Freelance writer, science student and incurable smart aleck.
Published January 8th 2013
Blackburn Lake is a man-made lake located in the eastern suburb of Blackburn. Formed by damming Gardiners Creek, initially for local fruit farmers as a water source, the lake is now a popular destination for local families, bushwalkers and cyclists.
In the late 1800's a township was originally designed to be built around the lake, but the developers went bankrupt and the project abandoned.
Down on His Luck - Frederick McCubbin - Image from Wikimedia Commons
It was, however the setting for two well known paintings by Australian artist Frederick McCubbin, 'Bush Burial' painted in 1890 and 'Down on His Luck' painted in 1889, as he lived in the propsed development site at the time.
The land, inclusive of the lake. was purchased by the Adult Deaf and Dumb Society in 1909 and a hospice built, land cleared and flower and vegetable farm established (as much as 14 acres was cleared up until 1914).
The Society operated as a partly self sufficient entity until the Nunawading Shire objected to the charitable organisation garnering profit from rates exempt land. They took the Society to court on numerous occasions, resulting in the cessation of flower farming by the Society on the land.
Superintendents house for the ADADS - Image from home.vicnet.net.au
Thankfully due to the ADADS still owning the land, this protected the lake from further development many years after the flower farming was abandoned in 1921.
During this period, Blackburn lake had become a popular picnic destination in its own right, especially after Blackburn railway station was built in 1910. This made the lake more accessible (via TWO HOUR steam train ride from Melbourne CBD. Can you imagine?)
It continued to be a popular destination for those seeking to enjoy the great outdoors for many years. Unfortunately, as was the case with most natural land of the time, human use and pollution began to take its toll on Blackburn Lake. Rubbish dumping, fishing, speed boating and the ilk had all but destroyed much of the vegetation and depleted fish stocks. The introduction of carp and mosquito fish further added to damage to the delicate ecosystem.
Conservation efforts began in 1965 when it was first declared a sanctuary and are still active today, ensuring this amazing slice of bushland can continue to provide a home for some of Australia's unique and adorable critters.
Blackburn Lake is home not only to possums and sugar gliders but also echidnas, blue tongue and shingleback lizards as well as variety of birds and raptors.
The sanctuary also contains two playgrounds (one large playground with two separate structures, located on Central Road) with plenty of picnic tables for you to have lunch. A visitor centre is also a short walk from there offering historical information on the site as well as maps and more information on the animals you may encounter if you choose to embark on a stroll around the lake. Open from 2 pm -4 pm daily, its certainly worth a look if you happen to be there at those times.
On the Clifton St parameter, there is another play structure, smaller in size but just as entertaining. This one doesn't have any picnic tables, but some grassy areas to throw a blanket down or some benches to have a seat in the shade if that is more your thing. Make sure you take a water bottle with you, as the playground on this side does not have a bubbler tap.
If playgrounds are not your thing, there are plenty of places around the lake for you to take a walk and clear your head, or sit down for a picnic or quiet meditation session.
To escape the city and check out Blackburn Lake, you can take the train by catching either a Lilydale or Belgrave service and getting off at Blackburn Station. Alternatively, Central Rd runs off of Blackburn and Springvale Roads and parking is available on the Central Rd side.