Julie is the author of a number of guidebooks, including 'Melbourne's Best Bush Bay and City Walks' & 'Melbourne for Dogs' (with RSPCA). Read more of her adventures at her walks blog: walksmelbourne.com
Published March 15th 2012
Tucked in amongst some of Melbourne's most built up suburbs, are wonderful expanses of parkland. In some ways, I think these parklands are our best kept secret - known and loved by locals, yet waiting to be discovered by the rest of Melbourne. Braeside Park, near busy Moorabin airport, is one of these treasures. Who would have imagined that such a large and relatively wild place, free from surrounding traffic noise has survived the surrounding residential developments unscathed?
Braeside Park has superb picnic, barbeque and children's play facilities dotted throughout which are conveniently located next to the free parking areas around the park. The main entrance is off Lower Dandenong Road in Braeside. On the southern side, accessed via Governor Road, there is also an extensive boardwalk through the wetlands, with a large bird hide to satisfy the 'twitcher' in you - and after rain there are hundreds of birds and frogs to keep you entertained. A circular walk (also suitable for off-road cyclists) which takes in the Wetlands Trail, Cyprus Drive and the River Red Gum Trail, provides a lovely 5.5km stretch around the park - part of which was used by Pharlap as his training grounds! The River Red Gum Trail takes you through one of the very few remaining ancient river red gum stands in Melbourne, and provides welcome shade on hot days.
Parks Victoria has an excellent Park Notes visitor guide for Braeside park which you can download off the web before you go. Please note that dogs are not allowed in this park in order to provide protection to the waterbirds.