Open spaces abound in this suburb. Make the most of them exploring the parks then enjoy the relaxed atmosphere in South Morang’s restaurants and cafes.
If you build it, they will come. In the case of South Morang that famous movie saying applies to a train line and permanent residents. This formerly semi-rural suburb was already becoming popular with people wanting to escape the grind of the city in the early 2000s, but even more development in the past five years or so means there’s plenty to see and do in South Morang.
Farm Vigano was the home of two of Melbourne’s most prominent Italian residents in the 1930s and 40s. Mario Vigano owned Mario’s restaurant in Exhibition Street, while Maria Teresa was a celebrated artist. They built this property and designed its gardens, so they could entertain their friends and bring a touch of their culture to their new home. The property remains the same as when it was sold after Mario’s death, and now houses a fantastic restaurant. Lunch in the dining room surrounded by picture windows overlooking the Plenty River Gorge is a journey through Italian culinary traditions. Choose the sharing menu to try antipasti, pizza and slow-cooked lamb and porchetta with sides of roasted potatoes and salad. It’s a feast you won’t soon forget.
One of South Morang’s finest attributes is its huge range of parks and reserves. Colourful climbing gyms and slides at Brolga Park are perfect for little tykes. Anyone prone to wandering should try Foothills Park. A creek runs through its five hectares and walking trails meander through the natural bush and grasslands. There’s a barbecue, picnic area and playground if you decide to linger. More water can be found at Mill Park Lakes Recreation Reserve. Bring along the footy for a kick on the oval, watch cricket players in a local match or simply relax in the sunshine.
Feel the need for speed? T.U.K.E. (The Ultimate Karting Experience) has a track that weaves through natural bushland and machines to suit all drivers. Even the kids can have a go in the zippy Sodi Fun Kid karts that are simple to drive and have added safety options. If you’re looking for a group outing with a difference, go-karting may well be it.
There’s a lush outlook at Promenade Cafe, where you can grab something quick to go — perfect if you’re planning a park visit —or dine in to take advantage of all the options. There are light breakfasts, plus larger plates for anyone who’s famished, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, pizza and vegetarian meals. If your family can never agree on what they want to eat, you can please them all here. Timber-lined Santos Cafe and Bar is a popular spot for wood-fired pizzas and burgers. Sometimes there’ll be live music on a Saturday evening, and you definitely need to book if you want to enjoy dinner along with the tunes.
Plenty Ranges Arts & Community Centre is the place to go for a little culture. The theatre hosts a range of productions — musicals, bands, comedy — and presents family movie nights and school holiday screenings.
If you’re looking for pub classics in a relaxed, family-friendly watering hole, try the Commercial Hotel. There’s also a band room, where you can see local musos strut their stuff or rock out to a tribute band.