Melbourne is considered the cultural capital of Australia. And it is not just the CBD that delivers, with inner city suburbs having a plethora of experiences. Moonee Ponds is one of them. This riverside suburb is one of the places you must to explore when visiting Melbourne.
Located just 6.5km north-west of Melbourne’s central business district, Moonee Ponds is known for its historic mansions, vibrant nightlife, sporting events, shopping precincts, extensive parkland, top-notch eateries, arts, and a lot of class.
What was once a semi-rural neighbourhood quickly developed into a populous district mainly due to gold discoveries in Castlemaine and Bendigo in the 1850s. By the 1880s, Moonee Ponds was enriched with a railway line going from Melbourne to Essendon, plenty of farms, businesses, hotels, and a police station.
Puckle Street, in the centre of Moonee Ponds, became home to the Essendon and Flemington Institute in 1880. The intricate building attracted even more businesses. But it wasn’t until the 1920s-30s that the area attracted swarms of people thanks to the Puckle Street shopping centre.
Since then, the population in Moonee Ponds has reached 16,224 residents, which is 50 per cent more than a century ago.
Today, when it comes to attractions and things to do, Moonee Ponds is no short of options. You can spend days and weeks exploring the area and there will always be something you still haven’t done or seen.
Here is a list of things to see and do when exploring Moonee Ponds, rain or shine.
1. Maribyrnong River Trail
When the sun is out, you will find this scenic walking and cycling path crowded with people wanting to seize the day. The Maribyrnong River Trail is a 28km long easy-to-moderate trail along the Maribyrnong River.
Start the trail at Southbank and follow the Yarra River past the Polly Woodside sailing ship. The scenery quickly changes to the new Docklands and winds past Flemington Racecourse, the most famous racecourse in Australia.
On the other side of the Maribyrnong River, you will come upon Pipemakers Park, where you can stop to admire the historic buildings or visit the Living Museum of the West. If you feel up for a little challenge, continue uphill and take a break at the scenic lookout at Lily St to take in the amazing views of Melbourne’s skyline. Further on, the trail takes you under towering bridges of the city’s rail line and ends in Brimbank Park, where you can enjoy a picnic.
Due to its flat grade path, the trail is often shared among runners, cyclists, prams, walkers and wheelchairs. It takes about 3 hours to complete the trail from point to point all the while enjoying magnificent views of the parklands and wetlands and bird watching too.
2. Moonee Valley Racecourse
You can’t say you’ve seen all of Melbourne if you haven’t set foot at the Moonee Valley Racecourse. Rich in tradition, this world-renowned horse racing venue is home to a ton of racing and entertaining events throughout the year, including the Melbourne Cup and one of Australia’s most famed horse races, the W.S. Cox Plate.
The Valley is the perfect place for family get-togethers and gatherings with friends. There are plenty of places to grab food and drinks, some venues feature live music, and almost all guarantee a lively atmosphere.
Currently, the racecourse is undergoing redevelopment to create yet the best racecourse Australians get to see, “The Valley of Tomorrow”.
Whether you are passionate about horse racing or looking to spend quality time with the people you love the most, the Moonee Valley Racecourse is the place to be.
3. Ormond Memorial Park
Mooney Ponds is famous for its extensive parkland. A great part of the neighbourhood is the Ormond Memorial Park, home to the Essendon Royals Soccer Club and the Moonee Vally Cricket Club.
With its vast green open space, Ormond park attracts people from different walks of life, as well as families picnicking during the weekends playing sports or utilising the small playground near Pattison Street.
Cricket facilities and a bowling club are another fun addition to Ormond park, alongside a pond and extensive walking and cycling trails. Fancy a ride? You can access the Moonee Ponds Creek Bicycle Route from the Moonee Valley Sporting Club.
