While it’s developing quickly, this multicultural suburb still has pockets of green where you can escape city life.
Until the past couple of decades, St Albans was almost a village surrounded by farmland in Melbourne’s northwest. As far back as the 1880s, it was promoted to city workers as a place they could live the quiet life but still have easy access via rail to the CBD. After World War II and throughout the 1950s and 60s it was a popular place for European immigrants to settle. Later, significant populations from Asian countries, like Vietnam and the Philippines, moved here, too.
This means that there are many great eateries offering cuisine from around the world. Authentic Indian dishes, from dal makhani to goat biryani, are on offer at Indioz Tandoori. Bring the whole family, order lots of dishes and enjoy the flavours of the subcontinent.
Choose from two favourite Asian cuisines at Phi Phi Vietnamese & Chinese Restaurant. As well as popular choices like roast duck and seafood steam boat, there’s plenty on the menu you might not necessarily expect, including crocodile meat with XO sauce and deep-fried quail with salted egg yolk.
Whether you like your pizza traditional or with a gourmet twist — topped with tandoori chicken, red onion and mint yoghurt, perhaps? — you’ll find the perfect combination at St Albans Woodfired Pizza & Pasta. If you don’t feel like a slice, you can order lasagne like nonna used to make or a main dish like veal schnitzel.
Want to explore the foodie scene yourself? You can head to St Albans’ main shopping strip, Alfrieda Street, for different styles of Asian cuisine, or Main Road West/East for European and Middle Eastern fare. If you want some great Polish sausages to take home, head to Slavonija Continental Butchers. The salami here is made on the premises and there’s also a selection of sauerkraut and pickled vegetables.
And while there’s little farmland left in the suburb, there are 17 different parks and reserves offering space to roam. Take the kids to Errington Reserve to enjoy Alice’s Playspace, an inclusive playground that is wheelchair accessible and provides engagement for all the senses. There is also a picnic area and plenty of trees providing shade.
If the weather isn’t quite good enough for the park, take the kids to St Albans Library, where you’ll discover an excellent children’s section furnished with sofas and tables and chairs for them to spend some quiet time reading. There’s also a magazine reading room if you want to catch up on a few articles.
Depending on what time of year you’re visiting St Albans, you might also catch a festival. The biggest is the St Albans Lunar Festival, held each January, when more than 80,000 people gather to watch the Lion Dance, enjoy the fireworks and indulge in fantastic food to celebrate the arrival of the Lunar New Year.
Also check out the program at the Bowery Theatre, part of the St Albans Community Centre, which opened in 2017. Named after designer and performance artist Leigh Bowery, who was born in nearby Sunshine in 1961, the 200-seat venue hosts bold productions of theatre, music and other artistic forms.
When it’s time to take a load off, head to the St Albans Hotel, a casual spot for a drink or dinner in the bistro. There’s sport on the big screen, live entertainment, pool tables and an indoor play area for the kids.