Published 18 June 2020
Please note some venues and activities are on pause due to Covid-19. Please check opening times and restrictions before visiting.
enIf you spend the week yearning for wide open spaces, fresh air and some real time with the ones you love, Find Your Self in Nillumbik this Sunday – just one hour’s drive from Melbourne (and on your way to the Yarra Valley!).
Take it easy, enjoy the drive and lean into some country style hospitality while you return your Sundays to their real purpose – reconnecting, relaxing and...eating!
Take a whole month of Sundays and enjoy the Nillumbik way of life!
Week 1 - One for the kids
A day out with the kids, that’s budget friendly but rich in fun.
Edendale Community Environment Farm, Eltham
Pat the Guinea pigs, feed the chooks, meet a pony, a turtle, the lizards, goats and sheep (babies too depending on what time of the year it is!). Kids can get ‘hands on the land’ with real farm animals, veggie gardens and orchards to explore. Edendale Community Environment Farm is a sustainability rich, fun zone that teaches kids about their world in an enjoyable, immersive experience. It’s only a gold coin donation to enter and you can pack a picnic or enjoy the harvest in the café. There’s walking tracks and cool artworks to see and loads of opportunities for natural play.
Diamond Valley Railway, Eltham Lower Park
Next stop - Take the kids on a train ride – but not just any train ride – a miniature train ride! For just $3, kids can enjoy a 10-15 minute train ride through natural bushland and tunnels in an activity that is just the right size for them! The Diamond Valley Railway collection of 1/6 size trains run on steam, petrol/diesel, or electric traction and the team of volunteers offer rides all day on Sundays only. There are playgrounds and BBQs close by.
Eltham North Adventure Playground, Eltham
This is the playground you wish you went to as a kid! Right across the road from Edendale, you won’t even have to move the car! The Eltham North Adventure Playground has a large shelter spanning a multitude of play activities, so the weather doesn’t matter and heaps of variety for the little ones and the big ones. Cubbies (shops anyone?), bike trails (ditch those training wheels forever), waterplay troughs (pack a change of clothes – this could get delightfully messy) and climbing-jumping-hanging spaces galore. Wear them out for the car trip home but more importantly take some memorable photos that will outlast Instagram!
Week 2 – Culture vulture
Step inside a town that lives and breathes its Arts and Culture
Eltham Farmers Market (every Sunday), Eltham
Take a trip to Eltham and experience one of Victoria’s top 8 Farmers’ Markets for yourself. The Eltham Farmers' Market market features many truly local stall holders (around 15 of the 40 stall holders are from Nillumbik alone) and is the go-to place for stocking up on all your weekly needs for fruit, vegetables, bread, condiments and sweet treats. And beyond the basics you might be enticed by a little cheese, pet treats, dairy, coffee, nuts and seeds, olive oils and wine (phew). There’s a high ethos around sustainability and the market is plastic bag free, dog-friendly and easily accessible via public transport. The market itself is full of entertainment value – and there’s live music too! Redefine your food shopping!
There’s also a Community Market on selected Sundays, and the Food Swap is every 4th Sunday.
Montsalvat was founded in 1930 and is a truly special place to visit when in Eltham. The stone buildings, extensive gardens and grand halls speak to a time that has a European tone, with an Australian feel. Even if you don’t know much about art, you’re bound to have heard of at least one Australian artist that has spent time in this famous destination. Montsalvat is Australia’s oldest continuously active artists’ community; a place where art in all its forms is made and taught, and art’s transformative power is celebrated in exhibitions, festivals, concerts, workshops and artists’ residencies.
Eltham Library Community Gallery, Eltham
If you’re curious about how locals see the region and bring it to life in their art, then this is a wonderful dive into truly local culture and experience at Eltham Library Community Gallery. You might also find time to participate in artist demonstrations and workshops, interactive and collaborative activities, or catch some live music. This community gallery features exhibits from individual artists, artist groups or organisations and curators who live, work, study or have strong, ongoing links to Nillumbik.
Week 3 – Local Produce, Local History
Take a day to explore the real Hurstbridge – past, present and future
Hurstbridge Heritage Walk, Hurstbridge
Walk in the footsteps of Hurstbridge’s pioneers as you explore the 3.6km Heritage walking trail that takes you up close and personal with the historical and heritage sites of the region. This area has long been one of Melbourne’s primary food bowls and farming is still an important way of life. Start and finish anywhere you like and allow about an hour for your wanderings. Sites of significance have loads of interesting information to enjoy and there are plenty of local cafes, restaurants and shops to review too!
Omaru Alpacas, Hurstbridge
Cuddled an alpaca lately? These guys are a friendly bunch of coloured alpacas at Omaru Alpacas that will be delighted to let you feed them a nibble! See a real working alpaca farm and experience a little taste of farm life. Picnic with the alpacas (but watch your lunch!) and get to know a herd with a difference. There’s picnic facilities and photo opportunities in this peaceful rural setting with views that extend to the ranges and beyond. Open third Sunday of the month.
Shaws Road Winery, Arthurs Creek
When you’ve been making wine for more than 30 years, you know a thing or two, right? From the soil to the bottle, Shaws Road Winery is a local business with big ideals – and more than a few awards to prove it. Visit this working winery and, after a home-style meal, a wine tasting and a cellar tour in the underground cellar, take a walk and meet the farm chickens, the wine doggos and chill in the beautiful farmhouse gardens. That’s life!
Week 4 – Foodie finds
Your day starts in Kangaroo Ground and ends with a happy belly, a wonderful wine, and a view.
Fondata 1872, Kangaroo Ground
Ask a local about ‘Wellers’ and you will soon realise just how loved this important piece of local history is. Fondata 1872 is an authentic Italian restaurant set among the rolling hills of Nillumbik, with views to enjoy and fabulous food and wine to savour. A loving restoration of the buildings (originally built in 1872) has created a destination that is overflowing with country charm, with an urban sophistication that is present in the locally inspired menu, the best-of-Nillumbik wine list, and the passionate people that make Fondata so special.
Easthill Estate, Kangaroo Ground
If you’ve ever pondered making the big shift from city life to a rural vineyard, this family winery is a great example of how to dive in and learn from the ground up. Since 2011, Easthill Estate has been producing exceptional wines thanks to the rich dark volcanic soil and careful nurturing that goes into every grape! Visit the rustic cellar door for a unique experience with solid timber natural furniture and a collection of old-world relics and artefacts to enjoy – and of course a range of excellent wines complemented by a ‘Platter by Preference’. Sink in for a truly memorable cellar door experience. Open 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month.
Kangaroo Ground Memorial Tower, Kangaroo Ground
With360-degree views that span Melbourne, the north-east suburbs and the Dandenong and Kinglake Ranges, the Kangaroo Ground Memorial Tower is a ‘high’ priority for your day. Built in 1926 on the highest hill in Kangaroo Ground, this outlook is a top-of-the-world experience with panoramic photo opportunities so have the camera ready!
Once you’ve taken in the view from the platform, take a wander through the gardens. There are picnic and toilet facilities on site.
Sunday drives take on a whole new flavour when you explore Nillumbik’s fabulous fare, amazing art and homestyle hospitality. A little bit of history less than one hour from Melbourne. Check our website for opening hours and all the information you need to plan your day.