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Set the GPS to Essendon, hop in the car – or jump a train, tram or bus – and come on over to one of Melbourne’s nicest suburbs.

One of the most historic suburbs in all of Melbourne – especially in the north-west, a region that has otherwise been booming only in the past few decades – Essendon is home to many well-heeled Melburnians, who love the area’s leafy streets, restaurants, great parks and schools, and who have a passion for sport that’s arguably unmatched anywhere in the city.

One of the best places to fuel up for a day of exploring is Johnny Pump. Juicy, juicy burgers and delicious, fat fries ensure the menu is filled with reasons to give up dieting – for life! – but the main reason people come from suburbs away is the range of Instagram-worthy dessert shakes on offer. Picture the most decadent dessert you could think of, add a donut, a monstrous scoop of ice cream, a brownie, or a mountain of whipped cream. It’s an experience you’ll never forget. What’s more, they’re open until 9pm Wed-Sat, making it perfect for a dinner (or post-dinner) treat as well.

Mount Alexander Road is the main thoroughfare throughout Essendon and Essendon North, with the number 59 tram the perfect way for hopping on and off and experiencing the best of the suburb’s fashion offering. The area around the Mount Alexander Road / Leake Street roundabout is home to stores like Chilli Clothing (on-trend women’s fashion), Mind Alive (awesome toy store that’s been around for more than 40 years) and Village Blooms of Essendon (stunning florist), all of which will supply you with the perfect memento of an afternoon stroll in Essendon North.

Hero image credit: johnnypump.com.au

Image credit: mvcc.vic.gov.au

Woodlands Park, Essendon

One of most popular Melbourne parks for kids and grown-ups alike is located in Woodlands Park, located just around the corner on the corner of Carnarvon Road and Woodlands Street (also accessible via Winifred Street). There’s an awesome playground, lake, four-kilometre walking trail and plenty of open space where local families love to kick the footy. What’s more, a historic timber Settler’s Cottage from the Gold Rush era has been relocated to Woodlands Park, offering children – and generations to come – a taste of what it was like living in the 1800s. 

Another of Essendon’s mini-precincts is along Rose Street – the first stop for anyone hopping off the train at Essendon Station. Take a seat in the window at St Rose, a bright and airy cafe positioned in the middle of the strip, and people-watch while tucking into a Snickers smoothie bowl, brekkie burger or vegan soft shell taco. 

Any self-respecting Australian Rules football lover will be well aware of Essendon’s position in the game. As one of the found clubs in the Victorian Football League in 1897, the Bombers are entrenched in the hearts and minds of locals. From 1922 until 1991, Essendon Football Club’s home ground was Windy Hill, perched on one of the highest points in the suburb. While the Bombers have relocated their permanent base to near Melbourne Airport, Windy Hill has a fascinating history and is still the spiritual heartland for their many passionate fans. 

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