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Moonee Ponds Queens Park view

What’s Good In The Hood: Moonee Ponds

Only 7kms from Melbourne’s CBD, the suburb of Moonee Ponds is an inner-west oasis. A bit of a dichotomy between busy shopping strips and palm tree lined parklands, its broad appeal is in its multifariousness and multiculturalism - meaning, quite simply, it’s got it all, baby!

A retail precinct running alongside a riverside retreat, the residential areas are dotted with mansions, historic Victorian homes and red-brick cottages. Bordered by Brunswick, Essendon and Ascot Vale, the businesses of these neighbouring burbs seep into the streets, as you’re never far from Flemington Racecourse, DFO and the Royal Melbourne Show. 

Moonee Ponds itself, however, has more than enough going on to keep all ages engaged and entertained (thank you very much). From creeks, racecourses, parks and pools, to bookstores, bike tracks and so much more, Moonee Ponds can take you from op-shops to the trots (the track not the toilet) in mere minutes. 

So, no matter which side of the intersection you’re on, you’re bound to find something cool to see and something fun to do. Read on to find out exactly why Moonee Ponds should be the next Melbourne suburb you spend some time in…

Horses & Racecourses

Opened in 1883 by William Samuel Cox (of which the annual Cox Plate Carnival is named after), Moonee Valley Racecourse is home to horse and harness racing alike. It’s Melbourne’s second-biggest racecourse after Flemington, and the only track to host night racing.

Moonee Valley has attracted attention from all over the world and has been visited by many famous four-legged legends over the years (and their silky suited jockeys), including Phar Lap, Might and Power, Makybe Diva, So You Think and four-peat champ Winx. 

Moonee Valley Racecourse

It’s also a good place to try out the old “hoof hearted?” joke. I’m pretty confident the folks in the member’s boxes would really appreciate it. But let’s get one thing clear: don’t expect to be able to strike up a long conversation with a race horse, because they really don’t stand around furlong… ;)

Horse racing meme

Places to Pop Some Tags

Not just another wealthy suburb of bougie businesses, Moonee Ponds is also home to a few popular op-shops and vintage stores. 

Thift Shop gif

You can op-shop til you drop in the Australian Red Cross store on Puckle Street and the Brotherhood of St. Laurence in Margaret Street. Nearby in Ascot Vale, you also have St Vincent de Paul (aka Vinnies) on Maribyrnong Road and All Saints on Union Road.

Op-shops are great for getting cheap and handy items for the home, as well as bric-a-brac, books, clothes and tested electricals, however, you’re more likely to want to recreate your fabulously random, 90s childhood by collecting all the toys and gadgets your parents rudely threw out on you. Nothing beats scoring a Nintendo console (who cares if it doesn’t work), an NSYNC single, Looney Tunes mugs, Tazos, and VHS tapes of Plasmo and Pengu. Be honest with me - you’re putting on your stonewash jeans and heading out the door to go browse right now, aren’t ya?!

Moonee Ponds op shop

Arty Farty Fun

Another landmark of Moonee Ponds is the Clocktower Centre on Mt Alexander Road. The suburb’s home of arts, culture and corporate functions, there’s always something on, from a dramatic staging of The Summer of The Seventeenth Doll, to an evening of laughs with Anh Do’s The Happiest Refugee (live). Music lovers can enjoy a night of anything from Vivaldi and Bacharach, to Andrew Lloyd Webber and Lucy Durack (hey, that rhymes! I should start a poetry night…)

For families with young kids, you can keep them occupied too, with lots of different workshops and holiday programs happening all year round, such as music education, virtual reality, puppet shows and spooky story sessions around Halloween. And for the more serious arty farty types - sorry, I mean, creative types - there are loads of spaces up for hire, including The Writing Room and The Podcast Studio.

Moonee Ponds Clocktower Centre

Just a short stroll from the Maribyrnong River, the Incinerator Gallery showcases the works of local and emerging artists, with solo and group exhibitions (most of which are free), as well as art classes. Speaking of which, if paint brushes and booze is more your scene, the Paint With Me Ascot Vale studio space plays host to regular 'Paint & Sip' sessions (because honestly, group painting yields some of the funniest results!)

Paint and Sip art class meme

Parks, Pools & Play Areas

If you love a good green, leafy area, you’re in luck, as Moonee Ponds has quite the selection. Once a swampy rest spot for Gold Rush miners and ill-fated explorers Burke & Wills, Queens Park is now a gorgeously renovated, Edwardian-style public park. Spread about its generous grounds is a large lake, pergola and fountain, walking track, bandstand, bowling club and 50-metre outdoor swimming pool (if you don’t mind!) open from November to April.

There’s the Maribyrnong Park & River Trail and Moonee Ponds Creek Trail for keen cyclists and pedestrians alike (just ring your bell for God’s sake when passing!) or if rough and ready is more your speed, check out the BMX Dirt Track at Fanny Street Reserve (which also includes a playground and BBQ facility).

Or get the kids into the serpentine gardens and up climbing the nature inspired play equipment at Moonee Valley’s Tote Park.

Queens Park lake, Moonee Ponds

Multicultural Cafes & Restaurants

Although the area gives you the trots, the food certainly won’t. Home to mouth-watering menus that take you around the world and back, Mt Alexander Rd restaurants include Malaysian dishes at Jack's Satay Bar, homestyle Greek feasts at Philhellene, beautiful hot brews at Sunny Boy Coffee Roasters and after dinner drinks at Strangelove’s Tapas and Wine Bar.

Other popular places to grab a bite to eat - morning, noon or night - are Ramen restaurant, Parco Ramen, you can get premium Italian pizza & pasta at Carosello, Lebanese food at Bekka, basically anything you want at 300-seat eatery Holmes Hall, a coffee from Six Points Cafe or Darling Street Espresso (not actually in Darling St), find the late-night drink of your dreams in Penny Young, get a grilled sanger to go from 20 Young Street or enjoy an all-day bistro experience at Ascot Food + Wine.

Carosello: Italian restaurant in Moonee Ponds

For the slightly less fining dining cuisine cultured, no-one will judge you (much) for stopping off at the Fizz + Hop bottle-o (home to the prestigious Dan Andrews “get on the beers” mural if it hasn’t been tagged over by now) or KFC - a traditional first date destination for Moonee Ponders during puberty. 

KFC chicken meme

Famous Faces

Moonee Ponds has been the birthplace and residence of many Aussie icons, from the boring (Bill Shorten, E. Morris Miller), to the musical (Tina Arena, Aydan Calafiore) to the sporty (Allen Aylett, Shaun Atley, Jake Webster). Even more excitingly, it’s been the home sweet home for some infamous Melbourne underworld figures, including Judy Moran and her late son Jason, who was gunned down at an Auskick match (and I’ve been assured, it had nothing to do with the quality of the kids’ kicking).

None are more famous, however, than fictitious housewife and gigastar, Dame Edna Everage (alter-ego of Australian comedian Barry Humphries). She’s even got a street named after her! Best known simply as Dame Edna, she is instantly identifiable by her booming voice, her love of “gladdies” (the gladiolus flower), her wisteria hue hair and cat eye glasses (aka face furniture). Give her a “hello, possum!” holler if you see her out and about.

Dame Edna Everage

And of course, Homing Instincts

If you’re in the hood and on the hunt for great gifts, come and give us a shout!

We’re at 65 Puckle Street in Moonee Ponds, and we have locations in Malvern, Hawthorn and Bentleigh too.

Homing Instincts in Moonee Ponds
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