I count myself lucky to be born in Australia's coffee capital of Melbourne and love to write about what's on in my home town.
Published May 25th 2012
Most people who travel along the Maroondah Highway to Ringwood, with the exception of home renovators, merely whiz through Mitcham, barely giving a thought to the sights that go flashing past. A pity, because those who look beyond the tile warehouses and kitchen showrooms that flank this everyday thoroughfare will discover the deceptively modest, family friendly and well equipped Antonio Park.
Whilst you can readily enter the park on foot from Maroondah Highway, parking here (in the service lane) is limited, especially on weekdays, as there is a primary school located next door. Instead, utilise the side entrance on Deep Creek Road, which opens on to a shady gravel car park.
Occupying a gently sloping 7 hectare site, bordered by towering gum and pine trees, the top end of the park provides a spacious grassy play area, in the centre of which is a substantial playground including monkey bars, swings (both regular and infant/special need styles), slide and rope climbing wall. Around the perimeter of the playground are several timber bench-style picnic tables. There is also an undercover paved (gas and wood) barbeque area with additional seating.
Once you have had your fill of snags and sandwiches, head down to the bottom of the picnic area, where you will find the entrance to a lovely walking trail which meanders through protected native bushland, and is particularly popular with botanists, who seek out many plant species including endangered, indigenous orchids. Bird watchers are also regular visitors to the park, which is home to a pair of rare Powerful Owls, amongst the 151 identified bird species.