Moonee Valley grows from its once European roots

Moonee Valley continues to thrive as little Europe on the Melbourne map, however things are changing for the once densely Italian and Greek community.

Moonee Valley Councillor Samantha Byrne who represents the Leisure and Active Communities portfolio says these communities have had a big and good influence on the area.

“Historically its always been known as a high majority of Italian and Greek families which obviously have great family bonds, often in the household they would be single dwellings with big families in them.

“We’ve got a really strong IKA club (Italian Community of Keilor Association) on Keilor Park Drive and that’s where a large group of the Italian community has programs on a daily basis.”

However, 2016 Census Data for the region shows the decline in Italian and Greek families over the past 16 years by -3,036 and -441 people respectively (according to ‘language spoken at home’ data).


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“I suppose that generation of people are starting to move on in life, they’re passing away or moving into nursing homes and their houses are being knocked down for redevelopment opportunities for other people to move into,” Byrne says.

Local resident John Indrizzi, 73, was one of the 8,277 Moonee Valley residents who migrated during the ‘60s. He says he first moved into East Keilor in 1970.

“I bought the land in ’67 and built my house. The land was cheap, $3000.”

Recently, John downsized and his old home has already been demolished and construction has begun.

Councillor Byrne describes the patterns of these migrants’ families as another reason for the decline.

“There are a lot of kids that grew up in the ‘80s that were born and bred in Essendon and weren’t able to afford to buy houses in Essendon when they moved out. So, they’ve then moved from Essendon to East Keilor. Now they’re buying newer houses out in Craigieburn,” she says.

John Indrizzi says he has witnessed big changes in his time living in Moonee Valley.

“Now it is very multicultural, there’s been new roads, buildings, freeways, lots of variety of shops and restaurants, buses, the only airport was Essendon.”

Owner of Milleara International Foods and Deli Bill Roubos has been retailing in the area for 10 years.

He says he too has noticed a shift in community behaviours and values.

“We’ve always had a strong Greek and Italian demographic. We are seeing more and more Asian families in the shop who have adopted a western diet. Ten years ago we never used to see them in the deli.

“People are more health conscious. Everyone looks at nutritional panels. We have to cater for intolerances and be more conservative. Years ago people would come in for pasta, now we have to stock gluten-free, spelt, mais…”

The 2016 Census data recognises the continuous growth in Mandarin and Vietnamese families with +1,963 and +1,216 people respectively moving into the area since 2001.

“One of the priests at St Martin De Porres in Avondale Heights is Vietnamese and I believe they congregate around there a bit more,” Councillor Byrne says.

She also noted that the Moonee Valley area has some of the highest percentages of Catholicism in Victoria.

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Purple: Moonee Valley, Red: Wider Victoria

“That’s represented in terms of the schools we have, St Bernard’s, St Columbas, Ave Maria.

“St Bernard’s for example is zoned and is very hard to get into and people move into the area to get their kids into the various catholic schools now.”

Byrne believes this is one of the reasons behind the growth of Mandarin and Vietnamese families and says the community welcomes everyone with open arms.

“In March every year we have what we call a Mediterranean Fiesta which started off with the Italian and Greek and I suppose the Mediterranean people coming together and showcasing their culture which was really exciting and now that’s open to everyone,” Byrne says.

“It’s a day that’s put on at our local hub in the Centreway. It’s a beautiful day and there are lots of different cuisines to eat and try and dancers and performances.”

It is not all doom and gloom for the Italian and Greek community as there is now a larger percentage of people with Italian ancestry (16.7%) and growth of 547 people with Greek heritage since 2001.

So, whilst many of Moonee Valley’s older population are moving on in life, descendants of their family are remaining in the area and starting families of their own.


Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing, 2016 (Usual residence data)

Feature Image Source: Moonee Valley Council Facebook Page







The Top 6 Best Eats of the Yarra Valley

Yarra Valley is recognised as one of Victoria’s best wine regions but for those looking for a little more indulgence, the food scene here is just as remarkable. Explore the vineyards and cellar doors of some of the best wineries in the region and then settle down and wallow in a boozy lunch.

We’ve outlined some of the best restaurants the Yarra Valley to graze the afternoon away, and it’s only an hour’s drive out of Melbourne CBD. Try to get through this without your mouth watering or stomach grumbling – we dare you.

Zonzo Estate

The restaurant at Zonzo Estate serves up authentic Italian food with produce freshly picked from the garden. All meals are handmade and prepared as if for their own family.

Gently clink your glasses over meals shared with loved ones without interruption or distraction. The rolling hills are perfect to keep the little ones busy as long as you’re okay with a few grass stains – a small price to pay for an incredible afternoon. Devour wood fired pizzas or other delicacies of the Casalinga cuisine like schiacciata; flat bread with olives, Gorgonzola and herbs or, gnocchi with burnt butter and sage. Wind up the afternoon with an affogato; vanilla ice cream topped with a shot of espresso and Frangelico.

Balgownie Estate

Spend the afternoon basking in the sun-soaked dining room overlooking the vast vineyards. If you’ve hit your quota on wine, lunch at Rae’s is the perfect time to check out the cocktail bar. Cosy up with the Bourbon Blanket; or spice things up with the Spiced Espresso.

Make ordering easy with Rae’s tasting board; a selection of the chef’s favourite gourmet tastes, or arrange your own spread and feast on the likes of Middle Eastern Fritters; beetroot puree, labna and za’atar or mushroom and truffle risotto, dusted with shaved parmesan. If you’re nursing a food coma by the end of the arvo, Balgownie Estate conveniently has boutique luxury accommodation to turn your visit into a staycation.

