Saturday, May 1, 2010

Abbotsford Convent

The beautiful building and grounds of the Abbotsford Convent were home to the Sisters of the Good Shepherd between 1863 and 1975. During this time they "provided shelter, food and work for thousands of vulnerable and poor women and girls. They provided a refuge for orphans, wards of the State and girls considered to be in moral danger." Since that time the convent has become home to artists, writers and health practitioners. There are spaces for rehearsals, creative work spaces for designers, a glass blowing studio, a primary school, a classical radio station, a bakery, a restaurant, as well as venues for weddings and other events.

The convent is made up of 11 historic buildings on nearly 7 hectares of beautiful grounds along a bend in the Yarra River. 

We visited the convent on the day of the Slow Food Farmers' Market, which is held the 4th Saturday of each month from 8am-1pm. The key words for the Slow Food Market are: organic, fresh, and gourmet. Here you'll find fresh produce grown by local Victorian farmers, bread, jams, free range eggs, rare meats and cheeses. Yummy!

The vendors were all very proud of their products and happy to talk to us about what they were selling or offering samples. We bought some figs to share with the kids (as they'd never had them before), a package of strawberries that were just too red and beautiful to pass up, some homemade jam and fresh feta cheese. 

Abbotsford Convent is home to many different markets and events, here are some of the monthly markets that take place:
  • Supper Market: Every Friday night, November-February, 6-10pm- Quality craft, fashion and food stalls with music and entertainment
  • Sunday Arts: 1st Sunday of every month in the Community Room- fine art prints, drawings, exquisite jewellery, beautiful designer clothes, paintings, photography, childrens books, organic body-care products, fun garden sculpture, ceramics, and lots more.
  • Finder's Market: 1st Saturday of every month 10am-1pm- Browse stalls filled with collectables, nic-nacs, bric a brac and memorabilia.
  • Shirt and Skirt Market: 3rd Saturday of every month- Home to Melbourne's emerging designers, producing quality Australian fashion and accessories in limited editions.
  • Maker's Market: 3rd Saturday of every month in the Community Room- Browse, discuss and purchase the work of local artists and crafts people
After browsing the Slow Food Market, strolling through the grounds, and brunch at Lentil As Anything, we stopped by the Convent Bakery on our way out. Since we had just eaten we grabbed a sweet roll for the road, but I'll certainly have to make a trip back for lunch one day.

NameAbbotsford Convent
Location1 Heliers Street, Abbotsford, Victoria 3067
Geting There: Via public transport the best way is bus. Take the 200, 201 or 207 from Lonsdale, or the 205 from Melbourne Uni (it then heads down Lygon, Elgin and Johnston), get off at the Clarke St stop (just before you cross over the Yarra). Turn right and walk down Clarke then left onto Heliers and into the Abbotsford Convent.

View Larger Map


Gina E. said...

Hi Rachel,
I love reading blogs by people who are 'new' Australians - it gives us a whole new insight into ourselves! I've had your blog on my Favourites for a while, but not sure if I've commented before. This post about the Abbotsford Convent has prompted me to comment now - I am so grateful to you for posting this! I have seen this place from the Eastern Freeway thousands of times, I've been told about it, but not got around to going there. Thanks to your great write-up, I've now put it at the top of my list of 'Places I Must See' - and the Lentil place sounds fantastic too. What I don't know about my home town would fill a book...Funny thing is, I spent 4 months in your home country travelling around on Greyhound, and visited every state in the Union. (loved it too!)

AlexandraPearl said...

Lentil is great! I practically live there! ... The Convent is so wonderful, my friends and I have named most of the goats...
You should to Lentil as Anything for dinner sometime too, great atmosphere, warm in winter, and usually a Latin band, or open mike.

I write about it on my blog too sometimes, take a look if you feel like it: