Even more amazing gifts in-store!
Just a 20-minute drive south-east of the CBD, Malvern is one of Melbourne’s prettiest and most prestigious suburbs. A quietly expensive enclave bookended by Armadale and Caulfield, it’s well populated and picturesque, with many of its lush and leafy streets lined with heritage-listed homes.
From shops, schools and swim centres, to parks, playgrounds and patisseries, every demographic can be catered for in Malvern, and it’s a particular favourite with savvy singles, young families and rich retirees.
But don’t be put off, my friend, because you don’t need to be flush with cash to enjoy yourself in the south east. Embrace some free time (literally) with a stroll through the gardens, some window shopping on the main streets and a drive-by browse at some of Malvern’s mini mansions and stately homes.
The public transport system is top-notch too (with a central train station and three tram routes) so there’s no need to panic over parking if you don’t have to.
So, read on and let us tell you why Malvern should be the next Melbourne suburb you seek out to explore…
If you prefer two wheels over four, or two wheels over two feet, or – no I’ve run out of metaphors – you’ll be stoked to know (pun very much intended!) that this is where the famous Malvern Star bike was born.
An Australian icon, Malvern Star was started by Tom Finnigan in 1903 on Glenferrie Road, delivering a range of bicycles built to the highest homegrown standards. They created history with the first ever Australian team to ride the Tour de France in 1928, and in 1984 at the Los Angeles Olympics, the Aussies beat the Americans thanks to Malvern Star’s carbon fibre technology.
Nowadays, their range includes every type of bike from multi gear mountain bikes and practical, recreational peddlers, to heritage styles with baskets and bells and kids bikes with tassels and training wheels.
If you love to spend, Malvern and Malvern East have your cravings covered with plenty of sizeable centres and strip shops around. Chadstone (aka Chaddy) is Australia’s largest shopping centre. It’s famous for featuring over 550 retail stores and eateries, over 30 luxury brands, and over 10,000 husbands/boyfriends/generally miserable men using any surface they can find to sit on/lie on/lean on while they wait.
However, keeping our local shopping strips busy is paramount, and just 10-15 minutes down the road, the shopping spree can continue! Malvern Central is situated on Wattletree Road and includes over 40 different stores, from Baker’s Delight and Boost, to Smiggle and Sportsgirl.
Glenferrie Road is bustling with bookstores and boutiques too, and a couple of suburbs over in Carnegie you’ll find just as much on Koornang Road.
First established by the Europeans in the early 1800s, Malvern has a rich history that’s still very much on display via its abundance of stately homes, heritage-listed buildings (aka you can’t touch this) and manors (like the former Australian Government House site, Stonington Mansion).
A lot of Malvern is made up of beautiful late-Victorian and Edwardian style homes on large acres of land (uncommon for an inner-city suburb), especially in the Gascoigne Estate. In-between Tooronga Rd and Burke Rd, the estate has some of the best examples of baroque British architecture in Melbourne, and the odd house that is sold there can fetch anywhere from $2 million to $4 million plus.
Other heritage-listed properties include the Malvern Town Hall (where the Stonnington City Council meets), Presbyterian church, Railway station and the former E.S.&A. Bank, (opposite the Town Hall).
Let’s not beat around the bush. Art lovers can be pretentious. Precocious, even, and pompous, but you don’t need to be in Malvern. Most contemporary art on display is easy on the eye and the brain, from the bronze cast The Sun & The Moon sculpture by Paul Juraszek (in the City Square), to eclectic landscapes at Manyung Gallery, to sculptures at Duldig Studio. And if you don’t understand something, just furrow your brow, nod solemnly and say “incredible! It’s like everything and nothing all at the same time”.
If you prefer your entertainment energetic, check out what’s coming up at Malvern Theatre Company, Firehouse Theatre and Malvern Community Arts Centre, or see if you’re on time for a session at Hoyts Cinemas Chaddy.
If education’s more your thing (you bore!) don’t skip a browse in Jeffreys Books and gawp at the grounds of some of Melbourne’s most reputable private schools including Korowa, Caulfield Grammar, St Mary's and De La Salle (with knockoff Hogwarts house colours).
You can do the full outdoor trifecta in Malvern – walk around a creek, bike through a beautifully manicured garden, and swim in an aquatic centre (or if you’re about as fit as Clive Palmer after a parma, maybe just pick one).
Malvern Central Park is a popular place for weddings, but it’s just as perfect for picnics, dog walking, weekend cricket matches and workout sessions. There’s also the Hedgeley Dene Gardens (a well-maintained combination of lawns, trees and an ornamental lake), Malvern Urban Forest (an inner-city bush wonderland complete with ponds and bridges), and the Malvern Public Gardens, featuring shrubbery, serpentine paths, English oaks and a fountain.
Nearby Gardiners Creek Trail is shared by cyclists and pedestrians (ah, cue the sweet sound of Lycra lizards aggressively ringing their bike bells) or if you’ve got kids in tow, head over to Phoenix Park or Ardrie Park for your choice of all-age friendly playgrounds.
And the rather ironically named Harold Holt Swim Centre includes indoor and outdoor pools, a gym, group fitness classes and a learn to swim program (which again, ironically, was something Harold could’ve done with).
Malvern is home to some seriously delectable cake stores and coffee shops, tempting both residents and out-of-towners. Although afternoon teas have now ceased at The Gables, the area’s thriving café culture means there are plenty of other local establishments to get your coffee and cake fix at.
Drool (delicately) at the French inspired collection of croissants, cupcakes, vanilla slices and Victoria sponges made daily at Millstone, or salivate with anticipation at the puddings, tarts, flans and fudge on offer at Illy's Cakes. Savour the sights and smells of everything sweet at Fleischer Cakes (pasticceria, gelateria & cafeteria extraordinairia!), or just pick up some freshly baked bread and freshly brewed coffee at Hein’s Bakery (menu here).
And if you’re hot stuff, be sure to cool down at the Dairy Bell Ice Creamery on Chadstone Road, Malvern East, and spend ages agonising over what flavour ice-cream, sorbet, smoothie, shake or donut to get.
Malvern’s diverse community spirit has spawned an interesting array of Australian sports stars, actors and politically active people.
Some notable names that hail from the City of Stonnington include Jack Dyer (former Richmond Football Club captain), Tom Hafey (former Richmond Football Club coach), Mack Horton (Olympic swimming champion and best friend of China's Sun Yang NOT), Jason Donovan (a heartthrob in Neighbours) and Jesse Spencer (a heartthrob in House and Chicago Fire).
Former PM Sir Robert Menzies and his successor Harold Holt also called Malvern home, as well as controversial commentator Andrew Bolt (boo, hiss!) and the disgraced former Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle, but we don’t talk about him…
If you’re looking for a good gift shop in Malvern, you’re looking at it!