Wineries, cosy cafes and open spaces characterise this leafy suburb in Nillumbik’s Artisan Hills.
Names of suburbs aren’t always innovative. Take Hurstbridge for instance, which is named after one of the first European families to settle here, the Hursts, who built a log bridge over Diamond Creek. Many years ago, the area was characterised by rural properties with orchards and nurseries, but as its grown it has attracted a diverse community that includes farmers, artists and families who want to live surrounded by bushland but still be within commuting district of Melbourne’s CBD.
There are still some reminders of days gone in Hurstbridge. The beautiful, European-style Panton Hill Vineyard & Winery, produces a number of wines, including chardonnay, verdelho and shiraz. The cellar door is open on weekends, so drop in for a tasting.
Right across the road from the train station, you’ll discover the Post Office Cafe. Take a seat within the timber-lined space or head out onto the deck for brekkie, burgers or fish and chips. Another popular, casual spot for a coffee and bite to eat is Bridge 2 Eden Cafe. The menu changes according to season, so expect hearty soups in winter and refreshing salads when the weather warms.
When you’re done, drop into Oku Den, a unique boutique where Japan is the focus. The designers create pieces, including garments and handbags, from recycled kimono fabric, but also source homewares and accessories inspired by the land of the rising sun.
When the days are bright, take the family to Fergusons Paddock. As well as a footy field and basketball courts, there are a number of different play areas, with slides, swings, rope climbing frames and even a pirate ship. Those who love rare flora should seek out the huge Monterey cypress tree, thought to have been planted in the area soon after European settlement and considered significant by the Victorian Heritage Register for its size, age and its links to the early landscaping to the Allwood homestead, the district’s first home.
In another corner of this large patch of green, you’ll discover Hurstbridge Skate Park. There’s a concrete open bowl with craters, banks and a rail. Believe us, it might not make a lot of sense to you, but your teenager will think it’s totally wicked.
On the first Sunday of every month, you’ll also find Hurstbridge Farmers Market in Fergusons Paddock. Local wineries, farmers growing organic fruit and veg, and other stallholders selling the freshest produce and food from the Artisan Hills can be found here. Gather up enough tasty snacks to create a picnic to have on the lawn.
If you’ve got the kids with you, head to Wild Wombat. This popular cafe not only does a good line in tasty burgers, crepes and salad, but also has a better-than-average menu for the small folk in your family. They can choose from bacon and eggs on a muffin, French toast, fish and chips and cocktail sausages. Another family-friendly venue, with a rustic, cosy atmosphere, is Wildwood Grill & Tavern. There’s a fireplace for the cold months and an outdoor dining area that’s perfect when it warms up. The menu offers a selection of modern Australian dishes that are perfect teamed with local Yarra Valley wines.