Previously known as the stomping ground of Dame Edna Everage, this Melbourne neighbourhood has become a bustling hub in its own right. Discover unmissable things to do in Moonee Ponds and plan your visit.
Melbourne is a fantastic city in so many different ways. One of the things I love most about living here, is the abundance of activities available in the suburbs outside of the city centre.
I’d like to introduce you to one of my favourite suburbs of Melbourne – Moonee Ponds.
Located in the north-west of the city and chockablock full of activities delicious eateries, here are some things to do in Moonee Ponds.
Things to do in Moonee Ponds
1. Shop along Puckle St
The main stretch of Moonee Ponds is littered with delightful boutique and secondhand stores.
I recommend Homing Instinct for cute cards and clever gifts, the Source Bulk Foods for plastic-free presents and Collins Booksellers, because bookstores need all the patronage we can give them.
If you love a thrifty bargain, try Community Wardrobe, Red Cross Australia or the Brotherhood of St Laurence, located right outside the train station. I’ve found some super pleasing bargains in all three, especially CW.
2. Take a dip at Queen’s Park Pool
Melbourne isn’t exactly renowned for its beach scene, so thank goodness for local pools.
Queen’s Park Pool is open from late November to early March and is priced at $5.95 for an adult entry.
It gets pretty packed out during school holidays and hot days, but if you visit at certain times during the week (say at 1030am on a Tuesday) you’ll be pretty close to being the only one there.
3. Have a picnic at Queen’s Park
This is certainly one of my favourite things to do in Moonee Ponds.
Victoria is known as Australia’s “Garden State” and so the parks in Melbourne are something else.
Queen’s Park is a lovely expanse of space, featuring entertaining areas, a lawn bowls field, wonderful plant life, playgrounds for kids and… well, a giant and I suppose eponymous pond.
4. Go for a stroll along the Moonee Ponds Creek Trail
If you’re in the mood for a stroll, consider giving the Moonee Ponds Creek Trail a whirl.
This shared bike/pedestrian path starts at Melbourne Docklands and continues all the way onto the airport.
Along the way, it passes a series of parks and reserves, perfect for chilling out
5. Explore the Essendon Historical Society (when it re-opens)
Housed in Moonee Pond’s old courthouse, is the museum of the Essendon Historical Society.
A fire destroyed the roof of the courthouse in mid-2016, as well as some of the EHS’ collection.
Luckily, the building has been restored. It’s now open to the public every Sunday from 2pm–5pm.
6. Catch a play at the Clocktower Centre
You can read a full history of the Clocktower Centre, but to summarise – it was once the site for the Essendon Town Hall, with the actual Clocktower itself now the only part of the original building that remains.
The Centre now plays home to events throughout the year, predominantly plays.
They’re too far and few between, but be sure to try and time your visit with one, to support of the local arts community.
7. Check out the Incinerator Gallery
Technically located in Aberfeldie, the Incinerator Gallery houses exhibitions of work done by local artists.
The venue also offers art classes for adults and children.
Excellent. I’ve always wanted to learn more about ceramics.
8. Ogle all the pretty houses and buildings
Moonee Ponds is at its core, a nice, residential area. It’s a place for families and is filled with beautiful, big houses.
As an architecture nut, I have mixed feelings while walking through the streets.
A simple appreciation for the beautiful structures around me, but also feelings of jealous that turn into downright angst and anxiety should I ever care to look up the housing prices within the area.
9. Visit the library
As this post is also intended to be helpful for those who have moved to the Moonee Valley district – I implore you to join the wonderful, wonderful library.
Sam Merrifield is the hub of Moonee Valley Libraries. It is very infrequent that a book that you are after will not be available, even if you have to wait a few weeks to get your paws on a copy.
Join, join, join (it also has decent public toilets and free internet for members!).
Where to Eat in Moonee Ponds
The following section is divided into places to brunch (truly a time-honoured Australian tradition) and dine at night.
Ascot Food Store is probably the most popular place to eat out in Moonee Ponds, so if you’re heading there on a weekend – get there early. It’s small, but cute and features traditional brunch fare, with a twist – such as pulled-pork eggs Benedict (so, so delicious, but terribly rich) and fried-chicken waffles.
Curator’s Collective Café is one of my favourites of the area. Located in the centre of Queen’s Park, the fare is affordable and they make the best matcha lattes in the area, giving them a big tick of approval in my book. They also make some killer freakshakes, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Sir Duke is located on Puckle Street proper and is always fairly busy. It’s on the pricier side of things, but the food is delicious and the staff very friendly, which definitely goes a long way. Plus, they’re open all day and have $12 cocktails. What more could you ask for?
For plates that pack a punch, head to Convoy. With room for 75 people, it’s the ideal place for group brunching.
Contained in an old church, Dear Abbey wins hands down, for having the coolest decor in the area. It helps that the food is darn delicious as well. I’m a sucker (fun fact, accidentally wrote “ducker” first) for the Eggs Bene Duck in particular. Although I don’t drink coffee myself, I have it on good authority that their coffee is very nice.
The Brother Hen is named such, as it’s home to a few chooks out the back area. Incidentally, the fried chicken wrap there is really good, although I’m sure (I hope!) it’s not the cafe’s own chickens who are on the menu!
Chiba has a decent Bento Box, particularly enjoyable with a side of green tea.
That being said, I do love the decor (and food) of Yokoso Izakaya on Mt. Alexander Rd.
Beginning life as a lockdown pop-up, Parco is a dedicated ramen restaurant, with broths and noodles are made from scratch. Perfect for a cold winter’s day.
Crosello is a wonderful place to visit for delicious pizza and pasta or a refreshing bev in the late eve. It’s always packed out, so I recommend booking. If it’s going to be a nice evening, definitely consider getting a seat outside, where you can sit and watch the world (or at the very least, Moonee Ponds) go by.
Il Caminetto make delicious pizza out of dough that is rested for 72 hours. Vegan and gluten-free options are available, so come here with your meat-free mates.
For a tipple
The Valley Cellar Door is a favourite among locals. Good luck getting a seat on a weekend as it is generally packed out. I always see this as being a good sign for a venue and so can only say good things about this particular wine bar.
Once just a really cool bottle shop, Penny Young now operates as a venue, with its very own bar and beer hall. It stocks lots of local drinks, particularly craft beer and cider and always makes me wish I were more into beer, because I go in there and get sucked in by the pretty labels.
The Mighty is a stylish all-day pub, located on Mt Alexander Road. Order a local drop or feast on some delicious pub fare.
Getting to Moonee Ponds
So, how do you get to this wonderful part of Melbourne? There are a couple of options.
Moonee Ponds is five stops away from Flinders Street Station (depending on the day and whether or not the City Loop is currently in action, it changes throughout the day as an act of utter insanity). The train line you’ll need to jump on is the Cragieburn Line.
The 59 tram will take you straight into the centre of town from the city. If you’re travelling from the west, hop on the 82 from Footscray.
Where to stay
There aren’t a lot of options on where to stay and I’m not a massive fan of AirBnB, so I won’t be suggesting it.
Your best bet would be Quest Apartments – they’re self-contained, but I recommend eating some of your meals at the delicious local cafes and restaurants.
So, there you have it! A healthy list of things to do in Moonee Ponds. It’s a wonderful place to escape or even move to, should you want a break from the frenetic energy of Melbourne’s CBD.
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