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Published January 13th 2016
Thriving Arts, Cultural And Learning Hub
Photo by Paul Bryan
Tucked away, not far from the hustle and bustle of inner city life, is the beautiful historic Abbotsford convent and gardens that now host a multitude of events, workshops and feeds the masses each year.
Listed as the most important Catholic institutional complex constructed in Victoria, the former Convent of the Good Shepherd, is now known as the Abbotsford Convent. It features medieval French ecclesiastic architectural character on a notable scale. The many buildings are set amongst heritage gardens and surrounding farmland. This setting provides infinite reasons to visit Abbotsford convent. Here's just a few (in no particular order):
The Lentil As Anything Cafe Amazingly, this is run by a group of passionate volunteers committed to providing a range of high quality vegetarian food to all comers. It is self serve so you can choose as much as you want of whatever you like and then you can go back for more… if you can fit it in.
There is table service for drinks, which is where we met the very obliging self-titled grinning tea fairy. He couldn't do enough to make our night special.
You can sit in the garden or at the communal tables indoors or out. You pay what you can so no one misses out. See Weekend Notes reviews for more information.
Photo by Paul Bryan
Picnic in the Gardens With their very old and towering trees the Abbotsford Convent is a great place for a picnic or play a game with the kids. Enjoy the surroundings and take time to admire the locals who often come to play musical instruments.
Photo by Paul Bryan
Historical Tours Every Sunday throughout the holiday period, tours are run at 2pm – 3.30.
On the tour you will find out about the fascinating history of the Convent from its early beginnings as a meeting point for the Kulin Nation. Learn about the convent when it was used as a monastery and run by the Good Shepherd Sisters for over a century. Explore the secrets of the convent with the volunteers who speak for former residents and caretakers of the land. The Cost is $15 / $12.50 conc.
Abbotsford Convent Tours are also conducted in French for the same price as the historic tours. These are held Weekdays by appointment for groups of 10 or more people.
Artist Hub The Abbotsford Convent is now a thriving arts, cultural and learning hub. Every year almost a million visitors come to the convent for various purposes. There are over a hundred studios leased to artists, designers, writers, musicians, wellbeing practitioners and other organisations.
Meet artists, visit their studios, rehearsal and performance spaces or enjoy the art galleries located on site. Look out for featured musical ensembles.
A brilliant 32-metre screen, with giant speakers and bats flying overhead are set against this historic convent in the gardens. Click here for bookings.
Slow Food Market
Every fourth Saturday of every month (8am – 1pm) there is a slow food market. I love the idea of it being titled the opposite to fast food. Delicious fresh local produce, direct from over sixty growers and makers sell direct to you. This means you can look forward to farm fresh and organic seasonal fruit, vegetables, seedlings, flowers, herbs, juices, breads, olive oil, eggs, free range meat, fresh and smoked fish, home made condiments, specialist cheeses and more. 100% of the price goes directly to the growers and makers.
BYO trolley, basket or bags as the Slow Food market is plastic bag free. $2 donation entry goes to the Abbotsford Convent Foundation maintenance fund.
Every Friday in summer 8 January – 4 March, 6 – 10pm the Super supper market is buzzing on the Providence lawn. Get ready for a multicultural feast. Some of the treats include: Himalayan, Indonesian, Mexican, Turkish and French food, wood-fired pizzas, fish and chips and a decadent selection of sweets.
This is a family friendly night with lots to do. Bring a picnic rug and enjoy sitting on the garden lawns while eating delicious food cooked and served from the market kitchens. There are a number of licensed onsite bars or bring your own picnic blanket and chairs. You will be entertained by Melbourne musicians and have the opportunity to browse through craft, fashion and accessories stalls. The Supper Market is a family friendly environment where children can play within a safe enclosed area.
Free Makers Market
On the third Sunday of every month, art, craft, gifts and more are on display and for sale at the Makers' Market. This is your chance to meet and talk to local artists and crafts people.
Special Holiday Events
During the summer on Sundays at 12.30pm, special events involving great food, drink and entertainment are well attended. For example, some of Australia's most prominent chefs will prepare delectable lunches using a purpose-built fire pit. Enjoy the culinary delights and frivolity for just $39 bf.
Numerous workshops are held at the Convent such as blogging, writing, pottery, artisan bread making, calligraphy, painting, yoga and meditation (and in contrast) laughter club. Dates and prices vary. For details please click here.
Walking Tracks and the Collingwood Children's Farm
There are lovely walking tracks nearby and the Collingwood farm a hundred metres down the road. Click here for a review of the farm.
You can buy artisan bread and treats and do coffee at the bakery at the front of the convent.
Photo by Paul Bryan
A Romantic Date
This is a great casual place to meet on the first date. You never know you might fall in love.
There's free parking on the street or cheap parking just across the road from the convent.
Once you turn back into the main road you can to lift and you're just a hop, skip and a jump away from some great new and well loved city restaurants and quirky shops in Fitzroy, Brunswick and Richmond or turn right and you are only a few minutes drive from the Kew junction and all it has to offer.
Choose or make up a good reason to go to the Abbotsford Convent. There's something there for everyone.
For more information or to make a donation to maintain the convent, click here.
The street parking is limited and none near the entrance. The $4 parking is fairly extensive, although several places are reserved for 3MBS volunteers and staff.
Once you go back to the main road (Johnston Street) you turn left towards Fitzroy. (your typo said to lift).