Moorabbin and Cheltenham

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A museum display of old aircrafts at the Australian National Aviation Museum

Behind factory doors

An industrial streetscape gives way to an industrious array of local heroes that give Moorabbin and Cheltenham their unique allure.

Green space, high cuisine and cutting-edge living are not – at first – associated with Moorabbin. Across it and its like-minded neighbour Cheltenham, it’s all good, solid post-war housing and the sort of light industry that fits out your house, deletes the dents from your car and spruiks “up to 70% off” from its factory outlets. It rarely makes the front page, and since the Saints shifted their home ground from Linton St in 1992, it’s not graced the back page either.

No matter. The locals know that Moorabbin’s beauty lies beneath its industrial skin, and it runs deep.

Actually, it’s on the surface, too, because the area was well known as market garden lands. Indeed, vestiges of this history can be found in the plant nurseries and numerous golf courses that dot the area. Kingston Heath Golf Club, Kingston Rd, has hosted the Australian Open and Australian Match Play Championships several times.

Further up Warrigal Rd, Karkarook Park has a more invasive history, starting its industrial life as a quarry. It’s now been reclaimed as a recreational oasis, with walking/cycling tracks and a 15ha lake for canoeing, kayaking, sailing and fishing. There are various picnic areas and the main shelter is in the shape of a dragonfly – walk along its tail to the lookout. On the Warrigal Rd side of the lake is a bird-rich wetlands. Nor do you have to wait until Easter to see bunnies, as there are plenty of the cottontails about in the early morning.

No matter the weather, you can take a plunge at Waves Leisure Centre (111 Chesterville Rd). As well as the usual splash-inducers, at the wave pool you can experience the fun of jumping waves without the annoyance of sand.

Behind Waves is the Moorabbin Archery Club (33 Turner Rd). Every weekend the club runs a morning archery program for everyone to participate.

A significant piece of open space is missed by many visitors with their focus squarely on the DFO outlet complex across the way, which is a shame because Kingston Heath Reserve in Centre Dandenong Rd is a wonderful place to spend some time with the family.

It has a popular playground and its wide, well-graded tracks are a good place to teach your child to ride a bike. Beside the well-used soccer, hockey and baseball grounds, the Cheltenham-Moorabbin RSL hosts an unusual collection.

Five memorials (two Boer War, two from WW I and one from WW II) from Moorabbin and Cheltenham were moved to the rear of the club rooms in 1999. Next to the memorials is the Local Story Pavement – a war memorial with a difference. Ceramic artist Hedley Potts put together the pavement project in 2005 as a commission to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific. The tiles depict images and stories of men and women who served in WW II. Two services are held at the memorials every Anzac Day – at dawn and in the afternoon.

If you can ignore the lure of DFO, slip past it and, on the fringe of Moorabbin Airport, you’ll find the Australian National Aviation Museum, the country’s largest collection of historic military and civil aircraft.

Founded in 1962, the museum has collections of planes, engines, models, uniforms and other items associated with the industry. Wander outside among the bodies of planes that served both the RAAF and the Royal Australian Navy and the passenger planes that brought the country together.

Run by volunteers, there are usually one or two enthusiasts to tell you about the planes and the work they’re doing as you wander through. It’s open daily.

From planes to automobiles, and of the two-wheeled variety, just down the street is Antique Motorcycles and Motorbikes Australia (1 Grange Rd, Cheltenham). It’s an interesting combination of shop, cafe, garage and museum.

Discount shopping is a feature of the area – and not just at DFO – as you can find fresh local fruit and vegetables, along with cheap overseas continental products, at the Moorabbin Wholesale Farmers Market (168 Chesterville Rd).

Every Sunday the Rotary Cub of Cheltenham holds a market and car boot sale in the undercover car park, off Station Rd, Cheltenham.

Kingston Arts, Moorabbin is a cultural hub, on the corner of South Rd and Nepean Hwy. It is made up of the Kingston Arts Centre and the Kingston City Hall. The Centre is a gallery and performance space, including a 94-seat theatre. Approaching its 51st anniversary, City Hall is home to an impressive calendar of performing, visual and cinematic arts events.

On 13 March, that venerable female trio The Fabulous Singlettes celebrate the greatest pop hits of the ’60s and ’70s, while from 18 March you can view the finalists of the popular Lens Mist photographic competition.

The car park behind the City Hall has recently had a mural painted by street artist James Beattie, which depicts the culture and heritage of the City of Kingston.

Food and drink are essential to any area, but tucked away in a small area in the back streets of Moorabbin is a group of quirky eateries and food shops.

If you’re a VW aficionado, visit the Dak Dak Cafe (1-3 Bignell Rd) for breakfast or lunch and soak up the atmosphere dedicated to this German automotive icon.

Try a handcrafted gourmet burger from Fat Bob’s Bar & Grill (80A Cochranes Rd) but be prepared to book in advance, as it is a popular meeting spot.

Peanut butter and jelly, Hershey’s bars or Dr Pepper, and other American as well as Mexican staples, can be found at USA Foods at 67-73 Cochranes Rd.

Pick up the most delicious redgum honey from the Kingston Farmers Market, held on the first Saturday of the month at William Fry Reserve, cnr Nepean Hwy and Bay St. Delicious.

Behind a factory door is the award-winning 2 Brothers Brewery (4 Joyner St). Open from late afternoon on Thursday and lunchtime on Friday you can try some award-winning beers. There’s pizza on the menu if you need something to go with the beer and ciders.

Antique motorcycles and motorbikes
Sunset at a beach in Cheltenham
Moorabbin Archery Club
Story pavement at the Cheltenham - Moorabbin RSL
Wholesale market
The Fabulous Singlettes
Written by Michele Frankeni, Photos Cam Cope
March 02, 2015