20 Feb 2018
With well-known attractions like the Queen Vic Market and Flemington Racecourse on the way. The route also takes in the foodie paradise that is Ascot Vale, before crossing the Maribyrnong River and making its way to one of the city’s most popular shopping centres, Highpoint. Spend some time on your next trip exploring a side of Melbourne that many people miss; remember to stop along the way to fill your belly!
You can’t talk about food and Melbourne without mentioning Queen Victoria Market [Queen Street]. Stop 7 is the final stop in the Free Tram Zone, which encompasses the entire city centre and Docklands, so before you travel any further you’ll want to ensure your myki is topped up and you’re enjoying a delicious börek, French pastry or mouthful of fresh produce.
While it would be a crime to visit Queen Vic without sampling some of its vendors’ treats, a trip to the market is also incomplete without traipsing through the aisles on the western side of Queen Street. High-roofed sheds overflow with clothes, souvenirs and trinkets for you and the folks back home.
Be sure to also take a peek inside the shops directly adjacent to the market, namely along Therry Street. Market Lane Coffee [109-111 Therry Street] is an institution among these parts, and Books for Cooks [129-131 Therry Street] will inspire even the most adventurous kitchen hero. Hidden away on the shelves and in locked cabinets are tens of thousands of books about wine, food and cooking.
Considering it practically borders the city centre, and a busy tram route runs right down its centre, it’s surprising how North Melbourne’s Errol Street has retained a quaint, suburban feel. This sensibility makes it a dream to explore, as the locals are friendly, the traffic (relatively) calm, and the cafes and bars welcoming.
If you step off the tram at the intersection of Victoria Street, you can stroll along the street, and pass everything from delicious cafes like Hot Poppy [9 Errol Street, North Melbourne] and sumptuous Lebanese dishes at Agraba [63 Errol Street, North Melbourne) to performing arts hot spots VOLTAIRE [14 Raglan Street, North Melbourne] and the ever-popular Comic’s Lounge (26 Errol Street, North Melbourne).
With pubs like the Three Crowns Hotel [365 Victoria Street, North Melbourne], Town Hall Hotel [33 Errol Street, North Melbourne] and The Leveson [46 Leveson Street, North Melbourne] all within a stone’s throw, there are also plenty of options after the sun sets.
Sure, a day at the races might not be at the top of your list when you have your eyes on Route 57 foodie trail, but it’s hard to go pass Flemington Racecourse [448 Epsom Road, Flemington] without checking in for a slice of history. If it’s a race day, the pounding of horses’ hooves can almost be heard from Epsom Road, and with a story that’s as old as the city itself, the home of the Melbourne Cup is worth taking a detour to explore.
Flemington Racecourse is one of Australia’s most significant cultural and sporting venues, listed on the National Heritage register and home to the largest public rose garden in the Southern Hemisphere. Reserve (in advance) your spot on the one-hour tour of this esteemed venue and visit the jockeys and stewards’ rooms, mounting yards and the original stall of the 1890 Melbourne Cup-winning horse, Carbines.
When it comes to foodie hotspots in Melbourne, another suburban strip worth its weight in gold is Union Road, Ascot Vale. From Bloomfield Road, stroll your way north a few blocks to Maribyrnong Road. By doing this, you risk drooling all over the footpath from the delicious sights and smells coming through cafe and restaurant doorways; that’s OK. The locals know it’s the only way to find that perfect meal.
If you have the kids in toe, The Gather [146 Union Road, Ascot Vale] and Little Byrd [160 Union Road, Ascot Vale] are both family-friendly options, while a little farther up the street No. 19 [214 Union Road, Ascot Vale] is a more recent addition to the local smorgasbord, and the toasted cheese and chicken sandwich from Grandpa Joe [197 Union Road, Ascot Vale] will satisfy even the most discerning diner.
For something a little heartier, Arcadia Gastronomique [152 Union Road, Ascot Vale] is a fine-dining Spanish restaurant, or for something completely different try Safari Restaurant Somali Cuisine [159 Union Road].
Sitting on a tram from one end of the line to the other, periodically stopping to fill yourself with delicious food and drink might sound like a great way to spend a weekend in Melbourne, but breaking up Route 57 degustation with a stroll will do you the world of good. The best place to do just that is at Stop 41, where the tram cruises over the Maribyrnong River.
Home to waterbirds, fish and lycra-clad exercisers, the Maribyrnong is the lifeblood of Melbourne’s west, and this junction is the perfect spot to hop off the tram and walk your way up one side of the river, returning on the other.
When you’re nearly back to Raleigh Road, stop by and see if celebrity chef Gary Mehigan is in the kitchen of his restaurant, The Boathouse [7 The Boulevard, Moonee Ponds]. Position yourself on the deck for a pizza, a soft-shell crab burger or smoked chicken and almond salad. Take a beat to enjoy the view of the river before heading back to Raleigh Road and the tram.
Another high point of the west is Highpoint Shopping Centre [120-200 Rosamond Road, Maribyrnong]. It’s big enough to spend a whole day shopping your way through its multiple levels and retailers. Catch a film at HOYTS Highpoint, knock down some pins at Strike Bowling or – if you can fit any more food in – work your way through a short stack at the Pancake Parlour.
If you’re still craving that final dose of outdoor activity, head to Pipemakers Park [Van Ness Avenue, Maribyrnong]. And if you’re in the area on a Tuesday between 10am to 2pm, be sure to visit Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West [Pipemakers Park, Van Ness Avenue, Maribyrnong]. As it’s staffed by volunteers its opening hours are brief, but the chance to gain insights into the history of Melbourne’s west is what makes this a very special destination.
It’s also an example of the gems that you can find when you ride a tram deep into suburbia. Hop on board the Route 57, you never know what you might find at the end of the line.