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Discover some of the history of Melbourne’s north, and visit with some racing legends, at this growing suburb.

It may border Melbourne Airport and be within a 20-minute drive of Melbourne’s CBD, but until recent decades Greenvale was thought of as a region of farm holdings that brought a touch of rural life to the city. That is all changing though, with many of the larger parcels of land being transformed into residential neighbourhoods. With those changes have come many others, including a new range of services and attractions.

One of the main reasons for a visit to Greenvale is to explore Woodlands Historic Park. Bring your bike or a good pair of walking shoes because there’s plenty to discover. Not much has changed here since the first Europeans arrived in the area in the 1840s and this is a unique opportunity to see the landscape as those early settlers would have.

Start at the Somerton Road picnic area and follow the 2.5km Murrup Gurrong Yan (Spiritual Creek Walk). Deeper into the park you’ll find the old Woodlands Homestead, a rare example of a large, timber, prefabricated home that was built in Britain and transported to Australia. The 1843 building, constructed by former Royal Navy officer William Pomeroy Greene, now houses an art gallery and displays a significant collection of historical artefacts.

Those keen to explore the bush and spot some wildlife — kangaroos and birds are abundant here — should head to the property’s back paddock. At its far end is Gellibrand Hill, a mass of granite boulders with 360-degree views of Melbourne, Port Phillip Bay, the airport and Great Dividing Range, as well as the ruins of Dundonald homestead.

Also part of the park is Living Legends, a retirement home (of sorts) for some of Australia’s most famous racehorses. Each day, between 10am and 4pm, visitors can observe the likes of Melbourne Cup winners Might and Power, Doriemus and Rogan Josh in their paddocks. There’s also the chance to do an hour-long guided tour (11am to 2pm) and enter the horse area to meet these beautiful steads. If you need a playground for tykes, Barrymore Road Recreation Reserve has slides, swings, a climbing wall, flying fox and much more. It’s right next door to a skate park and basketball court for any teenagers needing to burn some energy.

When you’re done, head to Greenvale Shopping Centre. As well as a Coles supermarket and a number of specialist stores, there are a number of cafes and food outlets. Try Caffe Regina Petro for foccacias, coffee and cake, grab a slice at Jessie’s Pizza or nab a table at super-casual Kong Chinese Bistro. It has lunch and dinner specials, as well as a good selection of stir-fries, noodles and rice dishes.

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