4. Highpoint Shopping Centre
With over 500 stores and restaurants, the Highpoint shopping centre is one of the few places in Moonee Ponds you don’t have to leave for hours on end because everything you need is within reach. Whether you are looking for Australian brands or international designers, electronics, flowers, gifts, fresh food and coffee, you will find them all here at Highpoint Shopping Centre.
Are you after some entertainment for the day? There is a movie theatre on site where you can catch a movie with your loved ones or enjoy fun time at the TIMEZONE and Strike, and when hunger strikes, you get to fill your bellies at one of the many Highpoint restaurants.
5. Queen’s Park
If you are looking for a retreat from the city noise, this beautiful park has everything you need to escape completely. Featuring extensive cycling and walking paths, a lake, a playground, sports and other necessary facilities, Queen’s Park is one of the best locations in Moonee Ponds to wander about.
What was once a water reserve for travelling stock, quickly turned into a popular leisure spot. Looking to refresh? There is a large heated outdoor swimming pool and a smaller one with a slide for your toddlers. When you’ve completed your laps for the day, walk to the western side of the lake, where you can grab a coffee at the lovely cafe with indoor and outdoor seating and a playground too.
Besides the magnificent flora and fauna, you can explore plenty of artwork scattered around the cute cafe.
6. Showgrounds Village
Showgrounds Village is a small shopping centre that attracts lots of crowds with its specialty stores, cafes, gym, bakeries, and restaurants. Located near next the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds, this lovely shopping and dining precinct features more than 20 specialty stores, including Coles, First Choice Liquor, The Reject Shop and Cignall & Tatts.
For the locals, this place is more than just a shopping centre; it is a community centre where people come together to connect and support local businesses.
7. Maribyrnong Aquatic Center
Situated near the Highpoint Shopping Center and the Riverside Golf and Sports Center is the Maribyrnong Aquatic Center, a fun place for kids and adults any time of the day.
Featuring a 25-meter pool, a leisure pool, a spa, a sauna and a steam room, the aquatic centre is suitable for both lap swimmers and people in rehabilitation.
Other facilities and amenities include a health club, a gym, indoor and outdoor exercise areas and group exercise classes. Childcare is available with reservations for children up to six years of age in blocks of three to five hours. There is also a cafe on site where you can enjoy a nice cup of coffee after your workout session.
The place is also up for events, it is well-equipped with projectors, tables, whiteboards and other equipment on request.
8. Flemington Racecourse
Located on a flood plain, next to the Maribyrnong River and just a few minutes from Moonee Ponds, is Melbourne’s greatest pride, the Flemington Racecourse.
The most famous and oldest racecourse in Australia is home to the Melbourne Cup Carnival, one of the best world-class events since 1861. People gather at Flemington Racecourse not only to celebrate thoroughbred racing but to take advantage of all that is synonymous with the racecourse, including a spectacle of entertainment, fine hospitality, food and wine, culture and fashion.
Apart from the horse races, people come to Flemington throughout the year to see the landscaped gardens, home to the largest public rose garden in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Flemington Heritage Center is also open for everyone interested to learn about the history, fashion and excitement throughout the centuries.
9. Puckle Street
Puckle Street is a famous shopping strip in Moonee Ponds, popular amongst tourists and locals alike. Best known for its historic facades intertwined with cosmopolitan shops, trendy cafes, and high-end restaurants, Puckle Street is the one-stop destination in Melbourne for entertainment, shopping and food since the early 90s.
The street starts at Mt Alexander Rd and ends at Moonee Ponds Station. Since parking is limited, it’s best to arrive by train or number 59 tram, which makes a stop at Moonee Ponds Junction.
Familiar and famous faces are also a common sight on the buzzing street. Just a short walk away is Queens Park, where you can retreat after long hours of shopping.
Moonee Ponds is your one-stop destination
Moonee Ponds is a well-established suburb of Melbourne, steeped in history, with lots of things to see and do. Whether you are looking for shopping, parklands and scenery, cycling and walking, or just a day of retail therapy and indulging in great food, Moonee Ponds has it all.