Top 5 things to do at the Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne

We're situated in a great part of the Melbourne. The Collingwood Childrens' Farm is the original gardens of the Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne. 

The Abbotsford Convent has a long and, in some ways, dark history, but has a new lease on life since a strong community campaign allowed the Abbotsford Convent Foundation to take over the site and restore the buildings. The buildings now house artisans, community groups, a wellness centre and several cafe's and the convent bakery. We're often asked what there is to do there - here's a quick overview. 

Looking from the Collingwood Childrens' Farm to the Abbotsford Convent.

Looking from the Collingwood Childrens' Farm to the Abbotsford Convent.

The Abbotsford Convent Farmers' Market

The Farmers' Market is a great way to stock your pantry and spend a lovely morning in Melbourne. There's lots of fresh food stalls - from pantry fillers like organic seasonal veg & fruit, eggs, oils & meats to more special items like cheeses, smoked fish and preserves. Lots of the stall holders offer samples too so it's a great morning to wander around the grounds, have a coffee from Eureka Coffee and sample all the delicious produce. 

When: The 4th Saturday of every month, 8am-1pm
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The Shirt & Skirt Market

The Shirt & Skirt Market has over 30 stalls from emerging fashion designs, crafts and accessories. 

When: 3rd Sunday of the month
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The Shadow Electric Open-air Cinema

The Shadow Electric open-air cinema is now in it's 3rd season - a great achievement considering the challenges of running an outdoor cinema in Melbourne.  There's big releases, combined with cult classics. The movies are a big drawcard but that's just the start - there's also a bandroom, food trucks and a bar. 

When: from November to March
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The Abbotsford Convent Bakery

The Convent Bakery was one of the first new businesses to open in the grounds of the Convent. I remember Pip and I thinking that they'd put us out of business in a week, however the opposite was true - when they opened so many more people started visiting the area that we actually become much busier. In a way the Convent Bakery opening really helped the Farm Cafe in the early days. 

The Convent Bakery is located in a part of the Abbotsford Convent that houses ovens that were built in 1901. Whilst most of the baking is now done in conventional ovens, the old ovens are fired up for classes and pizza making. 

When: every day
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The Courtyard looking over to the St Heliers General Store

The Courtyard looking over to the St Heliers General Store

St Heliers General Store & Gallery

This is my favourite spot in the Abbotsford Convent. Cam owns and operates this store and it's a warm, heartfelt centre of the community. The coffee is good, the banter is great and it's a really relaxed spot. If you have kids sit outside in the courtyard with the beautiful big tree. It's just a fantastically beautiful place to unwind. 

When: Wednesday - Sunday 9am - 6pm
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Bonus: Lentil as Anything

We couldn't write about the Abbotsford Convent without mentioning one of the communities greatest treasures - Lentil as Anything. Lentil is unique as it uses a 'pay as you feel' business model meaning that you can eat whatever you like and pay as much or little as you like. The fact that this place has lasted so long is a strong indication of the amount of effort the volunteers and paid staff put in, and the generosity of our community.  It's a great place to take a large group - it has loads of seating and is very free form. There's often lots of things going on too - music, poetry and a great community board. 

There's always so much going on at the Abbotsford Convent it can be hard to keep up - if you have something to add please post it in the comments. 

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