Freelance writer living in Melbourne. If you enjoy the following article please click on the 'like' button to give me feedback. I am a mum to two very active boys, who is trying to share her passion for nature, art, social justice and a love of life.
Published January 17th 2014
Take your kids out into nature to find all the great things
Nestled on the Yarra River, there is an abundance of native flora and fauna to be seen and heard. The park is down a steep driveway off Yarra Boulevard, with ample parking and pram friendly walks. Clean facilities including electric barbecues, toilets and a canoe launching ramp are available for use, as well as a large open space for kicking around a football or soccer ball.
A relaxing place to spend the day with your family and friends.
If you are planning a day here with your kids, I would start with food. From the car park, head towards the toilets and straight ahead you will see shaded tables and the barbecue area. You will be welcomed by an array of beautiful Australian birds, including rainbow lorikeets, red rumped parrots, sulphur crested cockatoos and the occasional kookaburra. You may see lizards or possums, depending on what time you visit and if you are lucky, you may even see a wallaby.
During summer and warm days I would stick to the paths, as there would be snakes near the river and in the long grass. On colder days, there is a less beaten path that follows the river all the way to Studley Park Boathouse one way and Fairfield Boathouse the other. These tracks are not pram friendly, but suitable for a 4 year old to wander at their leisure. It is about 2km either way. There is some flood damage in some sections that will require you to walk on Yarra Boulevard for short distances.
After you have eaten, pack it all up and leave it in the car. Walk through the car park to the Flying Fox Wetland Walk, which start only about 10 m from the car park. There is a sensational Flying Fox viewing platform just out of the car park for those that do not wish to walk any further. The Wetland walk is a short 450m return and definitely pram friendly.
The Yarra River at Bellbird Park.
Your senses will simply come to life on this walk. Every time we have taken new visitors here, they hear the flying foxes first, then they smell them and then they look blindly through the trees trying to find them. All of a sudden the hundreds of flying foxes that are simply hanging from the trees appear like an image from a 3D magic eye poster, and they are astounded.
There are hundreds of flying foxes at Bellbird Park. In 2003 the colony of Grey-Headed Flying Foxes were relocated from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne to Bellbird Park. It is quite a majestic view to see hundreds of these flying foxes leaving for their evening meals and then returning wearily in the morning.
The Grey Headed Flying Fox
Flying Foxes are simply amazing and expect many questions from your enthusiastic little ones, as see these majestic creatures for the first time. Take a camera with a long distance lens or binoculars to completely enthral them.
Take your camera, so that the kids can see them close up.
Hopefully the information below will make you appear like Professor Flying Fox to your budding biologists.
Do Flying Foxes live only in the park? No, they inhabit the south east coast of Australia from Adelaide to Bundaberg in QLD.
Are they a threatened species? Yes, they are considered to be vulnerable.
Are they the largest flying fox in Australia? Yes they are. They are about 1m across their wings and weigh about 1kg.
How long do they live for? Around 15 years.
What do they eat? They can travel up to 50km for food and eat pollen, nectar and fruit. Not blood!
Do blood sucking vampire bats really exist? There are 3 species of blood eating bats in the world, none of which live in Australia. They don't bite and suck your blood, rather they scratch and lick.
Do they use sonar to find food? No, the smaller insect eating bats do this. These flying foxes only use their eyes and ears, just like we do.
How do they wee and poop? They hang by their thumbs to poop, so that their bottoms point towards the ground.
If we see one on the ground, should we pick it up? No, call for help. Bats carry diseases that can be dangerous to you. The best place to call is the emergency animal assistance line at the Department of Environment and Primary Industries on 136 186.
Once your kids are fed, worn out, enthralled, amazed and enticed with what they have seen and done at Belbird Park take them home and build your own Itsy Bitsy Bat Book to finish off the day. You will need to change the section about caves though, now they they are experts!