburb has evolved, but there are still vestiges of history to be found all around.
Puckle Street is the main shopping strip and home to a vibrant community dotted with historic buildings and a variety of trendy shops. With the suburb’s junction of trams and buses to the east and Moonee Ponds train station to the west, transport around and out of the suburb is a breeze.
Right beside the station is the Clocktower Centre, the suburb’s crowning jewel and a beloved venue with a colourful history. It was originally the Essendon and Flemington Mechanics Institute, built in 1880, then the local town hall, before being transformed into a venue for arts and culture. Now it features a 500-seat theatre that hosts a range of productions, including musical theatre, concerts, ballet and more.
If you’re looking for a post-theatre tipple, head to quiet and cosy Strangeloves Wine Bar, where you’ll find an extensive selection of wines, beers, spirits and cocktails and a stack of board games to play in one of the three lounge areas. Feeling peckish? Order from its menu of other local eateries and have it delivered. Another option with a more bustling atmosphere is Valley Cellar Door, with an impressive display of wines, craft beers and ciders on the wooden shelves and inside glowing fridges around the venue. There’s also a small menu of pizzas and selection of cheese, antipasto and charcuterie boards for a light snack.
These are both great places to pick up a nice bottle of wine before heading out for a meal at one of the many restaurants in Moonee Ponds. Chiba Japanese Restaurant serves up traditional and beautifully presented sushi and sashimi platters, as well as teppanyaki and tempura. For a more robust meal, including stir-fries, curries, rice and noodle dishes, head to Thai restaurant Khao San Road.
For some tasty options you can take home, visit Urban Market Wholefood. Here you can shop for organic fruit and vegetables and an extensive range of well-priced vegan, gluten-free and eco-friendly foods and products. There’s also coffee, fresh juices and a selection of healthy treats available from the on-site cafe.
On the hunt for some activities for the kids? The striking Incinerator Gallery hosts exhibitions of visual art, with many interactive pieces, by a variety of emerging and established Australian artists. There’s also a calendar of regular tours and artists’ talks, and art courses for adults and children.
Take a break from the bustling streets in Queens Park, a lush oasis in the heart of Moonee Ponds. There’s a relaxing walk around the beautiful lake, where keen eyes can spot ducks and turtles. Kids will love the playgrounds, and there’s barefoot bowls at Moonee Ponds Bowling Club. Nestled among the trees you’ll find the family friendly Curators Collective, serving up a range of breakfast dishes, burgers and salads, as well as beer and wine looking out over the park. It’s a great place to fuel up before embarking on the Queens Park Heritage Trail, where you’ll discover some of the fascinating sites of historical significance around Moonee Ponds.