Melbourne’s unsympathetic cold air attempted to pierce my multiple layers of clothing. It was the first of June and Australia’s first day of winter.
There was a considerable difference in temperature from the time I left Queensland to my arrival in Melbourne, Victoria. At this time of year, daytime temperatures in Brisbane average 21C and Melbourne 13C with a predictable decline over the next few weeks.
Aerial view of Brisbane and Melbourne’s winter trees
However not all is doom and gloom as Victoria offers refreshing winter days where the sun glistens on autumn leaves that carpet the grounds with spectacular colours of gold, bronze and burnt orange. Or simply highlights the stunning colourful blooms that thrive in the southern states.
Autumn and winter is a beautiful time to visit Victoria, as long as you dress accordingly. My five layers consisted of camisole, thin fabric long sleeve turtle neck, woollen jumper, light zip up vest and an extra light-down knee length jacket. I didn’t count my scarf as a layer nor my gloves. If the sun happened to find a way to warm my soul, I was in a position to respectfully de-robe.
It also meant I could dine outside on these delightful days. Melbourne is the cream of al fresco dining and its culinary restaurants spread their wings far and wide, so why miss out.
On my recent trip I stayed with family and friends in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne. To my delight we shared our walks, coffees, lunches and dinners at quirky, delectable cafes and calming locations:
- Town & Country Garden Centre and Cafe – 24 Whitehorse Rd, Balwyn or Deepdene as the locals say, 10 km from the CBD. It has a pleasant peaceful French countryside ambience. We soaked in the sun’s rays as we sat outside and consumed our delectable breakfast, surrounded by an array of leafy pot plants. I was told that Delta Goodrem has been known to frequent there.
Town & Country Garden Cafe
2. Anniversary Trail, Balwyn – walking distance from the Town & Country cafe. A perfect area for a peaceful stroll or cycle along the converted historical Outer Circle Railway line. Parks Victoria has made it an easy tree lined track for anyone to enjoy and stretches from Balwyn to Canterbury. Intermittent historical stories and maps mark the flat gravelled pathway.
3. Piggery Cafe, Burnham Bakery, Burnham Beeches – 1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke, the whole environment has a warm rustic feel about it, with a modern touch. The properties sit on 23 hectares, approximately 47km from the CBD, a worthwhile picturesque hour drive by car.
We arrived late morning and sat outside on the clearest of days to be served a delicious gourmet lunch at the Piggery Cafe that included a choice from the all day breakfast menu. Under cover heating strobes stood close by strewn tables. Outdoor lawn bowls, bocce, croquet courts and a fabulous area for the kids were available and in full view for parents. Brown feathered chickens sought morsels of bread around the patron’s feet and I was assured the two large pigs, Bubble and Squeak, housed in their comfortable piggery on the grassy slope, are definitely pets and will not be eaten.
This may be Bubble or perhaps Squeak!
Alpaca’s flashed their long lashed eyes at me behind the wire fence that separated us from the organic garden beds. It was difficult to leave this peaceful Sherbrooke bushland.
- Sky High Restaurant and Lookout – located in the hills at Mt Dandenong, around 46 km from the CBD and a short drive from the Piggery Cafe. It is worth dropping in to witness the superb 360 degree view of Melbourne CBD and suburbs.
View of Melbourne city and surrounding suburbs from Sky High restaurant, Mount Dandenong
- Billy Goat Hill Brasserie – 17 Wray Cres, Mount Evelyn, a warm and family friendly restaurant with delectable nourishing food, embedded in the surrounding Dandenong and Yarra ranges. They have a flavoursome array of homemade recipes and the best handmade potato wedges I have had in a long time. David the chef and his talented team produce food to die for that soothes your soul. It is 43km from the CBD but if you are visiting the Dandenong’s then Billy Goat Hill cafe is close by.
Nanny Babe with owner/head chef Dave McCallum
- Yong Green Food – 421 Brunswick Rd, Fitzroy, on the outer city fringe and only 3.2km from the CBD. It is a vegetarian restaurant however non-vegans would be pleasantly surprised with the menu. They prepare dishes from various Asian countries and every meal we ordered was delicious, nourishing and satisfying. In 2014, they won an award for best vegetarian restaurant in the Age Good Food Guide for meals under $30.
Warming dishes from Yong Green Food restaurant
- Zimt Patisserie – 171 Union Rd, Surrey Hills a bakery cafe 12km from the CBD. Well what can I say other than I was Ms Piggy in heaven – I wanted to consume every delectable item on display. Family owned and run, handmade, European inspired pastries, a must return on my next visit, OMG!!
- Leaf & Vine – located at 34 Panfield Avenue, Ringwood, approximately 29km from CBD and a lovely, secluded place to eat. It is as they say, warm and welcoming, and lucky for me, walking distance from my daughters house. It didn’t take long for the locals to embrace their now regular haunt. They offer a modern Australian cuisine, all baked goods are in-house, the dishes change according to season and licensed.
No matter where you go in Victoria, you can be guaranteed you will find great coffee, great food and make new friends. Oh, as we drove down one of the quiet outer suburban streets we happened to see Kylie Minogue’s mother sweeping fallen leaves from her wrought-iron gated driveway.