Yarrawood Estate

Planted among the vines, the Yarrawood café offers 360-degree views of the surrounding greenery creating a calm and rejuvenated environment – even after you’ve indulged in a fanciful feast.

Sit outside on the lawn during the summer months where live music is performed every weekend. Lawn rugs and games are also available to keep the little ones out of your hair. Apart from the lengthy wine list, Yarrawood café also offers an extensive cheese platter presenting a variety of cheeses, dried fruits, nuts, caramelised fig and quince jam and crackers. The cheeses include Saint Agur Blue (France), Pyengana Clothbound Cheddar (Tasmania) and Meredith Dairy Fetta (Victoria); creamy textured goat’s fetta in garlic infused olive oil and herbs. Yarrawood also offers bruschetta with a twist; poached pears, prosciutto, smoked sheep’s labneh, drizzled with a honey and balsamic vinegar and served on grilled Phillipa’s Turkish bread.

Yering Station

As Victoria’s first vineyard, Yering Station is a historic property, first planted in 1838. Sleek architecture delivers a stylish dining experience overlooking the expansive views of the Yarra Ranges.

Head Chef Maxime Croiset has experience in some of France and London’s finest Michelin Star restaurants offering classic French food with a twist. Forget baguettes and berets; choose from spanner crab, swordfish tartare or braised oxtail for entrée. For main, perhaps glazed duck breast or charcoal lamb strap will tickle your fancy. You can’t leave Chateau without delighting in a milk chocolate dome accompanied by caramel cashew nut, raspberry jelly and almond gel.

Rochford Wines

Rochford Wines restaurant boasts panoramic views of the valley and has an open fireplace to keep you warm in the winter months. It also has an adjacent alfresco area and private rooms for those special occasions.

The Rochford restaurant menu is seasonal featuring the freshest and best local produce. Choose from crab toast, pumpkin gnocchi or monkfish medallions with baby calamari and Jamon Serrano. Canapés are on offer for your private event or bring your friends and share the bursting charcuterie board. For gluten-free guests, enjoy a pan-seared fillet of barramundi with white beans, chorizo, tomato and calamari. Vegetarian guests can savour the feuille de brick (thin pastry) stuffed with goat’s cheese, baby leeks and hazelnuts. Conclude your afternoon with a Nutella doughnut, drizzled in coffee and topped with hazelnut mousse.

De Bortoli

De Bortoli’s restaurant Locale is the heart and soul of the Yarra Valley Estate. The cosy dining room creates an intimate experience for guests to feel right at home as they spend the afternoon grazing on share plates with family and friends.

Homemade pasta and authentic risotto are constant menu residents however changes roll around every season to include the likes of wild mushrooms in autumn, duck and chestnuts in winter, broad beans and nettles in spring and the ripest heirloom tomatoes in summer. Other favourites include ribollita; a Tuscan lentil, chickpea and tomato soup with salsa verde and crostini or tallegio and ricotta agnolotti with braised leek and aged balsamic vinegar.

The Tim Tam Slam And 7 Other Weird (But Delicious) Australian Treats

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Australians have a strange need to combine delicious tastes with other delicious tastes. Although the final product isn’t always delicious i.e. salmon and licorice (gross) here is a list of those that definitely are.

This is a life hack that Tim Tam lovers devour but few others have discovered. For those that haven’t tried the Australian Tim Tam, picture two delicious biscuits, sandwiched with chocolate cream and coated in chocolate and then times that by 1000 degrees of deliciousness. The Tim Tam slam involves biting off either end of the rectangular biscuit and using the existing biscuit as a straw to suck up your glass of milk. The mix of chocolate-y milk is out of this world.


This one is a favorite on group camping trips when as usual we have overstocked on bread for the barbecue and chips to ‘pass the time’. A Twisties sandwich (or really any other chips, including cheese and bacon balls or crinkle cut salt and vinegar) combines soft and crunchy all in one.


Sliced white bread coated in butter and dipped in 100s and 1000s- the perfect party treat of every Australians childhood. Bright, colourful and delicious! Need I say more?


The growing avocado toast trend has taken Australia by storm and it has people experimenting with all sorts of condiments. This is by far one of the best and the most accessible as almost every household has a stash of Vegemite. Slather the toast in Vegemite and add the smashed avocado on top. The perfect combination of creamy and salty and so quick to make before you dash out the door in the morning.


A meat pie is a typical Aussie meal at the local footy match. Unlike the US, Australians combine the goodness of pastry with savoury foods too. Similar to an apple pie, the meat pie is filled with 100% Aussie beef as a standard. Additions to the hardy snack include mushrooms, potato, curry and mixed vegetables to name a few. Topped with tomato sauce is a must!


I don’t know how much of a ‘goer’ this one is in other circles, but within my group of friends, it’s a favourite. The combination of sweet and cheesy is strangely delicious and highly addictive.

Working at a delicatessen has meant I have had my chance to experiment with different food combinations and this was by far the best. An acquired taste for the sliced meat, Mortadella is required but growing up with an Italian background has meant I have no choice but to love it. A crunchy bread roll thinly sliced Mortadella and potato cake. Can’t be great for cholesterol but sure does taste it.


Dip the cheese toastie in the soup for a perfect winter meal. The melted cheese will ooze with every bite and the tomato will provide a base of flavours for everyone to enjoy. An easy dinner meal when soup on its own won’t fill you up.


If you can’t get your hands on some of these products, try reinventing the wheel. What combinations of delicious food have you created?