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Hidden gems

16 Dec. 2021

Kate Mildenhall

Kate Mildenhall, author, Hurstbridge

Kate Mildenhall grew up roaming the bush in the Bend of Isles (Nillumbik’s environmental living zone) and swimming in the Yarra River. The award-winning author of Skylarking and The Mother Fault, and co-host of The First Time Podcast (about the first time you publish a book) now lives in Hurstbridge with her young family.

  1. I love adventuring along one of our local walking tracks: Bunjil Reserve, Smiths Gully walking track, the new extension to Diamond Creek trail, or off-road in Temple Ridge Reserve - we are so lucky to have such incredible bushland to explore.
  2. We will spend many an afternoon during summer at the Diamond Creek Pool. This is old-school local-pool heaven: some lazy laps, kids playing, an icy-pole on the grass in the shade. Perfection.
  3. Then there is the excellent coffee and the freekeh salad at Bridge to Eden cafe, in Hurstbridge.
  4. We love getting our fancy on for dinner at Greasy Zoes, in Hurstbrige. Incredible food, passionate and talented owners - what Zoe does with often local and always sustainable produce is mind-blowing.
  5. Shopping locally. There are beautiful gifts at The Speckled Hen, Pickwick and Sprout, Oku Den, Hurstbridge Deli and Larder, treasures at the Hurstbridge op-shop, and essentially for a big reader, books at Verso, in Healesville, or the Eltham Bookshop.
Stephen Gist

Steve Gist, co-owner Fondata 1872 restaurant, Kangaroo Ground

A Qantas pilot, Steve first moved to Kangaroo Ground in 1995. Years later, when the restaurant down the road (and Steve’s local watering hole) came up for sale, he and two local friends decided to join forces and take it on. After a much-needed makeover, the trio opened Fondata 1872 as a sophisticated Italian restaurant.

  1. We have a very close-knit and supportive community. From the CFA to the local schools and our guests, we all support each other.
  2. We are right on the cusp of both city and country. It’s incredible to be so close to the city and airport, while living on a farm of 20 acres.
  3. The views of the rolling hills are spectacular. I love watching the hot-air balloons floating overhead, and seeing all the birdlife, especially the king parrots and kookaburras.
  4. We’re so lucky to have incredible local produce, from locally grown lemons and olives, to craft beer and wines. We try to support local growers and suppliers as much as we can at the restaurant.
  5. There are plenty of interesting things to do and places to go. My wife is a big walker and loves all the walking trails in the area. There are some great cafes and restaurants. And, of course, Fondata 1872, is here!
Lloyd Godman

Lloyd Godman, artist at Baldessin Press, St Andrews

Lloyd Godman moved from New Zealand to St Andrews after meeting and falling in love with artist and founding member of Baldessin Press studio Tess Edwards. An ecological artist and photographer, Lloyd specialises in experimental living plant sculptures, with installations at Federation Square and Eureka Tower.

  1. While Paul Simon released Fifty ways to Leave your Lover, for me Nillumbik offered one way to find a new and lasting lover. In 2005, I moved from New Zealand to live here, in St Andrews, with Tess Edwards. It’s the No.1 reason to live here.
  2. There’s a wide array of cafes and restaurants: Black Vice, in Hurstbridge, First Home, in Eltham, A Boy Named Sue, in St Andrews, Fondata 1872, in Kangaroo Ground and the Panton Hill Pub are among my favourites.
  3. The St Andrews Market is just down the road and we connect with it nearly every week. There is plenty to love about this market: It has music, food, and stalls that offer nearly everything. It is a place to catch up with friends, build and retain community and also meet new friends.
  4. St Andrews Bakery is next on my love list. The bakery has been here for years, and the present baker has developed it to offer a wonderful assortment of breads, cakes and pastries.
  5. I love the connection with the environment. While relatively close to Melbourne, the areas of bush and wildlife surround us.