From her garret somewhere on the Bass Coast, Emma writes for WeekendNotes, travel publications, and plumbing websites of note. Read more at, www.clippings.me/emmawoodward or follow me on Instagram, @wordsfromawoodward
Bunarong Park is named for the Boon Wurrung people, and is a small hidden gem in the middle of suburban streets.
At 9.3 hectares, with around 2 kilometres of walking track, Bunarong Park is much smaller than other Frankston reserves but is definitely worth a visit.
You can get to Bunarong Park from Willow Road, Wattle Tree Lane, or Lipton Drive. You will find on-street parking near the Willow Road and Lipton Drive entrances, and a little bit of off-street parking at Wattle Tree Lane. This appears to be a shared driveway for some of the houses bordering the reserve as well as a parking lot, so make sure you leave plenty of room for residents to drive in and out if you do choose to park here.
Entering the park from Wattle Tree Lane, you will be greeted by a variety of indigenous flora flourishing in the sandy soils. It's mid-May, and at the moment, the pink heath, correas, and wattles are in bloom.
I never had the chance to see Frankston before it was urbanised, so reserves like Bunarong and Sweetwater Creek, lovingly tended by rangers and volunteers, are a fascinating glimpse into that long lost landscape. Sadly, you will also see evidence of invasive and destructive species; foxes, rabbits, a cigarette butt ...
Climbing up the hill on the wide sandy paths, you will come to my favourite part of the Bunarong Reserve. As you leave the taller eucalypts and tea trees behind, the vegetation crouches a little lower and the sky opens up above and around you. At the highest point within the reserve, 90 metres above sea level and surrounded by scrubby heathland, you will find a lookout. This small platform is the perfect spot to catch your breath while drinking in views of the surrounding park, and the surrounding suburbs, all the way down to Port Phillip Bay.
If you're a local, you might have fun trying to spot your house or your street, though this is surprisingly tricky in spite of the commanding views. From up here, you are looking down on the tops of the trees that line most streets, and the entire landscape looks decidedly less urban.
Right now, in autumn, it is a landscape of greens dotted here and there with a puff of orange or red as the neighbourhood's deciduous trees give up their foliage before the winter.
Every day the view is different. You might have brilliant blue skies, or threatening storm clouds rolling in.
You will also see an area opposite the lookout scorched by the recent Black Summer bushfires. It's a sad reminder of the widespread destruction that occurred, but fortunately for Bunarong Park and the nearby residents, firefighters were able to put this fire out before it spread.
There is surprisingly varied vegetation in this small park
Once you finally tear yourself away from the lookout, continue down the path to complete your circuit of the reserve, or explore some of the offshoot paths and circuits. The taller trees reappear beside you on these lower slopes, and the track will either spit you out at the Willow Road gate, or you can choose to cut back across to the Wattle Tree Lane entrance via one of the fire tracks that criss-cross the reserve.
Bunarong Park may be small in size, but it's big on beauty, and a definite must-see for nature-lovers, bird watchers, and parents of curious kids.
Thank you for your review of a walking area - much appreciated! May I make a suggestion for all reviewers of parks, walks etc - please please always say if dogs are allowed and if it is off leash or only on leash. 38% oh Aussie homes have at least one dog (we have 2) and so are a significant minority. It is so helpful when we know whether the whole family can come - and under what circumstances (eg leash or no leash) Thank you again for your reviews