Where urban and culinary delights rest on the fringes of nature.
Bordered by the Yarra River flood plains and festooned with gum trees across its rolling hills, Templestowe was a land of fruit growing, farming and fishing, and where many Irish and Scots settled in the 1830s. These days, it’s an area that’s culturally diverse, with migrant populations from Asia, Europe and the Middle East and, despite urban development, a thriving natural habitat.
There’s an abundance of parkland, with Westerfolds Park nestled into a hilly bend of the Yarra River and laced with a network of bitumen trails shared by walkers and cyclists. There’s also the chance to uncover the strong Aboriginal heritage of the lands here. Another popular parkland area with a playground full of sandpits, slides and flying foxes is Wombat’s Bend. Past the picnic area, the path on its outskirts cuts through Finn’s Reserve to a majestic suspension bridge with stunning views of the Yarra River and, on the other side, the Main Yarra Trail.
Nature’s refreshing atmosphere can be hard to leave, so don’t. Instead, make your way to Petty’s Orchard. This is one of the oldest commercial orchards in Melbourne — the land was acquired in 1853 — and cultivates more than 200 varieties of heritage apples. There’s an organic cafe serving coffee and a selection of tasty cakes, muffins and pies, a playground for the kids and, on weekends, a market selling fresh organic fruit and vegetables.
Then there’s Down the Rabbit Hole, a beautiful cafe where nature meets design. Modelled on the hills and surrounding eucalypts in the area, the cafe offers an extensive all-day menu. The breakfast board and calamari bao with Asian slaw are two delicious options, but be sure to pick up a ‘bronut’ — a brioche doughnut — hundreds of which are served each weekend.
For indoor and outdoor dining in a family-friendly setting, try Italian restaurant Carlucci’s, where generous portions of traditional and gourmet pizzas, pastas, focaccias and parmigiana are the norm. Leave room for fluffy zeppoli donuts, covered in icing sugar and served with strawberries, ice-cream and melted chocolate. Another popular spot, with a bistro, sports bar, kids play area and a buffet offering Australian and international cuisine, is Templestowe Hotel, just down the road.
For fine dining in the suburbs, there’s The Living Room, serving modern Australian cuisine. Grab a spot by the fireplace and sample a glass from their impressive cellar of Australian wines.
Looking to take your culinary aspirations to the next level at home? Pick up a selection of fresh vegetables, noodles, meat, fish, poultry and dry goods, as well as freshly made dumplings, at Eastern Court Asian Groceries. Discover biltong (cured meat), boerewors (South African sausage) and other traditional favourites at The South African Shop. For Australian produce and artisan European brands, head to Gourmet Living. Owner Bek also runs cooking classes and invites guest chefs to share their recipes and techniques.