Boroondara is a leafy region in the inner areas of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Historically, it was one of the first places that Melbourne's suburbs encroached into the surrounding farmland and countryside. Today, Boroondara is home to a number of old homes and historic buildings and considered higher socio-economically than most areas of Melbourne.
The word boroondara is an Indigenous Wurundjeri term for "where the ground is thickly shaded". Indeed, Boroondara is well-known among Melbournians for its tree-lined streets, expansive parks and traditional English character. The area was mostly settled in the late 1800s, as Melbourne's suburbia expanded eastward. This has led to an abundance of historic cottages and homes throughout the municipality, many of which are heritage listed, as well as the grand mansions of multi-millionaires. In the suburbs of Boroondara, trees generally line every street, and most houses are within close proximity to a major park. Areas such as Kew and Canterbury possess trees of English origin, while newer suburbs settled in the 1960s such as North Balwyn and Ashburton possess more native Australian fauna, such as the abundant gum trees. Certain streets are renown for their beautiful streetscapes and houses, such as Monomeath Avenue in Canterbury.
Another one of Boroondara's claims to fame is its extensive number of schools, with 59 education institutions in the municipality. Many of these are private schools founded well over a century ago, steeped in historic buildings and a number of notable alumni. Some of the more famous schools include Xavier College, Trinity Grammar and Genezzano FCJ in Kew, Fintona Girls' School in Balwyn, Camberwell Grammar in Canterbury and Scotch College in Hawthorn, which was established in 1851.
The seat of the local government and major district centre is Camberwell, centred around the bustling Camberwell Junction. Kew is the major suburb of the north, also based around a busy junction of the same name. Balwyn is a more low-rise area in the east of the municipality. Hawthorn is one of the more cosmopolitan areas of Boroondara, with a lively arts and music scene and a number of bars and nightclubs in the Glenferrie precinct. The Swinburne University of Technology borders the rail station, making the area a hub for local and international students.
By public transport
Boroondara is generally blessed for public transport. It is served by six tram routes, three railway lines, 16 train stations and an abundance of fairly frequent bus routes. A map of Boroondara's public transport network is available on the PTV website.
The Belgrave/Lilydale line provides a fast, direct rail service from the City Centre to middle Boroondara, with stations at the major centres of Hawthorn, Camberwell and Canterbury. The line also connects Boroondara to Box Hill in Whitehorse and Ringwood in Maroondah. The Alamein line generally only operates to the city in the peak, with a transfer at Camberwell Station required during other times.
Tram routes 48 and 109 run from Collins St in the city to the northern part of Boroondara, including Kew, Balwyn and North Balwyn. Routes 70 and 75 operate from Flinders St in the city to the southern parts of Boroondara, including Hawthorn and Camberwell. While tram routes 16 and 72 also operate from Swanston St in the city, they take long detours via the southern suburbs and are not a direct service; they are useful for getting into the area from neighbouring Stonnington.
Bus routes 200 and 207 are useful for reaching Boroondara from the inner north along Johnston and Lygon Streets or neighbouring Manningham and Doncaster. Routes 302 and 304 operate express along the freeway from the city and fill in a gap in the tram network along Belmore Rd.
The Eastern Freeway runs along the northern border of Boroondara, providing convenient access to Kew, East Kew and North Balwyn. Citylink and the Monash Freeway provide the southern border, making access simple to areas in the south. Studley Park Rd, Bridge Rd, Victoria St and Swan St also provide major river crossings from the inner east.
The tram and bus networks form a convenient grid, generally making connections from one part of Boroondara to another simple. Tram routes 48, 109, 70 and 75, and frequent bus routes 200/207 and 302/304 are useful for east-west travel. Tram routes 16 and 72, along with regular bus route 624, provide an option for north-south travel. Bus routes 548, 284 and 285 are also an option for north-south travel although operate less frequently.
Major east-west thoroughfares for vehicles are Earl St/Belmore Rd, Barkers Rd and Burwood Rd. North-south roads include Denmark St/Princess St, Auburn Rd and Burke Rd, although the latter is regularly heavily congested.
Boroondara streets are also generally very walkable and very pleasant, with well-kept footpaths on both sides of the street.
- Maranoa Gardens, Yarrbat Ave Balwyn VIC 3103 (Catch the route 109 to Parring Road, then a short walk to the gardens), ☎ +61 3 9278 4444, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mon-Fri (7:30am - 4:00pm) Sat-Sun & public holidays (12:00pm - 5:00pm) closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day. Maranoa Gardens is one of Australia's oldest native gardens. Located next to Beckett Park in the leafy suburb of Balwyn, the gardens provide visitors with a large range of native plants in different sections. Free.
