Enjoy the best of both worlds: tranquillity and greenery close to the city and an amazing array of unique stores and hip cafes.

Even as far back as the 1830s, people could see the attraction of this part of the world. Ivanhoe is only nine kilometres northwest of Melbourne’s CBD, and its first European settlers included those seeking picturesque country estates that reminded them of home. They found lush, rolling hills here, with two waterways — Darebin Creek and the Yarra River — running through the landscape. Among the first to arrive was Archibald Thom, who named his property Ivanhoe after the novel by Sir Walter Scott. Within a decade, there were schools, pubs and other community hubs being established.

Today, those interested in history, particularly of the architectural variety, should head to Melcombe Road, where remnants of AV Jennings’ 1938 Beaumont Estate can still be seen. It features Moderne and English domestic revival homes, now heritage listed, in one of the earliest and most successful cul-de-sac developments in Victoria.

Another arresting example of heritage architecture is The Centre Ivanhoe, previously known as Heidelberg Town Hall. Built on Ivanhoe’s highest hill in 1937, it has been described as the best example of the interwar Moderne style in Victoria. 

For all your retail needs, and more, you can’t go past Upper Heidelberg Road. Update your wardrobe at style emporiums like Andiamo and Cose Ipanema, find toys kids will love and learn from at Creative Minds, then satisfy the entire family’s sweet tooth at Australian Chocolate Emporium. There’s plenty more to explore, including Andrew’s Bookshop and Issa, which stocks luxury homewares, fashion and gifts. If you begin feeling peckish as you shop, find a table at Va Tutto. As the name suggests, this restaurant offers an excellent selection of Italian dishes, but equally as satisfying are its Asian dumplings and entrees. The less formal bistro section is great for lunch.

Australian-Chocolate-Emporium-Ivanhoe
Australian Chocolate Emporium, Ivanhoe

Hip cafes have also made their move on the suburb. The Foreigner, with its exposed brick walls and contemporary chandeliers, is situated on Ivanhoe Parade. The Middle Eastern-inspired menu — think Moroccan eggs, camel burgers and shawarma spiced chicken — is one of the neighbourhood’s most popular. On Westley Avenue you’ll find Pinkie, a cute cafe that gets its name for the pink frosted brick wall and two tone seating. The dishes on the menu, from the hibiscus and beetroot latte to the triple chocolate pancakes with berries, are all potential Instagram stars.

The-Foreigner-Ivanhoe
The Foreigner, Ivanhoe

Culture lovers should check the program at Hatch Contemporary Arts Space, which not only showcases the Banyule Art Collection, but hosts temporary exhibitions — many featuring local artists — poetry readings, workshops, performances and more.

Anyone wanting to get into the swing of things can play Ivanhoe Public Golf Course’s 18 holes, all of which are surrounded by native flora and fauna. It’s a par 68, undulating course and, after 1pm on weekdays, it only costs $20 to play.

Bordering the golf course is Chelsworth Park, 11 hectares with towering red river gums, mature European trees and sporting fields. Taking a stroll along its walking and cycling trails will reveal a host of native birds, including honeyeaters, fairy wrens and king parrots.  

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