As the warbling magpies down by the Yarra can attest, Bulleen is a peaceful oasis of culture and personality in the heart of Melbourne’s east.
If you’re looking for things to do in Melbourne, then head 15 minutes along the Eastern Freeway until you arrive at Bulleen. With the serene Yarra River forming its western and northern borders, and the bustling Eastern Freeway along its south, it packs a lot of punch for a relatively small suburb of just 11,000 residents.
Arguably its biggest drawcard for visitors from across town – and around the state, country and world for that matter – is the Heide Museum of Modern Art. Over the best part of a century, the home of John and Sunday Reed was shared by some of Australia’s most well-known and respected artists such as Sidney Nolan, Joy Hester and Albert Tucker. Their art – as well as contemporary exhibitions – adorn the walls of the original house, as well as the gallery spaces. Spending a morning in the Heide Cafe before strolling the heritage-listed gardens and sculpture park is like pure heaven, and one that’s suitable for all ages.
If you’re after some more fresh air, Bulleen Park is not only home to a great playground – think climbing equipment, slides, spinners, rockers, a see-saw and an ever-popular basket swing – but there are also some wide green spaces perfect for sports, picnicking and just embracing the fresh air.
Bulleen Park is also where you’ll find the Bolin Bolin Billabong Walk. The Bolin Bolin Billabong is the local Aboriginal name that the name Bulleen was derived from; the seclusion and natural beauty of this 90-minute walk offers a glimpse of a time before European settlement. The area still has a strong spiritual association for Indigenous people, and as you listen to the kookaburras cackle in the giant river red gums above you, you’ll soon appreciate why.
For a bite to eat – and a healthy dose of suburban multiculturalism – visit Bulleen Plaza on Manningham Road. Italian nonnas and nonnos relax in familiar formations, watching other locals and visitors alike run about their busy lives. Time seems to move slower here, despite the Plaza being a hive of activity no matter what time of day or week you visit. From people doing their regular supermarket shop to more discerning buyers teasing the plumpest fruit from Fruits of Envy, there’s a real sense of European community here. Of course, that community is not complete without a good slice of prosciutto from Deli Now and dessert from Dolce Pasticceria.
Finish your day out in Bulleen by stopping at one of the suburb’s most renowned retailers, Bulleen Art and Garden. More than just a simple garden nursery, BAAG is one of the most innovative, inspiring places to visit in all of north-eastern Melbourne. Step inside and you’ll instantly be in awe of the beautiful plants and flowers available for you to take home and make your garden shine. What’s more, the art and artisan products on show will ensure your car boot – or at least a few reusable shopping bags – are packed full of goodies.