- Yarra Bend Park (Studley Park) (Catch the 200 or 207 bus towards Doncaster/Bulleen and alight on Studley Park Rd. If driving, various sections of park accessible from Heidelberg Rd and Studley Park Rd), ☎ +61 3 131963, e-mail: email@example.com. Beautiful and large expanse of parkland and bushland only 3km from the CBD. Contains Fairfield and Studley Park boathouses, walking/cycling tracks, historical sites and picnic areas. Free.
- Canterbury streets (Take the Belgrave/Lilydale line to Canterbury station. By car, driving along the Eastern Freeway and then onto Burke Road.). A number of residential streets in Canterbury are renown for their streetscapes and gentle elegance. There are two main groupings of streets that are worth walking along: from Wentworth Avenue to Hopetoun Avenue, and the area between Maling Road, Prospect Hill Road and Wattle Valley Road.
- Maling Road, Maling Road, Canterbury VIC 3126 (Take the Belgrave/Lilydale train to Canterbury station), ☎ +61 434 382 920, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A lovely quaint shopping village established in the 1800s with an 'old world charm'. Many small boutique shops line the street, with most of the original buildings still intact.
- Melbourne Tram Museum (Hawthorn Tram Depot), 8 Wallen Road Hawthorn (Trams 70 and 75: Stop 29), e-mail: email@example.com. 11AM-5PM, 2nd & 4th Sat each month (only 2nd Sat in December). Twenty-one historic, fully-restored trams reside in the museum, including one of the first electrified trams from 1906, several versions of the iconic W-class tram of the 1930s and the original prototype of the "modern" Z-class from 1975. The museum is housed in the now-defunct Hawthorn Tram Depot, which was opened in 1916 in the American Romanesque architectural style. $1-2 donation.
- Hawthorn Town Hall (Hawthorn Arts Centre), 360 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn (Glenferrie Station or Tram 16: Stop 73), ☎ +613 9278 4770, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 10AM-5PM Tu-F, 11AM-4PM Sa-Su. This grand town hall was completed in 1890 in the Second Empire style as the seat of government for the former City of Hawthorn. It now houses an art gallery, a performing arts centre, a youth hub amongst various other functions. Free.
- Coles North Balwyn, 1-9 Doncaster Rd, Balwyn North (Tram 48: Stop 45), ☎ +613 9859 1221. 6AM-midnight daily. While the current refurbished building is nothing spectacular, it was the site of the first free-standing Coles supermarket in Australia in 1960, with the chain later growing to become the largest supermarket chain in Australia.
- Koonung Creek Trail (Connects with Main Yarra Trail in the west and the Eastlink Trail in the east). A fairly flat and easy bicycle track following the Eastern Freeway through the suburbs of Kew, North Balwyn, Box Hill North, Blackburn North and Nunawading. A pleasant ride which follows parkland, featuring toilets, drink taps and seating along the route. The entire track is a sealed path and is well signed.
- Studley Park Boathouse, 1 Boathouse Road, Kew (Bus 200 or 207: Yarra Bend Park/Studley Park Rd stop), ☎ +613 9853 1828, e-mail: email@example.com. From 9AM daily. Established in 1863, the Studley Park Boathouse is the oldest operating boathouse in Australia. The building is hidden amongst the beautiful Yarra River parkland, and houses a café, restaurant and small kiosk. Visitors are also able to hire a canoe, kayak or rowboat to paddle along the Yarra River, or utilise the walking tracks and playgrounds. Free entry; boat hire from $22 for two people for half-hour.
- Camberwell Shopping Centre (Take the Lilydale, Belgrave or Alamein line to Camberwell station), ☎ +61 3 9813 4190. One of the oldest centres of Melbourne, Camberwell boasts a large variety of different cuisines in a traditional shopping 'village' feel. The strip shops stretch along Burke Road from Camberwell Junction in the south up to Burwood Road and beyond in the north.
- Mister Bianco, 285 High Street Kew VIC 3101 (Take the 48 or 109 tram to Kew), ☎ +61 3 9853 6929, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Recently won a chef's hat award from the Age's Good Food Guide. Features traditional Sicilian cuisine.
- Hellenic Republic, 26 Cotham Road Kew VIC 3103 (Route 48 or 109 tram to Kew Junction), ☎ +61 3 9381 1222. Run by reknowned chef George Calombaris. Features Greek cuisine.
There are a few small areas which offer some nightlife. These precincts include Glenferrie Road (Hawthorn) and Box Hill. The suburbs are not known for their nightlife.
Although the eastern suburbs of Melbourne are much safer than the north or west, you should still show basic common sense with belongings and travel. Some major centres such as Box Hill and Ringwood have occasional issues with crime.